Working in the United States for F-1 Visa Students
Opportunities for F-1 students
On-Campus Work: F-1 students are eligible to work only on the Albion College campus. Federal regulations stipulate that you work no more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session, except during vacation periods. To find a job, look on the student employment website. The amount of money you earn during the school year is usually enough for books and pocket money.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT): F-1 degree students may apply for a CPT after having completed their first year of college. The CPT must be part of your academic major and can be for no more than 20 hours per week. In order to apply for a CPT, students must see CIE Director Dr. Debra Peterson for an application and guidelines.
Optional Practical Training (OPT): Upon completion of your academic degree, F-1 students are permitted to apply for an OPT. This training is valid for one year, must be within your major field of study, and must be approved by Immigration and Naturalization Services. In order to apply for an OPT, students must see CIE Director Dr. Debra Peterson for an application and guidelines at the end of their junior year or start of their senior year.
Traveling Within and Outside of the United States
Travel within the U.S.
Please make sure to carry your original passport and I-20 with you at all times.
Note: Make sure you know which route you are taking when you travel through the U.S. Many American students traveling east from Michigan drive through Canada. If this is your route, you must follow the “Travel outside the U.S.” guidelines below.
Travel outside the U.S.
All F-1 and J-1 students traveling to other countries (including Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean) will need to have their I-20 signed by a Designated Student Official (DSO). Please remember to plan ahead and set up an appointment to have your I-20 signed. In addition to a valid passport, visa, and I-20, you may also be required to get a visa of the country you plan on visiting.
Visa Application Information
Upon receiving your deposit and confirmation to enroll at Albion College, the College will mail to you an I-20 or DS-2019. (Again, the I-20 is sent to degree-seeking students to obtain an F-1 visa. The DS-2019 is sent to exchange students and native speakers to obtain a J-1 visa.)
When you receive the I-20/DS-2019:
- Check it for accuracy. (name, birth date, gender, etc.)
- Sign and date the form.
- Make an interview appointment with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you delay, there can be a lengthy wait in getting a visa.
- Check with the U.S. embassy/consulate for a list of documents required for your interview.
Here is a brief list of documents you should be prepared to show:
- Completed visa application
- Valid passport
- Your signed I-20 or DS-2019
- I-901 Receipt (SEVIS fee payment receipt)
- Financial documents (proof of finances)
- Any additional documents the embassy may request you to bring to your appointment
Preparation for the interview:
In addition to gathering the necessary documents and forms, we encourage you to prepare for your interview with the U.S. embassy/consulate. You may want to give some special thought to your:
- Foreign residence and ties to a community
- Intention to return to the place of foreign residence
- Ability to financially support yourself (and family, if included) while in the U.S.
What Should I Bring? What Should I Leave at Home?
Many international students are unsure of what they will need once they get to campus and move into their dorm room. Please read the following advice from our office and other international students.
Bring a long ethernet cord for your computer; sometimes the connection is way across the room!
Bring flip flops with you; they are less expensive overseas and you will wear them all the time in the United States.
Bring pictures, music, and videos from home; they will help you when you are feeling homesick and you can share them with students who are curious about your country, too.
Bring your medications if at all possible. Medicine in the United States is very expensive.
Bring some nice clothes with you, but not too many. You will have a chance to dress up,but mostly students wear jeans, T-shirts, and sweatpants. Lubricant eyedrops: since most students face dry eyes when traveling for several hours.
Bring some of your favorite cookies, candy, or treats from home; you can't always get the same foods in the U.S. as you can at home. Also, be willing to try new foods native to the United States. You might also want to bring recipes from home.
Leave anything really big at home; you can buy almost anything in the U.S. and will have plenty of opportunities to shop.(ex. stereo, flashlight, hot pot, surge protector and other electrical appliances).
Bring your camera and extra memory cards so that you can take and send lots of pictures home to family and friends.
- You may want to bring a dictionary that translates words from English to your own language and vice-versa. The majority speak English in the United States and it's never too late to began improving your English lexicon.
- You may want to bring an umbrella or raincoat. The weather in Michigan is very unpredictable, and no one likes being caught in the rain.
- Other miscellaneous items may include: address book, lip balm, calculator, and sewing kit.
Don't bring large containers of shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste with you; you will have a shopping trip your first full day here.
Don't bring school supplies; they are very cheap and easy to get.
Don't bring appliances unless you have an adapter; the United States runs on 120 single-phase voltage. Bring an adapter for your computer, too!