This section guides you what are your rights and responsibilities as a non-immigrant visa holder. Also, SUNY Oswego provides various services which benefit international students academically, professionally and medically. Click each section to be better informed and to take advantage of available services. 

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Resources for Current International Students

1. My visa is expiring, what should I do?

Here are some documents that you should bring with you to your F-1 visa interview to obtain a new visa:

  • A valid Form I-20 from SUNY Oswego with a recent travel signature on page 2 (If the last signature under the Travel Endorsement was done less than a year ago, you should reach out to us at isss@oswego.edu
  • Any previously-issued I-20s
  • An unexpired passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
  • Recent financial documents showing evidence of continued financial ability
  • Receipt of your I-901 SEVIS fee payment
  • Your student transcript (found in myOswego)
  • Your certificate of enrollment verification
  • Visa application form, fees, and photographs (consult the instructions of your local Embassy website)
  • Copies of EAD card if you are participating in the Optional Practical Training (OPT). 

If you have any questions regarding the visa application process, don't hesitate to reach out to us at isss@oswego.edu.

2. I would like to visit Canada, what documents should I bring?

First, review the following website https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp to determine if you need a visa to enter Canada.

Then, you should take care to upload your COVID-19 vaccination details and negative COVID PCR test results to the ArriveCAN system and carry your receipt of upload, your pre-arrival test results, and proof of vaccination with you when you cross the border. 

Lastly, here are the documents you need to bring to re-enter the U.S.

  • A physical copy of your Form I-20 or DS-2019: Make sure you have a valid travel endorsement on your document. The signature on your travel endorsement section (page 2 on Form I-20 and page 1 on DS-2019) is valid for a year. Therefore, the last signature should have been done within a year from your planned re-enter date. If you need a new signature, please reach out to us at isss@oswego.edu.
  • Valid passport
  • Valid student visa

Also, please notify us at isss@oswego.edu when you plan to visit Canada to make sure you are aware of any travel restrictions and risks. 

3. I would like to apply for OPT or STEM OPT, what should I do?

Optional practical training (OPT) for F Visa holders is authorized by the ISSS office upon satisfaction of requirements. Please read the following information carefully, if you are interested in applying for the optional practical training. 

Here's how the OPT process works: First, please click How to Apply for OPT  where you can find all the information you need to apply for OPT. You can also find all the documents that you need to complete that include application instruction, academic advisor's recommendation letter, photo requirements, health insurance waiver, and Form I-765 (OPT application). Once your OPT application and other documents are ready to be reviewed, scan all the documents and send them to us at isss@oswego.edu.

Then, you will have a mandatory online meeting with us. Again, all the OPT processes are well outlined in How to Apply for OPT.

*f you are eligible for a STEM OPT extension, read through How to Apply for STEM OPT to learn when is the earliest date you can file the application. As you can see, the best time to reach out to the ISSS Office to discuss your STEM extension is around 100 days before your OPT end date.

Immigration Rights and Responsibilities

Medical Insurance

*Are you looking for Primary Care Physicians for your spouses and children? Click the list from UHCSR for those listed as accepting patients and your insurance within a 20-mile radius of Oswego.

Medical insurance and a completed SUNY Health Form are mandatory for international students and scholars attending SUNY Oswego.

  1. The State University of New York Medical Insurance Plan is mandatory for all F and J visa students and scholars attending SUNY Oswego. Exceptions apply only to those scholars and students officially sponsored, covered, and thoroughly documented by a national government or international agency.
  2. As long as a student or scholar remains in the USA on SUNY Oswego's F or J visa, medical insurance will be required.
  3. Students who do not have appropriate medical insurance prior to the start of classes may have their course registration blocked or cancelled. Subsequent registrations may also be blocked or cancelled unless students can show the appropriate and necessary coverage for any continuing semesters.

While you can download the summarized insurance coverage, we made some key points about the medical insurance fee and its coverage.

  1. The State University of New York Medical Insurance Plan is comprehensive, and it provides unlimited coverage. Insurance holder only pays $50 per year except the prescription in any circumstances. This includes ambulance services, vaccines, emergency visits, GYN visits and preventitive cares. Please note that dental and vision will be covered only when under the age of 19 and accidental. 
  2. You can get Telehealth services through UnitedHealthcare which means you can speak to the representative with your own native language about your mental health. 
  3. As long as the dates are within coverage dates, you will be covered anywhere globally.

If you can find comparable insurance coverage that is also ACA approved, you may apply for a waiver. You can download the waiver form. Please do not purchase the insurance before applying for the waiver, because there are lots of scams. If you have any questions on this matter, please contact amy.wallace@oswego.edu.

