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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions


Am I required to study as a full time student?


Yes. U.S. immigration law requires that all international students on F1 student visas maintain full-time enrollment. To be considered full time, undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 quarter credits each term. Graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 quarter credits each term to be considered full time.

What is SEVIS (Student Exchange & Visitor System)?


SEVIS
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an internet database that assists the U.S. government in tracking F-1 and J-2 international students, scholars, and dependents.SEVIS is administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The information in SEVIS is available to embassies and consulates, as well as many other U.S. government agencies.Oregon Institute of Technology is a SEVIS-approved school.

Designated school officials (DSOs) are located on several branch campuses and are certified SEVIS users.

Officials create I-20 documents for new and continuing students, utilizing the SEVIS program.Oregon Tech is required to report accurate and timely academic and personal information online regarding international students and scholars.

For questions about SEVIS, please email the INTERNATIONAL@OIT.EDU.

SEVIS Fee
When you receive your I-20 from the Oregon Tech, you are required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee online.

Print the receipt page for proof of payment.

For more information and payments accepted, visit the SEVIS I-901 fee website.The fee is collected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to maintain the SEVIS program. The SEVIS I-901 fee must be paid at least 3 business days before your visa interview.

Can international students work on campus?


Yes. On-campus employment is the only legal employment for international students. See the International Student Advisor for more details. 

What do I need to travel?


Travel Checklist
For Reentering the U.S.Below are the basic requirements for an F-1 to reenter the United States after traveling abroad for five months or less:
I-20, endorsed for travel and signed by your DSO.
A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your reentry or, if you are from one of the countries listed, a passport that is current through the date of entry. 
A valid, current visa or you traveled to contiguous country or adjacent island for less than thirty days.
Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses.
Bringing your most recent I-94, Departure Card, will facilitate your reentry, if reentering through a land POE.
If you are flying, the airline will collect your I-94 prior to departure and you will complete a new one upon reentry.

For more information on reentering the U.S., visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

New International Students


Does Oregon Tech have an intensive English program?


No. Oregon Tech does not currently offer an English language proficiency program, and international applicants must first complete their ESL program at another institution. 

What are the English proficiency requirements for international students?


International applicants are required to demonstrate their level of English-language proficiency during the application process.

Student should have one of the following to prove his English Language Proficiency:
-TOEFL: A minimum score of 520 in paper-based, 190 in computer-based, or 68 in internet-based.
-IELTS: A minimum score of 6.
-ACT or SAT test scores are not required for international admissions; however students may choose to take either test as justification to waive TOEFL or IELTS.
-Completion of a Level 112 course at an ESL Language Center or grade B or better in WR 121 from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

Are international students required to take the SAT or ACT?


Not normally. Contact the Office of Admissions if you have questions about U.S. college entrance exams.

Does the Oregon Tech offer conditional admission?


Yes; depending on the situation. However, all the requirements must be met before getting the I-20 issued. Contact the Admission Office for more details. 

When should I start the application process?


The deadline for applying for fall term is May.1st, for winter term is Sept.1st, for spring term is Dec.1st, and for summer term is Apr.1st. You should complete your application by the deadline for the desired term. The sooner you start, the faster and easier it will be. You should start working on the application as soon as possible. 

How long does application processing take?


It might take up to six months to get all the forms and paperwork done. You should apply as soon as you can. Once you complete your application,the International Student Advisor is going to contact you after your application have been reviewed. 

Are international students required to pay tuition in advance?


No. Tuition and fees are due during the first week of each term.

Can international students apply for financial aid and scholarships?


International students cannot apply for federal financial aid. A few scholarships are available for international students.

Check this link for more information- Scholarships

Do I need health insurance?


Yes. All students must have health insurance. Contact the Student Health Center for more details. 

Do I need to submit an immunization record?


Yes. The record has to be in English, signed and has the date on it. Information about required immunizations will be sent to you by the International Student services with the I-20 form.

