F-1 Student Information
The following information is intended for students on F-1 visas, including degree-seeking students and students participating in bilateral exchange programs.
- Primary Designated School Official (PDSO) and Designated School Official (DSO) - The Primary Designated School Official (PDSO) at Bellarmine is Mr. Ryan Simpson and the Designated School Official (DSO) is Dr. Hannah Clayborne and Mrs. Debbie Femi. The PDSO represents and speaks for the school in all matters relating to F-1 students. Only the PDSO and DSO may sign an immigration document for the school in a matter relating to F-1 students. After arriving on campus, the PDSO or DSO must receive from all new international students copies of the following documents: Valid Passport, Visa, I-20, personal identification, and the I-94 card. ISEP students please refer to J-1 Visa Information.
- Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student (F-1) - The I-20 form is a certificate from the school, addressed to the U.S. government, in which the school confirms acceptance to pursue a full course of study. An I-20 is a required part of an F-1 visa application but otherwise carries no legal meaning. This form must be signed, and the signature constitutes an agreement to abide by all applicable rules as well as grants the school permission to provide certain information to the USCIS. When traveling outside the U.S., the Primary Designated School Official or Designated School Official must first sign the Form I-20. It is important to keep all I-20s, including those which have expired, in order to be authorized for employment.
- Transfer of Schools - An F-1 student who is maintaining status may transfer to another college or university by following the proper notification procedure. Although USCIS does not require any formal authorization for a student to transfer, there are certain procedures that must be followed. The student should notify the Primary Designated School Official of his/her intention to transfer by completing and signing a “SEVIS Transfer Request” form available in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, 225 D Horrigan Hall.
F-1 Student Employment
F-1 undergraduate students may work on campus part-time (Bellarmine allows a maximum of 15 hours per week) while school is in session, and full-time during vacation periods without prior approval. The Primary Designated School Official or Designated School Official should be informed of such employment. To process on campus employment, the student must bring identification (such as a passport) to the Bellarmine Business Office in order to file I-9 and W-4 forms. A social security number will be needed for payroll purposes. (For more information, refer to section entitled “Social Security Number/Card”)
F-1 students need authorization to work off campus. Employment is limited to part-time (a maximum of 15 hours a week) while school is in session and full-time during school holidays or summer vacation. However, students must have been enrolled in F-1 status for a full academic year and be in good academic standing before receiving authorization to work. Graduate Students enrolled in a program that requires an internship (i.e. MBA) may apply for authorized employment prior to completing a full academic year. The following options exist for off-campus employment authorization:
Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship
F-1 students may apply for employment based on unforeseen circumstances beyond their control and if on-campus employment is either unavailable or insufficient. Circumstances leading to unforeseen severe economic hardship may include:
- Loss of financial aid
- Loss of on-campus work
- Substantial fluctuations in value of currency or exchange rate
- Inordinate increases in tuition or cost of living expenses, such as medical bills
F-1 students may apply for employment practical training related to their field of study. Practical training is divided into two sub-categories:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - This employment takes place before completion of studies and is designed to provide work experience that serves as an integral part of the student’s academic program, including internships, cooperative education, or any type of required practicum offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. There is no limitation on the length of time allowed for participation in either part- or full-time CPT; however, participation in 12 or more months of full-time CPT precludes eligibility for Optional Practical Training following graduation. The Primary Designated School Official or Designed School Official authorizes CPT and requires the following supporting documentation be submitted two (2) weeks prior to the requested start date:
- Completed CPT checklist cover sheet (available in 225 Campus Center/Horrigan Hall.
- A letter from the employer describing the position along with number of hours per week, including the beginning and end dates of employment.
- A letter from the academic advisor clearly stating that the work experience fulfills curricular requirements.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) - This employment is divided into pre- and post-completion practical training. F-1 Students must apply directly to the USCIS for authorization to work, and the work must be related directly to the student’s major area of study. OPT is limited to twelve months full-time. Students are encouraged to apply for OPT at least 90 days in advance of the start date requested for employment. Students must also apply for post-completion OPT prior to the end of their final semester of study. For post-completion practical training, a student must complete all training within a 14-month period following completion of study. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is required for OPT, and the DSO can provide guidance on applying for the EAD – under no circumstances shall any international student work prior to receiving an EAD.
F-1 Travel Outside the U.S.
International students wishing to leave the United States temporarily (and return to continue their studies at the institution in which they are enrolled) must secure the necessary documents to permit entry to another country and re-entry to the United States. Please contact the Primary Designated School Official or Designated School Official if you need more information.
If you travel outside the United States during your stay at Bellarmine, you must have the following documents: a valid passport, valid visa stamp, recently signed I-20, I-94, and a copy of most recent transcript. If you require a new I-20 please make your request at least one week before you plan to travel. Remember that you must have a valid visa (one that is not expired or marked “single entry”) in order to re-enter the U.S., as well as a valid passport. It is also advisable to carry an updated copy of your financial documentation.
For travel to certain destinations, it may be wise to obtain a letter from the Assistant Dean of Students verifying your current enrollment at Bellarmine and your intent to return. In some cases, it is also advisable to prepare proof that you have the financial resources to cover your trip’s expenses and return to the U.S.
If you plan to travel to a country other than your home country, consult with the Assistant Dean of Students. You may be required to have a visitor’s visa in order to travel. It is recommended that you seek advice at least 2 months prior to your travels outside of the U.S. to a country that is not your home country.