International Students


International Students

The Office of International Students provides advice and assistance to students from outside the United States, particularly with regard to immigration issues relating to F-1 student status and J-1 Exchange Visitor student category. The office also assists students in understanding American cultural behavior and in interpreting various bureaucratic procedural requirements, including nonresident alien taxation. Each semester, the office conducts an orientation session for international students.


Application Process

Applicants who will apply for nonimmigrant F-1 or J-1 visas for entry into the United States and applicants already in the United States in F-1 or J-1 student status must complete the "Request for Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) and Declaration & Certification of Finances for International Students."

1.  United States government regulations require documentary evidence of financial support for the duration of a proposed course of study prior to the issuance of the Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 or DS-2019).
2.  This documentation may also be requested by United States consular officials upon application for an entry visa, by U.S. immigration inspectors at ports of entry into the United States, or by immigration inspectors when applications are made for extension of stay or change of status in the United States.
3.  Submit original documents in support of this application and prepare an additional set of original documents for support of visa applications.

F-1 or J-1 Student Status

All prospective international students must complete the “Request for Certificate of Eligibility and Declaration and Certification of Finances” and return it to the Office of International Students with the necessary supporting financial documentation. It is important to keep in mind that the estimate of expenses is a minimum figure, and that actual costs may vary. International students should also bear in mind that university financial assistance for which they are eligible is limited and usually not adequate to fund the student’s total expenses. Eligibility for off-campus employment is also limited.

There are two steps to follow in order to obtain or maintain F-1 or J-1 student status.

1. The first step is admission into an academic program.
2. The second step is the documentation of the amount and source(s) of financial support.

  • All questions regarding academic admission should be directed to the Admissions Office (Email:
  • All questions regarding immigration status should be directed to the Office of International Students (Email:
  • An applicant who would like to change immigration status to F-1 student status should consult the Office of International Students for information on the correct procedure to follow.

Please note that change of status within the United States is not guaranteed. A student will not be eligible for employment authorization incident to F-1 or J-1 status (including employment pursuant to a financial aid award) until the request for change of status has been approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (These requests require a minimum of two to three months to adjudicate.)

If an applicant has an immigration status other than F-1 or J-1 and intends to keep that status, appropriate documentation must be provided to the Office of International Students before registering for classes.

International students who wish to obtain or maintain F-1 student status or J-1 exchange-visitor status may be admitted only as matriculated students. Immigration regulations require full-time enrollment in a degree-granting program for students in F-1 or J-1 status; therefore, students in F-1 or J-1 status may not be admitted as part-time or nondegree students. If you have been accepted into an established CUNY Exchange Program, please contact the Office of International Students for procedures at

Reporting and Check-in Requirements

Upon arrival in New York City, new international students must contact the Office of International Students as soon as possible, so that the office can record their immigration documents and verify status.

The U.S. government regulates the immigration status of international students through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). International students are personally responsible for complying with all govern­ment regulations that relate to their F-1 or J-1 immigration status. Therefore, students should familiarize themselves with the regulations and procedures that apply to their specific immigration status. Students should keep copies of all documents relating to their immigration status and bring their original passport, I-94, and current Form I-20 or DS-2019 whenever contacting this office.

SEVIS requires reporting within 10 days to the Office of International Students of any changes in an international student’s personal or academic information.

Specifically, this includes the following:

  • change in U.S. residence address
  • change in academic level
  • change in academic program
  • change of legal name (as it is in the passport)
  • planned changes in immigration status

United States Immigration Regulations and Procedures, a brochure providing general information on immigration regulations for individuals holding F-1 and J-1 immigration status, is available from the Office of International Students.

International students should consult an International Student Counselor in the Office of International Students with questions regarding any aspect of the immigration regulations or their stay in the United States, including:

  • obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 for F-1 status or Form DS-2019 for J-1 status)--see right-hand column on this page;
  • on-campus employment regulations and procedures;
  • off-campus employment authorization procedures and limitations (see “Employment” below);
  • travel outside the United States and reentry;
  • inviting a spouse or dependent children to the United States;
  • extension of legal stay in the United States;
  • passport and visa information;
  • transfer to another school;
  • change of status to or from F-1 or J-1;
  • discontinuing studies (i.e., leave of absence, withdrawal from the program, or termination of studies) at the Graduate Center.

