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Offices & Services

International Student Services

Washington College

Rules and Responsibility:

Washington College welcomes students of all backgrounds from around the world. We respect the different beliefs and customs held by our international students. Likewise, we ask each student at Washington College to maintain an attitude of respect and mutual acceptance for fellow students and others living in Chestertown. You are encouraged to review the Washington College Handbook and Advising Guide for a better understanding of our community.

In addition, as an international student, there are US immigration laws of which you should be aware. Failure to follow these laws will invalidate your F-1 visa status. View the International Student Contract (PDF).

  

Working

On-campus Employment

Students with an F-1 visa are generally allowed to work on campus provided that:

  • The student has obtained a social security number.
  • While classes are in session, F-1 students may not work more than 20 hours in a week.
  • During winter and summer vacation, F-1 students are permitted to work on campus full-time.
  • F-1 students coming to study in the US for the first time may not begin on-campus work more than 30 days prior to the start of their classes.
  • F-1 students who have graduated may not work on campus during their 60 day grace period.
Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training is most commonly referred to as “CPT.” CPT is an internship or training which is deemed to be “an integral part of an established curriculum.”

Applying for your internship may take several weeks. Please plan accordingly.

  1. Meet with the International Student Advisor to determine that you:
    • Have been enrolled at Washington College for the previous academic year, carrying 12 or more academic credits each semester. (Study Abroad is O.K.)
    • Have not worked off-campus without a work permit.
    • Are making progress towards graduating from Washington College by the program end date indicated on your I-20.
    • The training must be a requirement of the program of study and/or receive course credit
    • CPT requires a written job offer indicating job title, dates of employment, number of hours, and location of employment
    • Have a social security number (see above)
    • Understand that if you break the rules of your F-1 status, you will loose your CPT.
    • May apply for more than one CPT, but the maximum of any one CPT is limited to 12 months.
    • Understand that if you work more than 20 hours a week during your CPT and total accumulation of time on CPT is greater than 12 months, you CANNOT apply for OPT.
  2. Obtain a Washington College Internship Proposal Form and Internship Learning Contract. Then contact Dean Sack and your Academic Advisor to begin the process. The Dean’s Office can be reached at 410-778-7206. These papers are required to establish that participation in CPT is an integral part of your academic program and must be completed before working.
  3. Submit completed, signed and approved copies of the Washington College CPT Outline and CPT Application;(PDF) forms to the International Student Advisor.
  4. After submitting the completed forms, you will receive a new form I-20 indicating your participation in Curricular Practical Training. You must have this updated I-20 prior to the start date of your internship.
Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training is most commonly referred to as “OPT.” It is a period of 12 months during which a student holding F-1 status may work in the United States.

Most commonly, students apply during the final semester of their studies, requesting full-time OPT to begin upon the completion of their academic program.

Students must apply before the program end date on their I-20 and it may take 3 or more months to receive OPT permission from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). Students should indicate interest in OPT when checking in at the Office of International and Diversity Affairs (OIDA) at the beginning of the semester in which they want to apply.

  1. Establish eligibility for OPT. Meet with the International Student Advisor to determine that you:
    • Have been enrolled at Washington College for the previous semester, carrying 12 or more academic credits, and will continue until completion of the current semester. (Study Abroad is O.K.)
    • Have not worked off-campus without permission
    • Already have a social security number (see above)
    • Are completing classes with passing grades and will graduate Washington College by the program end date indicated on your I-20.
    • Have supplied the Global Education Office with contact information
    • Are aware that it is better not to travel out of the United States until you receive a reply regarding your OPT from the US Government.
    • Know that you will loose your OPT if you violate F-1 status.
    • Will work in your field of study.
  2. Schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisor to assemble your application. Please bring:
    • Valid passport and I-94 card.
    • I-20s past and present.
    • Academic Record or Transcript.
    • Academic Status Letter (PDF) from your Academic Advisor.
    • I-765 (will be issued/completed during your appointment with the advisor).
    • A personal check/money order (personal check is better) made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security. Check with advisor for current fee.
  3. Make two copies of your application (you can do this during your appointment)
    • Give one copy to the International Student Advisor and keep the other copy for your personal files.
    • Two to three weeks after you submit your application you will receive a receipt from the USCIS (US Citizens and Immigration Services). KEEP THAT RECEIPT! It is very important as you may be asked for it later. You may also check the status of your application using your receipt number and going to this link: Case Status
  4. Status Verification and Travel
    • Please be aware that after you receive your card, if you relocate, it is your responsibility to notify the International Student Advisor of changes in your contact information. You have 10 days in which to notify of any change of address
    • Once employment has been secured; you must notify the International Student Advisor of your new employment within 10 days. Should you change employment or become unemployed; you must also notify the International Student Advisor within 10 days.
    • Likewise, although you will no longer be at Washington College during Semester Check-in, you must still have your contact information confirmed periodically to maintain your status/OPT.
    • Please read the departure and arrival travel procedures below, taking note of requirements for OPT participants.

Departure / Before you leave

  • After completion of your program, you have a 60-day grace period during which you may remain in the US. This 60 day grace period begins on the day following the program end date on your I-20. You should not leave the US and then try to re-enter the US during that 60-day grace period.
  • Check to make sure your passport is valid.
  • If you have been registered in NSEERS, ask the International Student Advisor about “Check-out Procedures.”
  • If you are participating in Optional Practical Training you will be able to depart the US and return as long as you have:
    • A valid passport and valid F1 visa
    • Valid Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD Card)
    • Your expired I-20 with OPT noted
    • Not been outside of the US for 5 or more consecutive months
    • A travel letter from your employer,indicating that they are aware of your absence and return (This letter is recommended, not mandatory.)

