Frequently Asked Questions

This page offers frequently asked questions (FAQs) that reflect different types of questions international student share.

F-1 Students

May international students apply for financial aid and scholarships?

International students are not eligible for federal financial aid; thus, you cannot submit FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). 

If awarded such a CCA merit scholarship, you would be notified of the award at the time of your acceptance to CCA. Many public and private scholarship opportunities exist for international students, but these are not administered by CCA. You will need to read about and apply to them directly.

Here is a suggested list of scholarship websites.

What is F-1 status?

The F-1 visa is normally for full-time degree seeking international students.

Can I get a job on an F-1 visa?

Yes, you may work on-campus on an F-1 visa. You can work up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session and up to 40 hours per week during vacation periods, including summer break.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) are potentially options for those students who have maintained F-1 status for at least two consecutive semesters.

What is CPT (Curricular Practical Training)?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of work authorization that allows students to gain practical experience in their field of study as long as the practical training is “an integral part of an established curriculum” [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]. You must obtain work authorization from ISAP before starting any employment.

What is OPT (Optional Practical Training)?

OPT is work authorization available to students who have maintained F-1 status for at least two consecutive semesters and who would like to gain work experience in the United States in their field of study. Students may apply to USCIS for one year of OPT after completing a degree program.

How do I get a Social Security Number (SSN) for on-campus jobs?

You are not eligible for a social security number until you have been hired to work on-campus, or have been authorized for either CPT or OPT. For more detailed information about the process of applying for an SSN, please visit our Social Security Number page.

May I extend my stay in the United States on an F-1 visa if I am unable to complete my studies in the assigned time?

Yes, you may request a program extension if you need extra time to complete your studies and meet the eligibility requirements for a program extension.

Please read the program extensions information for eligibility criteria and instructions on requesting an extension.

May I study part time?

No, immigration law in the United States requires that all international students on F-1 visas maintain full-time enrollment. Undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits and graduate students must meet the definition of full-time for their program.

There are very specific, limited circumstances under which a student may request and be approved for a Reduced Course Load.

Do not drop below full-time without having prior authorization from ISAP to do so.

If you have a circumstance you believe prevents you from enrolling full-time, contact the ISAP Office as soon as possible.

What should I have when entering the United States?

In general, you should be prepared to present the following at the US Port of Entry:

  • Passport (valid at least 6 months beyond your intended period of stay)
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20)
  • Evidence of financial support (not required but helpful)
  • Copy of your course schedule for the next semester (not required but helpful)

For more information on traveling internationally while in F-1 status, please see the travel page.

What should I do when I am leaving the United States for a break?

There are several things you should always do before travelling internationally:

  • Check your visa expiration date
  • Make sure you have a valid travel signature
  • Check your passport expiration date

Contact our office before you leave the United States if:

  • you will be out of the US for more than five months
  • your I-20 Form will expire within 30 days of your expected return to the United States
  • your visa has expired
How do I maintain F-1 visa status?

There are many components to maintaining status. The main items are being enrolled full-time, making progress toward your degree, and not working without authorization.

For a full overview on how to maintain status, please see maintaining status overview.

J-1 Students

What is a J-1 Visa?

The J-1 visa enables applicants to enter the United States to participate in an international exchange program.

Also, a J-1 visa holder is eligible to be financially supported by a sponsoring organization which has been designated and approved by the U.S. State Department. Sponsors can be private or public organizations.

How do I maintain J-1 status?

Students are required to enroll in a full course of study at all time, excluding summer session and other breaks. Only under certain approved circumstances may it be possible to enroll in less than a full course load.

You must contact the ISAP Office to discuss your situation and to fill out the required authorization form prior to dropping courses in the Student Records Office.

What is the two-year home country physical presence requirement?

Certain J-1 visa holders are required, upon completion of their program of study, to return to their country of last legal residence for two years or apply for a waiver.

This requirement does not prohibit a visitor from returning to the United States in any other immigration status.

Should I apply for the health insurance?

You will automatically be enrolled in the CCA health insurance plan when you register as a full-time student.

What should I do when I am traveling outside of the United States?

Before your departure from the United States, request a signature on your DS-2019 for reentry from the program sponsor. The signature is valid for one year.