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Frequently Asked Questions

Guidance Regarding Enrollment For 2023/ 2024 Academic Year

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CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) Travel Information

NOTE: There is no longer a requirement to show proof of vaccination in order to board a flight to the US. For more information see the CDC website.

New Student Questions

How do I pay my tuition?

Full payment of tuition is due by the fifth day of classes after which a student’s enrollment is cancelled if payment is not made. Students do not receive a formal bill, but can access their bill using the OASIS account.

If your bill is paid by an outside agency (government sponsor or other third party sponsor), be sure your scholarship agency notifies the University in advance by letter stating the amount and length of time of the award and who to bill for tuition. Keep the original copy in case the immigration officer at the port-of-entry or the University Cashier’s Office requests it.

If you need to make a payment from an institution outside the US, USF has partnered with Flywire to allow secure payments from almost any country and any bank, typically in your home currency. By making your payment with Flywire, you can track your payments from start to finish, save on bank fees and exchange rates, and access their multilingual customer support team with any questions. For complete details, go to the International Payments page, or visit www.flywire.com/usf

Do I need to attend an orientation?

Undergraduate students must sign up for and attend an orientation prior to the start of the semester. Visit the Orientation website for information on dates and sign up procedures. There are separate orientations for First Year (freshman) and Transfer (2nd year or above) students. Graduate students should contact their department for information about department orientation. The Graduate and Professional Student Council and the Graduate School host an orientation for incoming graduate students. Visit the New Graduate Student Orientation website for more details.

When should I arrive to begin school at USF?

F-1 and J-1 students may enter the US up to 30 days prior to the first day of the semester. We recommend that all students arrive to USF at least one week prior to the first day of the semester. This gives students time to attend the International Services check-in, the final orientation sessions, and to avoid late registration fees. Graduate students with university assistantships should plan to arrive one week prior to the start date on the official university offer letter.

Can I get a letter for the embassy to expedite my appointment?

You can print the expedite letter from iStart under "Letters".

What are the requirements for starting in the Summer?

F-1 students beginning a new program in the Summer term must enroll full-time for that summer session.

In order to maintain your immigration status, when starting in the summer semester, if it is your first semester:

  • Undergraduates starting in Summer A/C are required to be at 9 credit hours and 6   credit hours if starting in Summer B.
  • Graduate students are required to be at 6 credit hours and must start in A/C only.

Can I arrive after the beginning of courses?

Students must report to the university by the first day of the semester. If you are unable to report by the first day of the semester, you should contact the admission office at international@usf.edu to ask about your next steps and whether you qualify to defer to another term.

Can all visa types attend school?

In general, most visas allow for part-time/full-time study. Visa types that are prohibited by US immigration law from studying are B1 and B2. USF does not issue M-1 visas.  F-2's may study part time.

Where can I find more information about student visas?

We encourage you to visit the U.S. Department of State website for more information on the rules and regulations about student visas.

When will I be able to meet with an International Advisor?

As soon as you are admitted to USF, we will be happy to meet with you to discuss your immigration needs and concerns. Our services are reserved for admitted students only.

Current Student Questions

Can I drop below full-time?

No. In order to maintain your immigration status, you are required to be enrolled full-time during the Fall and Spring semesters and Summer if it is your first semester (6 credit hours for graduate students and 9 credit hours for undergraduate students). Please meet with an International Services Advisor if you feel that dropping below full-time is necessary to discuss options and implications for your immigration status. NOTE: If you drop without permission you risk status termination.

What happens if my visa expires?

A visa is an “entry document.” It is used to enter the U.S. If it expires in the U.S. you do not need to be concerned as long as you are maintaining your status, your I-94 is marked D/S, and your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid. However, if you leave the U.S., you must obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy outside of the U.S. before re-entering.

Will I need a new visa if outside longer than 5 months?

SEVP’s COVID 19 guidance Spring and Summer 2020 stated that if students maintain their F-1 status and keep an active SEVIS record, the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply. If you kept your F-1 status while outside the US and have a valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport, you can use it with your I-20 to return to USF.

I’m an F-1 student. Can I work off campus?

