Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Information for Current International Students

Welcome to Virginia Wesleyan University!

VWU is here to support all international students as they adjust to life in Virginia Beach and the United States. This page offers resources for prospective, new, current, and graduating international students.  We welcome international students that are matriculating to earn a degree from Virginia Wesleyan University and those that are undertaking an exchange experience for a semester or year.


As a Virginia Wesleyan University student, in addition to your academic studies, there are additional questions that many international students have in regard to life in the United States. Here you will find information to assist you with these questions and maintaining your status.

 

It is vital for international students studying in the United States to maintain their F-1 student status as this allows you to continue to pursue your educational goals and participate in other collegial activities. In order to maintain your F-1 status, international students must:

  • Enroll in at least 12 in-person academic credits during the fall and spring semesters
    • VWU international students are not permitted to enroll in online courses that count toward this requirement.
    • If you are having academic difficulties, please contact Mandy Reinig, areinig@vwu.edu, prior to withdrawing from any classes.
  • Continue to make progress and complete your degree program by the date specified on your I-20. If you need to extend your program date, please contact Mandy Reinig, areinig@vwu.edu. Program extensions are only permitted due to compelling academic or medical reasons.
  • Complete the semester check-in by meeting with Mandy Reinig, Principal Designated School Official, every semester to update your information.
  • Obtain a new I-20, immediately, if you make any changes to your education level, major(s) or minor(s), or source(s) of funding.
  • Notify Mandy Reinig, areinig@vwu.edu, immediately via email, if your home or residential address changes.
  • Obtain appropriate employment authorization, as necessary
  • Obey all federal, state, and local laws
  • Obey VWU’s Honor Code

Violation of any above may result in revocation of your I-20.

F-1 students are typically only permitted to work on-campus. However, there are other special types of employment that F-1 students are allowed to participate in such as Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) depending on their academic program and completion of their degree program.

On-Campus Employment

  • VWU offers a wide range of on-campus employment through our Work and Learn program.
  • International students are not eligible for Federal Work Study positions.
  • All students are limited to 20 hours of work per week while school is in session.
  • Some positions offer tuition assistance versus an hourly wage. Please read the job description carefully to select the best position for you.
  • International students are able to be employed in a job for tuition assistance and another job that offers an hourly wage at the same time.
  • On-campus jobs are typically posted in August for the next academic year.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

  • CPT is considered off-campus employment as it is an alternative work experience, paid or unpaid, that is considered an established part of your program of study. It must be considered integral to your degree.
  • Types of CPT include: internships, cooperative education, and alternative work
  • It can be done full-time
  • Students must have completed at least one full academic year of study at the same SEVP-certified institution.
  • Students who complete a full year of full-time CPT are ineligible for post-completion OPT.
  • You must have a job prior to requesting CPT authorization
  • A social security number is required to be paid for off-campus employment as a part of CPT.
  • To be considered for this training you must speak to your academic advisor and have your I-20 authorized for the off-campus work by Mandy Reinig, areinig@vwu.edu.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is training, or work experience, directly related to your program of study.

There are two types of OPT

  • Pre-Completion OPT
    • Can be done while pursuing your degree
    • Limited to 20 hours a week while school is in session; can be full-time during school breaks
    • This does count toward your post-completion OPT time.
    • Ex. Six months of part-time (20 hours a week) of pre-completion OPT work takes three months from your post-completion OPT time
    • Must submit the I-765 form and all supporting documentation to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to receive the required Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
      • Application Fee: $410
    • An EAD form for pre-completion OPT cannot be used to obtain work as part of post-completion OPT. A separate application and an additional application fee will need to be filed to obtain a new EAD.
    • To be considered for this training you must speak to your academic advisor and have your I-20 authorized for the off-campus work by Mandy Reinig, areinig@vwu.edu.
  • Post-Completion OPT
    • Must have completed your program of study
    • Can be paid or unpaid
    • Can be full-time
    • Allows for one year of work experience that must be related to your field(s) of study
    • You do not have to have a job to apply for OPT
    • A social security number is required to be paid for off-campus employment as a part of OPT.
    • Must submit the I-765 form and all supporting documentation to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to receive the required Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
      • Application Fee: $410
    • To be considered for this training you must speak to your academic advisor and have your I-20 authorized for the off-campus work by Mandy Reinig, areinig@vwu.edu.
    • STEM (Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics) fields can apply for a 24-month extension to your OPT.
      • The STEM extension requires that the E-Verify employer and the student complete Form I-983 and submit the form to the  PDSO, Mandy Reinig.
      • The PDSO will update the student’s record so the extension can be submitted.

International students employed in positions that offer an hourly wage are required to obtain a social security number to be paid.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommends waiting at least 10 business days after arriving in the U.S. prior to applying for a social security number (SSN). This allows data from your arrival in the U.S. to process across federal systems. Virginia uses the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program to determine a non-citizen’s eligibility for a Social Security Number (SSN) and a driver’s license.

Students must obtain an offer of employment from their on-campus employer and an Authorization to Work Letter from Mandy Reinig, the Principal Designated School Official, prior to submitting their application to the Social Security Office.

International students are unable to start working until they have received their social security number.

  • It can take 4-6 weeks, from the time the application is submitted, to receive the social security number.
  • Due to COVID-19 you can currently apply for a social security number online.