It is important to fill the form out and submit your immunization record; otherwise, you will not be able to register for classes.

OPT


What is F-1 OPT?


Practical training is the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in your degree program to off-campus work in your major field. OPT is authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.). This authorization can take 2 to 3 months to obtain. The maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level plus a possible H1B cap gap extension OR 17 month extension for those who qualify (see info below). You may use some or all of the available 12 months of practical training during your course of study or save the full twelve months to use after you graduate.

What are the eligibility requirements for F-1 Optional Practical Training?


To be eligible to apply for optional practical training, you must:
1- Have been in full time student status for at least one full academic year by the requested start date of your OPT
2- Maintain valid F-1 status at the time of application

If I complete one degree program, take 12 months of practical training, and then begin a second course of study, am I eligible for an additional 12 months of practical training?


Yes, you are eligible to apply for another 12 month period of OPT after changing to a higher degree level. This does not apply to a second master's degree. 

How can I use optional practical training while I am still in my program?


You may use OPT while you are still in your degree program as follows:
1- Part-time while school is in session
2- Full-time during annual vacation periods
3- Full-time after you completed all course requirements for the degree and have a thesis requirement remaining.

These periods of OPT used before you graduate will be deducted from the total allowable period of 12 months. Part-time OPT will be deducted at one-half the full-time rate

How long does it take to get authorization for OPT?


Authorization for OPT is granted by U.S.C.I.S. and can take 2-3 months to obtain. Therefore, it is important that you apply for the authorization well in advance of the date you wish to start working. You may apply up to 90 days before your graduation date and NO later than 60 days beyond your graduation date or end date of your I-20.

When should I apply for OPT?


You may apply for POST-graduation OPT up to 90 days before your graduation date and the immigration service MUST RECEIVE your application NO later than 60 days beyond your graduation date or 60 days beyond the end date of your I-20(whichever is earlier) or, if you are an advanced graduate student, NO later than 60 days beyond the last day that you are registered as a student. You must send your application within 30 days of getting the new I-20 from the ISSO. 

How do I choose my OPT start date?


You are allowed to pick a start date any time within the 60 days following your graduation date or your last day of registration (whichever is earlier).
There is some leeway if you finish your coursework and an earlier start date.
There are many overlapping time constraints which effect your OPT application (see OPT time-line illustrated below).

When choosing the start date for your OPT card, the most important priorities to weigh are:
Choosing the earliest day that you might want to start working (you cannot begin working BEFORE the start date on the OPT card and until you receive the card).
What if someone offers you a job with the stipulation that you start the day after graduation?
Plan for any possibility.

[PLEASE NOTE: on campus work authorization ends when your registration ends, so if you want to continue in an on campus job once you are no longer registered, that job must must be in your field, and you must have received your OPT card.]

If you want the latest possible day to start your work authorization, the latest day you may choose as your start date foe the OPT card is 60 days after your graduation or last day of registration (whichever is earlier). 

REMEMBER: You may NOT change these dates after you apply for OPT.

I submitted my OPT application with my current address but now I am moving. What should I do?


If you submitted your OPT application with your current address as the return address on the I-765 form, and now you are moving, you should do both of the following IMMEDIATELY: Call the NCSC (National Customer Services Center) at 800-375-5283 and give them your change of address information.Be sure to explain that you need to change the return address on your I-765 form. Complete the online change of address form with USCIS. Be sure to both call and complete the online address change form!​

Do I need to have a job to apply for OPT?


You do NOT need to have a job offer before applying for OPT.

Do I need to have a job while I am on OPT?


Yes. The new regulation requires that you do have employment while on your POST-graduation OPT period. You are only allowed to have a total of 90 days of unemployment in your 12 month period of OPT or 120 days if you apply and receive the 17 month extension. While on POST-graduation OPT, you are required to update the International Student Services Office with your employment information.

Does the job I have while on OPT have to be paid employment, or can it be unpaid? / What should I do if I don't yet have a job?


