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  • With over 150 countries represented and 106 native languages spoken by our students, faculty and staff, there is no better place than LaGuardia for you to explore, experiment, and learn. 

    Maintaining your F-1 status

    The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) place the responsibility to understand and comply with the immigration laws on the international students.

    If F-1 students do not fulfill any one of these responsibilities, they may jeopardize not only their international status, but also their eligibility for immigration benefits, including employment on- or off- campus. Here is a summary of the immigration responsibilities that LaGuardia Community College expects from its F-1 students: 

  •  Register and attend a full course of study each semester

    The most important thing you can do to maintain your F-1 Student Status is to enroll and complete a minimum of twelve (12) equated credits each semester. LaGuardia Community College has a two-session semester system, and as International Student you are allowed to register for both sessions and add the credits completed in each session to add a total of 12 credits. Just keep in mind that you are recommended to take no less than 6 credits in session 1.  

    In very rare circumstances, your International student advisor can approve a reduced course load (less than 12 units) for any given semester. For example, you can be approved for a reduced course load for the following reasons:

    • Illness or other medical conditions: Requires written documentation from a doctor or hospital.
    • Academic Problems: Difficulties with the English language or American teaching methods or improper course placement. However, this option is only available to you during your first semester of study.
    • Completion of Major: You may have fewer than 12 credits during your last semester because you completed most of the courses in your program of study and you are about to graduate.

    Leave of Absence:

    If you are very ill or have a serious medical condition that prevents you from attending classes for an entire semester, you can remain in the United States without taking any classes while on a Medical Leave of Absence. You must provide written verification from your doctor to qualify for this leave of absence.  A leave of absence may also be granted to you if you must leave the United States for the duration of one semester. Be sure to inform your international student advisor and to obtain a travel signature for your I-20 prior leaving the U.S. You must request permission for a leave of absence before the leave is taken. Failure to do so will place you “out of status.”


    LaGuardia Community College designates spring and fall semester sessions II as its vacation period. You must enroll in 12 equated credits during session I in order to be eligible to take session II as a vacation period. If you enroll in less than 12 equated credits in session I, you will be required to enroll in session II to prevent you to have status issues.

     Keep your I-20 and passport valid at all times

    F-1 students must keep their passport valid at least 6 months into the future. Contact your country’s embassy or consulate in the United States if you need information about extending your passport.

    All F-1 students must keep their SEVIS I-20 current at all times. Look at the program end date in your form (Item # 5) to learn when it expires. You must request an extension before the expiration date in order to remain in legal F-1 status in the U.S. F-1 students who require additional time to complete their academic program must submit a signed Program Extension application form and current financial documents to ISS no less than one month before the current I-20 expiration date.  Download the I-20 Extension Application and I-20 Application
     Complete your program of study before your I-20 expires

    F-1 students have permission to study in the United States up to the expected completion date as indicated in item #5 of the I-20. However, once students have completed their program, they have up to 60 days to: 

    1. Apply for OPT OPT Application   OPT Instructions-Information
    2. Transfer to a 4-year college ( Transfer Services)
    3. Travel back home
    4. Apply for a second degree ( www.cuny.edu)
    5. Change to another status

    Student has to visit International Students Office and talk with the advisor about any of the above. 

     Notify ISS of any changes

    The International Students Office requires all F-1 students to report any change made to:

    • Legal name or address. This must be reported within 10 days from the change. 
    • Any withdrawal from courses. F-1 students must obtain their International Student Advisor’s permission to withdraw from a class or classes
    • Any change of academic major
    • Change of legal status
    • Change of marital status
    • Change of telephone number and/or email address.

     Traveling on F-1 Student Status

    Here are some important details regarding traveling on a F-1 Student Status. Be aware that air passengers may be subjected to extensive security checks before both domestic and international flights.

    Within the United States: Carry your passport, I-20, and I-94 when you are traveling within the U.S. These documents provide immediate proof that you are in lawful status. The law requires you to carry evidence of "registration documents" at all times.

    Traveling Outside the United States: Before you travel outside the United States, meet with an international student advisor to have your I-20, visa and passport reviewed. The advisor will also verify your enrollment in classes, and If all is in order, the advisor will sign your I- 20 so you may re-enter the U.S. To ensure re-entry to the U.S., we recommend that you get the travel signature up to two weeks prior your departure; this has to be done every time you travel outside of the U.S.

