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Before You Arrive
8 Steps To Your Student Visa
The United States (US) Government requires proof from international students who need F-1 or J-1 visas that they have the financial resources to enroll at Webster. During the enrollment process, you must show available monetary resources (in the form of bank statements, bank letters, scholarship award letters or loan approval letters) that are enough to cover your first year of educational and living expenses in the United States. Please note that although you are initially required to document resources enough to cover your first academic year's (nine months) expenses, you will also need to provide financial support for all expenses associated with your study for the rest of your degree program. If you have question about financial documents, please visit our International Admissions Process page or contact International Recruitment and International Services (IRIS) by email at email@example.com or by phone at 1-314-246-7800.
Deadlines for submission of your official certified financial document by Webster University start term:
|Start Term||Accepted Financial Document Issued Date|
|Summer term (May/June):||Financial document dated after January 1|
|Fall 1 term (August):||Financial document dated after March 1|
|Fall 2 term (October):||Financial document dated after May 1|
|Spring 1 term (January):||Financial document dated after July 1|
|Spring 2 term (March):||Financial document dated after October 1|
The United States government requires F-1 and J-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time I-901 Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS) fee . The SEVIS fee for F-1 applicants is $350 and the fee for J-1 applicants is $220. All first time F-1 and J-1 students must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) before applying for an F-1 or a J-1 visa. You can pay this fee online , by mail or by a wire transfer (Western Union). Please note, a student whose country of citizenship or birth is Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or Gambia is not currently permitted to pay online by credit card or debit card. This fee must be paid at least three days before your visa interview. If you are transferring schools, extending your program, applying for an F-2 or J-2 dependent visa, or have paid this fee and been denied a visa in the last twelve months, you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.
You can make payment of the SEVIS fee by completing Form I-901 (opens in a new tab). In order to complete Form I-901, you must have your passport, Form I-20 or DS-2019, and know your SEVIS ID number (beginning with the letter N), Webster University School Code (on I-20 for F visa) or Program Number (on DS-2019 for J visa). On the Form I-20, the SEVIS ID number is located on the top left hand side of the first page. On the DS-2019, the SEVIS ID number is located on the top right hand side of the first page in the box above the barcode. The “School Code” for F visa is in the section labeled "School Information." The “Program Number” for J visa is located on Item 2 of the DS-2019.
Apply for a visa as soon as possible! Please note, the U.S. Embassy or consulate cannot issue you a visa more than 120 days before the reporting date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Therefore, do not apply for visa more than four months before your reporting date.
Complete the DS-160, Online Non-immigrant Visa Application Form, and print out the DS-160 confirmation (barcode) page for each applicant. The application can be completed at the Consular Electronic Application Center . Citizens of Canada or Bermuda are exempt from visa requirement; and therefore do not need to complete this step. However, they still need Forms I-20 or DS-2019. Visa processing time varies by embassy or consulate, and by whether or not a security clearance is demanded.
Review the Visa Wait Times for information on interview appointments and visa processing time at the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you.
The U.S. embassies or consulates require all visa applicants to appear in person at the Consular Section to apply for a U.S. visa during which a face-to-face interview is usually conducted. To prepare for the visa interview you need to do the following:
Gather the Following Required Documents:
- Passport (valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the U.S.)
- Signed Form I-20, or Form DS-2019
- Form DS-160 Visa Application Confirmation page
- Visa application fee payment receipt
- I-901 SEVIS fee payment confirmation page
- Photograph: You will upload your digital photograph while completing the online Form DS-160. Other locations require one, 2 x 2 inches photograph (photo requirements ).
- Your original Certification of Financial Support that you provided in your application. If you have a sponsor, you must bring the support letter and bank statement of your sponsor. Include scholarship letter if you are receiving scholarship from Webster University.
- Evidence of “compelling ties” to your home country that will make you return to your home country after finishing your studies. This may include proof of property ownership, presence of immediate family, future employment offers, etc.
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended
- Proof of English Proficiency (such as TOEFL or IELTS) (if applicable)
- Webster University admission letter
Review Potential Areas of Your Interview Questions:
The following are potential areas where your visa interview questions are going to come from:
- Your educational plans and interest in U.S. education: You should be able to explain what you plan to study (that is degree program or major) and why you chose to study at Webster University. Also be ready to elaborate your reason for studying in the United States and not in your home country. Finally, you should be able to demonstrate how you will use the knowledge you have learned when you return to your home country.
- Evidence that you will return to your home country: You should be able to demonstrate that you intend to return to your home country after completing your studies in the United States. You need to show that you have compelling ties to your home country that you don't intent to abandon such as proof of property ownership, family, financial ties, and/or proof of job offer.
- Your financial ability: You should be ready to show that you have sufficient funds to pay for your education and living expenses throughout your program. If you have been offered scholarship from Webster University, you should present your scholarship award letter as well.
Contact EducationUSA Advising Center Near You If Possible:We encourage you to contact EducationUSA advising center near you if possible. EducationUSA assists international students with finding a school, and applying to an accredited U.S. college or university including visa application preparation guidance. EducationUSA centers are usually located at U.S. embassies or consulates.
Arrive at your visa interview early and answer all the consular officer's questions openly and honestly. Although this experience may be stressful, above all, be courteous, calm, and confident. During the interview, you will be asked to produce the above relevant documents and asked some questions.
Unless a security clearance is requested, the consular officer will interview you, review the documents and evidence presented, and will issue you a visa or denial within a few days of the submission of the application and visa interview.
1. Submit your non-refundable tuition deposit (due within one week after you receive your visa or within one week after your SEVIS transfer is completed.)
- If you do not submit your deposit within one week of receiving your visa, we may cancel your I-20.
- The tuition deposit applies only to the tuition amount and not any other charges.
- The deposit will be forfeited if you withdraw or transfer out to another institution.
- Payment can be made either online with a credit card or through wire transfer (PDF).
- If your visa was denied, and you never attended the university, you may request a refund by completing an International Student Deposit Refund Authorization Agreement (PDF) within one year of the denial of the visa. Approved refunds may only be granted in the same form of payment and to the same person/entity as the initial payment.
2. Complete the Confirmation of Attendance Online Form.
Health Insurance Requirement
All international students attending Webster University in the United States on an F-1 or a J-1 visa are required to enroll in the mandatory Webster University sponsored student health insurance plan. Only the following students may waive the health insurance requirement:
- Students who are fully sponsored (including tuition, living expenses, comprehensive medical coverage, etc.) by their governments will be allowed to opt out of the University coverage and allow whatever policy their respective government chooses to suffice.
- Students who are sponsored (including tuition, living expenses, medical expenses, etc.) by recognized organizations such as Institute of International Education (IIE) will be allowed to opt out of the University coverage and allow whatever policy their respective organization chooses to suffice. They must inform the Student Health Insurance Office who will verify with International Recruitment and International Services.