Arrival

  • You may enter the US no more than 30 days before the program start date on your I-20.
  • When passing through immigration, you will be asked for your passport with I-94 card (the card you receive on the airplane) and your I-20.
  • The first time you come to study in the US, the school name on your visa must match the school name on the I-20. Later, if you transfer schools in the US and receive a new I-20, your visa and I-20 will no longer match. This should not present a problem for travel.
  • When entering the US, if immigration officers choose to register you under NSEERS and you are issued a FIN Number, please notify the International Student Advisor. You will subsequently be required to “Check-out” with US Immigration at your port of exit when departing the US. Failure to do so may require you to obtain a new visa before re-entering the US.
  • If you are traveling prior to your initial entry and are planning to apply for a visa during your travels, please be aware that you can only apply for a visa in the country of which you are a citizen.

Economic Hardship

Economic Hardship Employment is intended for students who are having a difficult time financing their education due to unforeseen circumstances occurring after the start of their studies. Some examples are:

  • Loss of financial aid/on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student.
  • Substantial fluctuations in currency or exchange rate.
  • Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs.
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support.
  • Medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

If your application is approved, you may work up to 20 hours/week off campus in addition to the 20 hours/week you may work on campus. This does not affect your eligibility to apply for Optional Practical Training.

  1. Type a letter (addressed “To Whom It May Concern”) explaining the unforeseen economic trouble you are experiencing.

You should attach any type of documentation that will support/validate your letter. Examples include:

  • Proof of currency devaluations
  • Unexpected medical bills
  • Proof from your financial source of support that an unexpected change has taken place regarding your financial situation

BE SHORT AND TO THE POINT.

  • Make an appointment to meet with the International Student Advisor to determine that you:
    • Have been enrolled at Washington College for the previous academic year, carrying 12 or more academic credits. (Study Abroad is applicable toward that one year)
    • Have not worked off-campus without a work permit
    • Already have a social security number
    • Understand that if you break the rules of your F-1 status, you will loose your eligibility to work
  • Schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisor to assemble your application. Please bring:
    • Valid passport and I-94 card
    • I-20s past and present
    • I-765 (will be issued/completed during your appointment with the advisor).
    • A personal check/money order (personal check is better) made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security. Check with advisor for current fee.
  • Make two copies of your application (you can do this during your appointment)
    • Give one copy to the International Student Advisor and keep the other copy for your personal files.
    • Two to three weeks after you submit your application you will receive a receipt from the USCIS (US Citizens and Immigration Services). KEEP THAT RECEIPT! It is very important as you may be asked for it later. You may also check the status of your application using your receipt number and going to this link: Case Status
    • Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD) is awarded in one year increments to eligible candidates, and you must apply to renew your employment authorization prior to the expiration date on the EAD card you received.
      

    Travel

    Arrival
    • You may enter the US no more than 30 days before the program start date on your I-20.
    • When passing through immigration, you will be asked for your passport with I-94 card (the card you receive on the airplane) and your I-20.
    • The first time you come to study in the US, the school name on your visa must match the school name on the I-20. Later, if you transfer schools in the US and receive a new I-20, your visa and I-20 will no longer match. This should not present a problem for travel.
    • When entering the US, if immigration officers choose to register you under NSEERS and you are issued a FIN Number, please notify the International Student Advisor. You will subsequently be required to “Check-out” with US Immigration at your port of exit when departing the US. Failure to do so may require you to obtain a new visa before re-entering the US.
    • If you are traveling prior to your initial entry and are planning to apply for a visa during your travels, please be aware that you can only apply for a visa in the country of which you are a citizen.
    Traveling During Your Stay
    • You may need a visa if traveling outside of the US. You can find this information on embassy websites.
    • Check to make sure your passport is valid
    • Check to make sure your F-1 visa is valid
    • You should obtain the signature of the International Student Advisor/Designated School Official on your I-20 prior to any trip out of the US.
    • If you have been registered in NSEERS, please ask the International Student Advisor about “Check-out Procedures.”
    • If you are out of the US for 5 or more consecutive months, you will lose your F-1 student status and be unable to re-enter the US. This is true whether you are a student, or an OPT participant.
    • You may apply for a visa only in your country of citizenship. If you apply at another embassy during your travels and are refused, you may not be able to re-enter the United States.
    • If participating in Optional Practical Training you will be able to depart/return to the US as long as you have:
      • A valid passport and valid F1 visa
      • Valid Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD Card)
      • Your expired I-20 with OPT noted
      • Not been outside of the US for 5 or more consecutive months
      • A travel letter from your employer, indicating that they are aware of your absence and return (This letter is not mandatory, but recommended.)
    Departure / Before you leave
    • After completion of your program, you have a 60-day grace period during which you may remain in the US. This 60 day grace period begins on the day following the program end date on your I-20. You should not leave the US and then try to re-enter the US during that 60-day grace period
    • Check to make sure your passport is valid
    • If you have been registered in NSEERS, ask the International Student Advisor about “Check-out Procedures.”
    • If you are participating in Optional Practical Training you will be able to depart the US and return as long as you have:
      • A valid passport and valid F1 visa
      • Valid Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD Card)
      • Your expired I-20 with OPT noted
      • Not been outside of the US for 5 or more consecutive months
      • A travel letter from your employer, indicating that they are aware of your absence and return (This letter is recommended, not mandatory.)