Center for Global Services
Frequently Asked Questions

I. Center Procedures
II. Legal Status
III. Employment
IV. Health Insurance
V. Travel

I. Center Procedures

Q. What is the process of getting a question answered at the Center for Global Services?
A.
We would strongly encourage students, faculty, scholars, academic officials and department administrators to browse through our new website. The website has a lot of useful information for international students and scholars and we believe that you may find answers to many of your questions right here.

You are welcome to call or stop by the front desk at the Center. Our front desk staff will respond to your question and advise you regarding your next course of action if there needs to be one. You could also send an email to the Center at globalservices@gaiacenters.rutgers.edu or email your adviser directly.

This is the link to the Center's Contact Information page. This is the link to information on the Center's Staff.

Q. Who is my international student/scholar adviser? How can I get in touch with her?
A.
Each international student/scholar has an assigned international student adviser. For F-1/J-1 students, here is the link to International Student Adviser Assignments.

You can email your international student adviser or meet with her during walk-in hours. If your situation requires more than 5-10 minutes of meeting time, you will be directed to set up an appointment to meet with your adviser.

For our faculty, scholars, and departments looking to contact faculty and scholar advisers, please visit our Center's staff contact list for the names and contact information of the advisers.

Q. What is the purpose of walk-in hours with your International Student Adviser?
A.
The primary purpose of walk-in hours is to provide a set time that students can come and meet with their advisers for quick questions and procedures. Walk-ins are usually restricted to about 10 minutes per student.

Please note: Change of Status and Reinstatement applications are always dealt with through appointments and not during walk-in hours.

Q. What workshops are available at the center? Which workshop is right for me?
A.
Find the workshop description that meets your needs, then check our current Events Calendar to find the upcoming schedule for that workshop.

Q. Are these workshops mandatory?
A.
Some workshops require mandatory attendance because the regulations have some very complex aspects, and students must make carefully informed decisions for themselves in the process of applying for work authorizations. Workshops cover and explain in great detail the nature of these complexities and the options students have in dealing with them. Given our large numbers, this information is ONLY covered in the workshops--it is NOT covered during brief personal meetings with Center advisers.

The mandatory workshops are:
Campus Employment Workshop - For F-1 and J-1 students
Off-Campus Employment Workshop (Pre-Completion OPT & CPT) - For F-1 students
Post-Completion Employment Workshop - For F-1 students
Faculty/Scholar Workshop - for international faculty and scholars

Q. What is the usual processing time for average applications at the Center?
A.
The average processing time for most applications is two weeks from the time a complete application is submitted to the Center.



II. Legal Status

Q. How do I maintain my legal status?
A.
If you are in possession of a valid passport, a valid I-94 card, and a valid I-20 or DS-2019 and as long as you are not violating any of the terms of your visa classification, you are in status. Generally, this means being enrolled full time if you are a student (or working only in your sponsoring department if you are a scholar) and not pursuing any unauthorized employment. In addition, F-1s remain in status for 60 days after they complete their studies (the grace period may be used to prepare for departure from the US or to transfer your SEVIS records to a new school. J-1s remain in status for 30 days after the end date on the DS-2019. This is time, which is built in to "D/S" but during which you may not be employed.

For more information on staying in legal status, and other regulations visit the government regulations section of our website.

Q. Are there any critical dates, deadlines, and timelines that all F-1/J-1 students MUST remember to maintain their legal status?
A.
U.S. Immigration law puts responsibility upon individual students to know and follow all immigration regulations. Failure to follow the regulations and reporting requirement deadlines will have severe consequences on a student's ability to study, seek employment, or remain in the United States. For detailed information regarding reporting requirements and deadlines please review the Maintaining Legal Status in the U.S. document. If you are a student who has applied for or is currently authorized for Optional Practical Training, please review the OPT Data Update Form for further reporting requirements and deadlines.

Q. Do my visa, my I-20 or my DS-2019 need to be valid throughout my stay in the US?
A.
If you are an F-1 student, your I-20 must be valid until your program completion date (it to be valid during post completion OPT). Your DS-2019 must be valid at all times (including the period of Academic Training). A visa is a permit to enter a country. It is stamped into your passport by the visa office of the country you intend to visit. The I-20/DS-2019 is not your visa but your visa certificate that defines your program. The U.S. requires all nonimmigrant students (except Canadians) to enter with either an F-1 or J-1 visa. The visa is obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas, and states (1) the period during which the student may use the permit to enter, and (2) the number of times the student may enter on the same visa. Your visa does not need to be valid after you have entered the U.S., since it is nothing more than a permit to enter--it is NOT a permit to REMAIN in the U.S.

Q. My I-20 or DS-2019 is expiring soon but I have not yet finished all of my degree requirements for my program of study. Are there any particular procedures that I must follow as an international student?
A.
An F-1 or J-1 student who is admitted to the U.S. for duration of status (F-1 D/S or J-1 D/S) and who does not expect to complete degree requirements and graduate by the expected completion date printed on the current I-20 or DS-2019 must apply to the Center for an extension of program prior to the expiration of the current I-20 or DS-2019. For detailed information regarding the extension of program procedure please refer to the Extension of Program Instructions and the Extension of Program Form.



