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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to attend Orientation? We strongly recommend that every new international student attend International Student Orientation. At orientation, you will receive a lot of important information on staying in legal visa status, getting a bank account, working while you are here, safety, staying healthy and many other topics. In addition, you will have the opportunity to meet other international students, as well as the ISSS advisors and other OGE staff. 

IMAGE: faq1 Do I have to carry medical insurance while I am here? Yes. Not only is having medical insurance a requirement when you are studying at Kent State, it is very important to have, as well. In the U.S., we do not have universal health care; each individual must purchase health insurance in order to be covered. Medical costs can be very expensive; health insurance can help you to cover some of the costs, in the event that you need any type of health care (illness, accidents, general check-ups). Additionally, many health insurance companies offer dental insurance and vision insurance, which will allow you to get your teeth cleaned and have eye exams if you need them. There is more information about health insurance under the "Health Insurance and Information" link on this web site.

I have questions about immunizations and health requirements for studying at Kent State. Who should I ask? If you have questions such as these, please visit University Health Services web site at or call them at 330-672-8263.

Do I have to schedule an appointment to meet with an ISSS advisor? At times, yes you do. Other times, you are able to walk-in the office to meet with an advisor. Please refer to the advising schedule.

As an international student, can I open a U.S. bank account? Yes. You may open a bank account at any bank you choose. The most common bank that our students choose is Huntington (there is an on-campus branch in the Student Center, as well as one on Rt. 59 near Loop Road).

IMAGE: faq2 How do I get a Social Security Number (SSN)? You cannot get a social security card/number without a job offer. As a new international student, it may seem like you need a social security card to open certain accounts (phone, bank, electric); however, most providers WILL allow you to sign up for an account without one. If a company (such as a cell phone provider) will not let you sign up without an SSN, you will be unable to get a phone with that provider. If you have a job offer, you will have to get an SSEV form and complete an I-9 form. ISSS can help you with these.

How can I use the bus system to get to surrounding cities? The Portage Area Regional Transit Authority, or PARTA, offers free travel training to anyone who wants to learn how to use the bus system to get around campus and the surrounding area. Please read the Transportation System FAQ for more information.

How many credit hours are required to be a "full time" student? In order to be a full time student and meet the enrollment requirements to maintain valid F-1 student status, undergraduate students must be enrolled a minimum of 12 hours and graduate students must be enrolled for a minimum of 8 credit hours.

Can I drop below full time? Only in certain situations. Do NOT drop any classes before coming to the Office of Global Education to speak with an advisor. If you drop below full time without our approval, you will be considered out of status.

Can I take the summer semester off? If you are enrolled full time in the fall and spring semesters, and intend to continue your studies full time you are eligible to take the summer term off.

I want to travel outside the U.S. What should I do? If you want to travel outside the U.S., you must have a valid F-1 visa, a valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature on page 3, and a valid Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future). If you are planning to travel to a country other than your home country, view this link: for travel guidelines and visa requirements.

I'm an international student. I have to go to another country for my research during the summer break. What should I do before I go there? ISSS cannot give any advice on entering a foreign country; you need to check the entry requirements yourself. However, to return make sure you have a valid Passport, valid entry visa (not expired, issued for multiple entries), and that you have had your I-20 or DS-2019 endorsed for travel by an ISSS advisor. International students are not required to register for summer unless it is their first or last semester so there are no registration issues when traveling over summer. Note: If you plan to be out of the country for more than five months, please see an ISSS advisor.

Do I need a new signature on my I-20 every time I travel? No. The travel signature on page 3 is valid for one year.

My I-20 was not stamped upon reentry into the U.S. What should I do? Customs and Border Protection no longer stamps I-20s. You should have received a stamp in your passport indicated your date of entry and visa status. If you do not have this stamp, please contact us.

What happens if my visa expires? A visa is an "entry document" used to enter the U.S. If it expires in the U.S., there is no need for concern as long as you are maintaining valid F-1 status. However, if you plan to leave the U.S., you will need a valid visa for reentry into the U.S. Visas are issued at the America Embassy abroad. Check with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country regarding visa renewal requirements. Students must obtain a visa revalidation letter from ISSS before going to renew their visa, and are advised to take a copy of their next semester's school schedule with them.

IMAGE: faq3 What happens if my I-20 expires before I complete my program?
You must come in to ISSS as soon as possible and BEFORE your I-20 expires to have your I-20 extended. If your I-20 will expire earlier than your anticipated program completion date, you may request an extension of your I-20 no earlier than 120 days prior to the end date on your I-20.

I am out of status. What should I do? If you are out of status, you must make an appointment immediately to review your options in returning to status.

Can I work full time on campus? You can work up to 20 hours per week during the fall and spring terms. During summer vacation, winter break, and spring break, you can work up to 28 hours on campus if you are not taking classes. You do not need any special approval from ISSS to work on campus if you already have a social security number.

Can I work off campus? You can only work off campus if you have been approved for CPT or OPT. Both of these require authorization. You can find more information on CPT and OPT in the ISSS Forms Library. Internships are work and, as such, authorization must be obtained if you plan to have an internship at any time. In times of financial trouble, it is possible to apply for off campus work authorization. If you would like more information, please make an appointment with an advisor to talk about Severe Economic Hardship.

Is it possible to obtain OPT without a job offer? Yes. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.

How many hours do I need to register for if I am applying for CPT?  During the spring, summer, and fall, you must be registered for a minimum of 1 credit hour. Reminder: CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training. Its intent is to be used as a supplement to what you are learning, such as through a required internship through your program. It must also be recommended by your academic advisor. Please read the CPT information found under the Employment and Immigration section.

How can a dependent in F-2 obtain permission to work? They cannot. Anyone in F-2 status is not permitted to work, under any circumstances.

Are there any programs for which your office cannot issue an I-20? Yes, there are a few programs we cannot issue I-20s for because the program's curriculum conflicts with current restrictions on online or distance learning programs for F-1 students. Students are still welcomed to apply to these programs and take the courses from their home countries.
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