The determination as to who qualifies for the above exemption lies with International Recruitment and International Services at the time of admission and determination of the student’s eligibility for Form I-20 or DS-2019 and is based on the students’ sponsorship letter.
Students who are exempt from enrollment in the student health insurance plan from Webster University must submit to the Student Health Services Department copies of their current health insurance cards which include copies of both the front and back of the cards. The Student Health Insurance Office will verify with International Recruitment and International Services.
Charges for the student health insurance plan are placed on the student account and are separate from your tuition. If you fail to pay for your health insurance a hold will be placed on your student account which will inhibit your ability to register for classes.
Health Insurance Enrollment
The enrollment process starts with the student registration for classes and submitting a health insurance enrollment form. When you have been registered in classes, 24 to 48 hours later you will submit your Student Health Insurance Enrollment Form by going to the Student Health Services Portal. Once on the site you will use your Connections Username and Password to enter. Choose "Forms" from the upper toolbar. Choose Student Health Insurance Enrollment Form. You may choose all terms or semesters for the academic year that you will be attending Webster University in the United States. The insurance does not cover eye or dental care.
Additionally, all students living in on-campus housing on the main Webster University, Webster Groves campus are required to submit Health Forms. Students can access all of these forms through the Student Health Services Portal.
Health Insurance Card
Upon your registration for classes and submitting the enrollment form, you will be enrolled in the health insurance plan by Student Health Insurance Office. After this enrollment you will receive an confirmation email from Student Health Insurance. Your insurance card will be available to download 48 to 72 hours after you receive the confirmation email (all emails will be sent to your Webster University email account.) To download the health insurance card, create an account with our student health insurance portal. Click on "Create Account" and follow the directions. Once you've logged into your account, you may download your insurance card, look for health care providers in your area, and check the overview of the benefits covered under the insurance.
Very Important: Once, you get your health insurance card, you must carry it with you at all the times in your wallet or purse or phone.
Please Register for Classes Right After Your Visa is Approved!
It is very important you register for classes as soon as you are approved for your visa because classes fill out very quickly.
If you don’t get your visa in time to start your program, you can defer the start of your attendance by completing the online Confirmation of Attendance Form. The international admissions office will update your start of school for the next future term or semester and send you your updated admission letter and certificate of eligibility for F-1 student status or J-1 exchange visitor status.
Academic Advising in St. Louis Area Campuses
You will need to set up a registration meeting with your academic advisor.
Confirmation of Attendance and Arrival
Once you obtain your F-1 or J-1 visa and you are sure you want to attend Webster University, please complete the Confirmation of Attendance Form to inform Webster University about your travel plans and expected arrival date.
When to Arrive
Students on F-1 or J-1 visas are eligible to enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start date listed on section 5 of the Form I-20 or section 3 of the Form DS-2019. We expect you to arrive in time for the mandatory international student orientation, and give yourself enough time to feel comfortable participating in the orientation on time. Please do not attempt to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date on the I-20 or DS-2019.
Always hand-carry the following required documents at all times:
- Valid passport with your F-1 or J-1 visa
- Form I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Webster University
- Form I-901 SEVIS fee payment confirmation
- Proof of financial support including any Scholarship Letter (if any)
Do not check the above documents in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present these documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United States.
U.S. Addresses and Contact Information
Before you travel to the U.S., you need to make arrangement for your accommodation in advance and know your residential address. In addition, you need to know the address of the Webster University campus location you are going to study at. Your campus address can be located in our Campus Finder.
If you will be living on-campus in the St. Louis campus, you need to ask the Housing Office to provide you with the full residential address before travelling to the U.S.
Finally, you need to have the contact information of your International Advisor, also known as Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) in case a U.S immigration officer needs to verify your information with Webster University. Please refer to the Pre-Arrival Guide sent to you to find out the name of this individual.
Arrival at U.S. Port of Entry
Upon entry to the United States at the port of entry (such as the first International Airport you arrived at or seaport) you will need to present the following documents to a U.S. immigration officer:
- Passport with valid F-1 or J-1 student visa
- Form I-20 or DS-2019 — signed by you and Webster designated school official (DSO)
- Proof of financial support Webster University
- Acceptance letter and Scholarship Letter (if any)
- Form I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt
As You Arrive at the Port of Entry
When you arrive in the U.S. you will be interviewed by an immigration official at the port of entry. You should be prepared to answer questions about the purpose of your entry to the United States and your studies plan, etc. Don’t be nervous. All visitors entering the United States 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 immigration officer that you will be a student. Be prepared to include the name and address of Webster University location where you will be enrolled at or program that you will participate in. In additional, you should be able to provide the address where you will be staying.
Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will place admission stamp in your passport.
Occasionally, if the immigration officer at the port of entry cannot verify your information, or if you do not have all of the required documentation, an immigration officer may direct you to an interview area known as “secondary inspection”. Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers. The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You may need to provide the name and telephone number of the international advisor at Webster University if the immigration officer needs to verify information with Webster University. Please refer to the Pre-Arrival Guide sent to you.
Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in you being denied entry to the United States. If you arrive at the U.S. port of entry without all of your required documents or with unsigned Form I-20 or DS-2019 or missing information, the immigration officer may deny your entry into the United States. As an alternative, the officer has discretion to issue you a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor” Form, which authorizes temporary admission into the United States.
If you have been given a Form I-515A, contact International Recruitment and International Services immediately and request that all required documents, signatures or information requested be sent to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) I-515A processing team within the period of temporary entry. If you do not do this, SEVP will terminate your SEVIS record. Your student, exchange visitor or dependent status will end, and you must leave the United States or file for reinstatement of status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within five months.
After You Arrive
It is very important for an F-1 or J-1 student to maintain their status while studying in the United States. Maintaining status means you are complying with immigration regulations pertaining to your F-1 or J-1 nonimmigrant status. Failure to maintain your status can lead to termination of your Form I-20 or DS-2019 record and loss of your student visa. There are several important things you must do to maintain status. Some of these are:
Check-in or report to International Recruitment and International Services
New international students are required to report to International Services or to their campus main office representative (for those at other campus locations in the U.S.) with their immigration documents as soon as they arrive. Students are required to bring the following documents when reporting to International Recruitment and International Services or to their campus main office representative:
- Form I-20/DS-2019
- I-94 card or online print out of the I-94 admission record available from Admission (I-94) Number Retrieval
- Address and Contact Information.
Students who are admitted to the St. Louis main campus or area campuses are required to check-in on a specific International Student Immigration Check-in Day. This will be arranged in advance, and must be attended unless the student is unable to do so due to unavoidable circumstances. In that case, you must check-in via this form.
