Current International Students
Forms for International Students
An F-1 visa student may request a reduced course load if they meet immigration regulations requirements.
Request an extension if the program will not be completed by the date listed on the I-20 form.
F-1 international students seeking a reduced course load must complete this checklist.
Driver’s License and Wisconsin ID
Most F-1 visa students can drive in Wisconsin for up to one year using their home country’s driver’s license. See a list of approved countries on the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website.
F-1 visa students who are in Wisconsin for more than a year and plan to drive a vehicle must apply for a Wisconsin driver’s license. International students who do not drive but would like an identification card can apply for a Wisconsin I.D. card. This may be helpful for providing identification in the U.S. while being able to leave your passport behind in a safe place. Follow the steps below to apply for a driver’s license or state I.D. at the DMV.
Complete an application
- If you have a Social Security Number, write it on the application
- If you do not have a Social Security Number, let the DMV staff person know that you do not qualify for a Social Security Number. Only F-1 students who are legally employed qualify for a Social Security Number. The DMV will continue to process your application without a Social Security Number.
- Check the box stating you're a temporary visitor.
Bring documents to the DMV
Bring the following documents to the Department of Motor Vehicles:
Take tests for driver's license
If you’re applying for a Driver’s License, you will need to take a vision test, a written test and a practical test of your driving skills.
Driver's Licensing Fees and State ID fees can be found on the Wisconsin DMV website.
Social Security Number and ITIN
A Social Security number is intended to accurately record your earnings in this country. International students in F-1 status have permission to work on campus and are eligible for Social Security numbers. (Note: there are limitations to this permission – consult an international student advisor for details.) Students in J-1 status are eligible for Social Security numbers as long as they have the J-1 sponsor's permission to work.
Do I need a Social Security number?
Social Security Numbers (SSN) are needed for:
- Employment – You must have an Social Security Number in order to work in the United States.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Forms – All students and scholars in F-1 or J-1 status who are non-resident aliens for tax purposes are required to fill out an IRS form every year even if they have no U.S.-source income. A Social Security number or ITIN is required on IRS forms. For additional information about these requirements, please consult the International Programs Office.
- Driver's License- Although at this time Wisconsin does not require that you have an SSN in order to obtain a driver's license, it will in the future – based on Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation information.
Social Security Numbers are NOT needed for:
- Class Registration
- Banking – F- and J-visa holders do not need a Social Security number to open a bank account or for most other financial transactions. The bank may ask F- and J-visa holders to fill out Internal Revenue Service form W-8BEN to prove that they are exempt from the requirement of providing a Social Security Number.
How do I apply for a Social Security card?
- You must have a job offer and an employer verification letter to be eligible for a Social Security Number.
- Contact the International Programs Office by email, email@example.com, or stop by in person with your job offer and employer verification letter.
- Take the letter you receive from International Programs to the Social Security Office in Green Bay, along with:
- Once you receive your Social Security card in the mail (usually in 1-2 weeks), take it to the Welcome Center in Student Services (SC240) to update your student record. You must also show it to your campus employer. You may not begin work without your social security card. You do not need to bring the card to the International Program's Office.
What is an ITIN?
An ITIN is an Individual Tax Identification Number. This number is different from a Social Security number used by individuals earning a U.S. income and filing a U.S. tax return. This number is an alternative option for students and/or dependents who earned income during the tax year, but are not eligible for a Social Security number. It is also used to identify the dependents of the person filing a tax return. There are only a few cases where students and scholars can claim dependents on their tax return. If you are eligible to claim dependents on your tax return, contact the International Programs Office.
For more information about ITIN see the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) website.
Where can I find the local Social Security office?
The Social Security Office in Green Bay is located on the northwest side of the city at the southeast corner of Dousman Street and Military Avenue:
1561 Dousman St.
Green Bay, WI 54303
Employment for Current F-1 Visa Students
Learn more about on-campus and off-campus work opportunities below. Additionally, NWTC Career Services staff is available to help international students find internship opportunities, advise students on creating resumes, and help prepare for interviews.