(J visa) Maintaining Status

As an exchange student, your primary purpose for being in the United States is to pursue your course of study as a full time student, so you have the responsibility of ensuring that you maintain your status as a J- 1 student.  Failure to comply with the requirements is a violation of your J-1 status which may result in serious consequences, including termination of your student status and deportation. You must comply with the following requirements:

  • Your passport must be valid at all times.
  • You must be a full time student and make normal progress in your courses. If you are an undergraduate student you must be registered for a minimum of 12 credit hours during the semester. As a graduate student you must be registered for a minimum of 9 credit hours. You can register into only one online course to meet your minimum credit requirements.
  • You must ensure that the travel signature on the front page  of your DS-2019 is valid or signed each semester.
  • You must not work off- campus without employment authorization on your DS-2019.
  • You must notify the ISSS office of your change of address within 10 days of your relocation. Use this form to notify us of your change of address and/or phone number.
(F visa) Maintaining Status

As an undergraduate or graduate degree student, your primary purpose for being in the United States is pursue your college degree as a full time student, so you have the responsibility of ensuring that you maintain your status as an F- 1 student.  Failure to comply with the requirements is a violation of your F-1 status which may result in serious consequences, including termination of your student status and deportation. You must comply with the following requirements:

  • Your passport must be valid at all times.
  • You must be a full time student and make normal progress toward your degree. If you are an undergraduate student you must be registered for a minimum of 12 credit hours during the semester, except during winter and summer vacation. As a graduate student you must be registered for a minimum of 9 credit hours, except during winter and summer vacation. You can register into only one online course to meet your minimum credit requirements.
  • You must ensure that the travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 is valid or signed at least once a year.
  • You must NOT work off- campus without employment authorization on your I-20.
  • You must notify the ISSS office of your change of address within 10 days of your relocation. Use this form to notify us of your change of address and/or phone number.
(F visa) Extension of Stay

If you are not able to complete your degree by the expected program completion date due to the reasons stated below, you must submit an ISSS application and file for an extension of stay to receive a new I-20 with a new program end date. You must file for an extension of stay BEFORE your current I-20 expires. Failure to do so will result in loss of your F- 1 status.

To be eligible for an extension of stay you must demonstrate that:

  • You are currently in valid F 1 status AND
  • You have maintained F-1 status and continually been a full time student
  • You are making normal progress towards completing your course of study AND
  • The delay in completion of your studies was caused by compelling academic or medical reasons such as change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, loss of credits upon transfer to SUNY Oswego, documented illness. 
  • You are not on academic probation or suspension
  • The final course you require to satisfy degree requirements is not an online course

To apply for an extension you must submit the following documents to the ISSS office:

  • Academic advisor's recommendation form (available at the ISSS office)
  • Financial documentation to show sufficient funds
  • Full time registration into courses for the next semester
(F visa) Off-campus Employment

ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) webpage outlines basic guideline regarding the off-campus employment. 

On-campus Employment

Students holding F or J visas may work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during extended holiday periods. Students should be aware that this employment is not guaranteed, and that income derived from this work may not be enough to have any major impact on campus costs. Off-campus employment for F and J visa students is permitted only under restricted circumstances defined by INS regulations. Illegal employment may result in deportation. Students should pay close attention to this fact.

On-campus work includes employment in the dining halls, restaurants, residence halls, bake shop, computer centers, tutoring center and campus technology. Graduate students may waive some of their tuition costs through a limited number of assistantships, which are occasionally available in the second year of study. No student should count on the availability of on-campus work to pay tuition, fees, room, or board.

Links for Each Visa

The U.S. Department of State sites on each visa are listed below.

Taxes

All F and J visa holders are required to file tax papers, even if you have earned no income in the United States. The Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Tax Form 8843 is required of each student, whether or not s/he has found work. Here are some of the forms that you may have to complete:

Federal forms

  • For tax purposes: http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html
  • For employment purposes:
    • Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement - Gives you a tax receipt of your earnings and taxes and benefits paid out from your check.
    • Form W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate - Must be completed prior to receipt of your first pay check from any employer. Claim "1" in lines A, B, and E.
    • W-9 Request for ITIN Number - Required for tax purposes if you have no Social Security Number.
    • Form I-9 Department of Justice - Employment Eligibility Verification

New York State forms

Need help filing your taxes? Use the Power Point presentation below:

Special thanks to:  
Barbara A.J. Dawkins, Senior Tax Consultant, 201 Como Park Blvd.
Buffalo, NY 14227

International Student Services

Academic Services
Writing Center

Writing in your second language is not easy. Thankfully, the Writing Center provides free writing assistance for SUNY Oswego students across the disciplines. You can choose a writing tutor, make an appointment and check Write Ways, writing-related workshops, from the Writing Center page.

Tutoring Center

If you find some courses are challenging, check this list to see if Tutoring Center provides tutoring on that subject. You can check walk-in tutoring hours and make an appointment from the Tutoring Center page.

Career Services/EXCEL Office

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 visa holders is authorized by the ISSS Office upon review of certain requirements. This authorization is necessary for international students who seek to participate in any internship, cooperative program, student teaching period, or other training experience at any point during the course of their degree program. Please contact the ISSS Office well in advance to assess your eligibility for CPT authorization. The ISSS Office will provide you with all of the necessary documents.

