International Students FAQ
- Do I need an F-1 (student) visa/status to study at FIT?
- Can a nonimmigrant take courses in FIT's School of Continuing Education as a non-degree student?
- Can a nonimmigrant enroll in a program of study that will lead to an FIT degree?
- How do I get an F-1 student visa?
- How do I get an I-20?
- What is the International Student Financial Statement (ISFS)?
- I am already in the US with an I-20 from another school; do I need to get an I-20 from FIT?
- What if I am no longer attending that school or have not maintained F-1 status but am still in the US?
- If I am already in the US in B-1/B-2 (Tourist/Visitor) status, may I enroll in credit-bearing courses at FIT?
- I entered the US on a B-1/B-2 visa; what should I do once I have been admitted?
- May I attend FIT if I am not in legal status in the US?
- What benefits are available to F-1 students?
- How does the FIT Office of International Student Advisors (OISA) assist students?
1. Do I need an F-1 (student) visa/status to study at FIT?
Individuals who are not US citizens or legal permanent residents ("green card" holders) and wish to enter the US to pursue studies at FIT must apply for and obtain an F-1 student visa. Individuals already in the US in other nonimmigrant statuses that allow study that is NOT the primary purpose for being in the US do not have to obtain F-1 status but will also be ineligible for the benefits given to students in F-1 status (see question #12 for more information).
FIT strongly recommends that students maintain legal status while in the US; not doing so may result in severe hardship. For more information about your status, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Services' (CIS) website.
2. Can a nonimmigrant take courses in FIT's School of Continuing Education as a non-degree student?
Because study in the School of Continuing & Professional Studies does not lead to a degree, FIT cannot issue an I-20 or assist in obtaining an F-1 visa to enroll in these courses. However, an individual already in the US in a nonimmigrant status that allows study that is not the primary purpose for being in the US may do so. For specific information about the terms of your status, consult your visa sponsor.
Individuals in B-1/B-2 status may not take credit-bearing courses at FIT.
See questions #9 & 10 for a more detailed discussion.
FIT strongly discourages individuals from entering the US under a B-1/B-2 visa if they intend to take courses at FIT. Should you do so, understand that we will be unable to assist in any way should difficulties arise with the Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS). FIT will not reimburse tuition or fees to individuals who register in B-1/B-2 status and are unable to participate in coursework due to restrictions imposed by CIS. Maintaining legal status is, ultimately, the individual's responsibility.
3. Can a nonimmigrant enroll in a program of study that will lead to an FIT degree?
Generally, the OISA recommends that students who will be pursuing a full-time program of study have F-1 status. Your status should reflect the true nature of your stay in the US. But if you wish to keep another status (such as A-1/A-2, G-1/G-2/G-4, H-1/H-4, J-1/J-2, L-1/L-2), upon admission to an FIT degree, complete the I-20 Waiver section of the International Student Financial Statement (ISFS) and submit it, along with copies of the I-94 and visa in your passport, to the FIT Office of International Student Advisors (OISA).
If, on the other hand, you wish to obtain F-1 status, the fastest and easiest way to do so is by entering the US with an F-1 visa (see questions #5 & 6). The second option is to apply for a change of status in the US. This procedure can be cumbersome, lengthy, and sometimes results in denial. Even if approved, the next time you travel outside the US, an application for an F-1 visa must be presented at a US Consulate.
Individuals in B-1/B-2 status may not take credit-bearing courses at FIT.
See questions #9 &10 for a more detailed discussion. Individuals in F-2 status may not pursue a program of study and will have to apply for a change to F-1 status upon gaining admission to FIT. If you wish to discuss your situation, you may set up an appointment with the International Student Advisor after you have been admitted to FIT.
For information about your status, visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services' (CIS) website. It is important that you understand the terms and conditions of your nonimmigrant status; consult your visa sponsor to learn more about the rules affecting your status in the US. Your status is your responsibility!
4. How do I get an F-1 student visa?
An F-1 (student) visa is granted by the US Department of State at US Consulates around the world. To apply for an F-1 visa, you must present an I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Status) to the US Consulate along with visa application forms and their supporting documentation, your letter of admission from FIT, and other pertinent documents. The US Consulate will decide whether or not to grant you an F-1 visa. For more information about the visa application process, see the US Department of State website. Because all US Consulates are outside the US, it is impossible to apply for an F-1 visa within the US. For detailed information about F-1 visa requirements, a list of Consulates, and to download visa application forms, see Obtaining an F-1 Visa on the Office of International Student Advisors' web page.
