The Office of Admissions will review your application and notify you of their admissions decision. Please do not make arrangements for your Visa interview or travel to the U.S. until you receive a written offer or admission from UofL and your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 document.
You will need to obtain an F-1 student visa to study in the USA.
After you meet the admissions requirements, International Center will contact you for additional materials to issue your Form I-20 (for students seeking F-1 visa) or Form DS-2019 (for students seeking J-1 visa). Please do not send the materials to the Admissions Office; only send the materials to the International Center after you are being contacted.
You will need your Form 1-20 provided by your university, your passport, and your financial documents.
Form I-20 is a government form that tells the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 Student Status. It certifies that:
you are or expect to be a “bona fide” student
you meet the American Educational Institute’s admissions requirements
you will pursue a full course of study
you proved to the college/university that you have enough money to study and live in the U.S. without working illegally or suffering from poverty.
The I-20 is sent to you by the university/college you have been accepted at. You need this form to apply for the student visa.
The international center will ask you to send a copy of your passport, and proof of financial support for at least the first year of the program. With those documents, they will generate your I-20.
US implemented the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, known as the SEVIS. Universities issuing I-20’s have to enter international student information in the SEVIS database and this information is then accessed by US consulates worldwide. If your university does not enter your information in the database, your visa may not be issued. In this case, inform the university and request them to enter your information in the SEVIS database.
I-20 shows the amount of funding you must have available to cover the first year’s expenses. The total amount includes tuition and fees, living expenses, expenses of dependents (if applicable) and other expenses (as applicable). You must prove you have immediate funds available to cover this amount.
If your parents are sponsoring your study, an affidavit of their support with proof of funds will help.
It depends on your home country, but it usually covers the duration of your program.
Do I have to leave the country if my visa is expired?
If you are in the US with an expired visa, you can remain in the US. The visa is a ticket into the US. If you travel internationally with an expired visa, you will have to get it renewed before reentering the country.
Yes, you may apply to change to a different status while on an F-1 visa. Many students change from F-1 to an H-1B, allowing them to work for a company in the United States
Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization.
Pre-completion OPT: You may apply to participate in pre-completion OPT after you have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year. If you are authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT, you may work part time (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session. You may work full time when school is not in session.
Post-completion OPT: You may apply to participate in post-completion OPT after completing your studies. If you are authorized for post-completion OPT, you may work part time (20 hours or less per week) or full time.
If you participated in pre-completion OPT, USCIS will deduct that amount of time from your post-completion OPT authorization period. For example, if you participated in 10 months of pre-completion OPT, you would be eligible for only up to 2 months of post-completion OPT.
You can apply for OPT 90 days before or 60 days after your program end date
To be eligible to apply for OPT, you must:
have been in full-time student status for at least one academic year by the requested start date of your OPT
be maintaining valid F-1 status at the time of the application
have not used OPT at the same degree level previously.
You are eligible for one OPT per degree level for only two degrees. For example, if you completed two master’s degrees, and did OPT for your first masters, you would not be eligible to do OPT for your second master’s degree. If you completed a bachelors, masters, and doctorate, you could only do OPT for two degrees.
Once your OPT begins, you have one year. You cannot save it and use it later.
You will still be on F1 visa while on OPT
USCIS predicts that it takes 3 to 5 months to get approved for Optional Practical Training, but often times the application process can be completed in 1 to 2 months.
No, you do not need employment when applying. You have 90 days of unemployment while on OPT. You cannot choose a date before or after this period.
If you apply for post-completion, your start date must be within 60 days after your end date. If you have a job offer and the start date is past the 60 days, you cannot put that date.
If you have already submitted your application to USCIS, you cannot change your start date. If you have not submitted your application, you can have your advisor cancel the recommendation and create a new OPT request.
Use an address that you know you will be at least for 3 months after applying or have it sent to a reliable location.
While on OPT
While on OPT, you can do paid, unpaid, or volunteer work.