Students with questions about Graduate Center academic policies and procedures should consult the Vice President for Student Affairs, Room 7301; Telephone: 1-212-817-7400. Questions about degree requirements should be directed first to the Executive Officer or subprogram head of an individual student’s academic program.


Financial Assistance

University financial assistance for which international students are eligible to apply is limited and is usually not adequate to fund a student’s total expenses. For information about financial assistance, see Financial Aid. Students are asked to review their financial situation carefully because the cost of living in New York City is high, and immigration regulations restrict employment. F-1 and J-1 status students should not expect to finance their education through work (other than by fellowship or scholarship) in the United States.

English Language Requirements

International students must present authoritative evidence of sufficient competence in the English language to pursue a regular course of study at the City University of New York. It is required that applicants who have not studied and earned a degree in an English-speaking country take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), administered internationally by Educational Testing Service, and request ETS to report examination results directly to Admissions, The Graduate Center–College Code 2113, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10016. Inquiries concerning this examination may be made to Test of English as a Foreign Language, Box 6151, Princeton, New Jersey 08540, U.S.A., or to most American embassies and consulates in cities outside the United States. For additional information, call 1-800-GO-TOEFL or visit or Individual programs at the Graduate Center may require a minimum score on the TOEFL for admission to the program.


Student Status Important Information

The following is a summary of important information for new and continuing students. Please refer to United States Immigration Regulations and Procedures available in the Office of International Students, or make an appointment with an International Student Counselor. See contact information below.

A. Full-Time Enrollment / Leave of Absence

International students are required by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations to enroll in a full-time course of study in order to maintain proper immigration status. It is essential that students who are considering requesting a Leave of Absence from the Graduate Center obtain a clarification of the effect on their immigration status from the Office of International Students before submitting a request for a Leave of Absence.

B. Full-Time Enrollment / Withdrawal from Course(s)

International students are required to enroll in a full-time study and/or research program and also to complete a full-time course of study or research program each semester. Students who are considering Withdrawing from a course should consult the Office of International Students first to determine the effect of such a Withdrawal on proper maintenance of their F-1 or J-1 student status.

C. Employment

  1. On-Campus Employment: students who are enrolled full time, or who are registered for full-time enrollment in the next semester, may work on campus at any CUNY college as follows: (a) 20 hours per week total maximum during the semester; and (b) above 20 hours per week during vacation periods.
  2. Off-Campus Employment: International students must not begin any kind of employment off campus (i.e., outside CUNY) without (a) receiving authorization from either the Office of International Students or U.S. Immigration Services (USCIS) and (b) determining the applicable limit on the number of hours of employment permitted per week and the duration for which the employment may continue and employment reporting requirements. Students who work outside the regulations will be in violation of their immigration status.

D. Taxes

ALL international students are subject to taxation on all U.S. source income and must file annual reports (“tax returns”) with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regardless of whether or not they received any income. Although the Office of International Students is not able to provide income tax advice, it does make available appropriate information concerning Federal (U.S.) and New York State tax requirements. CUNY requires all international students to register in GLACIER to determine their tax status before they may receive any money from fellowships, scholarships, or teaching or research assistantships. CUNY also makes the CINTAX online software available for students to help them prepare their annual U.S. tax returns.

A Word of Caution

Suggestions or advice concerning immigration, employment, or taxation that are made by other students, or advice and/or permissions given by an administrator or faculty member, DO NOT constitute authorization for, or compliance with, U.S. government immigration regulations. The only authorized interpretation of immigration regulations pertaining to your student immigration status at the Graduate Center is from an International Student Counselor in the Office of International Students at the Graduate Center.


Room 7200
Telephone: 1-212-817-7490 Fax: 1-212-817-1626
Director: Mr. Douglas Ewing
International Student Counselor: Mr. Paul Croser
International Student Counselor: Ms. Bei Zhang