On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Work
For F-1 international students, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) are the two most popular avenues for students interested in off-campus internships and employment. F-1 students become eligible for CPT or OPT after one year of full-time attendance.
F-1 students may work on-campus without a special work authorization, although this is limited to part-time (up to 20 hours a week) while school is in session, and full-time (over 20 hours a week) during breaks and vacations. "Work Study" is a component of federal financial aid for U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents, therefore, international students are not eligible for these types of on-campus jobs.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
An opportunity for international students in F-1 status to participate in professional, temporary employment such as an internship, co-op program, practicum or similar situation, which is undertaken prior to the completion of studies. The training must either be a required part OR an integral part of the established curriculum and the student must receive academic credit for the employment that will count toward degree requirements.
To be eligible for Curricular Practical Training, an F-1 student must continue to make reasonable progress toward degree completion, AND satisfy one of the following requirements:
- The internship, practicum, or field placement/study is a requirement for the degree program and confer course credit. Student may work for the length of time that the curriculum requires for the degree. Full-time (over 20 hours per week) training is allowed.
- An F-1 student is required to have completed one academic year of studies to qualify under this criterion. The internship, practicum, or field placement/study is an integral part of the degree program and confer course credit, but is not a requirement of the degree program. Part-time (up to 20 hours per week) curricular practical training is allowed during regular semesters under this criteria. Full-time training is allowed only during vacation periods, such as summer vacation.
- Find employment, an internship, or volunteer opportunity that qualifies for CPT. You may find it helpful to speak with the Career Services Office or your Class Internship Coordinator.
- Have the employer fill in the employer sections of the CPT Application (pages 2,3)
- Fill in the student section of the CPT Application (page 3)
- Get approval from your Associate Dean, Dean, or Class Internship Coordinator: Share the CPT Application for them to review and fill out (page 3,4)
- Register for the appropriate course/credits as agreed upon.
- Submit the completed CPT Employer Agreement Form to Kari Olsen the International Programs Office (SC 118) at least two weeks before your internship is expected to begin.
- Receive the I-20 from International Programs with CPT work authorization.
- If you do not already have a Social Security Number, please include a note that you need the Social Security letter from International Program staff.
NOTE: The International Programs office will review each case submitted and determine the merit of each case. You may choose to speak to a member of International Programs to pre-determine your eligibility before submitting your documents. Please remember that you may NOT engage in practical training until approval is annotated on your I-20.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (Pre-completion or Post Completion) may be taken during or after a course of study, provided that the following conditions are met:
- A. Pre-completion OPT
- For Pre-Completion OPT, the student must have been in F-1 status, in their current degree program, for at least one academic year before they may begin OPT. A student may submit an application for optional practical training up to 90 days prior to being enrolled for one full academic year.
- The practical training employment relates directly to the student’s area of study and is sought in connection with one of the following stages of the course of study:
- Part-time (no more than 20 hours per week) while school is in session
- Full-time during the student’s annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session, IF the student is currently enrolled and intends to register for the next semester
- B. Post Completion OPT
- Students may apply for Post Completion OPT between 90 days prior to his or her program end date and 60 days after his or her program end date (listed on I-20).
- Optional Practical Training must be requested (delivered to the USCIS) prior to the completion of all course requirements for the degree or prior to the completion of the course of study or within 60 day grace period that F-1 students have after graduation. A student must complete all practical training (for a maximum of one year) within a 14-month period following the completion of study.
- The OPT application package should reach the responsible USCIS office within 30 days after it has been processed by the DSO.
- Students may apply for Post Completion OPT between 90 days prior to his or her program end date and 60 days after his or her program end date (listed on I-20).
Assemble your documents in the following order and present them at the International Programs office:
- Two (2) identical color passport photos of yourself taken within 30 days of the filing of the OPT application. Please print your name on the back of the photos.
- $410 check or money order, made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
- A completed I-765 (this is a fillable pdf document; it is best if you fill it in and then print for legibility).