Generally, F-1 students are only allowed to work on campus for 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters (40 hours during breaks and annual vacation). Please see the information on our website about Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training if you are interested in gaining off campus work experience in your field of study. If you have had a severe, unforeseen circumstance that has resulted in a loss of funding as listed on your I-20, you may talk to an International Services Advisor about the possibility of Economic Hardship work authorization.

What do I need to do if I want to travel outside the U.S.?

During COVID you should be aware of testing and quarantine requirements as part of any planned travel outside the US. Be sure that your visa is valid. Have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed by an International Services Advisor If you plan to travel to a country other than your home country, contact the embassy or consulate of the country that you wish to visit. You will find a list of embassies in Washington D.C. at www.embassy.org

Can I work in my on-campus job remotely from outside the US? (updated 4/29/2021)

NO, GA/TA/RAs with appointments must live and work in Florida.

How do I find a job on campus?

Some places that commonly hire international students are:

  • USF departments or colleges - visit the USF Human Resources website for current openings
  • Places that commonly hire international students such as:
    • Yuengling Center
    • USF Library
    • Aramark Dining Services

NOTE: For a job to be considered “on campus” you must receive a USF generated paycheck or the on-campus location must offer essential services to students, such as the Yuengling Center or the USF Bookstore.


What happens if my I-20 or DS-2019 expires and I have not completed my program of study?

You would be considered out of status with immigration. DO NOT let these documents expire. Please check your end date at the beginning of each semester. If you need additional time to complete your program of study, you will need to complete an Extension Request form for F-1 students or USF Extension of Stay Request for J-1 students . If you notice that your I-20 or DS-2019 has expired, see an International Services Advisor immediately.

Are there scholarships available for international students?

There are many different types of scholarships available. Please see the Financial Aid website to search for scholarships for which you may be eligible to apply. 

How do I get in-state tuition?

Students in their first term need to go through Admissions. After the first term, the Registrar’s office makes all decisions regarding Residency Classification for tuition paying purposes. Please visit their website for additional information.

Is there a problem if my I-94 does not say D/S?

YES. D/S means duration of status and all F-1 and J-1 students must have an I-94 with this annotation. If you do not, please see an International Services Advisor immediately. International Services recommends that you bring a copy of your I-94 after each trip outside of the U.S.

Can I drop a course from a previous semester?

If dropping a course from a previous semester will put you below full-time for that semester, you should not drop without first speaking with an International Services Advisor. Retroactively withdrawing can have serious consequences for your immigration status. Additionally students with scholarships who fall below 30 credit hours in an academic year will have the award revoked.

Do I need to enroll for the Summer?

If you have maintained your F-1 status and intend to continue your current program and register for the next (Fall) term, Summer is considered your annual vacation. In this case, immigration regulations do not require that you enroll during the summer.


F-1 students beginning a new program in the Summer term must enroll full-time for that summer session.
F-1 students graduating in a Summer term must enroll in their remaining courses and may not take all online credits.

Can I apply for OPT from my home country?

No. Current immigration regulations require that OPT applications are filed in the US.

I received my OPT I-797 Approval Notice but have not yet received my EAD card. Can I start working?

No. You must receive your EAD card before you can begin any employment. USCIS generally says to allow 30 days to receive your EAD card. If you do not receive your EAD card within 30 days of an approval, you should submit an inquiry to USCIS at https://egov.uscis.gov/e-request/Intro.do for “Case Outside of Normal Processing Time”.

Will my OPT unemployment begin counting if my OPT is approved but my EAD has not yet arrived?

Technically, your unemployment begins counting from the approved start date on your EAD card, so you will not know for sure what that start date is until you receive your EAD card. If your card is delayed, we recommend you keep documented proof that you received your EAD card late, in case you are asked to justify this to immigration in the future. Examples of such proof might include: a screen shot of the case tracker page showing the date your card was delivered, the envelope your EAD card arrived in, receipt(s) of any USCIS inquiries you submitted regarding your delayed EAD card.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Questions

What steps must I take in order to complete the CPT application process?