III. Employment

Q. I have a great opportunity to work in an internship program off campus. Are there any particular procedures to follow as an F-1 student?
A.
As an international student you are required to have appropriate work authorization for practical training to undertake any off-campus employment. "Optional Practical Training" is a 12-month period of time during which F-1 students are permitted to pursue employment directly related to their field if study. The 12 months may be divided up or used all at once; they may be used part-time while school is in session, part or full time during vacation periods, and full time beginning no more than 60 days after completion of the degree requirements or the program of study.

In addition, "Curricular Practical Training" is available to students whose academic programs require or give degree credit for internships or work experience. All periods of practical training must be authorized; students must attend a workshop at the Center for Global Services to obtain specific instructions on applying for authorization.

For detailed information on practical training for F-1s please review the CPT and OPT Application Instructions and Information and establish which workshop is appropriate for your situation. Also you can review differences between OPT and CPT to further determine which is right for you.

Attending the appropriate workshop is mandatory before meeting with the Center's adviser for review and submission of the application.

Q. Can the Optional Practical Training employment authorization and F-1 status be extended beyond 12 months?
A.
Yes, OPT and status extensions can be authorized in certain cases: The Cap-Gap Extension: "Cap-Gap" occurs when an F-1 student's status and work authorization expire during the current fiscal year before the student can start approved H-1B employment during the next fiscal year beginning on October 1. The cap-gap extension is a period in which an eligible F-1 student's status is extended to bridge the gap between the end of F-1 status and start of H-1B status. It starts when the student's current period of F-1 status ends, regardless of whether the student is on OPT (a day after the grace period ends). If a student is pursuing post-completion OPT, the OPT is also automatically extended. This is the cap-gap OPT. In order to have the OPT extended during the cap-gap extension, the student must be in an approved period of OPT on the eligibility date. The eligibility date is the date a USCIS Service Center receives a properly filed H-1B petition.

The STEM Extension: F-1 students who completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) are eligible for a one-time OPT extension of 17 additional months, thus making their OPT total a maximum of 29 months. F-1 students in a STEM field and currently engaged in post-completion OPT may apply for the STEM extension if they have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer. The STEM Designated Degree Program List is available on the SEVP Web site: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm.

Please refer to the Request for 24 Month STEM OPT and Instructions for further details and then set up an appointment to meet with your International Student Adviser.

Q. Is there anything like "OPT" for J-1 Students?
A.
J-1 students are eligible for "Academic Training," which, like "Practical Training" for F-1 students, is work directly related to the student's field of study. There are special procedures for J-1 "Academic Training," including a monitoring requirement. J-1 students are normally allowed up to 18 months for "Academic Training." Postdoctoral researchers may use up to 36 months for their research programs. For detailed information please review academic training instructions for J-1 students.

Q. Can a J-1 visiting special research student at Rutgers University be employed on campus or off campus?
A.
No, please contact the Faculty/Scholar Adviser at the Center for further questions.

Q. Can a dependent spouse on a J-2 be employed?
A.
Yes, a J-2 dependent is eligible for employment. The dependent can apply for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) by completing and submitting Form I-765 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form can be accessed on the USCIS website, and by selecting the option for "immigration forms" on top of the immigration page. The dependent must submit a statement explaining why he/she is applying for the employment authorization document and must state in the letter that the income earned from J-2 employment will not be used to support the J-1.

For detailed information please review Instructions on Application for Employment Authorization for J-2 Visa Holders



IV. Health Insurance

Q. Can I be exempt from the Rutgers University insurance?
A.
You can be exempt from the Rutgers insurance if you can show proof that you are insured by an alternate plan that meets Rutgers University requirements. If you want to apply for an insurance exemption, fill out an exemption form and submit it with proof of the alternate coverage. Requests need to be made every semester for which you are requesting an insurance exemption. Deadlines apply for requesting these exemptions. Please see the exemption request form for the current yearís deadlines.

If you are requesting insurance exemption based on the reason that you have another kind of insurance, please be advised that, in order for the insurance fee to be removed from your term bill, you must show proof of valid, continuous insurance for the entire duration of the semester for which you are requesting the insurance exemption. Our office cannot remove an insurance fee if, by doing so, you will be uninsured for any period of time that you are a registered student and on Rutgers F or J visa sponsorship.

Q. I have a part-time Teaching or Graduate Assistantship or I am only going to be a TA/GA for half of an academic year. Am I eligible for an insurance exemption?
A.
If you will have a part-time or half academic year Assistantship, and have decided to accept the insurance coverage offered to you by the Graduate School you will need to complete an exemption request form.