Make sure Webster University is listed on your visa and I-20 or DS-2019
F-1 or J-1 students entering the U.S. for first time with initial I-20s or DS-2019s from Webster University should have Webster University listed on their visas (Except Visa Exempt Countries) and on their I-20s or DS-2019s and must intend to attend Webster University. If you are transferring from another school to Webster University, then it is okay if Webster University is not listed on your visa.
Keep all your documents valid
Keep your Form I-20 or DS-2019 valid at all times by following proper procedures for extension of stay. A student should also keep his or her passport valid at all times. Renew your passport at least 6 months before the current expires if possible.
Report change of name and address
F-1 students are required to report to International Recruitment and International Services within 10 days any change of name or address. Student can complete the Address and Name Change Form online to report any of these changes.
Full-time enrollment is one of the cornerstones of maintaining F-1 or J-1 student status. Students must be enrolled full-time throughout their stay in order to maintain F-1 or J-1 status.
Do not work without permission
Please obtain permission from International Recruitment and International Services or USCIS to work on- or off-campus. It is considered a serious violation of your visa status to work off-campus without permission.
Make normal progress toward completing your studies
To maintain status, an F-1 or J-1 student must be "making normal progress" toward completing his or her program of studies. This means, the student must enroll full-time and complete program of study on or before the end date recorded on his or her Form I-20 or DS-2019. A student who transfers to Webster University, or changes educational levels or majors at Webster University, is considered to be making normal progress if the transfer or change of level is done in a timely manner, and the student enrolls full-time and completes his or her program of study on or before the end date recorded his or her Form I-20 OR DS-2019. A student who is unable to complete his or her program of study by the end date on the I-20 or DS-2019 must have a legitimate reason to apply for a program extension, otherwise he or she will be considered out of status.
Don't engage in criminal activity and disclose information when requested by DHS
Students are also required to obey federal, state, and local laws. Commission or conviction of certain crimes can affect a student's immigration status. Therefore, if a student has been arrested or charged with a crime, he or she must seek legal counsel from both a criminal attorney and immigration attorney and inform International Recruitment and International Services.
International Recruitment and International Services is required to report any disciplinary action taken by Webster University to to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) as a result of you being convicted of a crime.
Abide by post-completion optional practical training (OPT) rules
A student must report changes in name, address, and employment to International Recruitment and International Services within 10 days while on post-completion OPT. You must abide by the aggregate unemployment rules while on post-completion OPT. International Recruitment and International Services will then update your SEVIS record.
Abide by the grace period rules
An F-1 or J-1 student has four immigration options:
- Depart the U.S. within 60 days (for F-1 students) or within 30 days (for J-1 students) of completing the program of study or completing OPT or Academic Training.
- Pursue another program of studies either at Webster University or transfer to another school.
- Apply for post-completion OPT no later than 60 days after completing studies for F-1 student or within 30 days after completing studies for J-1 student.
- Apply to change status to another nonimmigrant or to immigrant classification within the 60 days (for F-1) or 30 days (for J-1) after completing the course of study.
Do not overstay your visa
If a student does not choose one of these options after completing a program of study, then he or she will be in violation of status and could be subject to arrest or deportation from the United States. Violation of status can also affect your future prospect of readmission to the United States for a period of time. If you have spent more than 180 in the United States unlawfully, you could be barred from coming back for three years. And if you have spent more than one year in the United States unlawfully, you could be barred from coming back for ten years.
Duration of Status (D/S)
F-1 and J-1 students will normally be admitted to the United States for "duration of status," noted as "D/S" on their passport and on I-94 Admission Record. Duration of status refers to the period that a student is pursuing a full course of study, plus any practical training authorized following completion of the course of study.
Grace Periods: Duration of status includes "grace periods" that determine how early a student can be admitted to the U.S. to begin studies, and how long the student can remain in the U.S. after completion of studies or practical training. The grace periods are:
- 30 Days before Commencement of Study: F-1 and J-1 students may be admitted up to 30 days before the program start date listed on Form I-20.
- 60/30 Days after completion of Study or Practical Training/Academic Training: F-1 students may remain in the United States for up to 60 days beyond the program completion date or post-completion OPT completion date. J-1 exchange students may remain in the U.S. for 30 days after completion of studies or academic training.
- 15 Days for Authorized Withdrawal: A student granted authorized early withdrawal may remain in the United States for up to 15 days following the withdrawal indicated in student’s SEVIS record.
Change of Level: An F-1 or J-1 student who moves from one educational level to another is considered to be maintaining status, if the change is done in a timely manner.
Annual Vacation: Likewise, an F-1 or J-1 student who is taking his or her annual vacation is considered to be maintaining status if he or she intends to register for the next term.
Cap-Gap Extension: Finally, the duration of status includes the cap-gap extension given to an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of an H-1B petition and request for change of status, whose status is automatically extended until September 30 of the current fiscal year.
F-1 students are eligible for annual vacation and are considered to be in status during their annual vacation, if they have completed one academic year prior to taking the vacation and intend to register in the next term.
All students studying on an F-1 or J-1 visa must be enrolled full-time every term except during annual vacation.
Undergraduate Students — Summer
Undergraduate students must be in school for the traditional school year, August–May. They are not required to enroll in the summer term (although they may do so if they wish).
Graduate Students — Fifth (5th) Term
Graduate Students must have been in school full-time for four (4) consecutive terms before they are eligible for an annual vacation in the fifth (5th) term. For example, a student who was enrolled full-time during Spring I, Spring II, Summer and Fall I, is eligible for an annual vacation in Fall II term. They are not required to enroll in their fifth term, but they may do so if they wish and can be part-time.
Eligibility for an annual vacation includes the understanding that students will be able to enroll for the term immediately following their vacation term. Ability to enroll means that a student will have no holds on their account — this especially includes no financial holds. For reference, a financial hold is placed on a student account when a balance of more than $1,500 is owed.
Graduate students who are eligible for vacation are required to submit the Annual Vacation Form, found under the "Important Forms" section below.
Change of Major or Change of Level
As F-1 and J-1 students you are admitted to the United States to complete a specific educational or professional objective as reflected on your I-20 or DS-2019. Therefore, if you are changing your academic program (major) or changing your degree level, it is your responsibility to request an updated new I-20 or DS-2019. Please, notify International Recruitment and International Services of your intention to change your major or academic level, before your current I-20 or DS-2019 has expired, so that a new SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 may be processed.
A change of level may be from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree, or a master’s degree to a doctorate degree. This also includes same-level degree changes such as a second (sequential) bachelor’s or master’s degree and also a change from master’s to bachelor's or doctorate to master’s degree.
Change of Major or Program
If you decide to change your current major before you complete the program, you will need a new I-20 or DS-2019 to reflect that change. To request a new I-20 or DS-2019, please submit the Change of Major or Change of Level Form (PDF) to International Services.
