Guide

International Students

General Information

Pre-Arrival Information

Vermont Weather

Spring is probably the most diverse and unpredictable season. Spring in Vermont can mean a 24-inch snowfall or a beautiful 70-degree day. Evenings are usually at or below freezing, and the maple sap flows most often in early spring when days are warm (above freezing) and nights are cold.

Summer Days are usually sunny and comfortable, and low humidity is normal. Temperatures reach the upper 70’s to mid 80’s. Light clothing for days; sweaters or light jackets for evenings.

Autumn months typically have highs in the mid 50’s with a variety of casual dress suitable. Evening lows can be below freezing, especially during early spring and late autumn. The warmest October on record was in 1971, average temperature was 54 degrees. The coldest October was in 1925 when the average was 39 degrees.

Winter is Vermont’s longest season. Winter months require coats, heavy jackets, gloves and warm, dry boots. Below freezing temperatures are common from November through March. Vermont receives much snowfall, with many areas getting more than 100 inches annually, which makes it a great ski and snowboard destination. Although the weather can be cold, there are many activities that you can do both indoors and outdoors to keep you warm.

bar chart of average monthly temperatures in Vermont, U.S.

Precautions for Cold Weather

During the winter, warm insulating clothing is necessary. It may not be necessary to have or purchase them until October, depending on your tolerance for the cold, but planning ahead is suggested. Cost of each item varies widely from store to store, so it pays to shop around before purchasing. Everything you might need can be bought locally. Items you must have when it snows are: warm, sturdy boots; a jacket with a hood; a wool or other warm hat; and mittens or gloves.

During the coldest months it is especially important to take care to cover your hands and face when the wind is blowing strongly. A brisk wind can freeze your skin quickly, even though the air temperature is moderate. The rapid cooling effect is referred to as “wind chill.” Simple precautions such as mittens will prevent these problems from developing.

Surviving a New England Winter

Surviving a winter is an art, especially if you are a “summer person.” New England winters are typically very cold, dark and often quite snowy. You’ll want to stay warm and healthy but also learn to enjoy winter. It’s a great time for indoor activities and once you get acclimated, you can bundle up and enjoy a brisk winter walk, or other outdoor pursuits—winter style of course. Here are some tips on how to not just survive, but ENJOY your New England winter!

  • Don’t be a slave to fashion when it comes to your outerwear. Weatherproof and warm are the first things you want to look for when choosing a winter coat. Down-filled and “thinsulate” are two of the warmest linings. The longer your coat or jacket is, the warmer you will be. Try to find something that falls comfortably down over your hips or even longer. For maximum warmth, a hood and drawstring or Velcro closings that help keep the wind from rushing up sleeves or bottoms will be much appreciated. Warm, waterproof boots are best for walking on slippery slushy sidewalks.
  • Layers—Layers—Layers!!! Start with a T-shirt and then pull on a sweater and then a fleece vest and then your winter coat over all, for example. This way you can peel off layers to cool off or put on layers to warm up. It’s sometimes hard to know just how cold it will be that day, and if you plan to be out for a long time, the temperature will drop considerably at night. Always carry with you or wear a knitted cap, scarf and warm gloves or mittens.
  • Watch the weather forecast. The good news is that you may not need to bundle up every day as if you were planning for a blizzard. Some winter days can be quite pleasant and some years offer up very mild conditions overall, so get to know your weatherman. Don’t be deceived by a clear blue sunny day; even the brightest of days can be frightfully cold.
  • Dark glasses aren’t only for looking cool in winter. On snowy days, the lights can be very reflective and you’ll want to have a pair of sunglasses that block at least 90 percent of the ultraviolet light.
  • Watch out for sunburn and windburn. Lip balm, sunscreen and moisturizers for your hands and face are a must. If you don’t apply them frequently, and even if you do, you might be surprised to find your lips to be so chapped that they crack and bleed, or that you have sunburn after a day of ice skating. A bright, snowy day reflects light everywhere, so you don’t want to forget your sunscreen.
  • Moisturize as often as possible. The winter is very dry and hard on your skin, especially if you already have dry skin. It also dries out your sinuses, which can be very uncomfortable. For your skin, you’ll want to have a good moisturizer to put on your body and your face after a shower or bath. It also helps to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Practice cold and flu prevention. Prevention is easier than cure. Two of the most important things you do are to wash your hands often and eat and sleep regularly and healthfully. More tips are available from Student Health Services.
  • Exercise faithfully—indoors and even outdoors. Going to the gym is ideal, but winter walks can be spectacular—especially on one of those bright days when everything stands out in the sharp relief against the blue eye-splitting winter sky. Other ideas for outdoor activities are ice skating, skiing, and a favorite of many, sledding.
  • Play in the snow. Ideas include making a snow person or a snow angel or simply throwing snowballs (gently and playfully, of course). To make a snow angel, lie down on your back in the new-fallen snow and sweep your arms up and down and your legs open and closed across the snow. Then stand up carefully to observe your creation.
  • Get plenty of natural light to help combat the “winter blues.” As the days shorten and you begin to suffer from sunlight withdrawal, some believe that natural light, such as sunlight, can lift low spirits. In the middle of winter, most people go to work when it’s still dark and come home when it’s dark.
  • Have a winter project other than your studies or work. This would be a good opportunity to start reading (or maybe writing) that big fat novel you’ve been putting off.
  • Snow needs to be shoveled and managed. If you live in off-campus housing, make sure you have a bag of salt or sand for your sidewalks to make them less slippery and more snow and ice free. You will also want to have a STURDY snow shovel on hand. Talk to your landlord about both—well before the snow hits. Car owners will need to have a heavy-duty ice scraper, preferably with a brush. When parking in your neighborhood, take note of street signs that warn about no parking because of snow removal (you don’t want to get ticketed or towed). Northfield has a parking ban in place from midnight, November 15 until April 15th. The ban is in place every night on any village or town street from midnight to 6 a.m.
  • After winter comes spring. Remember that it will get warmer and lighter and greener again, so refer back to this list as often as necessary and make the most of winter while you can.

