Immigration Check-In

Where can I find the Immigration Check-in Form?

The Immigration Check-In Form will be available in your MyISSS portal. Please see the Accessing the F-1 Student Immigration Check-In E-Form in the MyISSS Portal for instructions on how to access and complete the form.

When do I need to complete the Immigration Check-in Form?

Please complete the form once you are inside the U.S. in your F-1 or J-1 status. Federal regulations require international students in F-1 and J-1 status to complete a SEVIS immigration check-in within 30 days (15 days for SEVIS transfer students) of the start date indicated on their I-20.

How do I find and download my I-94?
I’m a student in F-1 status. When do I need to complete the Immigration Essentials Virtual Quiz?

The Immigration Essentials Virtual Quiz will be available in the International Student Orientation Fall 2022 in the Canvas system beginning on July 15, 2022. This course is required and must be completed by September 21, 2022. ISSS encourages you to complete the International Student Orientation Course before the beginning of the Fall semester on August 22 when you will become busy with your schoolwork.

You must accept the International Student Orientation Fall 2022 in the Canvas system to access the course and complete the Immigration Essentials Virtual Quiz, which is part of your student welcome and orientation canvas course. You must earn a 70% or higher on this quiz to receive credit. Confirmation of completion must be uploaded to the Immigration Essentials Course Grade Submission Form, which is part of the immigration check-in task. (Access via your MyISSS Portal)

Immigration Documents

Should I keep all of my I-20's?

Yes, you should keep a copy of every I-20 you ever receive. It is important to retain a file of all I-20s that are issued to you as they are required to document maintenance of status and may be requested for future immigration benefit applications.

Do I need a new I-20 if I change my major?

Yes, if you change your major, you will need a new I-20. ISSS will update your I-20 information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and issue you a new, updated I-20, upon request.

What do I do if the information on my I-94 is incorrect?

Each time you enter the U.S. you should check your electronic I-94 record and make sure the information is correct. If the information on your I-94 is incorrect, you will have to contact Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for a correction as soon as possible. Please review the Printing a Copy of Your I-94 & Obtaining an I-94 Correction handout for more information.

What do if I do if my visa expires?

The visa is an entry document and only needs to be valid when you enter the US from abroad. This means your F-1 student visa (the stamp in your passport) is allowed to expire while you are in the U.S. If your visa expires, you will need to renew it the next time you are outside of the U.S. in order to gain re-entry to the U.S. In general, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. if your visa is expired (exception: Automatic Visa Revalidation). Please review the Visa Renewal Information for Students and Scholars handout for more information about renewing your visa. You cannot renew your visa from inside the U.S.

If my visa expires while I’m in the U.S., do I have to leave the country?

If your visa expires, you do not have to leave the U.S. as long as both your I-20 and passport are valid, and you are otherwise maintaining your immigration status. Status, is the legal category under which an international visitor is admitted to the U.S. Next time you depart the U.S., you should plan on renewing your visa. You will not be able to re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa (exception: Automatic Visa Revalidation).

What do I do if I lose my I-20?

If you lose your I-20, you can request ISSS issue you a new I-20 by completing the I-20 Reprint Request Form (available in MyISSS portal)

ISSS may have a record of the previous I-20s issued to you within the last 3 years, so you should also ask ISSS if they could re-print you a copy of the lost I-20. You should keep a copy of every I-20 you ever receive. It is important to retain a file of all I-20s that are issued to you as they are required to document maintenance of status and may be requested for future immigration benefit applications.

What do I do if I lose my passport?

If you lose your passport, you should apply for a new passport as soon as possible. You can apply for a new passport from within the U.S. at your home country’s consulate or embassy. You should also contact the local police station and report your passport as lost or stolen. After doing so, you will be issued a police report detailing the incident. You should make a copy of this report and keep it for your records.

If your visa was inside your passport that was lost, you should also contact the U.S. embassy or consulate outside of the U.S. that issued your visa. Please note, if you have already reported your visa lost/stolen to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and then you later find your misplaced visa, your visa will be invalid for future travel to the U.S. Therefore, in that situation, you must apply for a new visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Where do I get my BuffOne card?

Please refer to the “application process” on the Buff OneCard website. Be sure you follow the U.S. Passport photo guidelines for the photo you submit.

Where can I use my Buff OneCard?

You can use your Buff OneCard at several places including your residence hall, campus dining centers, campus libraries, student rec center and more. Please see the Buff OneCard website here for a list of all the places you can use your Buff OneCard.