  1. Read the CPT Presentation
  2. Meet with graduate coordinator, academic advisor or Career Services to discuss their requirements
  3. Register for appropriate CPT related course unless your major requires an internship for everyone in the major without course registration
  4. Receive internship/job offer
  5. Login to istart.usf.edu Complete the CPT Application located under F-1 Practical Training - Apply. (Note: The CPT Application is only visible to current F-1 students)
  6. Academic Advisor or Graduate Coordinator receives automatic email and confirms academic nature of work experience
  7. Immigration Advisor processing (Wait up to 10 working days after academic department completes the eform)
  8. Receive e-mail from OIS to pick up I-20 with CPT authorization
  9. Start employment only after receiving I-20 with CPT authorization and on or after the CPT start date listed on page two of your I-20

When is a student eligible for CPT?

  • Student must be in valid F-1 status
  • Student is enrolled in a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral degree program
  • Student must have been enrolled for one academic year in current degree program at USF (Time in Academic English or Pathway programs does not count towards this requirement)
  • Academic year is defined as a fall and spring semester Student must be making normal progress toward degree completion

When is a student ineligible for CPT?

  • Student has completed all degree requirements
  • CPT will be used to facilitate employment rather than for an academic learning purpose
  • Student has requested CPT based solely on a minor
  • After approval for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) for FINAL SEMESTER
  • After applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Student has officially graduated from USF
  • Has not been enrolled at USF for a consecutive, full academic year following return from OPT

Is there a limit of how much CPT I can have?

12 months of full-time CPT at an educational level eliminates eligibility for OPT at that same educational level. Academic departments may have set restrictions based on the major curriculum. 

Are there any restrictions on how many hours I can work while on CPT?

Part-time CPT: 20 hours or fewer per week

Full-time CPT: 21 hours or more per week 

What if I need to request an extension of my I-20 in order to request CPT?

I-20 cannot be extended for the sole purpose of CPT. There must be an academic reason to request a program extension.

What are the enrollment requirements?

Full-time CPT:

  • If full-time CPT will last 12 weeks or more during a Fall or Spring Semester, the student may* be eligible to enroll in less than a full course load
  • If full-time CPT lasts less than 12 weeks of a Fall or Spring Semester, the student is required to be enrolled in a full-time course load** (including the CPT course)
  • During summer, students can enroll for the CPT-related course only. No additional registration is required for immigration purposes

Part-time CPT:

  • Students authorized for part-time CPT during a Fall or Spring Semester must be enrolled in full-time course load** (including the CPT course) no matter the duration of the CPT experience
  • During summer, students can enroll for the CPT-related course only. No additional registration is required for immigration purposes

*Approval of Full Time CPT that will last 12 weeks or more does NOT automatically authorize a student to drop below full time. This will be evaluated during the application process. You must consult with your academic advisor to determine what courses you must register for in addition to your internship in order to maintain normal academic progress.

*Full-time enrollment requirements for students are as follows:

  • Undergraduate: 12 credit hours of which only 3 credits can be online
  • Graduate: 9 credit hours of which only 3 credits can be online
  • Reduced Course Load (RCL), authorized by OIS, counts as full-time enrollment

What are some sample courses acceptable for the CPT authorization?

  • Internship course
  • Cooperative education course
  • Practicum or field experience course
  • Dissertation or thesis course if the CPT experience is integral to student's research

How many credit hours are required for the CPT-related course?

Courses must be credit bearing unless the student is engaged in Cooperative Education (Co-Op) through the USF Career Services.

The number of credit hours for the CPT-related course are determined by the department and official course catalog.

Can I drop a course on which my CPT is based?

No, students may not drop the CPT-related course.

The student will be considered in violation of their F-1 immigration status if they fail to maintain registration in the CPT related course after being approved for CPT.  In this case, the student's I-20 and legal status will be terminated (ended) and the student must meet with an immigration advisor for options.

Does CPT have to start the first day of the semester?

No, CPT does not have to start on the first day of the semester. CPT can start up to two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester. CPT can also be authorized after the semester start date, but the authorization must be on the I-20 before starting work; and students must follow above enrollment requirements; and if the course is added late, the department must include rationale to explain why the work experience is necessary to the program.

When must my CPT end?

If graduating, the CPT must end by the Friday of Graduation Week.

If the student will be continuing their degree after the CPT experience, CPT may extend two weeks after the end of the semester.

