General Information FAQs

General Information FAQs

 

  1. I would like to meet with an international student advisor.  Where should I go?
  2. I have questions about employment.  Where should I go first?
  3. I am currently in a visa status other than F-1, but I would like to become an F-1 student.  What should be my first step?
  4. I am planning on traveling outside the U.S. What do I need to have with me when I re-enter the U.S.?
  5. I’ve been academically disqualified.  Does this affect my status as an F-1 student?
  6. How many courses do I have to take each semester?  How many courses do I need to take in summer and winter?
  7. I would like to take less than a full course load. What are my options?
  8. My parents are coming to visit me.  Can IPS please write an invitation letter for them to bring to their visa appointment?
  9. I have an International Student Health Insurance Hold on my record, and I cannot register for classes. How can I fix this?
  10. I’m moving.  Do I need to report my change of address to anyone?
  11. Do I have to file taxes?

 

1.    I would like to meet with an International Student Advisor.  Where should I go?

Please come to the IPS Office! We are located at Clark Hall 543 .  Advising hours are Monday-Thursday, from 9 AM- 4 PM.  No appointment is needed; all advising is on a drop-in basis.

For students who are not in F-1 status but are interested in obtaining F-1 Status, you must attend an “Obtaining F-1 Status” Workshop prior to meeting with an international student advisor. Advising for students who are not in F-1 or J-1 status is only done on Tuesdays, from 3-4 PM.

2.    I have questions about employment.  Where should I go first?

Please come to an F-1 Employment Workshop, held Wednesday from 3:00-4:00 PM and Thursdays from 10:30 - 11:30 AM.  Please meet at the IPS Office (Clark Hall 543) 10 minutes before the workshop is set to begin, and be prepared to take notes.  No advance sign-up is required.  IPS will not advise on employment related issues, nor accept applications for off-campus employment, until you have attended the F-1 Employment workshop.

3.    I am currently in a visa status other than F-1, but I would like to become an F-1 student.  What should be my first step?

Please come to an “Obtaining F-1 Status” Workshop. These are held Tuesdays from 3:00 - 4:00 PM.  Please meet at the IPS Office (Clark Hall 543) 10 minutes before the workshop is set to begin, and be prepared to take notes.  No advance sign-up is required.  After having attending the workshop, students who need further advising may meet with an advisor from 3-4 on Tuesdays.  IPS will not advise about changing to F-1 status, nor  accept any Change of Status/ I-20 request applications until you have attended the “Obtaining F-1 Status” Workshop.

4.    I am planning on traveling outside the U.S. What do I need to have with me when I re-enter the U.S.?

In order to re-enter the US, you must have:

  • Passport:  Your passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future.
  • I-20 with valid travel signature
  • A valid F-1 visa

F-1 students who are planning to travel to another country must have their I-20 signed for re-entry by an International Student Advisor prior to leaving the U.S. The signature on page 3 of the I-20 is valid for 12 months after the date signed, unless you are on OPT;  on OPT, the travel signature is only valid for 6 months.  Please come to IPS for a travel signature at least 2 weeks before you plan on departing the U.S.

Valid F-1 Visa: The visa is a stamp in the passport, which is obtained at an American Consulate prior to coming to the U.S. If the current visa expires before the re-entry date, or a student changed to F-1 from another visa status while in the U.S., the student must apply for a new F-1 visa while outside the U.S.

PLEASE NOTE: Students on Post-Completion OPT/STEM Extension must additionally have:

    • Your EAD Card (Or 1-797 Notice of Action if you have not yet received your EAD); and
    • A letter from your employer verifying employment

Please note that students with a pending STEM Extension EAD should not travel.

5.    I’ve been academically disqualified.  Does this affect my status as an F-1 student?

Yes, it may.  If you have been academically disqualified, you must meet with an international student advisor, or attend an international student DQ workshop. These are held after academic standing is posted each semester.  Failure to speak with your international student advisor, or to attend an international student DQ workshop, can lead to loss of F-1 status.  If you have been academically disqualified, you need to contact IPS right away to learn how you can continue to legally remain in the U.S.

6.    How many courses do I have to take each semester?  How many courses do I need to take in summer and winter?

As an international student, you must be registered full-time each semester.  For graduate students, full-time is 9-units per semester. For undergraduates, full time is 12-units per semester.

International students are not required to register for any units during the summer or winter break.  

7.    I would like to take less than a full course load. What are my options?

All international students must be enrolled for a full course of study each semester. Full-time enrollment is 12-units for undergraduate students, or 9-units for graduate students. If this is your last semester and you need less than a full course load to complete your degree, then you do not need to be full-time, but you must file a Reduced Course Load (RCL) form prior to the Add deadline.  Graduate students who are working on thesis or project and have less than full time enrollment must also file a Petition for a Reduced Course Load (RCL).

There are limited reasons why an international student may take less than a full course load.  If it is not your last semester, and would like to take less than a full course of study, please speak with an international student advisor or visit our Reduced Course Load FAQs page.

8.    My parents are coming to visit me.  Can IPS please write an invitation letter for them to bring to their visa appointment?

IPS has learned from the U.S. State Department that invitation letters provided by universities are not necessary and have no effect on visa issuance. "Each applicant applying for a visa must qualify on their own merits". Therefore, IPS no longer provides invitation letters to students for use in inviting relatives to visit them.

A sample template is provided on the IPS Forms for you to use. IPS will continue to provide Verification of Enrollment letters, and request can be done on the IPS Forms page.

9.    I have an International Student Health Insurance Hold on my record, and I cannot register for classes. How can I fix this?

Holds are electronic restrictions on your access to register for classes. International students in F-1 status must purchase the University approved medical insurance plan before registering for classes each semester.  The insurance hold will not be removed from your MYSJSU record without the insurance purchase.  The university approved health plan can be purchased online.   Please be sure to enroll in the coverage for international students at SJSU and NOT for International Gateways students.  Your hold will be removed within 72 business hours of enrolling in insurance.

10.    I’m moving.  Do I need to report my change of address to anyone?

Yes.  As an international student, you must update your address within 10 days of a move.  You must update your address BOTH through MySJSU and through IPS.  You can update your address through the IPS Change of Address Form.

11.    Do I have to file taxes?

Yes. International students are required to file yearly tax returns. This does not necessarily mean that you owe money.  IPS will send you an email in early Spring with resources to help you with taxes. IPS cannot advise on tax issues.  Additional resources may be found on our Tax Workshops page.