Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I have to attend orientation?

Yes. The international student Immigration Orientation is mandatory and all international students on F-1 and J-1 visas are required to attend. At orientation, you will receive information regarding federal regulations affecting your immigration status, as well as have an opportunity to meet other international students and international peer mentors who can assist you with your transition.

Do I need to have medical insurance?

Yes. All international students in F-1 or J-1 status must have medical insurance that meets certain requirements in order to register and continue their studies at FIU. Your compliance with this requirement is monitored by Student Health Services (SHS). You may purchase the university-approved medical insurance plan online at https://www.gallagherkoster.com/FIU by credit card or by e-check. If you have your own insurance, your insurance policy must be approved by SHS. For more info visit the SHS website.

Do I need to schedule an appointment to speak to an advisor?

Yes. You must make an appointment with an ISSS advisor so that you can receive the necessary attention and appropriate advice needed to address any complex issues.  However, the ISSS office does have walk-in hours on Wednesdays from 9:30am to 12:00pm on the Modesto Maidique Campus and from 2:30pm to 4:00pm on the Biscayne Bay Campus. Applications for CPT and OPT require an appointment and may not be submitted during walk-in hours.

Can I take classes at another institution while studying at FIU?

Yes. If you have maintained your status you may be able take classes at another institution, but you must enroll for a minimum of six credits at FIU in the fall and spring terms.  If summer is your first term, then you must enroll for a minimum of six credits at FIU in that term.  You must enroll for a total of at least 12 credits as an undergraduate student or 9 credits as a graduate student between the two institutions.  You must obtain a letter of recommendation from your academic advisor or a printout of your transient form and submit this documentation together with a Document Request Form to ISSS. If all is in order, you will receive authorization from an ISSS advisor to study at the second institution; a copy of your
grades/transcript from the second institution must be submitted to the ISSS office by the end of the term.

Can I drop below full-time?

No. To maintain your immigration status you are required to enroll full-time during the fall and spring terms (12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 graduate level credit hours for graduate students). Exceptions to the full-time requirement must be approved by an ISSS advisor BEFORE dropping below full-time.

I am out of status. What should I do?

If you are out of status you must schedule an appointment to meet with an ISSS advisor immediately to review your options in returning to status.

Can I take the summer semester off?

The answer to this question varies from case to case. Below you may find some of the most common scenarios

  • Enrollment during First Semester: You are required to be enrolled full-time if Summer is your first semester at FIU. This also applies to transfer students.
  • Enrollment during Last Semester: You are required to be enrolled during the Summer Term if it is considered your last semester and you had applied for graduation. Please keep in mind that students who only need one course to complete their program of study, the course cannot be completed through online or distance education. F-1 students must enroll in at least one course that requires physical attendance in their final academic term.
  • Enrollment Depending in Academic Program: You may be required to be enrolled during the Summer Term if your program of study requires you to be enrolled. Confirm this with your academic department.
  • Summer Term Optional Semester: Summer enrollment is optional ONLY if you are a continuing student and have completed a full course of study in Fall or/and Spring term. This means you can take the summer off (take no classes at all), take a part-time load, or take all online classes.

I need an expense letter. Where can I get this information?

You may obtain an expense letter from ISSS after you have registered for classes by completing a Document Request Form. This letter will only indicate the average costs for attending FIU.

Do I have to attend or view an F-1 Employment Workshop in order to apply for CPT or OPT?

Yes. If you are planning to work off-campus in the U.S. you must get authorization for either Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). To apply for either of these F-1 employment benefits, you must view the online employment workshop on the ISSS website, or attend a live employment workshop hosted by ISSS. You must complete the workshop acknowledgement form and set up an appointment to meet with an ISSS advisor before engaging in any type of off-campus employment. The online workshop is available at https://internationalprograms.fiu.edu/isss/services/workshops/.

Can I work full-time on-campus?

You can work up to 20 hours per week during the fall and spring terms with authorization from ISSS. During the summer vacation, spring break and holiday season, you may engage in full-time on-campus employment.

Can I work in more than one place on campus?

Yes, but the total hours cannot exceed a maximum of 20 hours per week between both employers. You must obtain authorization from ISSS.

Am I eligible for a STEM Extension of OPT?