Change of Level
- Moving Up a Degree Level: If you are moving up a degree level (such as from Bachelor’s to Master’s, or Master’s to Doctorate), you must submit an International Admission Application online and all requirements to the Office of Admission.
- Same-level Sequential Degree: If you are pursuing a same-level sequential degree (such as a second Bachelor’s or a second Master’s), you need to submit the Change of Major or Change of Level Form (PDF) and all requirements to International Services. Upon review International Services will issue you a new I-20 or DS-2019 to reflect the changes in your program.
Extension of Program
F-1 and J-1 students are expected to complete their educational program on or before the program end date indicated on their I-20 or DS-2019. A student who is unable to complete his or her studies by that date must apply for an extension prior to his or her program end date.
- The student must be currently in lawful status, and must have continually maintained status.
- The student needs to show that the delay was caused by a compelling academic reason (such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, etc.) or compelling medical reasons (documented proof is needed).
- The student’s I-20 or DS-2019 has not yet expired. The expiration date of the I-20 is listed on item 5 and that of DS-2019 is listed on item 3.
- Proof of sufficient funding available to meet the tuition, fees and cost-of-living expenses for the extension period you are requesting.
A delay caused by academic probation or suspension is not an acceptable reason for extension. Students who are ineligible for extension of stay are considered out of status and must apply for reinstatement.
The student must contact International Services before his or her I-20 or DS-2019 expires by submitting the following documents:
- A completed Program Extension Form (PDF) signed by you and your academic advisor.
- Financial documents indicating your ability to pay to continue your studies to the new anticipated completion date.
- A copy of your current I-20 or DS-2019.
Once submitted, please allow 5-7 business days for processing. You will receive an email from International Services when your new I-20 or DS-2019 is ready for pick up. If you are at another U.S. campus location, your new I-20 or DS-2019 will be mailed either to your campus main office or to you directly.
An F-1 or J-1 student who is completing his or her program of studies earlier than the current estimated program end date on his or her I-20 or DS-2019 needs to get his or her SEVIS record and immigration documents updated. Students will need to complete the Shorten Program Form (PDF) to request International Recruitment and International Services to shorten the end date to their new completion date. The form needs to be signed by your academic advisor as well.
If you plan to apply for post-completion optional practical training (OPT) or academic training, then you don’t need to complete the Shorten Program Form separately. Instead, use either the Optional Practical Training Request Form (PDF) or Academic Training Request Form (PDF). Your program will be shortened with your recommendation for employment authorization.
Transfer from Webster University
A student who is maintaining status may transfer from one school to another by following proper transfer procedure. An F-1 or J-1 student is not permitted to remain in the U.S. when transferring between schools except when the student will begin classes at the new school or program within 5 months of transferring out of the current school or within 5 months of the program completion date on the I-20, whichever is earlier. For a student who is engaged in post-completion OPT or academic training, he or she must be able start classes within 5 months of transferring out of the school that recommended OPT or the academic training.
If you are out of status you are generally ineligible for school transfer except when the school you are transferring to is willing to assist you to file for reinstatement. Please consult the international student services office of the school you are transferring to, to find out if they are willing to assist you with the reinstatement application.
To transfer schools, an F-1 or J-1 student must notify Webster University of his or her intent to transfer, and submit a copy of his or her acceptance letter to International Services. We shall transfer your SEVIS record to the new school.
School transfer must be initiated before the end date of the 60-day grace period (for F-1 students) or the 30-day grace period (for J-1 students).
- Notify International Services of your intent to transfer by completing the Transfer-Out Form (PDF).
- Submit a copy of your acceptance letter to International Services.
- Provide International Services your transfer release date. The transfer release date is the date when your I-20 or DS-2019 SEVIS record will be available to your new school. Webster University will no longer have access to your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 record. It should be set after the end date of the current semester/term.
- Finally, contact your new school to obtain your new I-20 or DS-2019
- You must report to the new school within 15 days of the program start date on the new school’s I-20
Withdrawal and Leave of Absence
If you decide to withdraw or take a leave of absence from Webster University please contact International Services prior to leaving the U.S. or dropping your classes. You are required to leave the United States within 15 days of withdrawing from classes or program.
Withdrawal means you are leaving, you do not intend to return to study at Webster University in the future, and you will be departing the United States.
Leave of Absence means you are taking a temporary break from your studies at Webster University and you are departing the U.S., but you intend to return to Webster University in the future. You cannot spend your leave of absence time in the United States. You must leave the U.S. as soon your request is approved.
If you are withdrawing from Webster University and have informed International Services in advance, your current I-20 or DS-2019 SEVIS record will be terminated for authorized early withdrawal and you will not be able to use it ever again to re-enter the U.S. You will be required to leave the United States within 15 days of the termination of your SEVIS record.
Withdrawal Procedure and Departure from the United States: Complete the online Notification of Withdrawal form. Then contact your academic adviser to withdraw from classes.
Leave of Absence
If you must take a break from studies during a period that is not your annual vacation, then you need to obtain permission from International Services before taking the leave of absence. However, students must first meet with their academic advisors to discuss their intent to take a leave of absence from studies.
Notification Procedure and Departure from the United States: Complete the online Leave of Absence Notification form. Then contact your academic adviser to withdraw from classes. There are two kinds of leave of absence, namely:
Leave of Absence from the U.S. of Less Than Five (5) Months
An F-1 or J-1 student who has been absent from the United States for less than 5 months may re-enter with a current I-20 or DS-2019 and a valid travel signature. Therefore, get a travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019 before you leave.
Termination of I-20/DS-2019 SEVIS record: Your Form I-20/DS-2019 SEVIS record will be terminated for authorized withdrawal upon approval of your leave of absence by International Services. You are required to leave the United States within 15 days of this action.
Proof of Departure: Before and after you leave the U.S. you must provide International Services with a proof of your departure such as a copy of your airline ticket, your boarding pass for the international flight, or the arrival stamp inside your passport showing you have entered into another country. Please send these documents to International Services via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Returning to Webster University: If you are returning to Webster University, please contact International Services at least 60 days prior to your return. We shall then submit a request to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to reactivate your SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 record. You must not attempt to re-enter the United States until after you have received confirmation that your I-20/DS-2019 SEVIS record has been reactivated.
You may re-enter the U.S. as soon as your I-20 has been reactivated. Please ensure that you have a valid passport, a valid F-1 visa, and your current I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature.
Leave of Absence from the U.S. of More Than Five (5) Months
If you are going to be absent from the U.S. for more than 5 months, your I-20/DS-2019 SEVIS record will be terminated for authorized withdrawal. When you want to return to resume your study at Webster University, you must contact International Services at least 4 months before your return and request a new Form I-20/DS-2019. Please submit to International Services a current financial document showing you have available the funds to pay for your educational and living expenses for one academic year. We shall issue to you a new I-20 or DS-2019 after receiving the financial document. You must pay a new SEVIS fee based on your new I-20 or DS-2019 and apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy before you can return.