Q. What should I do in the case of an emergency?
A.
A medical emergency is a condition that without immediate attention would result in death or permanent disability. In the case of a medical emergency, it is not necessary to go to the Student Health Center first; instead you can go directly to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Q. Do I need to purchase insurance for my spouse and/or child if they are here with me in the United States?
A.
Yes, Rutgers requires that all F-2 and J-2 dependents purchase health insurance, which will meet or exceed the Rutgers University insurance requirements. Visa dependents can enroll in the United Healthcare policy administered through The Center for Global Services or, can bring a policy of their own with another insurance carrier (provided that the policy will satisfy the Rutgers University insurance requirements). Enrollment forms for the United Healthcare plan are available at The Center for Global Services. These enrollment forms should be submitted to the Insurance Coordinator at The Center and should NOT be sent directly to the insurance company. An insurance identification card for your dependent(s) will be sent to you when your enrollment has been processed. If your dependent(s) will have a policy with another insurance carrier, a photocopy of that policy must be submitted to The Center to document proof of insurance for your dependent(s). The insurance policy must be translated in English and have U.S. dollar amounts, if any amounts are listed on the policy. The United Healthcare plan defines a "child dependent" as an unmarried individual who is not self-supporting and is under 30 years of age.



V. Travel

Q. I am a registered F-1/J-1 student at Rutgers University, what do I need to do before traveling outside of the U.S.?
A.
Prior to traveling, make sure you bring in to the Center your 1-20/DS-2019 along with a copy of your unofficial transcript for a travel signature. If your dependents are traveling they need signatures on their I-20 as well. It will take a couple of days to issue the travel signature. If you need to apply for a visa for re-entry to the U.S., you will also need to submit current proof of funding for a funding update on your I-20.

For more details please review our hand out on obtaining a travel signature

Q. How much time does it take to get an I-20/ DS-2019 signed for travel?
A.
If it is just a travel signature this process takes 2 business days. If there is any update to be made on the immigration document it could take from 1-2 weeks depending on the situation.

Q. I donít have a paper I-94 card, do I need to get some documentation to show my entry/exit record?
A.
Since May 2013, visitors entering the United States by air or sea, receive an electronic I-94 admission record that indicates their date of entry and has a notation of their immigration status and expiration of stay. This record is maintained in Customs and Border Protection systems and can be accessed at www.cbp.gov/I94. Travelers will also receive a CBP admission stamp in their passport that indicates immigration status and expiration of stay.

Upon entry to the U.S. by land, visitors still receive a paper I-94 card that will indicate their date of entry and be notated with their immigration status and expiration of stay.

While it is not required, we recommend international students, faculty and scholars to maintain a printout of their electronic I-94 for their personal records. We also recommended that you carry this printout while traveling overseas.

Q. I want to travel to my home country but my visa has expired. What do I need to apply for a new visa?
A.
For detailed information on international travel, please review the following links:
Travel and Visa information
Visa Application Information

Q. I am a J-1 scholar at Rutgers University, what do I need to do before traveling outside of the U.S.?
A.
Prior to traveling make sure you obtain a travel signature (on your DS-2019) for yourself and your dependents that will be traveling with you. It will take two days to issue the travel signature. Please follow the instructions on the Center's J-1 Travel Verification Form (link to: Forms Instructions and Info for faculty, researchers, scholars, and special visiting students: J-1 Travel Verification Form) to obtain a travel signature.

Q. What do I need to do before traveling if I am on H-1B status?
A.
Prior to traveling, you must obtain the top portion of the H-1B approval notice (I-797) from the Center. You will need to send an email to the Scholar Adviser at the Center at least a month before your travel date. Please also indicate if you will be applying for a visa.

Q. Can I travel while my OPT is pending? Can I travel while on OPT?
A.
Travel while an OPT application has been sent but not received by the USCIS automatically abandons the application. Travel with a receipt notice or an EAD card is acceptable but advised to be undertaken with a job offer letter that is temporary in nature, that is expressing the intent to employ for the period of OPT only. Travel when the F-1 visa has expired and while on OPT or while an OPT application is pending is considered high risk with chances of denial being greater than normal.

For detailed information please review our employment section in the website.

Q. I need to travel to Canada (or Mexico) for a conference, but my visa has expired - what can I do?
A.
Under certain circumstances, students with expired visas who travel solely to Canada, Mexico or certain adjacent islands in the Caribbean (excluding Cuba), for less than 30 days may be allowed to return to the U.S. in the same nonimmigrant status in which they departed and to resume their previously-approved activities without having to apply for a new visa as long as they do not surrender their I-94 card when leaving the U.S - this is known as Automatic Visa Revalidation. To re-enter the U.S. via automatic visa revalidation, an F-1 student must re-enter with his or her current and valid I-94 (carry with you the paper version OR a printout of the electronic version). This procedure is not available to nationals of certain countries. Please refer to the Department of State website for further details.

Note: If a visitor who chooses to apply for a visa while visiting Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island and is denied the visa, he/she will not be eligible for the automatic visa revalidation benefit of a direct return to the U.S. Instead, the visitor will need to travel directly to his/her home country in order to apply for a visa to return to the U.S.