Suggested Winter Clothing List

Clothing

  • Warm socks (natural fibers like wool or cotton are good choices)
  • Gloves (mittens or gloves; should be waterproof if meant for throwing snowballs; look for cashmere or thinsulate lining)
  • Scarf (very fashionable and functional)
  • Warm hat
  • Earmuffs
  • Warm coat/waterproof warm jacket (down-filled and thinsulate are two of the warmest linings; a longer coat is warmer)
  • Warm boots/waterproof boots (look for a good grip soles)
  • Turtlenecks or long-sleeve shirts
  • Sweaters
  • Fleece Shirts
  • Thermal long underwear/tights (to wear underneath jeans; silk thermal wear is lighter and less bulky than cotton ones
  • Fleece/flannel pajamas

Essential Items

  • Lip balm (ChapStick or other brand; voted #1 essential item)
  • Hand/body lotion (try Curel, Euricen, or Nivea brands)

For Cadets

You will be issued winter uniforms (including outerwear). Your civilian clothing needs will be minimal in your first semester at Norwich, however, please plan ahead if you will not be going home over the winter break. You will have little storage space and you may want to have a pre-packed box of winter clothes that your family can mail you after your first semester.

Pre-Arrival Checklist

  • Complete New Student Information paperwork prior to June 1.
  • Get passport
  • Obtain Form I-20 or DS-2019 from Norwich University
  • Pay SEVIS fee and obtain I-901 receipt (for F-1 students only)
  • Bring Form I-20 and I-901 receipt, along with your admissions acceptance letter to U.S. Consulate/Embassy to apply for visa.
  • Bring documents from Consulate/Embassy with you to your Immigration port-of-entry in the United States
  • Bring copies of your admission letter, financial documents, previous schools transcripts, medical prescriptions.
  • Contact the director or the assistant director immediately if you have a problem at 1-802-485-2582 OR 1-802-486-2716

Applying for a Visa

  1. If you do not have a passport, you must obtain one from the appropriate office of your government in your country. The passport must be valid for at least six (6) months whenever you enter the United States.
  2. Carefully read all information on the SEVIS I-20 (or DS-2019 if a J) document; especially page two (2) which explains your legal responsibilities as an F-1 student while you are in the U.S.
  3. Sign page one (1).
  4. With your passport, Form I-20/ DS-2019 and SEVIS fee receipt (I-901) if applicable, go to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country. Most US Consulates require that you make an appointment. The U.S. Consular Officer will review your papers. Upon approval and in most cases, after a visa Security Clearance, the US Consulate will issue an F-1 or J-1 Student visa (a visa is a passport page-sized sticker with your personal visa information on it. (Note: it will be invalid if you mark or write on it.) permitting you to enter the U.S. for the purpose of studying at Norwich University.

