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Information for Current Students

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Important Information for F-1 Students

Maintaining Legal F-1 Students Status

F-1 students must comply with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations, which can be found under Instructions to Students on page 2 of the I-20 form. For information on International Student responsibilities please access this link: Responsibilities of International Students

In order to maintain F-1 Status, International Students must:

  1. Maintain full-time enrollment at the educational institution specified on the I-20 form.
  2. Obtain proper employment authorization before beginning any type of work off-campus.
  3. Update address, legal name, or major within 10 days of change
  4. Check for valid signature of your Designated School Official (DSO in Students Affairs, International Student Services Advisor) and proper documentation before traveling outside the United States.
  5. Obtain a new I-20 prior to beginning a new degree
  6. Notify the office of International Student Services prior to beginning a new degree.

F-1 students must obtain proper employment authorization before beginning any type of work in the United States. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considers working without proper authorization documents to be one of the most serious violations of a nonimmigrant status. Consult with your DSO or International Students Service Advisor before accepting an offer of employment or beginning any work.

Employment options while on F-1 Visas:

  1. Employment on Campus: the F-1 (Academic Student) allows a student to enter the United States as a full-time student at an authorized educational institution. F-1 students may not work off-campus during their first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. After the first academic year, F-1 students may engage in the following types of employment: employment on campus, Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.
  2. Employment off campus must be related to the International Student’s area of study and expertise and must be authorized by the Designated School Official (International Student Services officer) prior to the student starting any type of work. For more information on government regulations about International Students and employment in the United States please visit: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/
    1. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students that is directly tied to the student course work.
      1. Contact the office of International Student Services when you are considering a CPT opportunity.
      2. Have a conversation with the appropriate faculty member who will be issuing a grade in the course that is determined, in part, by the off-campus work experience and obtain the proper guidelines of the CPT requirement for class.
    2. Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion of an academic program). OPT is a benefit associated with F-1 status that allows eligible F-1 students to work in the United States for 12 months before or after graduation or completion of degree requirements. The employment the student accepts must be directly related to the student’s field of study and correspond to the student’s educational level. Contact the office of International Student Services for the application process and the office of Career Services for resources on employment opportunities.
      1. Contact the office of International Student Services in order to start your OPT process.
      2. This work authorization will require an application process that can take up to 90 days and has an application fee.
Social Security Numbers for F-1 Students

Social Security numbers (SSN) are used to report an individual’s wages to the government and to determine a person’s eligibility for Social Security benefits. Students who have accepted their first employment opportunity must then apply for a Social Security number

Under the current Social Security Administration regulations Social Security Numbers (SSN) will only be issued to applicants who demonstrate that this number will be used for employment purposes.

Steps you should follow to obtain a Social Security Number:

      1. The student needs a letter from the employer
      2. You will also need a letter from your DSO or International Student Advisor, a copy of valid I-20, valid Passport, visa and I-94 card.
      3. Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) can be found at: http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf
      4. The Social Security Office closest to University of the Sciences is located at 3901 Market Street, Second Floor, Philadelphia, Pa 19104.
      5. You can call the Social Security Office toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. This office can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Calls are strictly confidential.
Update Address, Legal Name, or Major within 10 Days of a Change

Federal regulations require F-1 students to report any change of US address, legal name, or major to their sponsoring institutions (Registrar’s office or Office of International Student Services) within 10 days of the change.

Replacing lost or stolen documents

The Office of International Student Services highly recommends that International Students carry copies of their personal documents (e.g. passport, I-20, Social Security card) unless they are doing official business for which they need original documents. Keep original documents in a safe place.

