International Student FAQ

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) reflect current university policies and immigration regulations. This page is designed to provide AU international students with up-to-date answers to help navigate their immigration status.


Last updated on June 23, 2023.

New Incoming Students

Once you are admitted to a program at AU, your admission office will notify ISSS so that we may begin preparing your I-20/DS-2019. That process can take up to 2 weeks after such notification if all documentation, including financial documents, has been received and accepted. If any follow-ups are needed, the process may take longer. Please make sure that you review the Financial Documents page to understand the requirements of documentation. You will be notified and your I-20/DS-2019 will become available to download on iEagle (international student portal) as soon as it is issued. You are also encouraged to review the Pre-Arrival Steps to understand the procedure. 

Incoming students are required to provide financial documents, Certification of Finances and passport copies to their admission office. To review the requirements for financial documents, please visit our Financial Documents page. You are also encouraged to review the Pre-Arrival Steps to understand the procedure.  

While we will continue sending you electronic I-20/DS-2019 as permitted by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of States, please print your I-20/DS-2019, sign the document, and bring it for your visa interview at the U.S. consulate/embassy. You will also need to bring the printed copy to your port of entry to present it to the immigration officer.  

AU offers scholarships at the time of admission and notifies students of the scholarship with the admission decision. You may find more information and sources of external funding opportunities on the ISSS Scholarship page  

There is a required pre-arrival process for all incoming students in iEagle (AU’s international students’ portal). Please login to iEagle and go to the New Student menu and select the respective program name to access your pre-arrival process as well as to download I-20/DS-2019. Through this process, you can learn more about the immigration steps and AU resources. 

New international students can enter the United States up to 30 days before the start date of the program, which is listed on the Form I-20/DS-2019. Your official program start date is the first day of classes. If you are a current F-1/J-1 student intending to transfer your immigration (SEVIS) record to AU, you may enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date.  

Students in countries where Google and Blackboard are not supported can use the AU Virtual Private Network (VPN). We have added user licenses to expand our VPN capacity. Students can either go to help.american.edu and search “VPN” or enroll your mobile device with the Duo two-factor authentication app. See the How to Enroll in 2-Factor Authentication video on YouTube; then access the VPN following the steps for your device.  

If you defer your admission, ISSS will update your I-20 program start date for next semester and you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again. Please contact your admissions office for more information on deferring your admission. 

Currently Enrolled Students

If you are employed and paid by US sources (either on-campus or off-campus), you may be eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN). International students on F-1/J-1 visa who are not employed with a paid job are not eligible to receive SSN. Please visit our Social Security Number webpage to learn more about the process to apply.  

To start a new program at AU, you need a “Change of Education Level” I-20. Please refer to the Change of Education Level page to learn more about the process and required documents. 

I-20s may be extended if a delay in program completion is caused by well-documented academic or medical reasons for students in good academic and immigration status, such as: 

  • Change in Major (Undergraduate) 

  • Change in Thesis or Dissertation Research Topic (Ph.D.) 

  • Unexpected Research Problems (Ph.D.) 

  • Documented Illnesses 

  • Initial Academic Difficulties (Undergraduate or Graduate) 

  • Other Academic Reasons (Ph.D.) 

Failing classes and not attending classes will not be a ground for program extension. Please read the Program Extension page for more information and process.  

Please consult with your academic advisor for advice about temporary leave. Students on approved temporary leave must leave the U.S. and will have their immigration record terminated and lose immigration benefits. They will need a new initial I-20 to return to AU in the next semester and will not be eligible for CPT or OPT until completing full-time enrollment for one academic year upon return to AU. Students cannot return from temporary leave during summer. To understand the implications and process of returning to AU, please visit the Temporary Leave of Absence page.  

Current AU students who have been admitted to another school in the United States may request to have their immigration status (SEVIS record) transferred out from AU to the new school. Please read the information on the Transfer Out from AU page to learn about regulations and procedure. You must also submit the SEVIS Transfer-Out Request form through iEagle.  

For continuing students (not graduating), transfers can be processed at the end of an academic term or before a new term begins. Transfers in the middle of an academic term are not possible. 

Current students on authorized study abroad or field research abroad can keep their immigration status active. If you are studying/researching abroad in your final semester, you must return to the U.S. prior to the end of your program if you wish to apply for post-completion OPT. Please also review the Study Abroad handout for more information. 

If it is your final semester, and you have only partial credits left to complete the program, please first enroll in your classes, and submit reduced course load (RCL) authorization e-form request to ISSS. To submit the RCL e-Form, please login to iEagle and submit the Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request. 

Travel and Visa

Before returning from an international trip, you must have a travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019. There is an online form through which you can request travel signature on iEagle. Please go to iEagle > Current Student > Travel Signature Request and submit this form. ISSS will sign your I-20/DS-2019 and upload the new document to your iEagle account within 3-5 business days. We recommend you request a travel signature well before your travel, as the signature is valid for one year or until your I-20/DS-2019 expires. Please also make sure that your F-1/J-1 visa, and passports are valid. (Passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the intended return date to the U.S.)  

It is not possible to obtain an F-1 visa in the U.S. If you plan to travel outside the U.S. with an expired visa, you need to apply for a new visa while outside of the U.S. Please refer to Travel and Reentry for more information. 

You must always have a valid I-20/DS-2019, an unexpired passport, an unexpired F-1/J-1 visa, your SEVIS fee receipt, and a copy of your unofficial transcript and/or course registration showing enrollment in a few in-person classes. For those students who are on post-completion OPT, you must also show your EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card. Please refer to Travel and Reentry for more information. 

Applying for or renewing an F-1 or J-1 visa outside your home country is possible but it increases the visa processing time. Please consult with the U.S. embassy or consulate where you are planning to apply for a visa for more information. Additional guidance can be found on ISSS Visa Application and Renewal page. 

Employment

F-1 and J-1 students who are enrolled full-time and in good academic and immigration standing are eligible to work on-campus part-time (20 hours a week or less) while school is in session and full-time (more than 20 hours a week) when school is not in session or during annual vacation. 

J-1 students: If your DS-2019 was issued by another organization, please consult with your J-1 program Responsible Officer. 

F-1 and J-1 students are not eligible for Federal Work Study (FWS) positions. 

There are restrictions for working at third-party service providers on-campus. Please consult with an ISSS advisor.  

For more information about your employment options, please visit ISSS Employment page.  

To become eligible for off-campus employment such as doing internship, F-1 students must have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year. After one full year of study, F-1 students will become eligible to apply for off-campus employment authorization such as CPT.  

J-1 students may request Academic Training authorization during their program. 

For more information about your employment options, please visit out Employment page. 

Visit our OPT page to learn more about the application process and timeline. Students who are graduating are encouraged to review the OPT Information Video that’s available on iEagle.  

You do not need CPT authorization if you are not physically in the U.S. and your internship will start and end outside the U.S. If you enter the U.S. to continue your internship without CPT authorization, you will be in violation of your immigration status. 

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