Support your quest for academic growth at Concordia-Chicago.
Rely on guidance, tools and resources specifically designed for your journey as an international student.
Build lasting friendships when you take part in the many student organizations and cultural activities on campus.
Ensure your academic pursuits run smoothly by keeping up-to-date with your F-1 status and I-20 documentation.
Maintaining F-1 Status
It’s vital that all nonimmigrant students maintain status while in the United States, as failure to do so is grounds for removal from the United States under INA § 237(a)(1)(C)(i).
To maintain your F-1 status, you will need to:
- Report to the DSO to have your SEVIS record registered in SEVIS in a timely fashion.
- Pursue a "full course of study" during every academic semester except during official school breaks, or unless approved under a specific exception, in advance by the DSO.
- Make normal progress to complete your course of study by finishing studies before the expiration of the program completion date on Form I-20.
- Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for extension of stay, change in educational levels or programs of study and transfer of schools.
- Abide by the F-1 grace period rules.
- Report a change of address to the DSO within 10 days of the change so that SEVIS can be updated. This includes the updates or changes of name and address.
- Follow rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition of criminal activity.
- Do not work, either on or off-campus, unless specifically authorized under the regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9) or § 214.2(f)(10)-(12).
- Abide by the aggregate unemployment rules while on post-completion OPT.
- Keep your passport valid.
- Maintain full-time enrollment.
- Undergraduate full-time enrollment is defined as 12 credits per semester (Fall and Spring).
- Graduate full-time enrollment is defined as 6 credit hours. The minimum required is 3 credit hours per eight-week session. You may take more than 3 credit hours in one eight-week period but you may not take less. You must be enrolled in both eight-week sessions.
Students in terminated status are not permitted to continue their studies at Concordia-Chicago. If your status has been terminated or completed in SEVIS, you’ll need to be authorized by the DSO to return to the university. In order to qualify for further studies once terminated, you will have two options:
- Apply for F1 reinstatement with the DSO recommendation (SEVIS ID number stays the same in this scenario)
- Return to your home country and reenter the USA on a new I-20 (SEVIS ID number changes in this scenario)
I-20 and Documentation
If you are an F-1 student, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires you to have an I-20 that is updated to reflect correct biographical information at all times. Please contact the CISS and immediately make updates (within 10 days) if any of the following information changes:
- Biographical: Change in name
- Dependents: Addition of F2 dependent
- Address: The physical address where you reside
- Financial: Significant change to financial support
- Academic: Change in major, degree level or program completion date
- Off-campus employment (CPT, OPT, academic training)
- Travel outside of the U.S
Concordia-Chicago supports your efforts to achieve purpose and academic excellence with facilities and services that enhance your student experience.
- Academic Advising - Undergraduate
- Career Advising
- Concordia Connect Portal
- Counseling Center
- Dining Services
- Fitness Center
- Health Services
- Honor Code
- Student Services
- Safety and Security
- Title IX
A full range of services is available at the campus Post Office, including sale of stamps, money orders, Express and Priority mailing supplies, as well as shipping of packages of most shapes and sizes.
Koehneke Community Center - Lower Level
Hours of Operation
Monday through Friday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Closed Saturday and Sunday
Withdrawals and Transfers
Whether you are transferring into or transitioning out of Concordia-Chicago, we’re here to simplify the process to allow you to continue along your path.
If for any reason you need to withdraw from Concordia-Chicago, simply fill out a withdrawal form through Undergraduate and Graduate Admission and also make an appointment with an international student advisor in CISS. If you withdraw without speaking with your international student advisor, you risk a termination of your I-20 which could impact your future renewal and/or application for a new visa.
If you are transferring to Concordia-Chicago:
- You will need to complete a transfer verification form and submit it to the international student advisor at your current institution.
- Your international student advisor should then complete the form and return it to the CISS office.
If you are transferring to another university, the CISS Office will help you with the transfer of your SEVIS record to your new school. To be eligible for a SEVIS transfer, you need to:
- Have a written confirmation of your acceptance to another school and maintain your F-1 or J-1 status.
- Be in good academic and financial standing (as defined by the University) through the SEVIS transfer release date.
The “release date” (MM/DD/YYYY) will be scheduled depending on the circumstances of your status. The release date is subject to the following conditions:
- The release date cannot be prior to the end of the current academic term for which the student is enrolled at CUC, unless your new program start date begins prior to the end of CUC’s term. If you are in this situation, you should coordinate with CISS and your new institution’s DSO to choose an appropriate release date.
- Your transfer release date must be within the 60 day grace period following your program completion.
- The academic program at your new school must begin within five months of completion of your last class at CUC or end date of OPT.
For J-1 students: Upon sponsor approval, the release date must occur before the program end date on the DS-2019 or before program completion, whichever occurs first. A few reminders:
- The date your SEVIS record is transferred out to the new school you may no longer work on campus at Concordia-Chicago and/or off-campus (CPT/OPT/AT).
- Transferring out of CUC cannot be canceled by SEVIS, so please be sure you are fully decided about the school and release date before you submit any forms to CISS.