    1. Copies of your passport, visa, social security card, should be on file at the Office of International Student Services.
    2. If you have lost your I-20, please contact the Office of International Student Services as soon as you can. This office will provide you with a new copy of your I-20.
    3. If you lost your passport, call or visit your nearest Embassy or Consulate. To find Passport renewal procedures simply click the following link to select an appropriate embassy:  http://www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/dpl/32122.htm
    4. If you lost your Social Security Card:
      1. Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5)
      2. Show documents proving:
        1. Personal Identity
        2. Current valid immigration status
        3. U.S. citizenship (if you have not already established your citizenship with the Social Security office) or immigration status if you are not a U.S. citizen.
        4. All documents submitted must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency.  Photocopies or notarized copies of documents are not accepted.
        5. Take or mail your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office.  Any documents submitted with your application will be returned to you when the replacement card is issued.
Traveling information

Please have the courtesy to notify our office any time you plan on traveling outside the United States. Our office is located in Whitecar Hall, as part of the Student Affairs suite on the first floor.  

You must have the following documentation if you are leaving and re-entering the United States:

    1. A current and valid I-20 with a current travel signature (on page 3) not older than one year.  You cannot enter the United States with an expired I-20 or an I-20 without current signature.  If your I-20 is lost or stolen contact our office, International Student Services at 215-895-3135 or email l.bell@usciences.edu.
    2. A valid F-1 visa. Make sure you check your F-1 Visa in your passport. You will not be able to enter the United States without a valid, current F-1 Visa. Traveling on an expired Visa is not recommended
    3. If your visa expires when you are traveling, please make a Visa appointment with a U.S. Embassy in your home country prior to returning to the United States.
Student Verification Letters

The International Student Services Office provides International Students with a variety of verification letters, stating a particular student is currently enrolled in the University. These letters can be used for many different purposes:

    1. Invitation letter: for visiting relatives entering the United States.
    2. Enrollment verification letters: stating the current academic status of the student. This letter is used for students who are seeking to re-apply for a Visa in their home country.
    3. Letters for students applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    4. Letters for students applying for Social Security Cards
    5. Letters for students applying for a Pennsylvania Driver’s License
Applying for a PA Driver’s License
    1. Obtain the driver’s license booklet from a PENNDOT office.
    2. Complete the form including the section that must be filled out by a licensed doctor or registered nurse.
      1. The nurse practitioner or the physician at our Student Health Center can fill out and sign this form. 
    3. Bring your Social Security Card with you; otherwise, bring a rejection letter from the Social Security Office.
    4. Bring two proofs of residency (bank statements in your name, lease, utility bills)
    5. Bring your current I-20
    6. Bring your current Passport and Visa
    7. Bring your current I-94, the card usually stamped in your passport, which you receive upon entry to the United States from the Officer at Customs.
    8. Take your documents to the nearest PENNDOT office (8th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA)
    9. Check out  Pennsylvania's Driver and Vehicle Services Web Site,  http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/centers/licenseIDCenter.shtml, for office hours or for other locations.

For information regarding filing for taxes, contact an accountant or a tax agency (e.g. H&R Block). Please refer to the Internal Revenue Service website for information regarding tax obligations for International Students. 

Services for International Students on Campus

International Student Orientation

This is a program for all incoming international students in F-1 student status, including first year, graduate and transfer students, to learn about our University services and resources, school norms and legal immigration requirements.  At Orientation, you will meet personnel from the International Student Services Office, academic advisors, and administrative staff.

Writing Center at University of the Sciences

International Students, like all University of the Science students, have access to free one-to-one writing assistance for course writing assignments, research papers, dissertation and grant writing, PowerPoint presentations, and personal statements.  For further information on the Writing Center at USciences please click here.

    1. To access English as a Second Language Resources visit this link: http://www.basiccomposition.com/ella/index.html
    2. Language program opportunities:  University of the Sciences has an agreement with the English Language Center, ELS, located at Saint Joseph’s University. For information on this program follow this link: http://www.sju.edu/academics/centers/els/course.html
Career Services

Provides a wide variety of services to help assist International Students determine their career path. Career Services offers career counseling, workshops and programs that will help students prepare to face their professional futures including interviewing skills, resume building, as well as resources and information for job searching. For a listing of events, see the Career Services Calendar. For information about the Career Services, click here for general information, or click here for career opportunities for International Students sponsored by Career Services at USciences.

