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International Students FAQ

  1. Do I need an F-1 (student) visa/status to study at FIT?
  2. Can a nonimmigrant take courses in FIT's School of Continuing Education as a non-degree student?
  3. I want to improve my English skills. Does FIT offer a full-time intensive English language program?
  4. Can a nonimmigrant already in the U.S. enroll in a program of study that will lead to an FIT degree?
  5. How do I get an F-1 student visa?
  6. How do I get an I-20?
  7. What is the International Student Financial Statement (ISFS)?
  8. I am already in the U.S. with an I-20 from another school; do I need to get an I-20 from FIT?
  9. What if I am no longer attending that school or have not maintained F-1 status but am still in the U.S.?
  10. I wish to participate in an Exchange program at FIT. Is that possible, and what type of visa do I need?
  11. If I am already in the U.S. in B-1/B-2 (Tourist/Visitor) status, may I enroll in credit-bearing courses at FIT?
  12. I entered the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa; what should I do once I have been admitted?
  13. May I attend FIT if I am not in legal status in the U.S.?
  14. What benefits are available to F-1 students?
  15. How does FIT International Student Services (ISS) assist students?
  16. What information and resources are available to international students and scholars who have been victims of sexual and interpersonal violence?

Helpful Websites

1. Do I need an F-1 (student) visa/status to study at FIT?
Individuals who are not U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents ("green card" holders) and wish to enter the U.S. to pursue studies at FIT must apply for and obtain an F-1 student visa. Individuals already in the U.S. in other nonimmigrant statuses that allow study 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 #14 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 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) 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 does not issue an I-20 or assist students in obtaining an F-1 visa to enroll in these courses. However, an individual already in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status that allows study 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 #11 & 12 for a more detailed discussion.

FIT strongly discourages individuals from entering the U.S. 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. I want to improve my English skills. Does FIT offer a full-time intensive English language program?
Yes. FIT offers a full-time, semester-long intensive English program. An I-20 may be issued for this program, so that students pursuing the program may apply for an F-1 visa. More details about the Intensive English Language (IEL) program and other opportunities to study English at FIT may be found at fitnyc.edu/ccps/english-language-study/. Please note that participation in this program does not lead to admission to an FIT degree program.

4. Can a nonimmigrant enroll in a program of study that will lead to an FIT degree?

Generally, the ISS office 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 program, 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 FIT International Student Services (ISS).

If, on the other hand, you wish to obtain F-1 status, the fastest and easiest way to do so is by entering the U.S. with an F-1 visa (see questions #6 & 7). The second option is to apply for a change of status in the US. This procedure can be lengthy and sometimes results in denial. Even if approved, the next time you travel outside the U.S., an application for an F-1 visa must be presented at a U.S. Consulate.

Individuals in B-1/B-2 status may not take credit-bearing courses at FIT.

See questions 11 and 12 for a more detailed discussion. Individuals in F-2 status may not pursue a full-time 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 an International Student Advisor after you have been admitted to FIT.

For information about your status, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) 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!

5. How do I get an F-1 student visa?

An F-1 (student) visa is granted by the U.S. Department of State at U.S. 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 U.S. Consulate along with visa application forms and supporting documentation, your letter of admission from FIT, and other pertinent documents. The U.S. Consulate will decide whether or not to grant you an F-1 visa. For more information about the visa application process, see the U.S. Department of State website. Because all U.S. Consulates are outside the U.S., 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 International Student Services web page.

6. How do I get an I-20?

In accordance with federal regulations, you must be admitted to a full-time 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 International Student Services. When all required documentation is received, the I-20 will be issued within 5 working days of receipt of the tuition deposit.

If you do not wish to obtain an I-20, you must inform International Student Services 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 to receive an I-20 form.

7. What is the International Student Financial Statement (ISFS)?

Once you have been admitted to FIT, the immigration service requires FIT to obtain documentary evidence of your financial ability to study in the U.S. 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 Student Financial Statement (ISFS). This amount must be available to you in liquid funds outside or inside the U.S. and may come from a variety of sources. Click here to learn more about the ISFS.

F-1 regulations severely restrict employment and internships in the U.S. FIT only offers financial aid to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents ("green card" holders).

8. I am already in the U.S. 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 prior to beginning study at FIT. In this case, you do need an FIT I-20 (refer to question #6). The transfer procedure mandated by the U.S. Department of Homeland of Homeland Security (DHS) must be completed before beginning degree studies at FIT.

9. What if I am no longer attending that school or have not maintained F-1 status, but am still in the U.S.?

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 may be best to leave the U.S. and re-enter with an I-20 issued by FIT. Once admitted to FIT, you may report to FIT International Student Services (ISS) to discuss your options.

10. I wish to participate in an Exchange program at FIT. Is that possible, and what type of visa do I need?

Exchange programs are only available to students from foreign institutions that have a formal exchange articulation agreement with FIT; for more information on FIT Exchange programs, please click here. Once accepted to participate in an Exchange program with FIT, instructions on how to apply for a DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (J Nonimmigrant)) will be provided. The DS-2019 will allow you to apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate. In accordance with federal regulations, FIT only issues DS-2019 forms to individuals participating in FIT Exchange programs.

11. If I am already in the U.S. in B-1/B-2 (Tourist/Visitor) status, may I enroll in credit-bearing courses at FIT?

No. Federal regulations prohibit nonimmigrants admitted in B-1/B-2 status from pursuing a program of study. But the immigration service 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 U.S. 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.

12. I entered the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa; what should I do once I have been admitted?

Those who enter the U.S. as B-1/B-2 visitors are prohibited from enrolling in a course of study until the immigration service 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 U.S. in F-1 status.

13. 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. FIT International Student Services cannot assist you in matters regarding your stay in the U.S. as FIT only maintains the immigration records of students in F and J status. 

14. What benefits are available to F-1 students?

Federal regulations allow students in F-1 status to engage in on campus employment up to 20 hours per week while attending 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 immigration service 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 U.S. For a comprehensive description of the terms, conditions, and benefits for F-1 status, please visit our web page: fitnyc.edu/iss.

15. How does the FIT Office of International Student Services (ISS) assist students?

FIT International Student Services 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.

ISS attempts to provide accurate and current information impacting nonimmigrant study. Keep in mind that federal regulations and procedures change periodically, and understanding the terms and conditions of status is your responsibility. For the latest information on all immigration matters and particularly those pertaining to study, consult the USCIS and DHS Study in the States websites.

16. What information and resources are available to international students and scholars who have been victims of sexual and interpersonal violence?

Please see FIT's Immigration & Visa FAQ for Victims of Sexual & Interpersonal Violence for more information.

Helpful Websites

FIT OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENT SERVICES (ISS) 
fitnyc.edu/iss 
U.S. CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION SERVICES (CIS) 
uscis.gov
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (D0S)
travel.state.gov
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS)
studyinthestates.dhs.gov   

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