Arrival at U.S. Port of Entry

Careful planning and preparation by international students can ensure minimal confusion and smooth entry into the country at a U.S. port of entry. As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has instituted some changes in U.S. entry and exit procedures, here are some points that you should remember:

  1. Plan your arrival: As an international student in F-1 status or an exchange student in J-1 status, you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019. Before leaving your country, make sure that your passport and nonimmigrant visa are valid for entry into the U.S. The passport should be valid for at least six months into the future at all times.
  2. Documents you should carry with you:
    • Your passport with F-1 visa or J-1 visa
    • Form I-20/DS-2019 from Norwich University
      In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also have the following documentation:
    • Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee (Form I-901)
    • Proof of financial support
    • Evidence of student status, such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts or letter of acceptance as a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program.
    • Name and contact information for your International Student Advisor, including a 24-hour emergency contact number at the school (Norwich University Security 802-485-2499.)
  3. Complete your entry paperwork: You will be provided with Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and an Arrival Departure Record/Form I-94 to complete before you arrive at your initial point of entry to the U.S. When completing the Form I-94, please be sure to print clearly. The address portion should reflect the U.S. address where you will reside, which may not be the address of the school or program. You should also use the exact name spelling and format that appears on your passport. Name consistency on all U.S. immigration documents will allow for a smooth entrance into the U.S. and easy access to any benefits you may be eligible for from U.S.
  4. At the port of entry, present the following:
    • Your passport
    • Form I-20/DS-2019 from Norwich University
    • Form I-94
    • Customs Declaration Form (CPB-6059B). Airline flight attendants usually distribute this form during the flight.

    All visitors entering the U.S. must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the Officer that you will be a student/exchange visitor at Norwich University.

    Once your inspection is successfully completed, the Officer will:

    • Stamp your Form I-20/DS-2019 for duration of status D/S for F-1 and J-1 visa holders
    • Stamp your Arrival-Departure Record/Form I-94 and staple it into your passport
  5. Following admission into the U.S.: Students/Exchange Visitors must report to their school within 30 days of the date that appears on the Form I-20/DS-2019 to register for courses or to validate their intended participation. Failure to do so may result in serious immigration consequences.

Immigration Information

Terms You Should Know

Passport
Your passport identifies your country of nationality. Your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months into the future. A passport may be renewed from within the U.S.—contact your country’s embassy regarding the process.
SEVIS Form I-20
This form outlines your reason for being in the U.S.—to be a full time student enrolled at Norwich University. It lists your major, your agreed on financial plan, and the length of your academic program. You are required to notify the International Center if information on this document changes.

The I-20 is an essential travel document in addition to your passport, visa and I-94 card and it must have a valid signature in order to allow your reentry of the U.S. The only people who are allowed to sign it are called Designated School Officials (DSO). DSOs are allowed to sign and process F-1 paperwork and SEVIS data entry on behalf of a given institution. The Director and the Assistant Director from the Norwich International Center are allowed to sign your I-20.

F-1 Visa
The visa allows you to enter the country, and it indicates your non-immigrant status at the time of entry. Most international students at Norwich University enter the U.S. on an F-1 visa.
SEVIS Form DS-2019
This form outlines your reason for being in the U.S.—to be a exchange student enrolled at Norwich University. It lists your identifying information and the length of your academic program. You are required to notify the International Center if information on this document changes.
J-1 Visa
The visa allows you to enter the country, and it indicates your non-immigrant status at the time of entry. Most exchange students at Norwich University enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa.
I-94 Arrival/Departure Card
The I-94 card is a small white card stapled to your passport upon entry to the U. S. Your I-94 card shows that you have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. and confirms the status by which you entered the country. You do not want to lose this card! You will receive a new I-94 number each time you enter the United States. If you entered the country on an F-1 visa, your I-94 card should have the notation “D/S,” which stands for Duration of Status. D/S means that you are allowed to remain in the U.S. as long as your I-20 dates are valid and you are enrolled full time at the issuing institution.
Grace Period
F-1 students have a 60-day grace period following completion of study or completion of optional practical training to:

  1. depart the U.S.,
  2. transfer to another institution, or
  3. change status.

Students who terminate their studies before completion of their academic program do NOT receive a 60-day grace period. These students MUST notify the International Center BEFORE terminating studies in order to receive a 15-day grace period in which to depart the U.S. F-1 students who do not notify the center before termination of studies receive no grace period and must leave the U.S. immediately.

F-1 visas cannot be renewed from within the U.S. An F-1 student may travel to Canada, Mexico and adjacent islands for less than 30 days with an expired visa. Please contact Norwich International Center for additional information.