Maintaining my Status

What do I do if I move?

F-1 and J-1 regulations require students to inform ISSS of a change of address within 10 days of moving. You will report your change of address using the Buff Portal. Please see Updating Your Address in Buff Portal for instructions on how to update your local address.

ISSS Drop Advising Hold: What is it?

Each fall and spring semester a hold is placed on the records of students in F-1 status to prevent them from dropping a class without prior permission from ISSS and unintentionally falling below full-time enrollment, a violation of status. This hold does not affect a student's ability to add a class or drop classes related to future semester enrollment.

If students in F-1 status wish to drop a class, they must contact an ISSS advisor to request permission to drop the class(es). If dropping the class(es) will not result in under-enrollment, then the ISSS drop hold will be removed for 48 hours in order to allow students to drop the approved class(es).

Can I drop below full- time enrollment?

Students can only drop below full time enrollment for one of the following reasons. Students must receive permission from ISSS to drop below full-time enrollment before dropping to part-time.

Academic Reduced Course Load - Immigration regulations allow one Academic Reduced Course Load (RCL) per degree-level if a student has a valid academic reason for dropping below full-time. Please see the ISSS website on Academic Reduced Course Loads for further information, including the acceptable reasons for an Academic RCL.

Medical Reduced Course Load - ISSS may authorize a reduced course load or, if necessary, no course load, due to a student's temporary illness or medical condition for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months per academic degree level. Please see the ISSS website on Medical Reduced Course Loads for further information, including the eligibility requirements for a medical RCL.

Final Semester - If a student needs less than full-time enrollment credit hours in their final semester to complete their degree program the student only needs to enroll in the credits needed to finish their program. Students must submit a Confirmation of Final Semester (available in MyISSS portal) to request part-time enrollment.

Academics

If I am struggling in classes my first semester, what do I do?

Please review the ISSS Academic Success Resources.

You may qualify for an Academic Reduced Course Load. Please see the ISSS website on Academic Reduced Course Loads for further information, including the eligibility requirements for an Academic RCL and contact ISSS immediately for assistance.

If you are ineligible for an Academic RCL, ISSS encourages you to seek additional academic assistance. As a first-year student, you may have the opportunity to seek help from an academic coach provided by your college or department. Please reach out to your CU Boulder academic advisor for more information on academic coaching resources in your college. Additionally, if you are struggling in a specific course or courses during your time at CU Boulder, there may be free tutoring resources available for you. Please contact your CU Boulder academic advisor for further information on tutoring resources specific to your college or degree program.

Finally, if you are struggling academically due to cultural adjustment issues, adjustment to remote learning, US classroom culture, or other related difficulties, the International Student Academic Success Program may be able to assist. Please reach out to the Director of International Student Academic Success, Roberto Arruda (roberto.arruda@colorado.edu) for more information on this resource.

Please reach out to isss@colorado.edu if you are unsure which resource to explore first.

What do I do if I have a medical emergency and need to drop my courses?

You may qualify for a Medical Reduced Course Load. Please see the ISSS website on Medical Reduced Course Loads for further information, including the eligibility requirements for a medical RCL and contact ISSS immediately for assistance.

Can I take a no-credit class?

Yes, but courses taken for no credit (such as auditing a class) DO NOT count towards a student’s full-time enrollment requirement

Can I take a class P/F?

Yes, courses taken as pass/fail DO count towards a student’s full-time enrollment requirement

Health and Wellness

What if I start feeling lonely or have trouble adjusting? Who can I talk to?

If you start feeling lonely or you are having trouble adjusting, there are multiple resources available to you. Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers confidential, on-campus mental health and psychiatric services for a variety of concerns such as academics, anxiety, body image, depression, relationships, substance use and more.

Please also review the ISSS Resources and Support webpage for more information about a variety of Community, Academic, Campus Support and English as a Second Language resources available to you. Please reach out to isss@colorado.edu to further discuss your options and resources.

What if I am feeling sick?

Please review the Medical Services available at CU Boulder.

Employment

Can I get a job on campus?

In order to be eligible for on-campus employment, international students in F-1 or J-1 status must:

  • Be maintaining their nonimmigrant status;
  • Be enrolled in a full-time course load or authorized equivalent in the current term or, in the case of summer or winter vacation, have not completed their degree and are enrolled full-time (or an authorized equivalent) in the next required term.