- You may return to resume studies at CUC after you attend classes or finish your program at the new school
In order for CISS to transfer your SEVIS record to the new school, you will need to submit the following documents to CISS:
- Transfer-in form filled and signed by you (student)
- Official admission letter from your new school with the program start date
- CUC withdrawal form/stop-out form (if applicable)
Empower yourself with a student job that extends your field of study and prepares you for your professional future.
Overview of Employment Options
Designated students at Concordia-Chicago are permitted to work, but finding the right job is not always easy. Below are some basic guidelines for working as an international student.
- F-1 students are not allowed to work off-campus during their first academic year but they can accept on-campus employment (with some conditions).
- After their first year, F-1 students can participate in three categories of off-campus employment: 1) Curricular Practical Training (CPT), 2) Optional Practical Training (OPT), and, 3) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT).
- CPT is any alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or other type of internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. CPT must integrate with an established curriculum.
- OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to your major area of study. If you are eligible, you can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization either before or after completing your academic studies. In the case of those in a STEM field, you may apply to receive up to 24 months of OPT employment authorization (in certain circumstances).
If you are an F-1 student, you are eligible to accept on-campus employment as long as you are registered full-time for classes.
- Campus employment may not exceed 20 hours per week when school is in session; this amount includes all other authorized employment.
- International students may work more than 20 hours per week during official university breaks only (winter break, summer session).
- On-campus employment does not need to be related to your field of study.
If you are an F-1 student, you are eligible for off-campus employment authorization in the form of Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training. Authorization can be given if you have maintained your status and if you meet the other eligibility requirements explained below.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, clerkship, or optional/required internship or practicum, available only while you are in F-1 status, before the completion of your educational objective. There are two CPT options: full-time (over 20 hours) and part-time (20 hours or less). Full-time CPT for one year (365 days) or more will cause you to become ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT); part-time CPT does not affect your OPT eligibility.
CPT Eligibility Requirements
- You must maintain F-1 status.
- You must be enrolled full-time for at least one academic year prior to applying for CPT.
- Your employment must be integral or relevant to your established curriculum.
- Your completed CPT application must be submitted to your Designated School Official (DSO).
CPT Application Process
- To apply, first establish your eligibility. If in doubt, check with the DSO by submitting your transcripts.
- You’ll want to get a job offer that matches your course objectives. This must be evidenced by a signed letter from your prospective employer. You can find work on your own or you may work with Career Services to help you find internship opportunities.
- When you apply for your internship, the department chair must verify the relevance of the course of study to the job description.
- You can get a new I-20 with your CPT recommendation, but keep in mind that you may start an internship only after the I-20 is issued.
- You can apply for CPT via the International Student Portal.
- Make an appointment with the DSO to address any additional status-related questions or concerns you may have regarding CPT.
- All your paperwork will need to be properly completed before applying for the I-20.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period in which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed (or have been pursuing) their degrees are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for one year on a student visa toward getting practical training to complement their education.
OPT Validity Period
- Standard OPT is available for a cumulative maximum of 12 months per educational level (undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees).
- Beginning from May 10, 2016, a one-time extension of 24 months will be effective to certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) degree recipients.
|Pre-completion OPT||Post-completion OPT|
|May request either part-time or full-time work||May work full time|
|Not eligible for the cap-gap extension of OPT||Eligible for the cap-gap extension of OPT|
|May not apply for the STEM extension from a period of pre-completion||May apply for the STEM extension if otherwise eligible|
|Not subject to the 90-day unemployment provisions||Subject to the 90-day unemployment provisions|
|May receive a program extension||Not eligible for a program extension|
OPT Eligibility Requirements
- You must be in F-1 status before completion of the educational objective.
- You must have been enrolled full-time for at least four consecutive terms.
- Your employment must be integral or relevant to your established curriculum.
- The OPT Application must be submitted to your DSO.
State and Federal Identification
Employers will expect you to have proper identification before starting work. The identification items you will need are a State ID, driver’s license and, in some cases, a social security number.
You can apply for an Illinois State ID or driver’s license after you find a place to live and have an address in the state. For more details and instructions, you can visit the Illinois Secretary of State website.
The Illinois State ID/driver’s license offices closest to campus are:
- Chicago West
3.3 miles from Concordia-Chicago
5301 W. Lexington St, Chicago, IL 60644
- Melrose Park
3.8 miles from Concordia-Chicago
1903 Mannheim Rd., Melrose Park, IL 60160
International students, scholars and dependents (in some instances) may apply for a social security number if they are legally employed in the U.S. You are eligible to apply for a social security number if:
- You are an F1 or J1 student and have an on-campus job offer if you are in your first year. (Full-time enrollment is required.)
- You are an F1 student already on CPT/OPT.
- You are a J-1 student on Academic Training.
- You are a J-1 scholar employed by Concordia University Chicago.
- You are a J-2 dependent with an EAD.
- Please note: F-2 holders are not eligible to apply for a Social Security number.
To obtain a social security number, you will need to:
- Get a job and ask your employer for a ‘Proof of Offer of Employment’ (with EIN mentioned on it).
- Request a social security number letter from the CISS office. This letter will serve as proof of eligibility of employment.
- Go to the local Social Security Administration Office with your application and required documents.