International Student Services
With 133 countries represented and 62 native languages spoken by our students, faculty, and staff, there is no better place than LaGuardia for you to explore, experiment, and learn. International Student Services (ISS) is here to support you.
Maintaining your F-1 Status
It’s up to you to understand and comply with immigration laws from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you’re an F-1 student, make sure you fulfill the following responsibilities so you don’t jeopardize your international status or your eligibility for immigration benefits, including employment on or off campus.
To maintain your F-1 student status, enroll and complete a minimum of twelve (12) equated credits each semester. LaGuardia Community College has a two-session semester system, and as an international student you are allowed to register for both sessions and add the credits completed in each session for a total of 12 credits. Just keep in mind that you are recommended to take no less than nine 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. You may be approved for a reduced course load for reasons such as illness, academic problems or completion of major requirements. Contact your advisor for more information.
LaGuardia 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 status issues.
F-1 students must keep their passport valid at least six months into the future. Contact your country’s embassy or consulate in the United States for 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 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.
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:
- Apply for OPT.
- Transfer to a four-year college. ( Transfer Services) Submit Acceptance letter and Transfer Release Form to B117.
- Travel back home.
- Apply for a second degree. Visit C102 Admissions Office for more details.
- Change to another status.
Please visit International Students Office and talk with the advisor about any of the above.
If you change any of the following, you must report it to the International Students Office.
- Legal name or address. (This must be reported within 10 days of 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.
Here are some important details regarding traveling on 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. 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 sign your I-20 so you may reenter the U.S. To ensure reentry to the U.S., get the travel signature up to two weeks before your departure, 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. Contact your international student advisor to find out what documents you need.
Document 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 and allow adequate time in case you are required to go for an in-person interview, and bring the required documents.
After you return to the USA, you will need to retrieve your I-94, this is the Travel Record for U.S. Visitors. You will need to provide your passport information. Make sure all the information retrieved is correct, print 2 copies of this record, keep a copy for yourself and bring a copy to B117 to update your F1 file.
Failure to comply with regulations will lead you to lose your F-1 student status. If you fall out of status, meet with an International Student Advisor immediately.
What to Do if You’re 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 five 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 be allowed to accept a Curricular Practical Training (internship).
- 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.
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.
Visit B117 to speak to your International Student Advisor for further information.
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.
- Have a work offer from an employer before you apply for CPT, and it has to be an integral part of your 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 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.
OPT allows F-1 students to work on a full-time basis for one year after they have completed their studies in a field related to your 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, we strongly recommend students to apply before completing their degree.
Applying for OPT
- Visit B117 to speak with your International Student Advisor for further information
- Photocopy of Page 1 and Page 3 of your I-20 with your ISS advisor’s recommendation for OPT
- All previous I-20 issued to student
- Photocopy of Form I-94
- Photocopy of your passport
- Photocopy of F-1 visa
- Two passport photos (with your name and I-94 card number written on the back with light pencil)
- Check or money order of $410.00 made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
DO NOT ACCEPT 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 to work off campus.
Visit B117 for further information.
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 it’s not. You must:
Stop by the Career Development Center in Room B-114 for job openings on campus and for eligibility requirements. Also, please remember that “on campus” means 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 OR if you have been issued a new I-20 for a second program that will begin the following quarter.
Paying for College
Financial assistance to International Students is limited as your ability to support your education is determined before issuing the I-20. Learn more about paying for college to get help with tuition payments, deadlines, and other resources.
Explore scholarships and other financial resources:
Applying for Scholarships
The LaGuardia Community College Foundation has a number of scholarships available to assist international students with tuition. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, academic performance, community service, and extracurricular activities. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and will be awarded in the fall and spring semesters. Learn more.
Requirements for international F1 students:
- Completed at least one semester of a degree program at LaGuardia
- Minimum 3.0 GPA
- Registered for at least 12 credits
- Valid F1 status (valid I20, valid and non-expired passport)
- Up-to-date contact information that matches CUNYfirst and Immigration Services at ISS
Students who are interested in applying will need to:
- Visit B117 for clearance.