No, you need your physical EAD card before you start working. You cannot start working until the start date on your EAD card, even if you receive the card before your start date.
You have 90 days of unemployment on OPT, which can be used in increments. For example, if you use 30 days of unemployment in the beginning, you still have 60 days left for the duration of OPT.
Yes, you can change employers while on OPT. You must report your employment change to USCIS.
Yes, you can have multiple employers while on OPT.
You have a 60-day grace period after your OPT ends. After that, you will need to either leave the country, start a new degree program, or do a change of status.
Yes, just make sure you carry your I-20, EAD card, and your offer letter when traveling. The travel signatures while on OPT are valid for 6 months. You must have a valid F1 visa to re-enter the U.S.
24-Month STEM OPT Extension
The STEM Extension allows F-1 students who have received a degree in specific fields in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, to apply for a two-year extension following their regular OPT period.
You must have an employer that is E-verified to apply for STEM Extension. You must have maintained F-1 status while on OPT. Your employment must be full-time (at least 20 hours). You must have earned a STEM degree. A list of eligible degrees can be found here.
You must work with your employer to complete Form I-983 and send it to your DSO. Once your DSO receives it, you will obtain an updated I-20 recommending you for STEM Extension and use that to apply online, just as you did for your initial I-20.
You can file for the STEM OPT Extension 90 days before your Initial OPT expires. OPT participants may remain in the United States for up to 60 days after their work authorization expires. However, F-1 students are not eligible to apply for the STEM OPT extension once they enter this 60-day grace period.
If you file your STEM OPT extension application on time and your OPT period expires while your extension application is pending, USCIS will automatically extend your employment authorization for 180 days.
Yes, you must provide a Form I-983 for each employer while on STEM. You will have to validate your SEVIS records every 6 months. To do so, you will have to contact your school DSO to have them validate your status.
You will need to provide a self-evaluation found on page 5 of the form I-983 at the halfway mark of employment and at the end of employment.
No, while on STEM Extension, you must be paid.
Yes. However, each employer must employ the student for at least 20 hours per week, register with E-Verify, and sign and agree to all the reporting requirements on Form I-983.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an F-1 off-campus authorization for paid and unpaid positions directly related to the major field of study. CPT can be used to authorize a variety of positions, including employment, internships, fellowships, practicums, etc.
To be eligible for CPT, F-1 Students must:
Have been in lawful, full-time status for one full academic year
Will not complete their degree requirements until after the position has ended
Are in good academic standing
Have been offered a position that is directly related to their major field of study
Are in a degree program in which off-campus experience is an integral part of the curriculum
Yes. If the CPT is granted in conjunction with an internship class, you must remain enrolled in the class throughout the semester and work only during the approved semester dates. If the CPT is granted as a degree requirement or dissertation necessity, you must be enrolled full time for the semester
Yes. CPT can only be authorized for a specific position at a U.S. organization, at a specific location, during specific dates. The offer letter must be presented on company letterhead, with a brief job description, employment start date, employment end date, hours per week, and supervisor details
No, you do not have to pay a fee for CPT authorization
If you do 12 months or more on full-time CPT, you forfeit ability to do OPT. There is no such limit while on part-time.
No, if you are approved for part-time CPT, you can only work part-time, even during breaks.
You will need to submit your offer letter, your CPT Request Form, and your transcripts to a UofL international student advisor/DSO. They will approve your CPT and generate a new I-20 for you.
Once your DSO has all the documents, it will take 1-3 business days to process your request.
Yes, if there is going to be a gap between your internship, you will need to submit a new request form.
No, your CPT must be reflected on your I-20 before you begin working.
You will have to contact your advisor to shorten your CPT if you end your CPT before the end date on your I-20.
You are still on considered F-1 status while on CPT
No, CPT can only be authorized while you are completing your degree. You will have to apply for OPT if you wish to work after graduating.