The employment does NOT have to be paid employment. Therefore, you will be considered employed if you are doing unpaid research for a faculty member in your field of study or you are interning or volunteering in a position directly related to your academic field, or you are even self-employed (including performance majors with regular "gigs"). You have yo be engaged in any of these for AT LEAST 20 hours per week to count as "employed" for the purpose of OPT. If you will work in an unpaid position for faculty member, we suggest you get a letter from that faculty member simply stating that you will be doing research for them and have them include the start and end date of that job. You should keep that letter in a file with your other immigration documents.

Can I begin working before I receive the Employment Authorization Document?


You may NOT begin employment before you receive your EAD from U.S.C.I.S. Working before practical training has been authorized by the U.S.C.I.S. constitutes illegal employment that will jeopardize your legal status in the U.S.

Do I have to do anything with the International Student Services Office while I am on OPT?


Yes! Immigration regulations REQUIRE that while you are on POST-graduation OPT, you MUST report your employment and address information to Oregon Tech's International Student Services Office.

Taxes


How does the income tax system work in the U.S.?


In the U.S., the tax year runs from January 1 to December 31 of any given year.  Employers are required to take money out of your paycheck for taxes during that year.  This process is called “withholding” money for taxes.  That tax money is paid to the U.S. federal tax department which is called the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Oregon Tech Payroll Office (or another U.S. employer) determines the amount to be “withheld” out of your paycheck based upon U.S. tax treaties with your country and IRS regulations.  In January through March of every year, employers and universities report wages, scholarships, and tax withheld to the IRS during the previous year and send statements to individuals by March 15th every year.  Individuals then determine what the correct amount of tax liability should be through a form call a “tax return form.”  The tax return form is due on April 15th every year.  That return covers the previous year’s income.

What is a tax return?


A “tax return” is a form you fill out and send in (either by mail or electronically) to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.  The form is both for paying taxes that you may owe and also for getting back money that has been taken out of your paycheck.

How do I know if I need to file a U.S. federal tax return?


All international students and scholars and their dependents are required to file at least one tax form with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - the Form 8843.

What if I didn’t earn any income?


Even if you did not earn any income in the U.S., you are required to complete an 8843, recording your presence in the U.S.

Who Must File Form 8843?


All nonresident aliens who are presently in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 non-immigrant status must file Form 8843

Form 8843 "Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition" must be filed even if NO income was earned during the tax year. 

Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:
-present in the U.S. during tax year
-a nonresident alien
-present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status

If an individual meets all three qualifications above, the individual must file Form 8843, regardless of the individual's age and even if the individual is not required to file a U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ).

What is Form 8843?


Form 8843 is not an income tax return. Form 8843 is merely an informational statement required by the U.S. government for certain nonresident aliens (including the spouses or dependents of nonresident aliens).

Do I Need a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to File Form 8843?


Generally, no.

The SSN or the ITIN is not needed when completing Form 8843.  However, if the nonresident has been assigned either a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the number must be included on Form 8843. 

An exception to this rule is for individuals who are eligible to be claimed as dependents on a U.S. income tax return. Such individuals must have an SSN/ITIN. Only nonresident aliens from a very limited number of countries may claim an exemption for their dependents on their U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR). In such a case, any dependent who is claimed must have a SSN/ITIN. An exemption for spouse and/or dependents is only applicable if the country of tax residence is:
American Samoa
Canada
Korea
Mexico
Northern Mariana Islands
India (applicable only to F-1 and J-1 students) 

How Do I Submit Form 8843?


-If you are required to file an income tax return (Form 1040NR/1040NR-EZ), attach Form 8843 to the back of the tax return.
-If Form 8843 is for a spouse or dependent eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a federal tax return, Form 8843 must be attached to the back of the tax return on which they are claimed.
-If Form 8843 is not filed in connection with a federal tax return, the form must be sent to Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301-0215 and is due by June 15. Please note that each individual who files Form 8843 must send the form separately from any other form or anyone else's forms.  Do not mail multiple forms together – each one must be separate.