SEVIS Fee Facts and Instructions
The Department of Homeland Security collects a congressionally mandated fee to cover the costs for the continued operation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). International students and exchange visitors are subject to this fee, which is used to administer and maintain the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Below is a summary of SEVIS Fee information. For more detailed information please visit call 212-620-3418 or visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement SEVIS I-901 Fee site.

Who pays the fee?

  • Those who wish to enter the United States either as new students or exchange visitors with F-1 or J-1 status.
  • Those who are in the United States in another immigration status and want to change to F-1 or J-1 status.
  • Those who are continuing F-1 students…
    • filing an application for reinstatement when they have been out of status for more than 5 months;
    • applying for a new visa or returning to the United States after an absence of more than 5 months that did not involve authorized overseas study;
    • applying for a change of status to an F, M, or J classification except for changes between F-1 and F-3 or between M-1 and M-3.
  • Those who are continuing J-1 exchange visitors…
    • filing a reinstatement application after a substantive violation;
    • filing a reinstatement application after they have been out of status between 121 and 269 days;

Exemptions from the fee

  • Continuing F-1 and J-1 students are not subject to the fee.
  • Spouses and dependent children of F-1 Students and J-1 Exchange Visitors (F-2, J-2) are not subject to the fee.

Paying the fee

  1. Applicants who require a visa to enter the United States must pay the SEVIS fee before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate for their visa interview. It is recommended that the fee be paid at least 3 business days before the embassy or consulate interview.
  2. Applicants who are citizens of Canada, Bermuda, Bahamas and residents of certain other islands (see 8 CFR 212.1a) wishing to apply for F-1, F-3, M-1, M-3, or J-1 status at a Port of Entry into the United States must pay and process the SEVIS fee BEFORE appearing at the Port of Entry. It is recommended that the fee be paid at least 3 business days before entering the port of entry.
  3. Non-immigrants currently in the United States who apply for student or exchange visitor status must pay the fee prior to filing their change of status application.

How much is the fee?

Please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs Fees for Visa Services site for current fee information.

How is the fee paid?

You will need your SEVIS ID on your Certificate of Eligibility Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to complete the fee payment. The SEVIS fee is non-refundable.

Online

Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement SEVIS I-901 Fee site, pay with a credit card, and complete the online Form I-901 (Fee for Remittance for Certain F, M, and J Non-immigrants).

  • At the site, scroll to the bottom of the page, answer YES you hold a valid Form I-20/DS-2019.
  • On the next page, complete the personal information. For “School Code information,” enter the Norwich school: POM214F10035000. The SEVIS Identification Number can be found in the upper right hand corner of your Form I-20/DS-2019. It begins with the letter “N” and contains 10 digits.
  • Verify the information is correct on the next page.
  • For mailing options, check First Class or Expedited Delivery. First class is recommended, as you will be able to print a receipt at the end of the session that can be presented at the U.S. Embassy when you apply for your visa.
  • The Credit Card Form has a place for cardholder address. You do not need to complete this, as it is not a required field.
  • PRINT AT LEAST TWO COPIES OF THE RECEIPT!

By Mail/Post

Submit a completed Form I-901 and a check or money order drawn on a U.S. Bank and payable in U.S. currency. You can download the form at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement SEVIS I-901 Fee site or request the form by phone at 1-800-870-3676 (inside the U.S.) Complete the Form I-901 and write your name exactly as it appears on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. Prepare a check or international money order (drawn on U.S. banks only) for the fee amount made payable to the Department of Homeland Security. Mail the completed Form I-901 and the payment to the address listed on the form. A Form I-797 receipt notice should be mailed within 3 days of processing the fee. Make copies of the receipt.

By Western Union Quick Pay Service

This collects the SEVIS fee, in local currency, along with the necessary Form I-901 data and electronically transmits the payment and data to SEVP. The properly completed Western Union receipt serves as immediate proof-of-payment. This option is available in any country where Western Union offers its Quick Pay service. Instructions can be found at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement SEVIS I-901 Fee site

How will the payment be verified?

The payment will be recorded in the SEVIS system. However, it is recommended that the paper Form I-797 or the online receipt (I-901) be brought to the visa interview. DHS will issue an official paper receipt (Form I-901) for every payment received. Individuals who file electronically will be able to print an electronic receipt immediately at the time of payment. Individuals may request Express delivery service for the Form I-797 receipt at an additional cost of $30.