Please Note: You may re-enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the program start date printed on your new I-20 or DS-2019.
Check-in: All international students returning from a leave of absence must check-in with International Services after returning to Webster University. You should bring or send copies of your I-20/DS-2019, passport, and I-94 Admission record.
Immigration regulations restrict employment for F-1 and J-1 students, because the primary purpose of the visa is to study. You should verify that you have the appropriate authorization before engaging in any form of employment. For immigration purposes, employment is defined as the exchange of services for any form of compensation, monetary or otherwise. Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of your immigration status and may result in the termination of your SEVIS record.
There are several employment options for international students, depending on your visa.
Who is Eligible to Work on Campus?
The following students are eligible to work on campus without special permission from International Recruitment and International Services or from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
- Any F-1 or J-1 student in valid status with Webster University I-20.
- An F-1 student transfer student whose SEVIS record has been released to Webster University
- A current F-1 student who is admitted to begin a new program of study.
Who is not Eligible to Work on Campus?
- A student who is "out of status." A student can resume employment if he/she has been reinstated to student status.
- An F-1 student who has already graduated and is now in his/her 60/30-day grace period, except those who obtained optional practical training (OPT) or academic training.
- A dependent of an F-1 student who is in F-2 status.
Severe Economic Hardship Employment
Economic hardship employment is off-campus employment authorization that is for economic need, and is not required to be related to the student's academic program of study. While F-1 and J-1 students are allowed to enter the United States for the purpose of studies, off-campus employment may be authorized only in cases of severe economic hardship occurring after a student's enrollment in an academic program. Off-campus employment due to economic hardship is a case-by-case exception made for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond their control have created severe economic hardship.
Eligibility for F-1 and J-1 Students
The student must meet these eligibility criteria:
- The student has been in F-1 status for at least one academic year (or 9 months).
- The student is in good academic standing, enrolled full-time and maintaining status.
- Can demonstrate that no on-campus employment is available or otherwise it is insufficient to meet his/her need.
- Can demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with his or her being full-time student.
- Provide evidence of economic hardship caused by unexpected circumstances to justify that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship. These hardships may include:
- Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment - not due to student's fault
- Large increases in tuition or living costs
- Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
- Excessive increases in tuition and/or living costs
- Unexpected changes in the financial conditions of the student's financial sponsor(s)
- Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance
- Other substantial, unexpected expenses.
How to Apply for Severe Economic Hardship?
You must file a Form I-765 — Application for Employment Authorization — with a new I-20 and pay an application fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You must also submit documents that show you are experiencing economic hardship.
Before you can submit your application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), please complete the Severe Economic Hardship Application Form (PDF) and submit relevant documents to International Services for review.
If the application is approved by USCIS, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (also known as Form I-766), and can then begin working off-campus. Employment authorization is granted in increment of one year at a time.
F-1 students are eligible to work on-campus. However, on-campus employment must be performed on the school's premises, at commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school’s bookstore or cafeteria or at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with Webster University. Common places students find employment on campus are Reeg Academic Resource Center, Library, Office of Admission, Campus Activities, and Housing.
On-campus employment is only limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and full-time when school is not in session or during the student’s annual vacation or official university breaks.
F-1 students from other institutions concurrently enrolled at Webster University are not permitted to work on campus at Webster University, unless they are authorized by their institutions to do practical training.
The Student Employment Office monitors the number of hours each student worked per week and may freeze a student’s payroll account if it is determined that a student is working more than 20 hours per week. Failure to follow the rules may lead to termination of the student’s I-20 in SEVIS.
Students in F-1 status must request work authorization from International Services and from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before engaging in any off-campus employment.
F-1 students are eligible to work off-campus in certain situations on a part-time basis after having been in valid F-1 status for one full academic year.
The type of employment authorization a student may receive will depend on the nature of the employment, the student's immigration status, and the relationship of the employment to the student's academic program.
J-1 students are eligible to work on-campus. However, on-campus employment must be performed on the school's premises, at commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school’s bookstore or cafeteria or at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with Webster University. Common places students find employment on campus are Reeg Academic Resource Center, Library, Office of Admission, Campus Activities, and Housing.
On-campus employment is only limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and full-time when school is not in session or during the student’s annual vacation or official university breaks.
J-1 students from other institutions concurrently enrolled at Webster University are not permitted to work on campus at Webster University, unless they are authorized by their institutions to do practical training.
The Student Employment Office monitors the number of hours each student worked per week and may freeze a student’s payroll account if it is determined that a student is working more than 20 hours per week. Failure to follow the rules may lead to termination of the student’s DS-2019 in SEVIS.
Who is Eligible to Work on Campus?
The following students are eligible to work on-campus without special permission from International Recruitment and International Services or from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
- Any J-1 student in valid status with Webster University DS-2019.
- A J-1 student transfer student whose SEVIS record has been released to Webster University.
- A current J-1 student who is admitted to begin a new program of study.
Who is not Eligible to Work on Campus?
- A student who is “out of status”. A student can resume employment if he/she has been reinstated to student status.
- A J-1 student who has already graduated and is now in his/her grace period, except those who obtained academic training.
Academic Training (for J-1 Students)
Academic training (AT) is a type of study-related employment for J-1 exchange students who want to participate in temporary employment related to their field of studies. The employment can be done while the student is pursuing studies or within 30 days following completion of studies. It allows a J-1 student to work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods and full-time after completion of studies.
Academic training may be: (1) Paid or unpaid (2) Full-time or part-time (3) Done during your studies or; after the completion of studies (beginning no later than 30 days after the completion of studies).
- You are primarily in the United States to study rather than to engage in academic training.
- You are in good academic standing at the time of participation.
- You are participating in academic training that is directly related to your major field of study listed on your Form DS-2019.
- You have received a written approval in advance from both your academic advisor and the responsible officer in the International Recruitment and International Services office.
- Undergraduate and graduate students can do academic training for a maximum of 18 months.
- Doctoral students can do academic training initially for 18 months and may be granted an extension of additional 18 months to a maximum of 36 months.
- Non-degree students can do it for a maximum of 12 months.
Step 1: Obtain a job offer letter from your employer on the company’s letterhead that includes the following information: (1) Name of company (2) Location of academic training (3) Number of work hours per week (4) Beginning and ending dates of the training.
Step 2: Complete Part I of the Academic Training Recommendation Form (PDF) and request that your faculty advisor or internship coordinator complete Part II of the form.
Step 3: Submit all of the above documents for approval to the International Recruitment and International Services office.
Step 4: If the academic training is approved, the international student advisor will provide you with a new DS-2019 containing your academic training authorization and approval letter. Your employer will need these documents.
