Information for Current International Students 

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Important Information for F-1 Students

Maintaining Legal F-1 Student Status

F-1 students must comply with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations, which can be found under Instructions to Students on page 3 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 your address, legal name, or major within 10 days of change with the Office of International Student Services, the University Registrar, and SEVIS.
  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) visa 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.
  2. After the first academic year, F-1 students may engage in the following types of employment: Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training. 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:
      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.
          3. Student must notify our office and confirm employment within 90 days of start date of OPT.

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. Student cannot apply for SSN until at least 10 days after start of academic program.

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:
  4. The Social Security Office closest to University of the Sciences is located at:
    2 Penn Center, Suite 2000 B
    1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd., 20th floor
    Philadelphia, PA 19102-9713
  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 and 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:
  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 2) 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.
  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

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,, 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 students can benefit from the breadth of services available to all students. Consult specific web pages for information on Orientation, Writing Center, Career Services, Student Health and Counseling, Tutoring Center, Clubs and Organizations, Recreation and Intramurals.


Bill Keyes, International Student Specialist


University of the Sciences
600 South 43rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495