Driver’s licenses are issued by the state in which you live. As a resident of VWU, whether on or off campus, you may obtain a Virginia driver’s license from The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommends waiting at least 10 business days after arriving in the U.S. prior to applying for a driver’s license. This allows data from your arrival in the U.S. to process across federal systems. Virginia uses the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program to determine a non-citizen’s eligibility for a Social Security Number (SSN) and a driver’s license.

What documents do I need to apply?

Do I need to take a driving test?

  • First time drivers will be able to obtain a learner’s permit.
  • If you have a valid driver's license from your home country, you will be required to pass a two-part knowledge exam, a road skills test and a vision screening.
  • If you have a valid driver's license from Taiwan, you will be required to take only the road skills test.
  • If you already have a valid driver's license issued by a US state or territory, a Canadian province, France, Germany, or South Korea, you will not be required to take the two-part knowledge exam or the road test.
  • A DMV representative will tell you which tests you need to take.

What do I do if I am denied or if I am told I need additional documents?

  • You should be able to obtain a driver’s license by presenting your I-20, passport, visa, I-94 information, and proof of Virginia residency. If DMV personnel ask for another document or are unable to verify your document, please politely ask for their name and contact Mandy Reinig.
  • Make sure you have original documents of those listed above.
  • Consult the SEVP fact sheet on Applying for Driver’s License for additional information.

As international students at VWU it is important you understand the tax requirements of your visa status. The US tax system classifies non-citizens as Tax Non-Residents and Tax Residents.

Tax Resident

Tax Residents are considered U.S. citizens for tax purposes, and cannot take advantage of any tax benefits. You are a tax resident if you meet the substantial presence test for the year.

  • You satisfy the substantial presence test if you have been physically present in the United States for at least 31 days of the current year and 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately preceding the current year.
  • You are exempt from the substantial presence test if you are on a F visa complying with the requirements of the visa and you have established that you do not intend to reside permanently in the United States.

Tax Non Resident

Most F-1 students are considered Non-Residents for the first five calendar years in the United States for tax purposes and may take advantage of any applicable tax benefits and exemption from U.S. Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid taxes.


FAQS

As an international student, am I required to file taxes?
Yes. Every year you must file a tax return for the previous calendar year if you worked in the U.S or received a taxable scholarship, grant, or stipend.

If you did not work or receive a taxable award but were still physically present in the U.S. you are required to file a form 8843.

How do I file my taxes?
If  you need to file form 8843, you can access it here. Instructions are on the form.

If you need to complete a full tax return, you can make use of free tax filing software such as TurboTax, H&R Block, or IRS Free File.

What are important tax dates I need to be aware of?
Employers will issue you a W-2 form (statement of earnings) by January 31st.

The University will issue you a 1042 form for taxable awards by March 15th

Taxes typically must be filed by April 15th

When not studying, international students should take the opportunity to explore different parts of Virginia and the United States. However, they should do so keeping the following information in mind.

Do I need to let VWU know that I am traveling?
Yes. If you travel outside of the Hampton Roads area, you need to fill out the travel form. However, if you are traveling for athletics or for a class sponsored activity you do not need to fill out this form as your trip will already be recorded.

What paperwork do I need to have on my person daily and when I travel?
For daily life in the Hampton Roads area you should carry a copy of your I-20, your passport, and your visa. You should keep the originals in a safe place in your room where they cannot be damaged.
If you travel outside of the Hampton Roads area, including for athletics or class activities, you must carry your passport, visa, and I-20 and not the copies.
You should always carry your medical insurance information on you as well.

If I leave the U.S., what documents do I need to have to be able to return?
You should have the following documents:

  • A passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of your return
  • A valid visa
  • A valid I-20 with a recent travel signature

Your I-20 must be signed by a PDSO or DSO once per academic year to attest to your continued academic standing.

Additional information on F-1 Re-entry can be found here.

How can I prove that I legally entered the United States?
Your I-94 is the legal record of your entry into the United States. You can print a copy of your I-94 record on the Custom and Border Patrol website.

Please wait at least five business days before retrieving an I-94 record if you just entered the United States.

How many days can I remain in the United States after the completion of my program?
Students who have completed their program of study can remain in the United States for up to 60 days from the date of their graduation. They can use this time to travel, visit family and friends, etc. If they have a pending OPT application they can remain in the U.S. until they receive notification on their OPT status.

Can I travel outside of the U.S. while my OPT application is being processed?
Traveling outside the United States while your OPT is pending is strongly discouraged as you must have your EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to re-enter and USCIS will only mail your EAD to a U.S. address.

Keep yourself safe from scams. There are numerous phone scams active in the United States.

Phone Scams

  • Do not answer calls from numbers you do not know.
  • Do not answer texts from numbers you do not know.
  • Screen your calls.
  • Block the number of unsolicited calls/texts
  • Save numbers of people and businesses you need to be in contact with.
  • If you do answer a suspicious call
    • Do not enter any numbers
    • Hang up as soon as possible
  • Do not send money or provide personal or financial information.

Social Media

  • Do not accept friend or follower requests from people you do not know.
  • Do not send money or provide personal or financial information, especially to people you do not know.
  • Do not click links for products until you know if they are legitimate.

Spoofing Phone Numbers

  • Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity (FCC)
  • Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust.

Government Agency Spoofing

  • If a government agency needs to talk to you they will email you or write you a letter and ask you to contact them.
  • No government agency will call you and do any of the following:
    • Threaten you
    • Suspend your social security number
    • Demand money, credit card numbers, gift cards, etc.

Spoofed?

If you think you have been spoofed you can file a complaint with the FCC.

USCIS Common Scams