The Office of Global Programming provides assistance to all international students at Illinois College, beginning with International Student Orientation for new, arriving international students through graduation.  We are available to help students obtain social security cards, apply for the necessary CPT approval for internships, apply for OPT post-graduation work experiences, and transfer your student visa for graduate school.  We also coordinate with Koine International student organization to provide programming such as the Multi-cultural Festival, travel advice, visa education, etc.  For exchange students, we provide academic advising and help coordinate details with your home institutions.  We look forward to getting to know you!

Maintaining your F-1 Visa Status

If you are not a U.S. citizen or have a green card, it is very important that your maintain F-1 Visa status.  Please keep the following in mind (more detailed information can be found in the International Student Handbook):

  • Keep your passport valid.  Renew your passport at least 6 months before it expires.
  • Maintain a full course load, which is a minimum of 12 credit hours.
  • Notify a DSO (Designated School Official) within ten days if your address changes (example, if you receive permission to move off-campus your senior year).
  • Notify a DSO if you change your major.
  • Abide by employment regulations.  Generally speaking, you are only allowed to work on campus.  See International Student Handbook for more details and exceptions.  Obtain CPT approval from a DSO for off-campus internships.
  • Obtain necessary signatures from a DSO for travel outside of the United States.  This includes returning home for the summer or other breaks.

Note: Federal regulations require visitors to the U.S. to carry proof of identification and immigration status at all times. If you are traveling within the U.S., be sure to carry a valid passport and a valid I-20 Form with you.


Off-Campus Internship - Applying for CPT

If you have a F-1 Visa, you must apply for CPT (Curricular Practical Training) for any off-campus internship.  This includes both paid and unpaid internships.  Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • You must have completed a full year of enrolled course work (two semesters) before you are eligible for CPT.
  • You must receive academic credit for your internship.  If this does not fit within the 20 credit hour limit, you will have to pay additional tuition for the credit.
  • You must have an internship offer before you apply.  CREL staff (Career Readiness and Experiential Learning) can assist you with finding an internship and completing the internship approval form.  If your academic adviser has helped you find an internship, you still need to complete the internship approval form with CREL. 
  • Your internship must be directly related to your major.
  • During the school year, you can work a maximum of 20 hours per week in your internship;  during school breaks you can work full-time (40 hours per week).
  • You must have CPT approval before you begin your internship.  It is a quick process, but please allow one week.

How to apply:

  • Submit your internship approval form from CREL to a DSO (Designated School Official).

Once approved, you will receive an updated I-20 form that reflects your CPT authorization.  You will need this when completing the I-9 for your employer.


Optional Practical Training (Post Graduation)


Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 international students to engage in temporary employment in order to gain practical experience in their field of study.  While OPT is recommended by the Office of Global Programming, it is an application that is sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing and approval.  While working through OPT, your visa (F-1) and I-20 will still be through Illinois College.

Eligibility for post-completion OPT, you must:

  • Have maintained your F-1 status

  • Have been enrolled for at least one academic year (fall and spring semester)

  • Have applied for graduation by the time of application

  • File your application with USCIS no more than 90 days before your program completion date and no more than 60 days after your program completion

  • File your application no more than 30 days after the DSO recommendation on your new I-20

Important Considerations

  • If you don’t think you will complete your degree requirements (might not pass a class) by the end of the term, then you should not apply for post-completion OPT in advance of graduation.

  • Have myself or Rick Bystry look over your application before you submit it online.  You will need a new I-20 to include with your application.

  • It can take up to 90 days for USCIS to adjudicate your application.

  • You cannot start employment until you have been approved for OPT and you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and the start date on your card has passed.

  • Once USCIS receives your OPT application, you cannot change your requested OPT start date.  

  • It is not recommended to cancel an OPT application once it has been submitted.

  • Once you receive your approval, you will receive an email with instructions for setting up an online account with SEVS.  Please do this immediately and record your login information in a safe place.

  • While on OPT, you must maintain your F-1 visa status; this includes reporting any changes to Global Programming within 10 days and/or updating the information in your SEVS account.

  • Full-time employment in terms of your immigration equates to at least 20 hours per week; anything below 20 hours is part-time.

  • You are responsible for keeping track of your unemployment; you are not allowed to accrue more than 90 days of unemployment while on post-completion OPT.



The International Student Handbook provides detailed information on the following topics

  • Pre-departure tips and packing guidelines
  • Arrival information
  • Student visa information
  • Student employment options
  • Campus Life - housing, transportation, health services
  • Academic Courses - registration process, general education requirements (referred to as the BLUEprint)
  • Finances
  • Other - shopping, personal safety, etc.

You can download the International Student Handbook here and print for easy reference.

International Student Handbook

In the U.S., perhaps the most important identity document is a unique number assigned to each person.  You must have an Social Security Number (SSN) in order for an employer to pay you, but you first must have work before you can apply for an SSN.

You must apply for your SSN at the Social Security Office in Springfield.  Our office will provide transportation on select Wednesday mornings, departing at 8:15 a.m.  Go to the form at this link to register for transportation.

Please make sure you have the below with you, otherwise you will have to return another day:

  • A signed letter from the Office of Student Work about the type of job, its responsibilities, starting date, and number of hours of work
  • a letter from a DSO (Designated School Official)
  • your passport;
  • your I-20 Form;
  • your I-94 Form (record of legal entry to the U.S., typically stored electronically when you enter the U.S., but you can retrieve it here:;
  • the completed application form which is pg. 5 of this document: Note:  On item 5, Citizenship, check the box “Legal Alien Allowed To Work”.

Illinois College offers the following transportation shuttles for students:

  • Weekly shuttles to WalMart on Sunday afternoons, departing 2:00 p.m. and returning by 4:00 p.m.  Free.
  • Shuttles to Springfield Amtrak train station and airport on select dates.  Departure and pick-up times vary.  Cost is $10, advance registration required.
  • Charter bus transportation to and from Chicago for most school breaks (Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Semester Break, and Spring Break).  Regular drop-off and pick-up location in Chicago is next to Union train station.  Sometimes includes a O'Hare airport drop-off and pick-up.  Cost is $30 each way ($40 if O'Hare location used) and advance registration is required.
  • Special shuttle bus pick-up from O'Hare airport at the start of the academic year (night before move-in date for returning students) and end of academic year (following final exam).  Cost is $40 and advance registration is required.

You can find all of this information and the selected dates in the IC Rides Folder on the IC Life tab of Connect2.

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