- Letter Request Form (Online)
- Address and Name Change Form (Online)
- Immigration Check-in Form (Online)
- OPT Holders: I updated my employment via SEVP OPT Portal and now I need a new I-20 from Webster (Online)
- STEM OPT Reporting Form (Online)
- Reinstatement (PDF)
- Travel Tips (PDF)
- Change of Status to F-1 Reporting Form (Online)
- Change of Status to F-1 Checklist (PDF)
- Change of Status Notification Form (No longer on an F-1 visa) (Online)
- Replace Lost, Stolen, or Damaged I-20 or DS-2019 (PDF)
Enrollment, Withdrawal and Registration Forms
- Annual Vacation Term Request for Graduate Students (Online)
- Program Extension (PDF)
- Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request — Academic Reasons (PDF)
- Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request — Medical Reasons (PDF)
- Change of Major or Change of Level (PDF)
- Withdrawal Notification (Online)
- Leave of Absence Notification (Online)
- Shorten Program Form (PDF)
To submit the form/request to International Services, the document has to be completed and signed by you and your Academic Advisor and submitted-scanned to email@example.com. Subject Line: Name of the request (example “Shorten Program Request”), Last name, First name, Webster ID #
F-1 or J-1 Transfer Forms
- Frequently Asked Questions about OPT and STEM OPT (PDF)
- CPT: Curricular Practical Training Application Form (PDF)
- OPT: Optional Practical Training Application Form (PDF)
- 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Application Form (PDF)
- STEM OPT Reporting Form (Online)
- OPT Reporting Requirements (PDF)
- OPT Holders: I updated my employment via SEVP OPT Portal and now I need a new I-20 from Webster (Online)
- SEVP Portal Access Request (Online)
- I have received my OPT EAD card but not the SEVP Portal activation link (Online)
- 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Reporting Requirements (PDF)
- Cap-Gap Extension I-20 Request (Online)
- J-1 Academic Training (AT) (PDF)
- Economic Hardship Employment (PDF)
- Internship with an International Organization (PDF)
Student inviting relatives to visit the USA
During your studies at Webster University you may want to invite your parents or other family members to visit. Here are some suggestions to help them apply for a visitor's visa (B-2) at a US consulate or embassy in their home country.
To facilitate their visa interview process you should do the following:
- Write a letter of invitation. Include the purpose of the visit, your relationship to the individuals, a statement of your status here, itinerary details and the length of the time they will be visiting (usually less than three months). It is best to emphasize the temporary nature of the invitation and to demonstrate their intention to return to their home country following the visit. If you will provide their financial support while they are here, include that information as well.
- Include an Enrollment Verification Letter (PDF) from our Registrar's office to confirm your student status.
- If you are graduating and they are traveling to attend your commencement ceremony, provide details of the Commencement Ceremony (date/time/place, copy of your petition to graduate).
- For additional information about US consulate/embassy locations and application procedures, review the US Department of State visa information .
Providing your family members with this documentation may improve their chance of obtaining a visa; however, there is no guarantee a visa will be issued. The success of their request for a visa lies in their ability to prove that they have no intention of staying permanently in the U.S.
Please note that IRIS staff members are unable to write a letter of invitation for your family members.
Off-Campus F-1 Employment Options
CPT is an internship or practicum through the student's academic program. This is an internship that is either a required part of the student's degree program, a requirement for a specific course (e.g. elective), or a part of the research for a graduate student's thesis or dissertation. In all these cases the students must enroll in and receive academic credits.
Students must submit their request for authorization for CPT to International Services, after they have received an internship offer from an organization. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving the new Form I-20 with the international student advisor (DSO) endorsement. Please refer to the CPT Request Form (PDF) for more details about the procedure.
- An F-1 student must have been enrolled full-time (12 credits per semester for undergraduates, 6 credits per term for graduates) for at least one full academic year or 9 months.
- For the academic program requirement, the student must register for one (1) or three (3) credit hours of internship/practicum course work as determined by his or her internship coordinator or academic advisor.
- The student must be maintaining legal F-1 immigration status.
- This includes maintaining full-time enrollment. Please note that CPT does not count as an on-ground class, so students cannot take CPT and an online class in the same term.
- The student must have been formally offered an internship.
CPT can range from one semester up to 12 months. The training can be full-time or part time. If it is full-time (more than 20 hours a week) for 12 months or more the student will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). CPT will only be granted one term or semester at a time. Full-time/part-time status of CPT will be determined by the academic requirements, the employer and the Designated School Official (DSO) at International Services.
How To Apply
Step One: Contact International Services to discuss your eligibility for CPT
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, requesting confirmation of your eligibility for CPT. Your email should have this subject line: "Eligible for CPT? Last Name, First Name, ID#"
International Services will provide you with the date that you will become eligible for CPT. You should send this request 3 to 6 months before you hope to begin your CPT internship.
Step Two: Meet with your internship coordinator or academic advisor to ensure the experience is required or will be taken for credit.
By the end of the meeting you should have the following information:
- The specific degree requirement or elective course to enroll in
- The minimum requirements to complete the internship
- The reasonable period of time needed to complete the internship (e.g., satisfying the requirements of one semester, 3 credit hours course — normally done in one semester)
Step Three: Contact the Career Planning and Development Center for assistance with finding an internship or starting your job search.
You should reach out to them 3 to 6 months before you hope to begin your internship.
The Career Planning and Development Center is located at 568 Garden Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119
Step Four: Secure an internship offer and obtain a letter from the employer.
The letter should:
- Be on the company's letterhead, including the employer's name and address.
- Include the beginning and ending dates of employment.
- State the number of hours the student will work weekly.
- Give the job title and a description of job duties.
- Include the supervisor's name and contact information.
Step Five: Register for internship credit(s)
Please note, you must be registered for CPT credits in the same semester during which the work will be done unless specified otherwise by your faculty advisor or internship coordinator.
Step Six: Submit your application for CPT to International Services
Your application for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is completed through International Services in the Office of Admissions in St. Louis, Missouri.
You must receive your new I-20 authorizing CPT employment BEFORE beginning employment.
Submit the following documents to International Services as PDF or JPG attachments in an email to email@example.com:
- The CPT Request Form (PDF) — completed and signed by the student and the academic department
- Enrollment confirmation
- Letter from the Employer
Your email should have this subject line: "CPT Request, Student Name, Student ID #"
Your new I-20 will be ready within 5-7 business days after receiving all documents listed above.
Optional practical training (OPT) is a temporary employment authorization for training purposes, directly related to the student's major field of study. Approval for this employment comes from USCIS. This page gives detailed information about the standard OPT, which takes place after the course of study has been completed:
Post-Completion OPT Application Procedures
Students are strongly encouraged to apply for OPT as soon as possible. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT. It may take up to three months for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process your application.