Example, Juanita is present in the U.S. under an F-1 immigration status with her husband and 3 year old daughter (both present in F-2 immigration status). Juanita is the only person in the family who received U.S. source income during 2014. Therefore, she will file an income tax return (Forms 1040NR/1040NR-EZ) with Form 8843 attached. Her husband will file Form 8843 and mail in a separate envelope; and her daughter must submit Form 8843 (in a separate envelope), regardless of her age.

What is the deadline to file?


Every year, the deadline is April 15th (or the next business day after the 15th).

What kinds of income are taxable?


The following types of income are taxable:
-Scholarship, fellowship or grant from a U.S. source that exceeded the amount of tuition and mandatory fees.
-Wages from any U.S. job, on-campus or off-campus, including teaching or research assistantship.
-Consulting fees for work done in the U.S. Dividends and/or capital gains from ownership of U.S. mutual funds or individual stocks or bonds.
-Any other income (such as rent, royalties, copyright earnings) from U.S. sources EXCEPT for interest earned on a savings account or certificate of deposit in a U.S. bank.

What are the W-2 and 1042-S forms?


Employers and universities are required to report wages, scholarships, and tax money withheld from your paycheck to the IRS.  The employers send statements to individuals by March 15th every year.

There are many types of these statements, but the most common ones for international students and academic staff are these two forms:
-W-2: Wage and Tax Statement and/or1042-S:
-Foreign Person’s US Source Income Subject to Withholding

What is a W-2 form?


The W-2 form reports your wages you earned and any taxes the employer has withheld from your paycheck for federal or state taxes. If you earned income in the U.S., a W-2 should be sent to you by mid-February every year. 

What if I didn’t get a W-2 form?


If you did not earn wages in the U.S. in the tax year, then you will not be receiving a W-2. If you did earn wages and you have not received one, contact the employer.  It is possible that they do not have the correct mailing address for you. 
  If your employer is OIT, contact the OIT Payroll Office at 541.885.1210.

What is a 1042S form?


1042-S reports scholarships, fellowships, grants, awards and any other payment made to you for which you did not work (i.e. NOT wages).  It also reports earned income (wages) which are exempt from tax because of a tax treaty between your country of citizenship and the U.S.  If you received these types of income, you are supposed to receive this form from the payers by March 15th every year.  If you are not sure if you will be receiving a 1042-S form, you can contact the OIT Payroll Office at 541.885.1210.

What if I didn’t get a 1042-S form?


If you did not receive the types of income listed above in the tax year, then you will not be receiving a 1042-S.  If you are not sure, contact the OIT Payroll Office at 541.885.1210 or appropriate employer.

If you think you should have received one only for the tax treaty benefits, you can still claim the benefit of the tax treaty without having the 1042-S form.

I have heard that my country has a tax treaty with the U.S., how do I get the benefit of that treaty?


Wages you earn in the U.S. that are exempt from tax due to a tax treaty should be reported to you on a 1042-S form.

What is a 1098-T form?


All students have 1098T information generated for them.  

IF they do not have a SSN in the system then your OIT ID# will be printed on the 1098-T. 

Students are notified by the OIT Business Office that they are available on their web-for-student account to view and print.

Internationals filing taxes as Non-Residents should IGNORE the 1098-T form.
This form is a tax document that reports to the student (and the IRS) tuition charges and financial aid for a calendar year. 

For more information, visit https://www.irs.gov/uac/form-1098-t-tuition-statement.

I don’t have a U.S. social security number. Do I need one to file tax forms?


Yes, you may apply for an ITIN: Individual Tax Identification Number so that you can file your taxes.

I thought I did not have to pay social security and medicare, but my employer has taken out social security and medicare from my paycheck. What should I do?


For the first 5 years of being in the U.S. in F-1 status, you do not have to pay social security or medicare. For more information, visit Social Security/Medicare and Self-Employment Tax Liability of Foreign Students.

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