Staying in Status

F-1 Status

It is extremely important for international students to maintain their immigration status while in the United States. Failure to maintain the terms and conditions of F-1 status may be grounds for removal from the United States and may cause difficulty re-entering the U.S. in the future.

Important Forms and Documents

The Form I-20 shows that you are eligible for F-1 status. It is issued by the college you are authorized to attend and shows how long you may remain in the United States. Students with F-1 status are allowed to enter up to 30 days before the start date and stay 60 days beyond the program completion date to gather their belongings and make arrangements to return home.

You can obtain an F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. You should have an F-1 visa in your passport upon entry to the U.S. Note: Canadians do not require an F-1 visa in order to obtain F-1 status. The expiration date on your visa does not affect how long you may stay in the U.S. whereas the end date on your Form I-20 does. The only reason to be concerned with an expired visa is if you wish to leave the U.S. and re-enter.

The Form I-94 is your official—Arrival-Departure Record. It is a small white card that is issued when you arrive in the United States. The Form I-94 is an important immigration document as it indicates your immigration status, F-1, and an expiration date. Your expiration date should be—D/S which means Duration of Status. This refers to the date you complete your studies or the end date of your Form I-20 (whichever is earlier) plus a 60-day grace period.

How to Maintain F-1 Status

  • Check-in with the International Center for SEVIS registration within 30 days of the program start date indicated on your Form I-20.
  • Attend the college/university listed on the Form I-20 used for entry.
  • Maintain a valid passport at all times.
  • Follow transfer and change of educational level procedures.
  • Apply for program extension prior to the end date on your Form I-20 if you are not able to complete your studies by this date.
  • Receive authorization before engaging in employment.
  • Report a change of address/residence to International Center within 10 days of the change.

Full Course of Study

F-1 student status is granted only to students who plan to study full-time at an approved institution in the United States. Immigration regulations define full-time study for undergraduates as the equivalent of 12 credits per semester.

Students may be considered to be maintaining valid F-1 status despite not being full-time in only a few circumstances. These include:

Annual Vacation
An F-1 student is considered to be in status during the annual or summer vacation if the student was in status the previous semester and intends to register for the next semester.
Medical
If a leave of absence or reduction in course load to less than full-time is needed for medical reasons, the student must notify the International Student Advisor prior to withdrawing to less than full-time. The student will be required to provide the advisor with a letter from a health-care practitioner requiring or recommending the interruption or reduction in studies.
Language/Course Placement
During the first semester of study in the U.S., a student may be able to reduce his/her course load due to initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods, or improper course level placement.

F-1 students who do not fall into any of the categories above and who fail to complete 12 credits each semester generally will not be able to benefit from certain privileges associated with F-1 status. These privileges include:

  • DSO signature on the Form I-20 for travel and re-entry to the U.S.
  • On-campus employment
  • Curricular or Optional Practical Training
  • Immigration transfer to another U.S. institution

Address Reporting

International students must report their addresses to the International Center within 10 days of arrival. Students who change their address must update the International Center within 10 days of the change.

ALL VIOLATIONS OF STATUS WILL BE REPORTED IN SEVIS PROMPTLY.

J-1 Status (Exchange Students)

It is extremely important for international students to maintain their immigration status while in the United States. Failure to maintain the terms and conditions of J-1 status may be grounds for removal from the United States and may cause difficulty re-entering the U.S. in the future.

Important Forms and Documents

The Form DS-2019 shows that you are eligible for the J status. It is issued by the college you are authorized to attend and shows how long you may remain in the United States. Students with J-1 status are allowed to stay 30 days beyond the program completion date to gather their belongings and make arrangements to return home.

You can obtain a J-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. You should have a J-1 visa in your passport upon entry to the U.S. Note: Canadians do not require a J-1 visa in order to obtain J-1 status. The expiration date on your visa does not affect how long you may stay in the U.S. whereas the end date on your Form DS-2019 does. The only reason to be concerned with an expired visa is if you wish to leave the U.S. and re-enter.

The Form I-94 is your official Arrival-Departure Record. It is a small white card that is issued when you arrive in the United States. The Form I-94 is an important immigration document as it indicates your immigration status, J-1, and an expiration date. Your expiration date should be D/S (Duration of Status). This refers to the date you complete your studies or the end date of your Form DS-2019 (whichever is earlier) plus a 30-day grace period.