    Travel signatures are only issued to current full-time students who will be returning to the United States for further study or to students who are on Practical Training and have a valid EAD card and letter of employment.  To travel outside the U.S., you must have the following:

    • A passport valid for six months into the future
    • An F-1 visa valid for re-entry to the U.S. Your visa must be valid beyond the date you plan to return to the U.S
    • A current I-20. Your I-20 must have a program end date beyond the date you plan to return to the U.S
    • Your I-20 must be signed by your international student advisor before you leave the U.S
    • If you are on Practical Training, you will also need to travel with your valid (unexpired) Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) and a letter from your employer certifying your employment.

    Processing may take a few days or longer than one month. You will not be permitted to enter the U.S. until your new visa is issued. Please plan ahead allowing adequate time in case you are required to go for an in-person interview. Ensure you have with you the following documents:

    • A certificate letter of attendance from the ISS Office to be given to U.S. consulate in your home country
    • New financial documents (sponsor’s bank statement and income statement) and new I-20 form
    • Valid I-20 and passport

    Failure to comply with these regulations will lead you to lose your F-1 student status. We refer to this as being "out of status. If you fall out of status for any reason, we advise you to meet with an International Student Advisor immediately.

  • What happens when I am out of status?

    Being placed "OUT OF STATUS” is serious business! DO NOT wait to be contacted by your International Student Advisor. Contact our office IMMEDIATELY.

    Once you are placed “out of status” your SEVIS record is terminated and you are then considered to be in the United States illegally. You must then apply for reinstatement within 5 months of the date on which you were placed “out of status.” Once placed “out of status,” all your privileges as an F-1 student are suspended. This means that:

    • You will not allowed to accept a Curricular Practical Training (internships).
    • If you are working on-campus your employment can be terminated.
    • If you are transferring to another school, you will be reported as being out of status to your new school.
  •  How do I get back in status?

    You may apply for Reinstatement of your F-1 Status. Reinstatement is a long process that goes through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. The reinstatement process can be time-consuming and complicated.  

    To expedite your application for reinstatement, please prepare the following documents before you visit the ISS office:

    • Completed Form I-539
    • Reinstatement Application  I-20 Application
    • A letter written by you explaining the reason why you are in violation of your status.
    • A personal check or money order in the amount of $290. If you have a spouse or children in F-2 status, add $10 for each F-2 dependent.
    • Copy of your I-94 as well as I-94 for each of your dependents (if applicable).
    • Copies of the front and back of all current and previous I-20s issued to you by LAGCC and all previous schools.

    After we mail your request, you may wait several months for an answer. The immigration service will send the answer to your reinstatement application directly to you.

    NOTE: While you wait to be notified about your reinstatement application, you must continue to attend school on a full-time basis.


  • CPT & OPT Employment

  •  Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

    Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an internship that carries academic credit and is part of your major. Work experience is an integral part of your major or field of study. To be eligible for CPT, you must:

    • Complete nine months of full-time study in F-1 status
    • Maintain a full course of study as required for international students
    • Receive passing grades and be in a major or certificate program that gives academic credit for internships.
    • You must have a work offer from an employer before you apply for CPT, and it has to be an integral part of you degree program.


    • Provide two papers to the International Students Office, one from the prospective employer or paid internship, stating the work responsibilities, dates and location on the company's letterhead, and another letter from the student's program director or undergraduate student advisor, stating the work is related to the student's major area of study. If your internship is not paid, you just need the form from your program director or department advisor.
    • Visit the International Students Office and get the permission from your International Student Advisor.

    NOTE: An F-1 student that engages in full time CPT for 12 months or more will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training upon graduation.

     Optional Practical Training(OPT)

    OPT allows F1 students to work on a full time basis for one year after they have completed their studies, in a field related to their major. Although you can apply for OPT before you complete your major, you can begin work only after you have graduated and have received your EAC (Employment Authorization card). When you are ready to apply for OPT, contact your International Student Advisor. You must apply for OPT before you complete your program.


    • Student must be in legal F-1 immigration status
    • A job offer is not required in order to apply for OPT, however the eventual employment must be directly related to the student's field of study.
    • Student must be in the last semester of his/her major or certificate program to apply.