If you have been authorized for Post-Completion OPT (OPT after graduation), you are eligible to apply for an extension of the OPT period ONLY IF the degree you earned from FIU has an assigned Classification of Instructional Programs code (CIP code) that has been designated by ICE as science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM degrees). If you are on OPT following completion of a STEM degree AND working for an employer registered with E-Verify, you may apply for a 17-month extension of your OPT. You may visit http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm for a list of CIP codes that qualify for the STEM extension. You may find the CIP code for your program at FIU at the top of page 3 of your I-20; the code will be in the format xx.xxxx (for example the CIP code assigned to the Computer Science programs at FIU is 11.0101).

I need a Social Security Number (SSN). What should I do?

You may apply for a social security number ONLY if you have been offered a job on-campus or if you have been granted practical training (CPT or OPT) employment authorization (keep in mind that practical training options are generally not available to new students). An SSN will be given to you for employment purposes only, NOT for purposes such as applying for credit cards, renting an apartment, etc.

If you do have a job offer and need an SSN, you must apply for a social security number through your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. If the SSN is for an on-campus job you must first bring your offer letter to ISSS because an ISSS advisor must sign off on the letter from your hiring department. For the SSA location nearest you, please go to https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp and type in your zip code. You may also call 1-800-772-1213 or visit http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10181.html. You may download the social security application (Form SS-5) online at http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf

Do I need a new signature on my I-20 every time I travel?

No, the travel signature on page 3 is valid for 12 months.

What happens if my visa expires?

A visa is an “entry document” used to enter the U.S. If it expires in the U.S., there is no need for concern as long as you are maintaining valid status (maintaining full-time enrollment etc). However, if you plan to leave the U.S., you will need a valid visa for re-entry to the U.S. Visas are issued at U.S. embassies/consulates abroad. Check with the U.S. embassy/consulate in your home country regarding visa renewal requirements. Students must obtain a new I-20 from ISSS before applying for a new F-1 visa.

What happens if my I-20 expires?

You are considered to be out of status with the Department of Homeland Security if the program end date on your I-20 has passed and you have not graduated. DO NOT LET THIS DOCUMENT EXPIRE. If it has expired, schedule an appointment to meet with an ISSS advisor immediately to discuss how to get back in status.

What if my I-20 will expire before I complete my program?

To maintain status, you must obtain a new I-20 showing a program extension BEFORE your current I-20 expires. You may request an extension of your I-20 no earlier than 120 days prior to the current program end date listed on your I-20.

I lost my I-20. What should I do?

If your I-20 is lost, damaged, or stolen, you must request a new I-20 from ISSS by completing a Document Request Form. If your I-20 is stolen, you should also file a police report with the police department as soon as possible.

Is there a problem if my I-94 record does not say “D/S”?

YES. “D/S” means “duration of status” and all F-1 and J-1 students must have an I-94 admission record which indicates they have been admitted for the duration of their status (rather than admitted until a specific date). If your I-94 record does not reflect this, you must meet with an ISSS advisor immediately.

I want to travel outside the U.S. What should I do?

If you want to travel outside the U.S. you must have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa, a valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature, and a valid passport (valid at least six months into the future). If you are planning to travel to a country other than your home country, visit www.embassy.org for travel guidelines and visa requirements. For more information on travel and re-entry, you can also visit https://internationalprograms.fiu.edu/isss/services/travel-workshop/.

My EAD has been pending for more than 75 days. What should I do?

If your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, has been pending more than 75 days, you may contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 and ask that an Approaching Regulatory Timeframe “service request” be created. The NCSC will route the service request to the appropriate office for review. Please have your receipt number ready when contacting the NCSC. https://www.uscis.gov/forms/tip-sheet-employment-authorization-applications-pending-more-75-days

What happens if I am dismissed from my program?

If you get dismissed from your program of studies, you should contact our office immediately. We will assist in the appeal process. If the request is denied you will not be allowed to enroll at FIU for the upcoming semester. In order to keep your F-1 or J-1 status, you will have to make plans to transfer to another institution to continue your studies. Once your dismissal is official and you have not transferred to another institution, your I-20 will be terminated and you will have to leave the US as soon as possible.

You can find more information on dismissal and appeal policies here.