Please keep in mind that the CPT authorization review process is performed in conjunction with the EXCEL Office  - who will assess the experience for course credit - and may take 2-3 weeks to process. It is important to remember that you must be formally authorized by the ISSS Office to participate in Curricular Practical Training before you start participating in any training experience. If approved, this authorization will be noted directly on your Form I-20. 

The steps required to apply for CPT are outlined in the  CPT Checklist . As noted in that document, all students seeking CPT authorization must complete  International Internship and Co-op Acknowledgement Form . Additionally, students should coordinate with their academic advisors to receive an  Academic Advisor Recommendation Letter for CPT . Please contact the ISSS Office at isss@oswego.edu once you are ready to schedule a review of your CPT materials.  

Review the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website as well as Study in the States for more information about Curricular Practical Training. An overview of basic CPT requirements can also be found in this CPT Overview . Contact the ISSS Office at isss@oswego.edu if you have any questions.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training (OPT) for F Visa holders is authorized by the ISSS office upon satisfaction of requirements. Please read the following information carefully, if you are interested in applying for the optional practical training. 

Here's how the OPT process works: First, please click How to Apply for OPT  where you can find all the information you need to apply for OPT. You can also find all the documents that you need to complete that include application instruction, academic advisor's recommendation letter, photo requirements, health insurance waiver, and Form I-765 (OPT application). Once your OPT application and other documents are ready to be reviewed, scan all the documents and send them to us at isss@oswego.edu.

Then, you will have a mandatory online meeting with us. Again, all the OPT process are well outlined in How to Apply for OPT.

IMPORTANT: Students are responsible for updating the employer information on SEVP portal. When changing employers, students should edit the end date for the existing employer and add new employer to record. Do NOT edit the previous employer, if you would like to change employers.    

*Check out USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) webpage for more OPT resources.

Find an Internship or Job

From discovering majors and goals to searching for an internships, co-op or job or applying for the grad schoolCareer Services here at SUNY Oswego will help you to be equipped well professionally. Especially if you are planning to apply for OPT, make sure you take advantage of Career Resource Center to go over your resume, Cover Letter and practice your interview.

Health Services
Counseling Services

SUNY Oswego provides a wealth of resources for students to thrive. Some of Health Services are summarized below:

  • If you need urgent/emergency care, call University Police at 315.312.5555, or simply 5555 if you are on a campus phone. If you are off campus call 911.
  • Hours of operation: 8:30 am to 4 pm clinic on Monday through Friday during academic year.  For after hours care, you can call FONEMED at 877-617-9538 (toll free number)
  • Counseling Services Center is located on campus at 202 Hewitt. Please call 315.312.4416 to schedule an appointment at health and counseling services. If you’re not ready to make an appointment for counseling, but want to meet with a counselor stop by Let’s Talk!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are questions we get a lot from current international students. Did you find a question that you were wondering? Great! Click it to see our answers and/or advise.

How can I apply for SSN?

Once you are hired, ask your on-campus employer for the Employment Verification Letter. Scan the letter and forward it to the office at isss@oswego.eduFrom there we will provide you further steps. For your information, steps to apply for Social Security Number are outlined here. Please note that you can work without SSN, but you will not be paid until you have SSN. 

I want to travel to Canada, what do I need to carry?

Find out if you need a visa page helps you to find out if you need a visa to enter Canada. Contact us at isss@oswego.edu, if you are required to submit any document that needs to be issued by our office. 

Where can I download my health insurance card?

Easy way to access your account and get the insurance card on you is downloading the UHCSR app. The app is available for android user, as well as iPhones users. A hard copy of insurance card can be also printed and downloaded.

(F-1 students) How can I apply for OPT?

Here's how the OPT process works: First, please click How to Apply for OPT  where you can find all the information you need to apply for OPT. You can also find all the documents that you need to complete that include application instruction, academic advisor's recommendation letter, photo requirements, health insurance waiver, and Form I-765 (OPT application). Once your OPT application and other documents are ready to be reviewed, scan all the documents and send them to us at isss@oswego.edu.

Then, you will have a mandatory online meeting with us. Again, all the OPT process are well outlined in How to Apply for OPT.

(OPT) How do I report my employment?

OPT participants are required to report employment information includes employer name, start date, whether the employment is full-time or part-time, and employer address on SEVP portal. When changing employers, students should edit the end date for the existing employer and add new employer to record. Do NOT type the new employer information over the previous employer directly. 

Also, students will be asked to fill a text field, titled "Relation to Field of Study: Explain how this job relates to the degree that qualified you/or this OPT." Click following thread if you are not sure how to discern the direct relationship between the job and the degree. 

(OPT) How can I determine the direct relationship between my job and the degree?

If you are not sure about the relation between the job that you are interested or offered and the degree, we sugget consulting with your academic advisor. Since your academic advisor has deeper understanding of your curriculum, your advisor will be the best person to discuss.