How to Maintain J-1 Status

  • Check-in with the International Center for SEVIS registration within 30 days of the program start date indicated on your Form DS-2019
  • Attend the college/university listed on the DS-2019 used for entry into the U.S.
  • Engage in a full-course of study during your academic year (12 credits or more)
  • Maintain a valid passport at all times
  • Receive authorization before engaging in employment
  • Maintain adequate health insurance and provide documentation
  • Report a change of address/residence to the International Center within 10 days of the change

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Some exchange visitors from certain countries are subject to a requirement to spend two years in their home country before returning to the United States for a long-term stay. Exchange Visitors subject to this requirement include those who (1) have received government funding, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of exchange, (2) worked in a field that appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills list, or (3) participated in a graduate medical training program in the United States sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. If you are subject to the requirement (as indicated on your visa), you must “reside and be physically present” for a total of two years in your country of citizenship or your country of legal permanent residence or apply for a waiver to the requirement.

Address Reporting

International students must report their addresses to the International Center within 10 days of arrival. A student who changes their address at any time must update the International Center within 10 days of the change.

ALL VIOLATIONS OF STATUS WILL BE REPORTED IN SEVIS PROMPTLY.

Travel

Travel Inside the U.S.

It is recommended that international students carry photocopies of their Form I-94, Form I-20/DS-2019, and the biographical page of their passport with them during their stay in the Vermont area. When traveling outside Vermont, it is advisable to carry original documents, including a valid passport, Form I-20, Form DS-2019, and Form I-94.

Travel and Return to the U.S.

Travel outside the U.S. is recommended only if you have all documents related to your immigration status in order prior to departure. These documents include:

Passport

You must carry a passport that will be valid for re-entry to the U.S. The passport should be valid for six months beyond the date of arrival in the United States.

Valid U.S. Visa Stamp

Citizens of all countries except Canada are required to have a valid U.S. visa stamp in their passports to reenter the U.S. You should use the appropriate visa related to your current activities. Use of a visitor or tourist visa should not be used for re-entry into the U.S. during your program of study or you may jeopardize your student status. If your student visa will not be valid at the time of re-entry to the U.S., you will need to apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy for a new visa before your return. A list of U.S. consulates abroad can be found at the following link: usembassy.state.gov. Please note that student visas cannot be renewed within the U.S. (see the Renewing a Visa section for more information).

Form I-20 or Form DS-2019

The Form I-20/DS-2019 must be current and have a signature valid for travel and re-entry. F-1 travel signatures are valid for one year for current students and six months for students on Optional Practical Training (OPT). J-1 travel signatures are valid for the entire period of stay, up to one year as indicated on the Form DS-2019. In order to obtain a travel signature you must drop off your most recent and original Form I-20/DS-2019 and a copy of your Form I-94 to International Center at least 24 hours in advance of the intended travel date.

Proof of Financial Support

At the port of entry, proof of financial support may be requested. You should carry documents supporting the source and amount of financial support indicated on the Form I-20/DS-2019.

Employment in the U. S.

International students in the United States in F-1 status may not accept off-campus employment unless they receive authorization from immigration. Working without authorization, one of the most serious violations of visa status, can result in you having to return home to obtain a new visa. It can also result in immediate deportation. Please talk to the International Center Director if you have any questions about employment authorization.

Working in the United States

Generally speaking, international students with F-1 student visas are only allowed to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week (except during major school breaks for which you may work 40 hours a week). There are, however, ways in which you can work off campus if approved by your International Student Advisor.

Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as “an integral part of an established curriculum.” For students who have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year, CPT can be used for internships and other “integral” work in their major field of study. The work must be completed during your degree.

CPT can be granted for up to 12 months at a time and there is no maximum duration – except that it must remain integral to the completion of your program and must be completed while you are still fully enrolled in the program. Students who engage in 12 months or more full-time CPT become ineligible for Optional Practical Training (see below).

In order to be approved for CPT, you must bring to your International Student Advisor:

  • A letter from you academic advisor stating that your work is an “integral” part of major curriculum
  • The exact location of your employment
  • The company’s name
  • Your start date
  • Your end date

CPT can be approved for either part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) but you must maintain a full course of study while approved for CPT.

If you are approved, you will receive a new I-20 from your International Student Advisor with a notation on the last page indicating the employer and the time frame you may be employed with them.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment that is optional for the student and therefore does not have to be an integral part of your degree program. OPT can be used either before you graduate (pre-completion) or after you graduate (post-completion). Standard OPT is available for a total of 12 months per educational level.

While OPT does not need to be an integral part of your curriculum, it must be related to your major area of study. In addition, students must have been enrolled full-time for one academic year in order to be eligible.