Student Health and Counseling (SHAC)

International Students, like all USciences students, have access to services provided at Student Health and Counseling (SHAC). All students can obtain free and confidential healthcare services including clinical treatment for illness and injury, health education, prevention, and the enhancement of knowledge about healthy lifestyle choices. Free and confidential counseling services are also available to help students resolve personal, emotional and academic concerns. SHAC is located on the first floor of Whitecar Hall. Click here for more information about SHAC services.

Health Insurance and Health Immunization Requirements

University of the Sciences requires all International Students with an F-1 Visa to be automatically enrolled in the University- sponsored student health insurance plan regardless of part- or full-time status

F-1 Visa students attending USciences with full financial sponsorship from their government that includes enrollment in a U.S.-based insurance policy of equal or greater coverage than the USciences plan may apply for exemption from the above requirement through Student Health and Counseling (SHAC).  Approval is at the discretion of the University.  Applications for exemption must include a copy of the alternate insurance policy along with documentation from the student’s embassy liaison stipulating the embassy’s responsibility for the student’s medical expenses.

Enrollment, waiver and exemption must be renewed annually (prior to the start of each Fall semester). Additional details regarding enrollment, waiver and plan benefits may be obtained on the Student Health and Counseling website.

Health and Immunization Requirements for Entering Students

    1. University of the Sciences requires all entering full-time undergraduate and graduate students, including all International Students, to provide proof of medical clearance to attend classes, consisting of:
      1. Up-to-date medical history (completed by student)
      2. comprehensive health evaluation (i.e. Physical Exam by Physician/ Nurse Practitioner)
      3. Documentation by Physician/ Nurse Practitioner (prior to entering the U.S.) stating proof of all required vaccinations.
    2. Students who do not submit a fully completed health packet by the deadline will be charged a late fee and registration may be withheld until all health requirements are met (completed health form, physical exam and proof of all required vaccinations).
    3. An online version of the health packet as well as additional details regarding immunization and other health requirements may be obtained on the Student Health and Counseling website
Student Academic Support Services (SASS)

University of the Sciences offers a wide range of services to help you improve your skills as a student and become a successful, independent learner. These services are free and include: Colleague Learning and Study Strategies, Group Tutoring, and Supplemental Instruction. For more information about SASS please access this link.

International Students can apply for a tutoring position at Student Academic Support Services.  Tutoring Positions are paid and the tutoring hours are flexible. For more information on how to apply for tutoring positions on campus please access the following page.

Campus and Community Activities

University of the Sciences offers you a wide range of extracurricular activities, including cultural, social and scientific events, intramural and intercollegiate athletics, and volunteer opportunities, which will make your campus life an enjoyable and enriching experience.

    1. Resources for Current Students:  The website below contains information on resources including the academic calendar, exam schedule, student handbook, campus life, dining services and student support services. Please access this link to learn about the resources available to current students:  http://www.usciences.edu/currentstudents.aspx
    2. Clubs and Organizations: Please access this website to obtain information regarding Student Government, Religious Organizations, Honor Societies, Professional Associations, cultural and ethnic groups, and other groups supported by USciences. http://www.usciences.edu/lifeatusp/clubs
    3.  Recreation and Intramurals: Visit the Athletic/Recreation Center (ARC) if you need to take a break from your studies. This center sponsors athletic and recreation activities on a daily basis. Bring your ID card to access this facility. http://www.usciences.edu/lifeAtUsp/arc



Dr. Walter W. Perry
Associate Dean of Students
Director of Multicultural Affairs
w.perry@usciences.eduPhone: 215.596.8890

Lynne Bell
International Student Specialist
Phone: 215.895.3135

© 2016 University of the Sciences in Philadelphia • 600 South 43rd Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104 • 215.596.8800