The Visa Process
American University (AU) accepts two different student types of visas –the F-1 visa and J-1 visa. Students with an F-1 visa typically wish to stay in the US after they have completed their graduate studies. In addition, they will need pre-authorization in order to work jobs off-campus. Students with a J-1 visa typically intend to return to their home countries once they have completed their studies at AU. The State Department or an employer usually sponsors students on J-1 visas. For more information regarding F-1 visas visit http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange/student.html and or regarding J-1 visa information visit http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange/exchange.html.
Graduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields have an additional option if they want to stay in the US after graduation. The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program offers STEM graduates up to 17 months of additional time in the US to work within their field to obtain work-related experience. More information can be found here: http://www.uscis.gov/eir/visa-guide/f-1-opt-optional-practical-training/f-1-optional-practical-training-opt. AU has resources on OPT programs that can be found here: http://www.american.edu/ocl/isss/OPT.cfm.
Students who need additional guidance on renewing visas, extending stays, and transferring immigration status should be directed here: http://www.american.edu/ocl/isss/visas-immigration-current-students.cfm. Students with immigration papers provided by American University need to check in with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) each semester. For check-in instructions, see http://www.american.edu/ocl/isss/immigration-check-in.cfm.
The Career Center offers guidance to all students seeking an internship or employment while at AU or following graduation. International students may take advantage of additional workshops and supports centered on unique issues they may face in the US job market.
International students who want off-campus work should consult with ISSS regarding work status forms and pre-authorization. These forms can be found here: http://www.american.edu/ocl/isss/employment.cfm. Working off campus without pre-authorization is a serious visa violation. Students seeking an unpaid, credit-bearing internship should review this document: http://www.american.edu/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=3515939. They should work with ISSS to ensure that potential internships meet the established selection criteria. Please see specific employment information for students with F-1 visas at http://www.american.edu/ocl/isss/employment-F1.cfm and for students with J-1 visas at http://www.american.edu/ocl/isss/J-1-Employment.cfm.
International Gateway Program
The International Gateway Program (IGP) offers incoming international graduate students summer courses on communication in English and American academic culture before the start of the fall semester. A student must be conditionally admitted in order to be eligible for this program. For additional information, please see: http://www.american.edu/spexs/IGPGrad/index.cfm. See the "Types of Admissions" section to learn more about conditional admission.
The ISSS offers comprehensive support and assistance to international students and AU faculty members. This office can provide assistance with legal and disciplinary issues, homesickness, bridging cultural differences, and employment issues. Specific contact people include:
Senem Bakar, Director, ISSS, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristina Thompson, Associate Director, ISSS, email@example.com
Fatmira Hoxha, Assistant Director, ISSS, firstname.lastname@example.org
Transitioning to Life at AU and in the United States
Once an international applicant has been admitted to AU and accepted an offer of admission, he/she will receive a series of emails from ISSS with details on life at AU and life in the US. These emails include information on visas, health care, academic integrity, how to pack for Washington's climate, and finding affordable housing. For a pre-arrival checklist, please see http://www.american.edu/ocl/isss/Pre-Arrival-Checklist.cfm.