Pre-completion OPT can be approved for either part-time or full-time employment. Part-time work (20 hours per week or less) will be deducted from your available OPT time at half the full-time rate. Therefore if you complete 6 months of part-time OPT, 3 months of OPT will be deducted from your 12 month total standard OPT time.

Post-completion OPT must be completed within 14 months of graduation. Therefore students must be approved for OPT employment no more than 2 months post-graduation. In addition, students must apply for OPT prior to graduation or loose eligibility.

To apply for OPT, students must make an appointment with their International Student Advisor and bring with them:

  • Form I-20
  • Passport
  • I-94
  • 2 passport size photographs (color)
  • a check or money order for the application fee (directions and prices may change, please see your International Student Advisor for specific instructions)
  • Completed form I-765 (see your International Student Advisor for instructions)

These items will be mailed to US Citizenship and Immigration Services for processing and are typically approved within 3 months. Plan accordingly!

These items will be mailed to US Citizenship and Immigration Services for processing and are typically approved within 3 months. Plan accordingly!

For those students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) you may be eligible for an additional 17 months of post-completion OPT. Please see your International Student Advisor for details.

U.S. Tax Information for International Students

The following guidelines are for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial or legal advice. Please consult your own tax or financial advisor with any questions.

Taxes are often complicated—even for those native to the United States. This handout is designed to offer general guidelines only for federal income tax obligations, including determining tax residency and which forms must be filed and when. The Norwich International Center staff is not trained to provide assistance with taxes but will provide you with information on basic Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publications and forms.

If you are an international or exchange student who was present in the United States in the past tax year, you may be required by law to file one or more U.S. Federal and State Tax forms even if you have had no U.S. source of income. The U.S. tax year runs from January 1 to December 31, with a filing deadline of April 15.

What is a Tax Return?

In the United States, federal income taxes are prepaid by our employer(s) based on the estimate of liability provided by the employee on the Form W-4 (usually completed by the employee at the time of hire). The taxes paid by the employer are then withheld from the employee’s paychecks. Since the amount withheld is only an estimate, employees are given a yearly opportunity to reconcile the amount taken out with how much was owed. The name of the form on which the reconciliation is made is called the “tax return.” A tax return is filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an agency of the U.S. government.

In some cases, filing the tax return results in a refund from the IRS because the amount of money withheld was higher than necessary. However, sometimes a taxpayer does not have enough withheld and must send a payment to the IRS with his/her tax return.

Forms You May Need to Complete

Federal:

  • Form 8843 – Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition
  • Form 1040 NR EZ
  • Form 1040 NR

State:

  • Form 1-NR/PY
  • All individuals who have earned income in the United States must file a U.S. tax return.
  • Individuals with no income who are still within the – exempt individual period are required to file a Form 8843 – “Statement for Exempt Individuals.”

Residents for tax purposes usually complete Forms 1040 or 1040 EZ. Nonresidents for tax purposes usually complete Form 1040 NR or 1040 NR EZ.

  • If you had no U.S. income and are a nonresident for tax purposes, file Form 8843.
  • If you had U.S. income and considered a nonresident for tax purposes, file Form 1040 NR or the Form 1040 NR EZ and Form 8843.
  • If you had U.S. income and are considered a resident for tax purposes, file Form 1040 or Form 1040 EZ.
Tax Treaties

Some individuals benefit from a tax treaty between their country and the U.S. that decreases the amount of tax they owe the federal government (not the state). To determine if some of your earnings are exempt from federal taxes, see IRS Publication 901.

What is Considered Income?

Nonresidents, for tax purposes, are taxed only on their U.S. income. With a few exceptions, this means that any income received from outside the U.S. is not considered taxable in the United States. Residents, for tax purposes, are taxed by the United States on their income from anywhere in the world.

Sources of U.S. income may include on-campus employment, practical or academic training, scholarships, fellowships, and any other compensation received for labor. ―Income‖ is not limited to wages paid in cash, but also includes any portion of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship from a U.S. source that is applied to housing and meal expenses. The portion applied to tuition, fees, and books is not considered income. If scholarship money is provided directly to the student by check or cash, however, it is fully taxable even if the student intends to use it to pay for tuition, fees, and/or books.

Determining Tax Residency

The IRS divides everyone into two categories for tax purposes – resident and nonresident: Residents: all U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (green card‖ holders), and nonresident aliens for immigration purposes who have met the Substantial Presence Test (see below).

Nonresident aliens: all others, regardless of immigration status.

