Immigration Resources

Suffolk’s International Student Services Office (ISSO) is the main resource on campus for our international community. The ISSO is here to assist you with visa requirements, travel, employment, and more.

Renewing Your Visa

The visa stamp in your passport issued by a U.S. consulate does not determine how long you can remain in the U.S. Therefore, you may stay in the U.S. beyond the expiration date of a visa as long as the immigration document (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019) remains valid. Once the visa expires it will be necessary to apply for a new visa stamp through the same process as your initial visa application, at a U.S. embassy or consulate when traveling outside the U.S. We recommend that you apply for your visa, or visa renewal, in your home country. As always, speak to an international student advisor with any questions prior to traveling. Visas cannot be renewed within the U.S.

Expired Visas

If your U.S. visa stamp has expired and you travel outside the U.S., you must obtain a new visa before you return. Applying for a new visa usually requires several weeks, (if not longer) and under proposed new guidelines you will likely be required to interview for a visa renewal. Absences from class are not excused due to visa delays, therefore, we recommend waiting until summer break to do this. If you are from one of the countries designated within the Executive Order, (Libya, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, or Somalia) please make sure to speak to an advisor before making any travel plans. For detailed information on visa renewals, visit the U.S. Department of State website and review current information about applying for a U.S. visa.

Applying For a Visa in a "Third" Country

We strongly encourage students to apply for a U.S. visa at the embassy or consulate closest to their home. However, it may be possible for some international visitors to apply for a new visa in a country that is not their home country or place of legal permanent residence. Before considering this, please make sure to speak with an international advisor. You may also visit the U.S. Department of State website for more information.

Learn how to request shipment(s) of documents from the International Student Services Office (ISSO).

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines on-campus employment as one of two types:

  • Type 1: Employment on-campus at Suffolk University for which you receive a paycheck, (or other compensation, such as room and board, etc.) from Suffolk University.
  • Type 2: Certain off-campus employment where there is an official educational relationship between Suffolk and the off-campus employer.

USCIS regulations allow work at an off-campus location provided that:

  • The location is educationally affiliated with Suffolk
  • The educational affiliation is associated with your school's established curriculum or is related to a graduate level research project which your school has contracted to perform
  • The work is an integral part of your program of study 

On-campus employment allows F-1 international students to work on campus and is most often used for students working in a department or office at Suffolk University. The employment does not need to relate to the student’s degree. On-campus employment is approved directly through ISSO as long as it complies with DHS regulations.

Hours per Week

Students may work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week on campus while classes are in session, but your actual number of hours per week also depends on how much Suffolk can allocate in the semester.

Summer Work

Students may work full time during vacation periods and over the summer if it is permitted by their employment department. Students are not required to enroll in classes during the summer to work on campus, unless required by the employing department and/or Human Resources.

Multiple Positions

Students may work in multiple positions on campus concurrently if their employing departments/supervisors do not object and the student does not exceed the maximum weekly hours.

New, Transfer & Change of Level Students

New (Initial) students may begin to work on campus up to 30 days before their I-20 program start date (first day of classes). However, students are only permitted to enter the U.S. in F-1 status 30 days before their I-20 program start date, and then must complete hiring and Social Security Number (SSN) paperwork. Therefore, new students typically do not begin work until after classes begin. Initial students with a job offer (typically a TA or RA position) are encouraged to enter the U.S. as early as possible, but no more than 30 days before classes begin, in order to start the hiring and SSN process.

Transfer students may only work on campus at the school that has their SEVIS record.

Change of Education Level students may work on campus during the gap between academic programs once they receive their I-20 for the new program.

To find out a listing of available on campus jobs for international students, please use your Handshake Account and search for Suffolk University jobs.

If you have any questions about this, please contact the ISSO.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an opportunity for international students in F-1 status to participate in professional, temporary employment such as an internship, co-op program, practicum, or similar situation, which is undertaken prior to the completion of studies.

The training must either be a required part of the established curriculum, or something for which the student will receive academic credit, or training/experience that is deemed integral to the course of study.

Students are eligible for Curricular Practical Training after they have completed two full semesters (fall and spring) in valid F-1 status (including enrolling full-time each semester and possessing a valid I-20). Time spent on an approved full-time study abroad program may be counted toward the two-semester requirement as long as the student has completed one semester in the U.S. before studying abroad.

This form can be obtained by contacting the ISSO.

Learn more about CPT

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off-campus.

Students who are currently on post-completion OPT and who graduated with a degree in a qualifying STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) may qualify for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.

Students are not able to apply for OPT authorization on their own, they must first meet with the ISSO.

At the completion of each degree level, you are eligible for a period of OPT, which means you can apply for OPT after your Bachelor's degree, your Master's degree, and your PhD degree. You cannot be granted a period of OPT more than one at the same degree level—for example, completing two Master's degrees will only qualify as one period of OPT, even if they are earned at different times.

Learn more about OPT
Learn more about STEM OPT
Report your OPT Employment

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off-campus.

Students who are currently on post-completion OPT and who graduated with a degree in a qualifying STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) may qualify for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.

In addition to the STEM degree requirement, students must have active or been offered employment with an E-Verify employer in a field directly related to the STEM degree.

  • A student may qualify for up to two STEM OPT extensions in their lifetime. Each extension must be based on a separate period of post-completion OPT, and the second STEM OPT extension must be based on a higher earned degree level than the first STEM OPT extension.
  • If your current OPT is based on a non-STEM degree, but you have an offer to work in a job related to a prior qualifying STEM degree, you may be eligible to obtain a STEM OPT extension off the prior earned degree.
  • You cannot choose your 24-month OPT extension dates – the extension begins the day after your current OPT ends.
  • Your STEM OPT extension must be based on current or future employment with a qualifying employer in a job directly related to your STEM degree.
  • Your STEM OPT extension qualifying employer must be enrolled in E-Verify, have an EIN number, and agree to certain requirements laid out in an I-983 Training Plan.
  • You may not engage in unpaid internships or self-employment during the STEM OPT extension period.     
  • You are allowed an aggregate of 150 days of unemployment time while on the STEM OPT extension, including any employment time accrued during standard post-completion OPT. If you accrue more than the allowed unemployment time, your F-1 status may be no longer valid.

STEM employment with a staffing agency is permitted, however, the company that you are contracted to work for/at must be E-Verified and also must complete the I-983.

Learn more about OPT
Learn more about STEM OPT
Report your OPT Employment

In some instances, a student who is able to prove severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control which arose after obtaining the F-1 students status, may be eligible for permission to work off-campus. Students must have been in student status for one full academic year, and must be able to document the circumstances causing the economic need. If authorized, employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session, and full-time during breaks or vacation periods. Applications must be endorsed by ISSO and submitted to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for approval. This application may take up to ninety days to process. Email ISSO for more information.