    When to apply

    Students may apply for OPT as early as 90 days before the date of program completion (item #5 on the Form I-20) OR within 60 days after the date of program completion. In order to avoid complications, International Student Services strongly recommends students to apply before completing their degree.

    Applying for OPT

    The application for OPT must include: 

    1. Complete  OPT Instructions-Information  OPT Application
    2. Complete  Form I-765 (Exp 02/28/18)
    3. Photocopy of Page 1 and Page 3 of student’s I-20 with your ISS Advisor’s recommendation for OPT
    4. All previous I-20 issued to student
    5. Photocopy of Form I-94
    6. Photocopy of Student’s passport 
    7. Photocopy of F-1 visa
    8. 2 Passport photos (with your name and I-94 card number written on the back with light pencil)
    9. Check or money order of $380.00 made payable to USCIS

    Submit the complete documents to International Students Services in room B117, so the office can review your application before sending it to USCIS.

  • Financial Assistance

  •  Paying for College

    Financial assistance to International Students is limited as their ability to support their education is determined before issuing the I-20. For assistance with tuition payment, deadline and other resources check the Bursar's page. 

    Explore additional financial resources below

    Applying for Scholarships

    The LaGuardia Community College Foundation has a number of a scholarships available ranging from $500 to $4,200 to assist international students with the rising cost of tuition. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, academic performance, community service, and extracurricular activities. Scholarship applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so students needing financial assistance are encouraged to apply. Learn more

    Filing Taxes

    All F1 students who work in the U.S or receive any form of scholarship must file the federal tax form 1040 NR or form 1040 NR EZ each year. If you did NOT work in the US, you still must file form 8843 each year that you are in the US. All forms can be printed from the IRS website.  

    The Single Stop USA program in Room C-107 offers FREE tax preparation assistance. Call: 718.482.5135/5129 or email: singlestop@lagcc.cuny.edu.

  • Employment

  •  Off-Campus Employment

    Should you experience financial difficulties while studying at LaGuardia Community College and you have already been in lawful F-1 status for one year, you may be eligible to apply for Economic Hardship Work Authorization.
    Severe Economic Hardship is a type of work authorization for F-1 students who are experiencing severe and unforeseen economic problems. Under this work authorization, F-1 Student Visa Holders are eligible to seek work off-campus.

    Eligibility for Economic Hardship

    • Student has been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year.
    • Student is in good academic standing (i.e. GPA of at least 2.0)
    • Student has always registered for a full course load/12 credits per semester
    • Demonstrated the necessity for employment due to unforeseen circumstances beyond his/her control.
    • Unable to obtain On-Campus employment or On-Campus employment source insufficient to meet the needs.

    If you want more information about the qualification and procedure,please talk with your international student advisor in B117.
    ISS will review your application before sending it to USCIS for adjudication. It takes USCIS from 120-150 business days to adjudicate these applications. You may not begin employment until you receive your employment authorization document. The decision to grant authorization rests entirely on USCIS.

     On-Campus Employment Opportunities

    Your F-1 Student status makes you eligible to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week when school is in session, and up to 40 hours when school is not in session. To accept on-campus employment at LaGuardia you must meet the following criteria:

    • You must be in good academic standing.
    • Be enrolled for a full course of study.
    • Hold a valid passport, and have a current I-20 at the time of application for a job as well as during the entire time of employment
    • Receive a hiring letter with the details of your job (position, hours per week, department information, payment per hour, start date, end date, etc.)
    • Present hiring letter, I-20, and passport to International Students Office to obtain a Work Authorization letter.
    • You have to renew your work authorization letter every semester or session. You will have to receive a new hiring letter with updated information.

    Stop by the Career Development Center in room B114 for job openings on-campus. Also, remember: ON CAMPUS means in any CUNY School. 

    Once you finish your program, you may no longer work on campus unless you are authorized through Optional Practical Training and the work is directly related to the course of study you have completed. You may also work on campus after you have completed a program if you have been issued a new I-20 for a second program that will begin the following quarter.

  • Graduation

  •  Graduation

    After completing your program of study at LaGuardia Community College, you have the following options to choose from and you need to notify ISS Office about your plans.