Can I request more than one period of CPT?

CPT is granted for one semester at a time.

To extend CPT for another semester, students must reapply in iStart.

Remember, 12 months of full-time CPT eliminates eligibility for OPT at that same educational level following completion of degree program.

Can I request CPT and still work on campus?

Current immigration interpretation by the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) does not address concurrent CPT and on-campus employment.  Therefore, it is recommended that students who engage in concurrent CPT and on-campus employment limit the total employment to 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring.

Can I do an internship outside the US?

While it is possible for an international student to engage in internships outside of the US, you will need permission to engage in an internship connected to a USF course. If you decide to do this, please complete the Study/Internship/Research Abroad E-Form early so we can connect you to all offices that would need to grant approval.

When do I submit the CPT request?

Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible since the process includes approval through the academic department.

Students must submit CPT requests at least 15 working days prior to the CPT learning experience. This includes the time necessary for departments to approve their portion of the eform.

There is no mechanism for expedited processing.

If the student submits the CPT request and the expected CPT start date is less than 10 days away, the CPT start date will be changed to the date the CPT application is approved, if this approval is later than the date requested on the iStart CPT Application eform.

How do I submit the CPT request?

CPT requests are submitted electronically in iStart:

Students log into iStart using their USF NetID and password to complete and submit the CPT eform found under F-1 Practical Training – Apply.

Students must enter the name and contact information for academic adviser, graduate coordinator, or other appropriate department contact if applying for CPT experiences required for the degree program, necessary for a course, or part of thesis or dissertation.

The academic advisor, graduate coordinator, or other appropriate department contact will receive electronic notification and is then required to verify and provide supporting information that the work experience matches the criteria for one of the types of CPT at USF listed below:

Verify and provide supporting information that the work experience matches the criteria for one of the types of CPT at USF listed below:


An internship or work experience is required for ALL students in the academic program (major) to earn the degree.

The student provides a copy of this noted in the official publically accessible USF catalog.


The work experience is required for completion of a course requirement for a specific course.

The student provides proof from the official USF catalog or official program (major) website course listing indicating that a work experience is required to complete the course.


The work experience is necessary and contributes to the production of the final thesis or dissertation.

The department contact provides supporting details including where the work experience will appear in the final paper.

List all courses the student must enroll in for the CPT semester in order to maintain normal progress towards their degree.

What must be included in the offer letter?

Students must upload the CPT learning experience offer letter at the time of submission. The offer letter must be on letterhead and include the following:

  • The student's name
  • The company name and address
  • Name and address of the company or location where the CPT will take place, if different from the address of the company
  • Description of CPT employment including responsibilities and learning objectives
  • Specific start (month/day/year) and end date (month/day/year) within the dates of the term
  • Number of hours of CPT activity per week
  • Name of supervisor
  • Signature of hiring official

Must I register for my CPT course before I submit my CPT request?

Yes. Students should consult with academic/faculty advisers for information about courses that are appropriate for CPT prior to submitting the CPT request in iStart.

It is your responsibility to meet all obligations of the CPT-related course. Our office cannot assist with fee adjustments, if you do not find a job or your CPT is denied.

Remember, you will be ineligible for CPT if you have been approved for a RCL for final semester.

What is the timeline for processing the CPT request?

OIS will not start processing a CPT request until the following steps have been completed:

  • Student has passed the CPT Quiz
  • Student has uploaded the CPT Job Offer Letter that meets all requirements
  • Student has submitted the CPT Application eform
  • Student is registered for the CPT- related course
  • The academic department has approved their portion of the eform or student has uploaded the Career Services assignment form
  • Within 10 business days after all of the above is completed, OIS will process the CPT authorization

How will I know if this request has been approved and my new I-20 is ready?

When the CPT request is approved, a new I-20 with CPT authorization will be produced. OIS will send an e-mail to your USF e-mail address when the CPT I-20 is ready to be picked up. If you have not received an email from OIS after 15 business days, we ask that you visit the office during CPT walk-in hours.

Can I submit just one request if I plan to do CPT for more than one semester?

No, students must submit a request for each semester of CPT and register for the CPT-related course.