The Substantial Presence Test (SPT) is how the IRS determines when nonresident aliens have been in the United States long enough to be considered residents for tax purposes. One must be present in the United States for a total of 183 days over a period of 3 years to pass the SPT and be considered a resident for tax purposes, however, individuals in F, J, M, or Q status do not count days during the time they are “exempt individuals.”

The rules for exempt individuals are: F, J, M or Q students and their dependents are exempt individuals for a period of five years throughout their lifetime

During the time individuals in F, J, M and Q status are “exempt individuals,” they will remain nonresidents for tax purposes even though they are present in the United States for more than 183 days. Once they leave exempt individual status, days of presence will be counted and they may become a resident alien for tax purposes. The Substantial Presence Test is detailed more fully in IRS Publication 519.

Identification Numbers

You must have either a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to complete all tax forms except Form 8843.

Social Security Numbers (SSNs):
For information regarding obtaining a Social Security number, please see the section on “Obtaining a Social Security Number.”

ITIN Numbers:
The IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. The ITIN is a nine digit, tax processing number issued by the IRS. ITINs are not valid identification outside of the tax system. By law, an individual cannot have both an ITIN and an SSN. Form W-7 and instructions for obtaining an ITIN can be found at: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7.pdf (pdf)

Resources

IRS Publication 513 provides an excellent overview of tax regulations for international students/visitors.

IRS Publication 519—U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens—contains the Substantial Presence Test which helps determine your residency for tax purposes.

Obtaining a Social Security Number

A Social Security card provides an individual with a unique identification number assigned by the United States federal government to monitor and tax wages earned by employees in the U.S. It does not grant employment authorization. A Social Security number is required for all individuals who are employed in the United States. It is not required to obtain a driver’s license, nor should it be required to open a bank account, rent a car, purchase a cell phone or file federal tax forms.

Eligibility

F-1 Students are eligible to obtain a Social Security number if:

  • They are in valid F-1 status and have been offered an on-campus job.
  • They have been authorized for off-campus employment, either Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT)

J-1 Students: are eligible to obtain a Social Security number if:

  • They are in valid J-1 status.

J-1 Visiting Scholars are eligible to obtain a Social Security number if:

  • They have checked in with the Norwich International Center and are SEVIS active

Any student or scholar who is eligible for a Social Security number must be physically present in the U.S. for at least 10 calendar days before applying for a Social Security number, and new students must have completed the check-in process at Norwich International Center to have their SEVIS record activated.

Procedures

F-1 Students who have an On-Campus Job Offer:

  1. Complete the F-1 On-Campus Employment Form, available at the Norwich International Center. The form verifies your job offer and your valid immigration status. Have your hiring Supervisor complete and sign the top half of the form. Please note that your employment start date must be at least five days into the future to allow adequate time for processing. Turn the original form into Norwich International Center along with a copy of your Form I-94. The form will be completed and signed within two business days.
  2. Update your current address
  3. Complete a Social Security (SS) Application Form (available at Norwich International Center. For item #3, select -legal alien allowed to work).
  4. Bring to SS Office: The nearest SS office is located in Montpelier at 33 School St.
    • Completed F-1 On-Campus Employment Form
    • Completed SS Application
    • Form I-20
    • Form I-94
    • Passport

Note: Students who have on-campus employment cannot apply for a Social Security number more than 30 days in advance of the employment start date.

F-1 Students who have Off-Campus Employment Authorization (i.e. OPT, CPT):

  1. Update your current address
  2. Complete a Social Security (SS) Application Form
  3. Bring to SS Office: The nearest SS office is located in Montpelier at 33 School St.
    • Proof of your employment authorization (i.e. EAD, CPT employment authorization letter)
    • Completed SS Application
    • Form I-20
    • Form I-94
    • Passport

J-1 Students who have Off-Campus Employment Authorization (i.e. Academic Training):

  1. Update your current address
  2. Complete a Social Security (SS) Application Form. Available in Norwich International Center; for item #3, select legal alien allowed to work.
  3. Bring to SS Office: The nearest SS office is located in Montpelier at 33 School St.
    • Original Academic Training Authorization letter
    • Completed SS Application
    • Form DS-2019
    • Form I-94
    • Passport
Social Security Offices-General Information and Inquiries

Visit www.ssa.gov
phone: 800-772-1213

Receiving your Social Security Number

The Social Security Administration may need some time to verify your current immigration status before they can issue a social security card. In most cases, a card should be mailed to the address that you listed on your application form within 14 business days.

For more information regarding Social Security numbers please visit the Social Security Administration website pages below:

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