    1. Return to your home country. You can remain in the U.S. for a maximum of 60 days after the completion of your studies.
    2. Get accepted and transfer to another U.S school or college. Please note: Your transfer must be processed within 60 days of your last day of classes at LaGuardia. You will need to bring ACCEPTANCE LETTER AND TRANSFER FORM to the ISS Office.
    3. Apply and engage in Optional Practical Training. Visit ISS Office within the last 90 days of your classes at LaGuardia to discuss this option with your international student advisor.
    4. Apply for a second degree if you are planning to stay at LaGuardia Community College.
  • Campus Resources

  •  Academic Support Services

    LaGuardia offers many resources and opportunities to help students succeed.

    Writing Center

    (718) 482-5688
    9:00 AM - 9:15 PM, Monday - Friday.

    One of the most important resources available to LAGCC students is the Writing Center. Whether it's how to get started on a research paper or how to correct a marked in class paper essay, or simply how to proof read, the Writing Center's staff of skilled, trained tutors can help you to become better writers. Students do not need an appointment.

    Crisis and Personal Guidance
    (718) 482-5471

    Pursuing your education in a foreign country can bring a lot of stress to student especially if you have lack a personal support system. The Center for Crisis and Personal Guidance can provide individual counseling services to assist you in identifying and working through any academic or personal issues.

    NOTE- The International Students Office also offers counseling services through Graduate Interns who focus on helping individuals transition from one culture to another and guide students through the challenges of pursuing a degree in an American university.

    (718) 482-5426

    LaGuardia Community College has a world-class library facility. Friendly librarians are at your disposal to help you with your research needs. You may also access many full text databases, indexes, abstracts, photo archives and other resources through the website.

    Health Services Center:
    (718) 482-5280

    The Health Services Center helps students with health problems, and/or immunization needs that significantly affect your ability to remain in school and graduate. The Heath Center also occasionally offers free immunization clinics. You can call to find out more about the center.

    SGA Study Hall Tutoring Lab:
    (718) 482-6064

    The SGA Study Hall is a multidisciplinary tutoring center that provides academic support to meet students’ needs in various subjects. They offer:

    • One-on-one tutoring
    • Group tutoring sessions
    • Study skill workshops
    • Student friendly hours
    • Tailored lesson plan

    Campus Events Resources

    International Students Network: International Students Network provides a platform for international students to explore and overcome different challenges that they face when being exposed to a new environment.

    Towards A Global Self:
    Is a weekly discussion series hosted by ISN for students who wish to share their experiences in a new culture and build communication skills in academic and social situations. The group provides information as well as opportunity to discuss cultural adjustment, communication styles, relationship issues, and career/future plans. The meeting also gives students an opportunity to meet other international students going through similar experience. Learn more.

    Memoir Writing Workshop:
    it is a weekly workshop held at the Women’s Center (MB-10), where students can improve their writing skills.

    Learn more about campus events:

    • Facebook
    • twitter
    • flickr
    • Campus Events and Activities

    • Off Campus Resources

      Health Insurance

      Although federal regulations do not mandate health insurance for F-1 students, it is highly recommended that CUNY F-1 international students and their dependents purchase international student health insurance to:

      • Reduce the high costs of out of pocket medical expenses
      • Have access to a wide-range of bonafide health care providers
      • Ensure that they have medical evacuation and repatriation benefits to their home countries.
      Get more information


      Free Immigration Services: There are Immigration Clinics in CUNY campuses free to all members of the community- CUNY students and non-CUNY students. Click here for more information.

      You can contact Single Stop in Room C-107 to help you find affordable housing.

      Most CUNY colleges offer resources and referral services to help students find affordable off-campus housing and apartments in the general vicinity of the college.


      • RentHop is another site for affordable housing.
  • Office of International Student Services 

    Location: 30-20 Thomson Ave Room B117  Long Island City, NY. 11101
    Phone: (718) 482-5145  Fax: (718) 609-2021 
    Email:   fsinformation@lagcc.cuny.edu 
    Hours: Monday to Thursday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
                 Friday, Saturday and Sunday:  CLOSED 

    Join us: https://www.facebook.com/international.student.lagcc

    International Student Services Staff Members

    Larisa Lerner
    Coordinator of International Student Services
    (718) 482-5144
    Srimal Sirisena (Rani)
    International Student Advisor
    (718) 482-5131
    Paula Ramirez
    Ingrid Berges 
    Marisela Ng Lin
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