FAQs

If you are traveling out of the US, follow Santa!

How do I maintain F-1 status?

1. Keep your I-20 and your passport valid at all times. Do not let them expire.
2. Pursue a full course of study (12 credits or more for undergraduates, nine credits for graduate students, and 18 hours a week for ESL students)
3. Follow all of the proper procedures when:

  • changing educational level (from ESL to bachelor's or master's program)
  • transferring to another school
  • working on- or off-campus
  • traveling in and out of the United States 
  • extending your program before expiration
  • taking a leave of absence from the school
  • taking less than a full-time course load

4. Before you work on- or off-campus, obtain proper authorization from your DSO and USCIS
5. Do not work more than 20 hours per week during the academic year; during official school vacation periods, you can work full-time on campus
6. Obey American laws and do not commit any crimes
7. When you move, be sure to change your address; change of address forms are available at the Center for International Education

For more information on immigration procedures, consult your international student advisor.

How can I maintain my health and get health insurance?

International students can take care of their mental and physical health by visiting the Salem State Counseling and Health Services.

Students enrolled in nine credits or more must have health insurance. Health insurance is available through the university. 

All students are required to complete a health and immunization form.

When can I begin practical training?

A total of 12 months full-time optional practical training (OPT) is allowed.

  1. Before you complete your studies, you must have attended an educational institution for at least one academic year to be eligible for practical training. You must obtain the employment authorization document (EAD) from the USCIS. The time you use in this training category will be deducted from your post-completion practical training.
  2. You may apply for post-completion practical training 90 days before the completion of your degree requirements. Note: completion of studies is not always the graduation date. Example: If May 30 is your completion date, you may begin applying for post-completion practical training on February 28. Applications for post-completion OPT must be received by USCIS no later than 60 days after the completion date of your degree requirements. The latest you can begin your post-completion practical training is 60 days after your degree completion.

Can I work while studying?

    On-campus employment:

  • F-1 students are allowed to work on campus if they meet the requirements. A maximum of 20 hours per week during school sessions and full-time during vacation periods is allowed.
  • Employment with companies or commercial firms that provide direct services to Salem State students, such as restaurants or the university bookstore, is considered on-campus employment. Contact your FSA or DSO for the necessary papers.

    Off-campus employment:

  • The F-1 regulations permit F-1 students to apply for part-time off-campus employment after they have attended an educational institution for one academic year, if they can demonstrate economic necessity. The student must be in good academic standing before the DSO can support their application.

Curricular practical training:

  • A student may use curriculum practical training for an internship if it is an integral part of an established curriculum. If you participate in curricular practical training full time for 12 months, you will not be eligible for optional practical training. For procedures, see your international student advisor.

Can I obtain a social security number (SSN)?

You must obtain a social security number if you are earning money in the United States. Social security numbers are used to record your earnings for tax purposes. The social security office will only give you a social security number if you have a job offer. If you don’t have a job offer, the social security office will give you a letter of denial. The denial can be used to apply for a Massachusetts driver's license.

What do I need to apply for a social security number?

  1. Passport
  2. U.S. Immigration form I-94
  3. I-20 form
  4. Another form of identification with photo
  5. On-campus work authorization from the CIE office
  6. Social security application form 

Can I get a Massachusetts driver's license?

All drivers must have valid driver's licenses. To obtain a driver's license in Massachusetts, you must take both written and practical (road test) exams administered by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. In the mean time, it is useful to have an international driver’s license to be used here in conjunction with your valid driver's license from your home country. You must get your international driver's license in your home country and it’s good for one year from the time you arrive in the United States so long as your country is a signatory of the Driving Convention Treaty.

To apply for a driver’s license in Massachusetts you will need:
1. Your passport, I-94 and I-20 forms
2. Social security card or a letter of denial from the social security office
3. Document proving the date of birth, such as your passport
4. Document proving signature (*certification of attendance and cost issued by CIE).
5. Document proving Massachusetts residency (a bank statement, phone or utility bill, school correspondence)

* Please fill in the certification of attendance and cost request form and bring it to the CIE. Allow at least 48 hours for the certification to be processed and issued.

How can I  have my diploma and/or transcript evaluated?

Nelly Wadsworth, the international student advisor, can answer many of your questions regarding transcripts and the possibility of transferring credits. You can email her at cie@salemstate.edu.

To have your documents evaluated by an evaluation company, send originals (or notarized copies) and English translations of your documents to one of the following evaluation companies: 

Center for Educational Documentation cedevaluations.com/

North American Educational Group naeg.org/

World Education Service wes.org/

Are you eligible for in-state tuition?

Please visit: http://www.salemstate.edu/4930.php

  • Got a Question? Tel: 978.542.6351 Tel: 978.542.7104 fax