- Write an essay or personal statement (minimum 200 words) including in a header, your full name and your EMPL ID. (Tips for writing a scholarship Personal Statement )
- Fill out the F1 students.
- Send your essay and completed Eligibility Criteria Form to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include “Scholarship: your FULL NAME and EMPL ID” In the subject line of your email.
ISS staff members will review your essay and criteria form, and you will be contacted by email with clearance to complete the online scholarship application.
All F-1 students who worked (including CPT, OPT, on-campus job, or economic hardship) in the U.S. or receive any form of scholarship must file the federal tax form 1040NR or form 1040 NR EZ each year. If you did NOT work in the U.S., you still must file Form 8843 each year that you are in the U.S. All forms can be printed from the IRS website.
What to Do After Graduation
After completing your program of study at LaGuardia Community College, you have the following options to choose from. You must notify the ISS Office about your plans.
Options After Graduation
- Return to your home country. You can remain in the U.S. for a maximum of 60 days after the completion of your studies.
- 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 your ACCEPTANCE LETTER and TRANSFER FORM to the ISS Office.
- 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.
- Apply for a second degree if you are planning to stay at LaGuardia Community College.
LaGuardia offers many resources and opportunities to help students succeed.
For LaGuardia events, visit the campus calendar.
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 medical expenses.
- Have access to a wide range of health care providers.
- Ensure that you have medical evacuation and repatriation benefits to your home country.
Visit Health Services Center at MB40 for more information about Health insurance.
Free Immigration Services
Visit an immigration clinic through CUNY. They’re free to all members of the community – CUNY students and non-CUNY students. Click here for more information.
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. At LaGuardia, you can contact Single Stop in Room C-107 to help you find affordable housing.
RentHop is another resource for affordable housing.
All students apply to LaGuardia Community College using the same application: the CUNY Application. Once you are granted admission to LaGuardia, then you must apply for your I-20.
If you are admitted and decide to enroll at LaGuardia Community College, the visa process is very straightforward.
- Apply to LaGuardia
- Forward acceptance email to International Student Services
- Receive I-20
- Apply for vis appointment
- Pay $350 SEVIS fee
Yes, all students must submit an immunization record. LaGuardia Community College requires proof of MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) and Meningitis immunity. Information about required shots is available on the LAGCC Health Center Website.
Contact International Student Services via email at email@example.com or come during student walk-in hours for information and advice on Immigration regulations and maintaining your legal status in the United States. For free legal assistance, you can visit one of the free CUNY immigration centers. Contact the CUNY Citizenship and Immigration Project for information and locations of the free clinics.
Yes, but only on campus. Your F-1 immigration status permits you to work for 20 hours while school is in session and 40 hours when school is not in session.
All international students are required to file income tax forms at the end of the year. If employed or receiving financial aid, F-1 students must file the federal tax form 1040 NR or form 1040 NR EZ each year.
If you are NOT employed, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
LaGuardia Community College organizes numerous activities on-campus which can be a great opportunity to meet other students.
There are a number of different student clubs that you can join. Get more information here.
Additionally, graduate interns in the international students Office organize workshops and discussion groups every semester catered specifically to international students’ needs. For more information contact the office in B-117.
If you’re a current student, you can change your major on CUNYfirst.
If you’re a new student, you can change your major by going to the Admissions office in C102.
However, you must report the change by visiting the International Student Services office in room B117 so we can make the change on your SEVIS record.
If you want to transfer to another school, you must first apply to the college that you want to transfer to. You must also notify the International Student Services office of your intention to transfer to another school and give us the name of the new school before your last day of classes. Once you’re admitted to the school of your intention, bring the acceptance letter and the transfer form from the school to our office. We will transfer your records on SEVIS to the school.