Frequently Asked Questions

Maintaining Status

General Questions & Incidental Benefits

Work


Maintaining Status

What is full time status?

All students studying on an F-1 or J-1 visa must be enrolled full-time.

For Undergraduate Students

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines full time status as at least twelve (12) credit hours per semester. Students receiving Webster scholarships and financial aid must be registered for at least thirteen (13) credit hours per semester in order to continue to qualify for the award.

For Graduate Students

Graduate students must enroll in six (6) credits hours per nine (9)-week term to be considered enrolled full-time.

When is a student eligible for a vacation term?

All students studying on an F-1 or J-1 visa must be enrolled full-time.

For Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate Students must be in school for the traditional school year, August –May. They are not required to enroll for summer term (although they may do so if they wish).

For Graduate Students

Graduate Students must be in school for four (4) consecutive full-time terms before qualifying for the fifth (5th) term off.

What are the requirements of address changes?

Addresses MUST be changed in this office (per Department of Homeland Security regulations) within ten(10) days of the move. So that the student can be reached with important information about their status or enrollment, Webster University requires students to change their phone and e-mail address with every move as well. The student should fill out the change of address form completely with every change.

What are the requirements if a student wishes to leave the US for a short time (i.e. visits home) before completing studies?

Students can leave the US at any time. If they plan on returning they MUST get their I-20 or DS-2019 signed before they leave. Failure to do so may hinder the student's re-entry into the US. First time students can only enter the US thirty (30) days prior to the first day of school; returning students can re-enter the US at any time.

What are the requirements for health insurance?

All international students are required to submit a completed Student Health Packet and carry health insurance through the Webster University Student Insurance Plan. Fees for the health plan will be automatically charged to the student's account.


General Questions & Incidental Benefits

How does an international student obtain a driver's license?

Due to the REAL I.D. Act, the requirements vary by state. However, the Office of International Recruitment and International Services has a support letter available upon request. At a minimum, students will need to show an original passport and form I-20 (F-1) or form DS-2019 (J-1). Contact the Office of International Recruitment and Services for details.

How does an international student obtain a social security number?

Only students who have authorization to work — on-campus or off-campus — may apply for a U.S. Social Security Number. In addition to a passport, an I-94, and an I-20/a DS-2019, students who will be working on-campus must request a letter of authorization from the Office of International Recruitment and International Services.

How does an international student obtain permission to study at another local institution?

Students must first request such permission from an academic advisor. If the advisor approves the request, the Office of International Recruitment and International Services will issue a letter of authorization.

How can an international student invite family to visit?

Students who wish to invite relatives to come to the United States may request a letter of invitation from the Office of International Recruitment and International Services. Please submit the full name, date of birth, country of citizenship, and relationship for each person being invited.


Work

Can an international student work?

Work On-Campus

Students in F-1 and J-1 status are allowed to work on campus for up to twenty (20) hours/week when school is in session and full-time during vacation periods (Christmas vacation, fall and spring breaks, summer vacation).On-campus employment is work that takes place on the school's premises (including on commercial firms, which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria). An F-1 or a J-1 student who wishes to work on campus at Webster must bring a completed Student Employment Authorization Form (available from the Student Employment Coordinator) to the Office of International Services.

Exchange Visitors in J-1 student status also are allowed to work on campus if the work is pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship. Verification of all the J-1 requirements for work permission will be made by the Office of International Services.

Any non-U.S. citizen studying at Webster on a visa other than F or J must come to the Office of International Services in order to find out whether or not on campus employment is permitted.

Work Off-Campus

F-1 Status Work Guidelines:

It is essential to understand that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) definition of work includes any employment, on-campus or off-campus, whether paid or unpaid. ALL ARE DEFINED AS WORK. Two fundamental rules must be remembered:

  1. F-1 students cannot work more than twenty hours per week, except during vacation periods.
  2. All forms of work require some type of authorization. Students should come to the Office of International Services to initiate the approval process.

Categories of Off-Campus Work:

  1. Curricular Practical Training (which takes place while the student is enrolled) is available after the student has been in the United States and enrolled full-time for nine months in F-1 status. It may be a required or an optional part of the students' degree program. The students must request approval from their faculty/academic advisor and, if the work is optional, must register for the internship, practicum, student teaching, etc. as a credit bearing course. Complete instructions are available in the Office of International Services. To view instructions click here.
  2. Optional Practical Training is available both before and after F-1 students graduate, once they have been in the United States and enrolled full-time for nine months in F-1 status. Optional Practical Training is designed to strengthen the skills students have gained in their educational programs. Consequently, Optional Practical Training must be directly related to the students' major field of study. Prior to completion of studies, Optional Practical Training is limited to twenty hours per week when school is in session (full time during vacation periods). After students finish their studies, they may apply for full time Optional Practical Training. Students need a letter of approval from their academic advisor when applying for Optional Practical Training. Complete instructions are available in the Office of International Services. NOTE: Only twelve (12) months of full-time or twenty-four (24) months of part-time Optional Practical Training may be granted during students' entire course of study at each degree level. However, students in certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields are eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT beyond their initial 12 months (for a total of 29 months). Careful planning is quite important so that work time is not wasted.
  3. Employment Based on Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship requires detailed, specific documentation of the hardship by the student. This authorization may be granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if a student loses his or her means of financial support due to circumstances beyond the student's control during his or her academic program in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). These may include loss of financial aid not due to student's fault, substantial decrease in the value of currency the student depends upon to pay expenses, unexpected changes in the financial conditions of the student's sponsor, unexpectedly large medical bills etc. Complete instructions are available in the Office of International Recruitment & International Services. If you think that you might qualify for economic hardship, contact Wenceslaus P'Oryem at wporyem01@webster.edu for a consultation.
  4. Internship with an International Organization. Students in F-1 status are eligible to work as interns with recognized international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, United Nations, etc. Authorization is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with the recommendation of the International Services. If you are seeking employment at a recognized international organization you must consult the Office of International Services for recommendation and submit a completed Form I-765, with required fee.
  5. Academic Training can be undertaken by students in J-1 status while enrolled or after completion of studies, if all of the following conditions are met:
    • The student is primarily in the United States to study rather than engage in academic training.
    • The student is participating in academic training that is directly related to his or her major field of study at the college/university listed on form DS-2019.
    • The student is in good academic standing with the college/university.
    • The student receives written approval in advance from both the academic advisor and the Responsible Officer for the duration and type of academic training.

Other Work Conditions

Like F-1 students, J-1 students may work off-campus when necessary because of serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances, which have arisen since acquiring exchange visitor status. They too will need to provide detailed, specific documentation of their economic difficulties.

The above information is presented to help international students and all those who work with them. For further information and for answers to any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of International Recruitment and International Services.

How does an international student obtain apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work that is applied for and granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The student must apply for OPT BEFORE graduation. If granted the student is then allowed to work anywhere within the US for twelve (12) months full-time. OPT is available only once per degree level. (ex. Associates Degree, bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree). OPT will not be granted for a second US Bachelor's or Master's degree. However, some students who hold degrees from certain Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs are eligible to apply for a one-time, 17-month extension of their current OPT if they meet certain conditions.

Optional Practical Training allows students to work within their field of study for up to one year after degree completion. An application for Optional Practical Training must include the following:

  1. Copy of current form I-20
  2. I-94 (Photocopies of both sides)*
  3. Passport (Photocopies of the biographical and US visa pages)*
  4. I-765 (Fill in (C) (3) (B) in item #16)
  5. Application fee (Check payable to USCIS for $340)
  6. Two passport-style photos to the specifications in the I-765 instructions
  7. A letter of recommendation from your Academic Advisor for Optional Practical Training

* If the student is not at the St. Louis location, please send CLEAR COPIES of the documents to the International Recruitment & International Services Office in St. Louis.

How does an international student obtain apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

Curricular Practical Training allows a student who has maintained F-1 status for at least nine (9) months to work within his/her field of study during in an approved internship for academic credit. In order to qualify for CPT, students must meet with an academic advisor and obtain a letter of recommendation and register for one to six credits of internship, COOP, practicum, student teaching, etc.

  1. Go to your academic advisor and get a letter of approval to engage in an internship/practicum/co-op/student teaching.
  2. Register for 1-6 credits of internship/practicum course work.
  3. Bring/Send your I-20, the letter from your academic advisor, a copy of your registration, and the name and address of your employer to the International Recruitment & International Services Office in St. Louis for CPT approval.

How does an international student request and qualify for a reduced course load (RCL)?

Reduced Course Load (RCL) requests can be made for two basic reasons: academic or health. A student requesting an academic RCL can qualify for the following reasons, only:

  • Improper Course Placement
  • Unfamiliarity with U.S. Teaching Methods
  • Lack of English Proficiency
  • Difficulties with Reading Requirements

Requests for academic RCL must be submitted by the student's Academic Advisor. If approved, the RCL can occur for only one term during each level of academic study (eg. Bachelor, Master, Doctoral). In addition, the RCL requires the student to remain enrolled at least half-time.

A student requesting a health RCL must provide a request from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist documenting the medical condition. Medical RCLs can last up to twelve months for each academic level, and a student may withdraw from all course work.

If you think that you might qualify for a reduced course load, contact Wenceslaus P'Oryem at wporyem01@webster.edu for a consultation.