On-campus employment refers to employment where a student is hired by a unit or department of the University of Colorado Boulder campus and paid by CU Boulder. Students who have questions about whether a job is considered on-campus should consult ISSS. 

To search for available on-campus jobs, please review the Student Employment website. International students in F-1 or J-1 status are not eligible for on-campus jobs classified as “work study”, as such positions are subsidized by federal financial aid for domestic students.

How many hours am I allowed to work on-campus?

International student can work on-campus up to 20 hours a week while school is in session during the fall and spring semester. If a student has multiple on-campus jobs, the total hours worked for all jobs cannot exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session.

International student can work on-campus full-time (more than 20 hours) during official school breaks (spring break, summer vacation, Thanksgiving break, and winter vacation). During fall break, winter break, and spring break, if an international student in F-1 status would like to work more than 50 hours in a bi-weekly pay period, Student Employment requires the student to submit an exception request form for approval.

Students can work full-time during summer term. The official Student Employment Summer Term does not require an exception request, but please see the Student Employment Summer calendar as dates may be different from the school calendar. Please consult the hiring department or Student Employment for more information.

Do I need a social security number (SSN) to work? How do I get one?

International students working in the U.S. must obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) in order to be properly reported in the CU Boulder (or their off-campus employer's) employee system and to be able to properly file a tax return. While it is possible to begin working on campus and to be paid initially without an SSN, all international students working on campus must receive a SSN as soon as possible. An SSN does not provide an international student with work authorization. In order to work, an international student must either have a qualifying on-campus job or be authorized for off-campus employment. An SSN alone is not work authorization.

In order to apply for a SSN through the Social Security Administration for on-campus employment, a student must have a qualifying employment offer (documented in an official offer letter) and a letter from ISSS. Please review the Applying for Social Security Number (SSN) handout for additional information.

To request an SSN letter for on-campus employment from ISSS, please complete the appropriate SSN request via MyISSS AFTER you have completed your Immigration Check-In Form AND the Immigration Essentials Course Grade Submission Form, which is part of the immigration check-in task. (Access via your MyISSS Portal)

You will be required to upload a copy of your job offer letter.

Can I work off-campus?

As an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, you are in the U.S. on a student visa, not a work visa, therefore, you must receive special work authorization for off-campus employment.

Below are the types of off-campus employment authorization that students in F-1 status are eligible to apply for only after they have completed one full academic year (fall and spring semester) in active nonimmigrant status:

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization for an “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” CPT can only be authorized prior to your degree completion for a work experience that is in your major field of study and considered to be “an integral part of an established curriculum.”

To be eligible for CPT, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Be enrolled in an internship course for credit that counts towards your degree. (Enrollment in the course must be concurrent with the training. For example, if the internship is in the summer, you must be enrolled in the internship course during the summer) or
  • Your degree must require an internship and that requirement is clearly documented in the University Catalog.

You must also apply for CPT authorization and can expect a processing time of 2-3 weeks. Please see the F-1 Curricular Practical Training page on our ISSS website for more information, including other CPT eligibility requirements.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined by the regulations as “temporary employment authorization for practical training directly related to a student’s major field of study.” You can be authorized for OPT before you complete your degree program (pre-completion OPT) or after you complete your degree program (post-completion OPT).  The standard processing time for OPT authorization is 2-5 months. Please see the F-1 Pre-Completion OPT and Post-Completion OPT pages on our website for more information.

F-1 Severe Economic Hardship: In cases of severe economic hardship, a F-1 international student can request special off-campus work authorization. You would be eligible for this if other employment opportunities are not available or are insufficient and the severe economic hardship is caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. You must also have been enrolled full-time for one year, have good academic standing, demonstrate that your employment will not interfere with you having a full-time course load, and demonstrate that on-campus work is insufficient. If you believe that you could qualify for Severe Economic Hardship, please come see an ISSS advisor to discuss the procedures to request this kind of work authorization.

Students in J-1 status, please see the J-1 Employment webpage.

Travel

What happens if I have emergency and have to go home?

Please contact ISSS to discuss your specific situation.

Do I need to get my I-20 signed every time I leave the country?

No, travel signatures are valid for up to 12-months. You need to make sure you have a valid travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 that was signed within the last 12-months from the time you seek entry into the U.S. If you do not have a travel signature or your travel signature will be older than 12-months at the time of your re-entry into the U.S. you will need to request a new travel signature from ISSS.
You will need to complete the I-20 Reprint Request Form (available in MyISSS portal) to request a travel signature.