Office of International Programs
int'l students

International students

Providing quality in education

Current Students

Newly Admitted and Currently Enrolled Students


Orientation Sessions

In order to assist you in getting to know NEIU and understanding your responsibilities in maintaining your F-1 student status and the expectations of the Office of International Programs, we have scheduled the following orientation sessions. Attendance at the orientation session designated for your term of admission in mandatory for both initial admits (students coming from outside the U.S.) and transfer students. Failure to attend the orientation will result in a registration hold remaining or being placed on your student record. For directions to the campus and a campus map, click here .


Maintaining F-1 Status

It is very important for you to observe the following immigration regulations in order to avoid problems with your F-1 status:

  1. Maintain a valid passport at all times.

  2. Attend the university/college you are authorized to attend.

  3. Maintain full time enrollment (12 credit hours for undergraduate students, 9 credit hours for graduate students).

  4. Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours a week during the academic year. (Full-time on-campus employment is permitted during vacation periods, such as summer, as long as you are enrolled full-time the term before and intend to be full-time the following term.)

  5. Never work off-campus without authorization. Limit off-campus employment with authorization (through economic hardship or practical training) to 20 hours per week while school is in session.

  6. Apply for program extensions at least one month before the completion date on the Form I-20.

  7. Follow procedures for changing from one program or educational level to another (e.g., from B.A. degree to M.A. degree).

  8. Report to the Office of International Programs any of the following events within 10 days of their occurrence:

    • Change of address, major field of study, or change in financial situation

    • Termination of studies: withdrawal date and reason

    • Transfer to another school: for which term and to which school

    • On-campus or off-campus employment: employer's name and address, job description, hours per week, start date and end date


Authorization to Drop Below Full-time Enrollment

In general, permission to register for less than full-time for an international student should occur rarely. By immigration law the international student must pursue a full course of study during each fall and spring semester. Full-course of study (or full-time study) is defined in regulations as follows:

Undergraduate Student: at least 12 credit hours per semester
Graduate Student: at least 9 credit hours per semester

Exceptions to full course of study include:

  • The student is having difficulty with the English language, or is unfamiliar with American teaching methods, during the 1st semester only.

  • The student has been placed in the improper course level (it can only occur once in the same program)

  • The student needs less than a full course load to finish the degree program during his/her last semester.

  • The student has a temporary illness or medical problem (medical documentation is substantial) for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of twelve months.

An international student must make an appointment to see an international student advisor to request authorization to drop below full-time enrollment. An international student should avoid at all costs dropping below full-time enrollment prior to obtain the authorization.


Program Extension

A letter from the student's academic advisor, verifying the new expected date of program completion and the reason for the delay, and new financial documentation are required. The student's request for extension must be made and granted prior to the program end date on the Form I-20.


Curricular Practical Training

CPT may be authorized for an international student who has been full-time enrolled for one full academic year (fall and spring).

  • Curricular Practical Training is defined to be any type of internship or practicum which is an integral part of an established curriculum.

  • A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to the international student advisor. A student may not begin curricular practical training until receiving his/her I-20 with the international student advisor's endorsement.

  • Students who have received one year or more full-time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion practical training (i.e., Optional Practical Training).

    CPT Instructions
    CPT Advisor's Form

Optional Practical Training

An international student, who has been maintaining his/her status for at least one full academic year, may apply to the USCIS for authorization for temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.

  • For instructions and a list of documents to be sent to the USCIS, please Click here.

  • The student may not begin optional practical training until the date indicated on his/her employment authorization (EAD) card.

  • Optional Practical Training must be requested prior to the completion of all course requirements for the degree or prior to the completion of the course of study. A student must complete all practical training within a 14-month period following the completion of study. Authorization to engage in practical training employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another education level.

  • Students in some disciplines are allowed to apply for an extension of post-completion OPT in certain circumstances. Click here for more information. For the application for the request for extension of I-20 Completion Date, Click here

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