Current International Students

Please see our COVID-19 Updates for International Students.


Normal (non-COVID-19) Enrollment Requirements

To maintain valid Immigration Status in the United States, F-1 students must be registered full-time (12 credits) each regular semester (fall and spring). To discuss deviations from this regulation students must make an appointment with the ISO to understand the implications of such decision before they submit any official request. Deviations may include:

  • Dropping below full course of study (12 credits)
  • Leave of Absence
  • Extension of Program
  • Program Withdrawal


  • Summer enrollment is optional. Hence, international students may choose how many credits they want to pursue, if any.
  • International students can enroll in no more than one class (3.0 credits) of online or distance-learning courses per semester – as long as that is not their last class in the program.
  • Your CUNYfirst account will show a positive Service Indicator (in the shape of a star) to identify you as an international student in F-1 status. This does not impact any function within the system. It will also show a negative Service Indicator (in the shape of a stop sign) to notify that you are enrolled full-time (or have special dispensation) for that semester. This will prevent you from dropping below the required number of credits. It is a safety mechanism that will ensure that you remain in status. There is nothing wrong with your account and no action is need of you. If you must drop or swap a class, you will need to speak with a DSO first.

Reporting Requirements

International Students are required to report any changes in their personal or academic information within 10 days, by sending the SEVIS Data Verification Form to the ISO. Changes may include:

  • change of U.S. contact information (i.e. U.S. address, telephone, email).
  • change in academic program (i.e. degree, concentration, level).
  • change in academic status (i.e. probation, dismissal).
  • change of financial support, including its sources.
  • change of legal name (as it is in the passport). A copy of the new passport must be sent to the DSO for SEVIS update, and original presented upon retrieval of new I-20.

International Students are also required to inform us immediately of any upcoming changes, such as:

  • If they are applying for change of status, including for any dependents.
  • If they have received notice of approval for change of status, including for any dependents.
  • If they intend to transfer-out to another program or institution.


  • Students must submit this information to the ISO through the SEVIS Data Verification Form even if such change was already reported to the school via other channels (CUNYfirst, Blackboard, Registrar, Bursar, HR, etc.). Our internal systems are not connected with SEVIS (the government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System), and changes must be reported separately to us.

Employment Requirements

International students may not engage in any work activity or practicum training (paid or unpaid) without proper authorization from our Office and/or the USCIS. Violation of this requirement will incur in termination of students’ SEVIS record and make them out-of-status. As a consequence, students will be prevented from attending classes and will have to leave the United States immediately. Hence, be sure to meet with us before you accept any offer and begin work. Please visit our Employment Page for more information.

Travel and Re-Entry into the United States

Students beginning their studies with CUNY SPH should check our Prospective International Students page. The information below is for current students who already completed their initial check-in process.

Before Leaving the United States

The following documents are required for re-entry in the United States:

  • Valid passport – with expiration date more than 6 months into the future.
  • Valid visa – with expiration date after re-entry into the U.S.
  • Valid travel signature – found on page 2 of most recent I-20. Travel signatures given during regular period of study are valid for 12 months. Travel signatures given during OPT (regular are valid for only 6 months).
  • Proof of financial support – which students provided to us when seeking initial I-20 or extension of Program End Date.
  • Enrollment Verification Letter (EVL) – provided by the DSO upon completion of the travel check-in process.

If students have all documents required for re-entry, other than the EVL, they must email the ISO, at least 10 days prior to their leaving, indicating the date of departure from the U.S. and the date of arrival back into this country. Upon verification of information, the DSO will supply students with the EVL via email.

If students’ travel signature is not valid within the above-mentioned timeline, they must get an appointment to visit the ISO in person, at least 10 days prior to their leaving. They must indicate the date of departure from the U.S. and the date of arrival back into this country. Upon verification of information, the DSO will supply students with the travel signature.

If students’ passport or visa are not valid within the above-mentioned timelines, or they are missing proof of financial support, they must get an appointment to visit the ISO in person, at least two months prior to their leaving, to attain further information.


  • Students must plan for extra time abroad if they need to renew their passports or visas. For more information on how to renew a Student Visa, please visit the U.S. Department of State website. Also, visit the Embassy or Consulate website where you intend to apply, for specific instructions and turnaround time for renewal services. For information on how to renew your passport, please visit website of the appropriate agency in your home country.
  • Students who submitted an application for OPT or Change of Status may not leave the country until their case has been adjudicated. Pending applications will be cancelled upon applicants’ departure from the U.S.

Upon Returning to the United States

All international students must email the ISO copies of the following current documents within 10 days of their re-entry:


Office Visit

International Students must always get an appointment to visit the International Students Office to ensure that a counselor will be available to assist them. Students must also bring the following original and current documents to their meeting: