Documents for current students

Please refer to CIIS policies and immigration regulations on these forms prior to any action that may affect successful maintenance of your visa status.  Please give yourself at least 2-4 weeks (as much as 12 weeks for OPT) for processing and submit in a timely manner to the International Student Advisor.  Many of these forms require your department signatures and an appointment with the International Student Advisor.

US Immigration laws are complex and always changing. The information provided on this website and in documents is intended only to give you an overview of different immigration procedures. It should not be construed as a substitute for legal advice. Although we make every effort to make certain that all information contained on this web site is current, we make no guarantees as to its accuracy. You are encouraged to consult an international student advisor or an immigrant attorney to see how the law applies in your case.


Forms for newly admitted International Students: click here.

Please refer to the handbook for information on immigration regulations, CIIS policies, cultural adjustment and more:

  • Arriving in SF
  • Maintaining Your Visa
  • Essential Documents
  • Address & Name Update Requirement
  • Enrollment Requirement & Exceptions
  • Audit Units & Online Classes
  • Concurrent Enrollment
  • Extending Your Study
  • Change of Degree Level/Program
  • CPT reporting requirements
  • OPT application and reporting requirements
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As an international student, you have an obligation to comply with the immigration laws and regulations of the United States. It is illegal to violate U.S. federal immigration laws and regulations for any reason whatsoever .   Please refer to detailed information in the Maintaining Your Visa Status document and always check in with the International Student Advisor for questions and advance authorization on actions that will affect your visa status.


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This is a list of organizations for finding funding through grants and scholarships. Please help us keep this information up-to-date and relevant. If you find any good leads for funding, please let the International Student Advisor know.


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This list includes grants and scholarships for non-residents and U.S. citizens.

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F-1 students who are maintaining their visa status are eligible to work on-campus.  The MyCIIS Financial Aid tab posts campus jobs. Upon being offered employment students will need to apply for a social security number and complete HR paperwork in order to begin working.


Folks who did not work on campus will need a SSN in order to participate in paid CPT or OPT.


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There are very few exceptions to the requirement to be enrolled full-time in each semester. Those exceptions include academic difficulty, medical condition, and completion of study, and there are strict criteria for each. In every instance, you must obtain prior authorization from the International Student Advisor. Requests must be made prior to the semester in which a RCL will take place.


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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permits program extensions for, “compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses.” A program extension may not be granted for reasons resulting from academic probation or suspension. Deadlines and information are listed in the form.


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All SSPH and ACTCM students must fill out the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) online form on MyCIIS and meet eligibility for qualifying CPT.

Students in the SCT programs should review the CPT document and contact the International Student Advisor to verify eligibility.


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If you arrive at the U.S. port of entry without all of your required documents or with unsigned or missing information, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer may deny your entry into the United States. As an alternative, the officer has discretion to issue you a Form I-515A, which allows you temporary entry into the United States for 30 days.


Documents required for entry to the U.S. every time include:

Signed, valid I-20

Valid passport

Valid visa

EAD card and employment letter (students on post-OPT)


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It is CIIS policy that F-1 and J-1 visa holders have health insurance while studying at CIIS. Students can provide proof of coverage in English from their home country or from a US insurance company. This document provides information on understanding the confusing world of health insurance in the US. More details are covered at the New International Student Orientations.

CIIS does not endorse any one company, but can provide links to plans used by other students.

International students on the F1 visa are not eligible for US/California Medicare or Medicade health plans. Enrollment and usage of these plans can have negative impacts on your F1 visa status and/or future visa applications.

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Optional Practical Training (OPT)


Optional Practical Training (OPT) is most commonly used by F-1 students to gain work experience in their field of study after completing a degree program, but there are certain other situations in which OPT may be possible prior to completion of a degree program.  OPT has a cumulative maximum of 12 months per degree sought and requires approval from USCIS. It takes approximately 3 months to receive approval.


You can confirm dates with a date calculator at


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Please submit this form to the International Student Advisor no sooner than a week before your program end date to request OPT be updated to your SEVIS record, as required for the I-765 application process. Based on this form, students will receive an updated I-20 showing your request for OPT on page 2. You will sign the I-20 and use this updated in yourI-765 application. Please review other documents on OPT on MyCIIS for further clarification.


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Fee waiver is used to request non-payment for the I-765 application which is used for the OPT or Severe Economic Hardship application. In addition to the form, a one-page explanation and evidence is required.

Print the most up-to-date form from the USCIS website linked up above. Instructions are also available on the link. Include the fee waiver request form with your application for OPT or other USCIS applications.
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Information on applying, wait times, taxes, employment, unemployment, travel during pending and approved OPT...

Update: March 2019

Students approved for post-completion OPT will need to create a student profile in SEVIS and update their U.S. address and employer information. Please see details inside the OPT FAQ document.


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Use for travel while OPT, applying for a social security card if your OPT employment is the first time you are being employed in the U.S.
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Tax Information

Spring 2021: CIIS will no longer host tax workshops for non-resident visa holders. Please use the resources below to file on your own, with free services or through a paid e-service called Sprintax.

All F1 students living in the U.S. must file at least one tax form each year, whether they worked or not.  PLEASE READ WHO MUST FILE AND WHAT FORM(S)? IN THE DOUCMENT BELOW.


IRS will NEVER – not ever – send F-1 students an email.  No exceptions.  And, in no case should they ever respond to an email from the IRS (or any other governmental agency) seeking personal or banking information.  IF the IRS needs to reach someone or has a question, the IRS will print a letter and then use the U.S. postal mail system. And, if there is missing information from a tax return, the original or a copy of the tax return is usually sent along with the letter requesting information, in which case, the person would re-submit the filing.  The IRS will NEVER solicit a taxpayer to try to file a form to avoid paying tax.

This form explains the various tax documents that you may have received from your employer(s), banks and what to gather before starting your paperwork filing including, but not limited to:  W2, 1099, 1042-S

It’s important to be aware that, as a nonresident student in the U.S., you’re legally required to file a tax return if you received US income during 2020.


And even if you didn’t work or receive income in the US, you’re still obliged to file a Form 8843 with the IRS.


This document is provided by Sprintax, but of course you may chose to use free services through IRS Vita program or file on your own.


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This document is filed by all F1 and adult F2 dependents who resided in the U.S. in 2020 even if you did not work on or off campus.


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The details of this form are discussed in the Sprintax webinar and are useful as well for maintaining non-residency for tax purposes if you've bee in the U.S. for more than 5 years and wish to file as a non-resident.


2020 Recorded Webinar 


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U.S. employers are required to withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from wages earned in the U.S.  Individuals in F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 status are exempt from these withholding as long are they are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes. Employers are frequently unaware that F-1 students are exempt from the Social Security tax law and you can recover taxes wrongly withheld.


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This form explains a few key forms required by all new employees to file in their Human Resources Department before beginning employment.


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If you qualify for the medical reimbursement funds in any given quarter, you will receive this letter/information from SF City/CIIS. For more information, please find documents on the MyCIIS Financial Aid--Campus Employment section. Contact for questions:


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