An F-1 student may submit an application for post-completion OPT as early as 90 days before the student's program completion date and up to 60 days after his or her program end date. If applying after program completion date, please make sure that your application is received by USCIS by the 60th day of the program completion date; otherwise your application will be rejected. In addition, the application must be submitted within 30 days of the date the OPT I-20 was issued.
If possible we encourage you to apply for OPT three months before your program completion date. You cannot begin work until the application is approved. If you apply 60 days after your program completion date this may result in a delayed work authorization and sometimes a loss in your 12 months of OPT eligibility because it takes USCIS about three months to process your application.
How to Apply
To apply for OPT you need to follow these steps:
Step 2: After you have received the new OPT I-20 and OPT Reporting Requirements Document you must do the following immediately after receiving the package:
- Sign and date the I-20 immediately and make copy of page 1 and 2. Keep original for yourself. This is your new I-20 from now on. We will keep the copy for our record. Submit the copy with your OPT application.
- Do not staple documents; use paper clips to keep documents together.
It is your responsibility to make sure USCIS receives all required application materials within 30 days of the new OPT I-20 being issued.
You must mail your completed application packet with tracking to USCIS within 15 days after your OPT I-20 has been issued. This is critical as the dates on the I-765, check, photos, and I-20 must be less than 30 days old.
Step 3: Include the following information, in this order, in your final application packet to USCIS:
- I-765 Filing Fee as instructed (See U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or https://www.uscis.gov/i-765 )
- Form G-1145 as instructed (See U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or https://www.uscis.gov/g-1145 )
- Form I-765 as instructed (See U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or https://www.uscis.gov/i-765 )
- Copy of new signed OPT I-20 (with OPT Request on Page 2)
- Copies of all previously issued I-20s
- Copy of the most current I-94 card (front and back) OR the electronic print-out from this website
- Copy of valid passport page with photo and expiration date
- Two (2) recent U.S. Style Passport Photo (taken within 30 days). Write your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo.
- Copy of the most recent F-1 student visa page
- Copy of previous Employment Authorization Card (if any)
Collect all documents and put them in the proper order. It is a best practice to make a copy of all the above documents and keep them for your records.
Step 4: Mail your OPT Application:
Send the completed application and required documents (with check or money order placed on top of the documents) to:
Please refer to your eligibility category, category description, and correct filing USCIS location.
E-Notification: If you want to receive an e-mail and/or a text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted at a USCIS Lockbox facility, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.
Step 5: Reporting Your OPT
All OPT holders are required to report their OPT activity via the SEVP Portal account.
What is SEVP PORTAL: The SEVP Portal is a tool that lets F-1 students on post-completion optional practical training (OPT) report address, telephone and employer information to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). You must report directly to the portal within 10 days if you change your address, or start/stop employment to maintain your status.
Instructions on how to update these details can be found starting on page 23 of the SEVP Portal Student User Guide (PDF)
Once you update your employment in your SEVP Portal account, you can request a new I-20 from our office by completing OPT Holders: I updated my employment via SEVP OPT Portal and now I need a new I-20 from Webster.
After your OPT application is approved AND the OPT authorization is active, you will get an invitation email within a few days from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov. (For example, if your card is approved on December 10, and the start date on the card is December 15, the invitation will be sent after December 15.)
When you create your account, you will be asked to enter your SEVIS ID number and create a password. You can find your SEVIS ID in the top left corner of your Form I-20, below the words ‘Department of Homeland Security.’
Carefully review the password guidelines for the portal .
For more information on how to navigate the SEVP Portal, visit SEVP Portal Help website .
The link in my invitation email has expired or I cannot find my original invitation email.
Request that a new link is sent to you by completing this form: SEVP Portal Access Request.
My account is locked.
If you have tried your password unsuccessfully three times, you will get locked out. To request a password re-set you must complete this form: SEVP Portal Access Request.
I have received my OPT EAD Card but not the SEVP Portal Activation Link.
Please complete and submit: OPT Holders: I updated my employment via SEVP OPT Portal and now I need a new I-20 from Webster.
I created an account, but now I can’t log-in.
Try using this log in link: https://sevp.ice.gov/opt/#/login
For all other questions:
- Telephone at 1-703-603-3400 (Monday through Friday 8 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, except U.S. holidays)
- Important tips:
- Do not share your SEVP Portal password under any circumstances
- Update SEVP Portal password every 90 days-Portal will prompt students with expiring or expired passwords to change their password upon login
- There is no charge for the SEVP Portal account.
Types of Employment Allowed for Post-Completion OPT
Students may accept employment that is directly related to their fields of study and should work full-time during post-completion OPT. The following options count as employment as long as they are related to the student's field of study:
- Multiple Employers: Students may work for more than one employer,but all employment must be related to the student's degree program. Students doing pre-completion OPT may work for more than one employer but, cannot exceed the 20 hours allowed per week when school is in session.
- Short-Term Multiple Employers (performing artists): Students such as musicians and other type of performing artists may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). Students are asked to keep a list of all gigs, dates of employment, and the duration.
- Self-employed Business Owners: Students can start their own businesses and be self-employed. They must be able to prove that they have the proper business licenses and that they are actively engaged in a business related to their degree programs.
- Contract Employment (Work for hire): Students can work as independent contractors. Students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract period and the name and address of the contracting company if requested by DHS.
- Employment through Agencies or Consulting firms: Students can be employed through employment agencies or consulting firms, but must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agencies or the firms.
- Paid Employment: Students may work part time (at most 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full time.
- Unpaid Employment/Volunteer Work: Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns in their fields of study, so long as it the practice does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for a student on post-completion OPT. They must be prepared to provide evidence from the employer to verify that they worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.
- Students have 90 days from the start date on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to find employment in their field.
- More than 90 days of unemployment on OPT is considered to be a violation of F1 status. This is a total number over the course of your entire OPT time.
- Students must wait until they receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS to begin working.
- Employment must be 20 hours or more per week. Volunteer work or unpaid internships count as employment as long as they are related to your field of study.
F-1 students who are the beneficiaries of an H-1B petition subject to the cap (quota) on the number of H-1B petitions accepted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a given year (65,000), cannot begin employment until the beginning of the next fiscal year (October 1st). The cap-gap extension automatically extends the duration of your F-1 status and sometimes your OPT employment authorization to September 30. Therefore, the cap-gap extension is only available to an F-1 student who is currently on OPT and who has an approved or pending H-1B petition. If the student's post-completion OPT has not yet expired, it will also be automatically extended.
To request a new I-20 for the cap-gap extension, submit this online form: Cap-Gap Extension: I-20 Request.
F-1 students who are currently authorized for OPT employment based on completion of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a STEM field, as defined by DHS, may be eligible for a 24-month extension of OPT.
- Must already be on valid OPT based on a STEM-eligible degree. See eligible degrees .
