Frequently Asked Questions

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I-20's & Visas

  • I-20 Information and Acknowledgement of Understanding
  • Form I-20 Application
  • Affidavit of Financial Support
  • Supporting financial documentation (i.e. a bank statement or bank letter stating that the person who is financially supporting you has at least the minimum estimated cost of attendance in their account)
  • A copy of your Passport

No more than 120 days before the program start date.

No more than 120 days before your program start date.

Please keep us informed of any issues or problems during your visa process.

You need a travel signature on your I-20 at least 3 business days prior to your travels.
Please formally request the signature on this form in Life@Fairfield and we will process your request in the order they are received.

  • Complete the online application form (Form DS-160).
  • Schedule an interview appointment at the US Embassy/Consulate.
  • Pay the US Visa Renewal Fee.
  • Submit the required documents for US visa renewal.
  • Enter the visa renewal interview.
  • While studying in the United States, it is important to maintain your F-1 student status.
  • Your status relates to the purpose, or reason for why you want to come to the United
  • States. The U.S. Department of State issues you your visa based on your intended purpose.
  • If the Department of State issues you an F-1 student visa, this means that you are coming to the United States to study. You should not take any action that detracts from that purpose. Maintaining your status means:
    • Fulfilling the purpose for why the Department of State issued you your visa.
    • Following the regulations associated with that purpose.


The U.S. government takes working illegally very seriously. There are limited work opportunities available in the United States for F-1 students. For this reason, before coming to the United States, F-1 students must prove they have the financial ability (e.g., present bank statements) to pay for tuition and living expenses while studying. If you decide that you want to work, the first step is always to talk with your designated school official (DSO). If your DSO knows you are working without permission, they must report it through SEVIS, meaning your SEVIS record will be terminated. That means that you will have to leave the United States immediately, and you may not be allowed to return.

Depending on your status and program of study, you may be eligible for the following type of employment opportunities while you study in the United States:

  • On-campus employment is work that F-1 students whose status is Active in SEVIS status may apply for. On-campus employment is specific to work that takes place on campus or at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school. Examples of oncampus employment include working at a university bookstore or cafeteria.
  • Active F-1 students may apply for on-campus employment up to 30 days before the start of classes. In order to apply, talk to your DSO. If approved, your DSO will provide you with a letter of approval. Take this letter from your DSO and a letter of approval from your employer to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). All students who wish to work must apply for a Social Security Number.
  • If you participate in on-campus employment, you may not work more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. If you have additional questions, please visit the F-1 Student On-Campus page on You can also reach out to us at

The Social Security Administration (SSA) assigns nine-digit Social Security numbers (SSNs) to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and eligible nonimmigrant workers in the United States. SSA uses SSNs to report wages to the government, track Social Security benefits and for other identification purposes. Every F student who U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants employment authorization to needs an SSN. You must have an offer of employment to apply for a social security number and your SEVIS record must be in active status.

Here are the steps:

  • Obtain an offer of on campus employment (or practical training if eligible - if applying for practical training you must follow the procedures for applying). Submit an Online International Student Request in Life@Fairfield to request an On Campus Work Permit and answer the question “yes” in the form to notify us that you need a Social Security Number.
  • We will issue an On Campus Work Permit and a Social Security Certification letter for you and will provide instructions for the Social Security application process.

In general, you may be required to file taxes if you earned any income from wages while working or training in the United States. Keep in mind that you cannot work or train as an international student without the proper authorization. Tax return filing is due each year on April 15.

As an F international student, you must file taxes if you have:

  • Income from wages, unless the income you earned does not exceed the personal exemption amount.
  • A taxable scholarship or fellowship.
  • Income from stock options.
  • Lottery or gambling winnings.
  • Other types of non-wage income.

Fairfield University offers Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). We will provide more information during tax season.

To apply for CPT, you should obtain an offer of employment, present it to your academic advisor or dean with a CPT Application. You must complete the top two sections of the form and ask your academic advisor or dean to sign off on the Department Approval section along with providing a letter of recommendation. You must register for the internship course that your school offers (ask your academic advisor or dean). The internship course must show up on your transcript for the semester you are approved for CPT and the internship course number and number of credits (it may be a 1 or 0 credit course) should be entered on the CPT Application form. You would then submit an Online International Student Form and would upload the CPT Application, offer letter and recommendation letter into the form.

Closer to the end of your program, we will provide OPT Workshop materials to assist with this
process. We will provide instructions to assist with filing for post completion OPT online
through USCIS.

Here are a few important facts about OPT:

  • You can apply for OPT up to 90 days before the end of your program.
  • You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT - you will seek employment while USCIS is
    processing your application.
  • You can apply for up to 12 months of post completion OPT.

Yes, the STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved STEM field. Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT (often for 12 months) have the option to apply for a STEM OPT extension.

Closer to the end of your active post completion OPT approval, you should review the STEM OPT Checklist and submit an OPT & STEM Employment form in Life@Fairfield to request a STEM OPT request I-20. We will provide instructions to assist with applying for STEM OPT online through USCIS.

Admitted Students

Please be on the lookout for communication from Fairfield University's International Student
Life Team! They will begin requesting documents to begin the I-20 process, which is the first
step to secure your visa.

The International Student Life Team will inform you of the specific documents and forms you
are required to provide for immigration purposes aside from any of the required items in your
First Year Student Checklist.

The date for the International Student Orientation is still being discussed and will be
communicated as soon as a decision is made.

International Student Orientation includes sessions that will introduce students to Fairfield's
academic standards, resources, and the process to adapting and adjusting to the next semester
and the rest of your program. The orientation's goal is to prepare you for your time at Fairfield
University and give you tips and resources to ensure your success during your program.

You will be required to enroll in health insurance and the provider will vary depending on your
program. For our exchange students, health insurance is provided through the Office of Study
Abroad and they will disclose the provider. For our undergraduate and graduate international
students, they will be enrolled with Fairfield University's health insurance provider Gallagher
Student Health. If you wish to know more about the coverage of our health insurance, please
visit the Health Insurance page.

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