- Photocopies of the following documents:
- Your most recent I-94
- All I-20's that have been issued to you
Instructions for Students Who Have Applied For or Have Been Granted OPT
IMPORTANT: Please remember that your obligation to comply with regulations does not stop with the issuance of the Employment Authorization Card (EAD) card. In order for your SEVIS record to be kept updated and your status valid throughout the OPT period, you must pay special attention to the following requirements:
- Provide our office with a legible copy of your EAD as soon as you have it
- If you move to a new address during this period, it is important that you inform our office within 10 days of the move.
- If you need to travel outside the U.S., you must verify that the most recent signature at the bottom of page 2 of your I-20 shows a valid date. A valid signature date for this purpose is a date within six months of your intended date of return. Please contact our office well in case you need the signature re-validated.
- If you change your immigration status, please provide a copy of your approval notice to our office.
- If you leave the country permanently, please notify International Programs.
By following these simple rules, you will be able to continue to live and work in the US legally.
Traveling on OPT
If you will be traveling outside the US while on Optional Practical Training, you must be able to prove that you have a job to return to. Also remember that the signature on your I-20 may not be more than 6 months old at the time of your re-entry to the US.
Types of OPT employment
Students may work part-time (at least 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full-time.
- Multiple employers. Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program and for pre-completion OPT cannot exceed the allowed per week cumulative hours.
- Short-term multiple employers (performing artists). The student should maintain a list of all events, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all short-term employment opportunities.
- Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than employment relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
- Self-employed business owner. Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full-time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program.
- Employment through an agency. Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.
Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.
Employment MAY be unpaid in the regular 12 month period of OPT
For post-completion OPT, the employment does not have to be paid employment. Therefore, a student who is self-employed, interning or volunteering in a position directly related to the academic field would be considered “employed” for the purposes of OPT employment.
International Student Transfer Opportunities
Interested in a four-year university or bachelor’s degree program? With NWTC's Associate’s Degree or two-year pathway programs (where students attend a community or technical college for one or two years then transfer to a partner university for their final two or three years), you can still earn a Bachelor’s degree in four years, but with many benefits.
Benefits of a Technical College Pathway
- Saving money on tuition – NWTC is only a fraction of the cost of universities, including partnering institutions in the University of Wisconsin system. International students attending University of Wisconsin schools can expect to pay over $15,000 per year, while students interested in private universities will expect to pay over $20,000 per year. This means that spending two years at NWTC will help students save enough money to pay for their entire third year!
- Smaller class sizes and better student support services– Students attending first-year courses at universities are often shocked to encounter classrooms with 100, 300, or more students per class! In these situations, students do not get the support and attention from their professors that they need to be successful. By comparison, NWTC classes average fewer than 30 students per course. In addition, NWTC has developed academic support programs which help all struggling students find the help they need to succeed.
- Building your academic resume – Not all students come from countries where the education system is similar to the United States. For those international students who have their sight set on entering U.S. universities, but lack the academic requirements, attending NWTC gives those students the opportunity to develop an academic resume that will get them into their desired university.
- Understanding American university culture– International students face considerable challenges because they not only have to adjust to new college and university academic expectations, but they are required to adjust to a new culture as well. The culture shock students feel during their first few months at college or university is real and substantial. By attending a community or technical college, international students will be able to face the adjustment period from culture shock with more personal attention and support.
- Developing work skills early– Many bachelor’s degree programs are focused on academic theory. Graduates finish university studies without ever developing any hands-on skills that employers will demand. Technical colleges are designed to give Associate degree earning students develop the work skills they need to go directly into the workplace. NWTC associate degree programs boast 100% full-time employment in their field for graduates in over 20 programs. Savvy students seeking Bachelor’s degrees by first attending NWTC, will develop work skills in technical programs, and then finish their Bachelor’s degree in the same four-year timeframe as students who go directly to universities.
- Participating in additional internship opportunities – Many NWTC programs offer internship opportunities for program participants and graduates. International students are permitted to participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) at each level of study with the F-1 student visa. Students may wish to get up-to a year of additional work experience before transferring to a four-year university after earning their associate degree at NWTC. Acquiring job skills and building a professional resume are important benefits of internship, OPT, and CPT opportunities.