5. How do I get an I-20?
In accordance with federal regulations, you must be admitted to a degree program before FIT will issue an I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status). Once admitted, submit your International Student Financial Statement (ISFS) to the Office of International Student Advisors. When all required documentation is received, the I-20 will be issued within 10 working days of receipt of the tuition deposit.
If you do not wish to obtain an I-20, you must inform the Office of International Student Advisors by filling out and submitting the I-20 Waiver on the back of the International Student Financial Statement (ISFS) after you have been admitted.
Non-degree students are ineligible for an I-20 form.
6. What is the International Student Financial Statement (ISFS)?
The immigration service requires FIT to obtain documentary evidence of your financial ability to study in the US. The ISFS is the only form accepted by FIT for this purpose. You must provide a detailed account of how you plan to pay for your studies. An estimate of expenses based on one- year's attendance is available on the International Undergraduate Application Instruction Sheet and on FIT's website. This amount must be available to you in liquid funds outside or inside the US and may come from a variety of sources. Click here to view the ISFS.
F-1 regulations severely restrict employment and internships in the US. FIT only offers financial aid to US citizens and legal permanent residents ("green card" holders).
7. I am already in the US with an I-20 from another school; do I need to get an I-20 from FIT?
If the International Student Advisor at your current school authorizes it, you may take some courses at FIT. Keep in mind, though, that you will have to maintain status at the school that issued your I-20. But if you wish to attend FIT as a full-time degree-seeking student, you must transfer your F-1 status to FIT. In this case, you do need an FIT I-20 (refer to question #5). The CIS-mandated transfer procedure must be completed before beginning degree studies at FIT.
8. What if I am no longer attending that school or have not maintained F-1 status but am still in the US?
You may not be able to transfer your immigration record to FIT because you may be out of F-1 status. In this case, it is best to leave the US and re-enter with an I-20 issued by FIT. Once admitted to FIT you may report to the FIT Office of International Student Advisors (OISA) to discuss your options.
9. If I am already in the US in B-1/B-2 (Tourist/Visitor) status, may I enroll in credit-bearing courses at FIT?
No. The Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) regulations prohibit nonimmigrants admitted in B-1/B-2 status from pursuing a program of study. But the CIS has further determined that an individual in B-1/B-2 status may enroll in non-credit-bearing classes that are short in duration and not the primary reason for the individual's visit to the US. At FIT, the only classes students in B-1/B-2 status may register for are offered by the Center for Professional Studies, i.e. "Hot Topics" and "Seminars," provided the classes begin and end within the period of stay authorized by the immigration service.
10. I entered the US on a B-1/B-2 visa; what should I do once I have been admitted?
Those who enter the US as B-1/B-2 visitors are prohibited from enrolling in a course of study until the CIS approves a change of status to F-1. Because of the lengthy processing time for changes of status and the very high probability that the application will be denied, it is recommended that admitted students on B-1/B-2 visas return to their home country, apply for an F-1 visa, and return to the US in F-1 status.
11. May I attend FIT if I am not in legal status in the US?
Yes! The course work you complete will count towards a degree and you will receive a diploma upon completion of the prescribed curriculum. But you will not be eligible for internships or employment options normally available to students in F-1 status. The FIT OISA cannot assist you in matters regarding your stay in the US. FIT does not report students in statuses other than F-1 to the immigration service.
12. What benefits are available to F-1 students?
The CIS allows students in F-1 status to engage in on campus employment up to 20 hours per week while in school full-time. Internships and off campus employment of any kind are prohibited during the first year in F-1 status. After one year in F-1 status, students may apply to the CIS for permission to engage in paid or unpaid, non-credit or credit-bearing internships, or, under very special conditions, off campus employment. If employment authorization is granted, keep in mind it will be quite limited. Individuals in valid F-1 status are allowed easy travel while in the US. For a comprehensive description of the terms, conditions, and benefits for F-1 status, visit our web page: fitnyc.edu/oisa.
13. How does the FIT Office of International Student Advisors (OISA) assist students?
The Office of International Student Advisors assists all admitted nonimmigrant students with matters pertaining to their nonimmigrant status while studying at FIT. Other matters, like admission to FIT, residency, and transferability of credits, must be addressed to the FIT Office of Admissions.
The OISA attempts to provide accurate and current information affecting studies by nonimmigrants. Keep in mind that CIS regulations and procedures change periodically, and understanding the terms and conditions of status is the individual's responsibility. For the latest information on all immigration matters consult the CIS website.
FIT OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ADVISORS (OISA)
US CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION SERVICES (CIS):
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE: