International Students

Welcome to The Graduate Center!

Welcome to the Office of International Students' informational page for prospective F-1 and J-1 status international students.  This information is for prospective students of The Graduate Center and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

International students should follow the application process as outlined on the Admissions page, as well as the additional requirements below.

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. Every fall, the office conducts an orientation session for International Students.

Application Process

Applicants who will apply for Nonimmigrant F-1 or J-1 Entry Visas to the United States, and applicants already in the United States in F-1 or J-1 Student Status must complete the "Application for Certificate of Eligibility (Form 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 "Application for Certificate of Eligibility and Declaration and Certification of Finances" 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 (DHS). (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, Admission Record 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. Before receiving a visa for entrance into the United States, students must certify (documentary evidence is required) that they are financially able to support themselves for the entire period of their stay in the United States while pursuing a full course of study. 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

TOEFL/IELTS: Any Fall 2020 applicant who has not yet taken either the TOEFL or IELTS English language exams are encouraged to submit all other application materials. The program’s admissions committee may request additional writing samples or interviews as an alternative means of assessing your qualifications. If you have already taken one of these exams, please upload your scores as usual as it will help the committee review your application.‚Äč

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. An applicant must submit scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) unless they have a post-secondary degree from an institution in which the language of instruction is English-only and located in a country that recognizes English as an Official Language.

The TOEFL is administered internationally by Educational Testing Service; applicants must request ETS to report examination results directly to Admissions, The Graduate Center–College Code 2113, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10016. The IELTS is administered by Cambridge English Language Assessment.

Inquiries concerning the TOEFL 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.


International applicants who submit transcripts not issued in English must also include a certified English transcript accompanying the transcript.