- Must have had fewer than 90 days of unemployment while on OPT.
- Must be employed by, or have a job offer from, an employer who is registered in the E-Verify employment verification system.
- There is a lifetime limit of two periods of 24-month STEM OPT, each occurring after a higher degree level has been obtained. See detailed information on the STEM Hub .
When To Apply
STEM applications may only be submitted when 90 days or fewer remain in the initial 12-Month OPT EAD and must be submitted to USCIS before the end date of the initial OPT period given on the EAD card.
How to Apply
To apply for the 24-Month STEM OPT Extension you need to follow these steps:
Step 1: Pay Webster's $200 STEM OPT processing fee here: https://commerce.cashnet.com/optionalpracticaltraining, then submit your completed and signed Request for 24-Month Extension of OPT (pages 3 and 4 of this document) AND your completed Training Plan I-983 form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 2: After you will receive the new OPT I-20 from International Services, print your new I-20, sign page one in ink, scan all pages, and save as a single PDF. This is what you will upload to USCIS when you apply for OPT. It is also your new official I-20 until the STEM extension is approved.
It is your responsibility to make sure USCIS receives all required application materials within 30 days of the new OPT I-20 being issued.
Step 3: Apply for the STEM OPT Extension with USCIS
We recommend you apply for STEM OPT online, via the USCIS website. To apply online, go to https://www.uscis.gov/i-765, then click the File Online button. Please carefully follow the instructions in the online filing portal, which should match our instructions.
Our application instructions, including a list of documents to prepare and hints for filling the I-765 can be found here: 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Application Form
Step 4: Reporting
Students are required to report as listed here: 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Reporting Requirements (PDF)
Report by completing and submitting this online form: OPT and STEM OPT Reporting Form
OPT STEM Extensions: Eligibility and Requirements
This information is based on the most recent changes to the STEM OPT rules, effective from March 11, 2016, published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- Duration: The STEM Extension will be for 24 months.
- STEM Application Period: STEM applications may only be submitted when 90 days or fewer remain in the initial 12-Month OPT EAD.
- Lifetime Limit: F-1 visa holders are allowed a total of 2 lifetime STEM Extensions, the 2nd after earning a new STEM-eligible degree at a higher level and obtaining a new, higher level of 12-Month OPT. However, in some cases a STEM Extension can be based on a previously earned STEM Degree .
- Degrees Eligible for the STEM Extension .
- Required Training Plan and Form I-983 : Requires significant responsibility of the employer to provide a training plan related to the field of study, and attestations to wages and compensation being commensurate with "similarly situated U.S. workers."
- Types of Employment Allowed: STEM-eligible employers must have e-Verify and EIN numbers and the student must have a "bona fide employer-employee relationship".
- Volunteer/unpaid, employment through employment agencies and self-employment are NOT allowed. Other types of employment are also problematic — including multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through "temp" agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship. DHS confirms that students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.
- Obligations for Students , Schools , and Employers : 6-Month validation reports, annual evaluations and submission of a new I-983 in case of material changes to the original I-983 are now required. Employers must agree to Department of Homeland Security site visits, as well as provide attestations to wages and working conditions.
- Increased Unemployment: Students with 24-Month STEM Extensions may have up to 150 days of unemployment during the total OPT period including initial 12-Month and 24-Month STEM OPT period.
F-1 students are eligible to do an internship with international organization (8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C). Examples of recognized international organizations include the United Nations, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization etc. Student must consult International Recruitment and International Services to determine if the organization they intent to work at meets U.S. definition of International Organization. A student is eligible as soon as he or she is in F-1 status; there is no waiting period. Employment does not have to be related to the student's field of study, but most international organizations usually hire students for positions in their field of study anyway.
An F-1 student who has been offered employment by a recognized international organization must apply for employment authorization to United Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS. Employment can be full-time or part-time. However, the student must still be a full-time student and maintain F-1 student status. If approved, USCIS will send Employment Off-Campus page of Employment section.
Authorization Document (EAD) before a student begins employment. Please download the Internship with an International Organization Form (PDF) to find out more about the application procedure.
To be eligible for employment authorization with an international organization, you must:
- Be currently maintaining valid F-1 status.
- Have a written offer of employment from a qualifying international organization.
Application Process and Requirements
Submit the documents specified in the checklist below to International Recruitment and International Services for review and to request an I-20 recommending employment with an international organization.
- Completed Internship with an International Organization Form (PDF)
- Completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization in blue pen (Enter the code (c)(3)(ii) in item #16). Download Form I-765 from the USCIS website.
- Completed Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. Download Form G-1145 from the USCIS website
- Photocopies all previously issued Form I-20s, including I-20s from other schools
- Photocopies of any previous Employment Authorization Documents (front and back)
- A print out of the electronic I-94 .
- Photocopy of a new I-20 to be issued by the International Services Office
- Photocopies of the following Passport pages: (1) Name, picture and validity/expiration pages (2) Most recent visa page
- A $410 check or money order payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security")
- Two identical passport-style photos taken within 30 days (Using a pencil or a pen lightly print your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo).
- A written offer of employment from the qualifying international organization on the organization's letterhead.
Samrat Ray Chaudhuri
Director of Global Recruitment
Primary Responsibilities: Departmental oversight and management, international recruitment management for US campuses, Global University Systems tactical management, alignment of global recruitment initiatives among the University’s global campuses, management of agent relationship and business development, international recruitment events.
Director, International Admissions and Services
Primary Responsibilities: Serves as the Primary Designated School Official (PDSO) and Responsible Office (RO). Contact person for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars immigration compliance. Extended campuses contact person regarding international student admission policies and procedures. Working with prospective international undergraduate freshman and transfer students.
International Credentials Specialist
Primary Responsibilities: Evaluating international credentials for admission and transfer credit eligibility across the global Webster network. Also serves as a Designated School Official (DSO) for F-1 visa students in the U.S. and works with students who want to come study in the United States from one of our international campuses.
Webster Hall, First Floor, Room 130
470 E. Lockwood Ave.
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Document pick-up and Delivery: If you requested a letter online from the International Recruitment and International services website, the letter will be sent to you via the method you selected when filing the form. You will need to present your Webster Student ID Card when picking up your document(s) from the International Recruitment and International Services.
Current Students: If you are a current student you may may complete the online form to request an appointment.
Prospective Students: If you are a prospective student, please make an appointment online at Plan Your Visit. If you wish to visit another Webster campus, contact that campus directly.
Please mail your official documents to one of the addresses below:
By Courier Services (DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc.)
Webster University Office of Admission
Attn: International Recruitment
470 E. Lockwood Ave.
St. Louis, Missouri 63119
By Regular Postal Mail
Webster University Office of Admission
Attn: International Recruitment
470 East Lockwood Ave.
St. Louis, Missouri 63119
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