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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Immigration Rights and Responsibilities

Medical Insurance

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 cost for a month's coverage of medical insurance is $US 151.44; a full semester of coverage is $756.07; a calendar year's coverage is $1817.28. Minimum coverage runs from the 15th of any given month to the 14th of the following month.
  2. 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. 
  3. You can get Telehealth services through UnitedHealthcare which means you can speak to the representative with your own native language about your mental health. 
  4. 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
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F Visa holders and Academic Training for J Visa holders is authorized by the ISSS office upon satisfaction of requirements. Please visit the ISSS office for eligibility to conduct an internship while studying.

Required steps and documents to apply for CPT are well listed in this CPT Checklist and Acknowledgement Form

To schedule the appointment, please send us an email at isss@oswego.edu.

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

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training (OPT) for F Visa holders is authorized by the ISSS office upon satisfaction of requirements. Please visit the ISSS office if you are interested in applying for pre or post optional practical training. 

Here's how the OPT process works: You will meet our ISSS staffs twice- At the first meeting, you will receive the OPT packet that includes application instruction, academic advisor's recommendation letter, photo requirements, health insurance waiver and Form I-765 (OPT application). Once you are ready to file the OPT application, you can bring all of the required documents and Form I-765 to our office. We will go over the files together and send your application to USCIS. To schedule the appointment, please send us an email at isss@oswego.edu.

You must come to 102 Sheldon Hall with all completed application materials before applying for OPT. You will need a new I-20 form from the International Student and Scholar Services Office in order to successfully 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. Bring the letter to our office at 102 Sheldon Hall during walk-in hours (Monday to Friday, 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM). From there we will provide you the ISSS Office letter as well as the instruction of applying for Social Security Number. 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?

You will meet our ISSS staffs twice- At the first meeting, you will receive the OPT packet that includes application instruction, academic advisor's recommendation letter, photo requirements, health insurance waiver and Form I-765 (OPT application). Once you are ready to file the OPT application, you can bring all of the required documents and Form I-765 to our office. We will go over the files together and send your application to USCIS. To schedule the appointment, please send us an email at isss@oswego.edu.

(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.