International Students & Scholars

Form Library & Frequently Asked Questions

Main Content
Wildcat Central student consultation

All Forms

  • Address and Work Reporting Form
  • On-Campus Employment Form
  • Weekly Hours Calculator
  • Financial Document Policy
  • J-1 Exchange Visitor Form
  • Transfer Instructions and Request
  • Travel Signature Request Form
  • Student Exit Interview Form

Frequently Asked Questions

Immigration Questions for F-1 Students

You are subject to immigration laws imposed by the United States. You must keep your basic documents valid. If you entered the United States as a student, you must maintain that status by enrolling in a minimum number of credit hours (12 hours for undergraduate students and 9 hours for graduate students). Failure to maintain full-time student status will result in a loss of all F-1 benefits and may provide the U.S. government grounds to begin removal proceedings.

Yes! According to the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS), all F-1 students are automatically eligible to work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the school year and 25 hours during summer vacation and school holidays. 

You are eligible to work on campus if you meet the following:

  1. You are enrolled full time. Students must be currently enrolled as a full-time student and maintain F-1 or J-1 immigration status. Students may be employed over the summer months without being enrolled as long as they are continuing students for the Fall semester and have not graduated. New students may begin work on campus up to 30 days prior to the start of the semester.
  2. You have checked in at OISVS with your documents. Students must have checked in with OISVS upon arrival and shown all required immigration documents. The I-94 must accurately specify your F-1 or J-1 immigration status, and you must be in good immigration status.
  3. If J-1, you have received written on-campus work permission from the RO. J-1 students must be in good academic standing and obtain necessary written permission from the RO/ARO prior to employment. Each authorization continues for 12 months so long the student remains in good academic standing.

Federal laws require on-campus jobs to be:

  • On ACU’s Abilene campus grounds
  • Paid by the university or a contractually affiliated business (Chartwells and Barnes & Noble)
  • For the benefit of students (not construction or similar jobs)
  • Joint research at off-campus locations may qualify under limited circumstances

To find a job:

  • Check ACU student job postings online, and submit your application.
  • Check Chartwells’ website, or visit their office at the Bean.
  • Ask at the ACU Bookstore or any other office you’re interested to work at if they have openings.
  • Ask your friends, advisor and professors to let you know if they hear of any openings. 

If you’re hired by ACU:

  1. Bring your passport, I-20 and ACU ID to ACU’s Human Resources office to complete the I-9.
  2. Complete the On-Campus Employment Form. This form is your request to OISVS for the letters needed by the Social Security Administration office for your social security number (SSN) application. 
  3. Upon notification, pick up the social security letters from OISVS to take to the Social Security Administration office when applying for your SSN. Allow at least 10 days after your entry into the U.S. to apply for your SSN card. Your hiring supervisor will need to sign one of the letters.
  4. Report your social security number to the Human Resources office when you receive it.

If you’re hired by Chartwells or the ACU Bookstore:

  1. Bring your passport and I-20 to their employment office, and request an official offer letter or email from them to use for the social security application.
  2. Email OISVS to initiate the on-campus employment verification form, which will also serve as your request for the OISVS SSN letter.
  3. Upon notification, pick up the social security letters from OISVS to take to the Social Security Administration office when applying for your SSN. Allow at least 10 days after your entry into the U.S. to apply for your SSN card. Your hiring supervisor will need to sign one of the letters.
  4. Report your social security number to your employer.

Social Security Administration:
1202 ES 11th Street, Abilene, TX
Mon., Tues., Thur., Fri.: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Wed: 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

If you need a ride to the Social Security office, submit the transportation request form at least 48 hours in advance.

No, not without special authorization from USCIS. There are four types of off-campus employment authorization, and each one requires an F-1 student to have been in the U.S. with F-1 status for at least nine months and be currently enrolled full time. 

These authorizations are: 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)  

This is temporary employment authorization directly related to an F-1 student’s academic program for which the work counts as course credit in the student’s major field of study.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Form

CPT Employer Verification Form

Off-Campus Work Authorization Due to Severe Economic Hardship 

Available to F-1 students who have been enrolled full time for at least one academic year, and are in good academic standing, a student must demonstrate that employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond their control and that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient. Applications must be filed with USCIS and take at least ninety (90) days or more to process. If your application is approved, permission to work is granted for one year.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) 

A temporary employment authorization related to an F-1 student’s academic program, this is for   students who have maintained F-1 status for at least nine months. OPT may be used during a degree program as well as after completion of course requirements. The application process takes approximately three (3) months to process.

Internships with an International Organization: International students in F-1 status are eligible to apply for work authorization for internships with qualifying international organizations. 

Workshops on OPT and CPT

With special permission, students may be eligible to work off campus when the work is directly related to their course of study. In order to learn the application process for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT), OISVS offers workshops during each semester.

Your document should always have a future end date until you complete your program. If you need to extend it, you should do this at least 30 days before the expiration date.

Travel FAQs for F-1 and J-1 Students, Scholars and Professors

U.S. laws require your passport to have at least six months of validity at all times. Contact your home country’s embassy for specific instructions on how to renew it.

The F-1 visa seal attached in your passport may expire while you are in the U.S. This visa allows you to enter the United States and must be valid only upon your entry. 


U.S. visas are only available outside the U.S. and from your home country. If your visa has expired, you must apply and renew your visa before returning to the U.S. Please keep in mind processing time and possible delays. You will need the following documents with you:

  • Valid passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019, signed for travel
  • Financial documents
  • Proof of full-time enrollment (letter from ACU Registrar)
  • Any other items required by your specific embassy, such as transcript

We recommend you check with the U.S. consulate nearest your home to apply for a visa interview. In some cases, renewal visa interviews are waived, but applicants must be outside the U.S. to receive it.

If you are traveling in the United States, make sure you carry the following documents with you at all times:

  • Valid Passport
  • I-94 page
  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019 

Be aware that you may be required to show your documents at checkpoints near the Mexico border.

When traveling to your home country: 

You will need the following to reenter the U.S.:

  • Valid passport (at least 6 months into the future)
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (except Canadian citizens)
  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature. The travel signature is valid for five months.

Keep your original documents with you at all times but also carry copies on your phone in case of emergency. If you are not in good academic standing, there may be delays or additional requirements before a travel signature can be given.

When traveling to a third country:

If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, check that country’s website for information about visas to enter their country and plan ahead. It often takes several weeks or months to process visa applications.

When traveling while on Optional Practical Training:

Travel recommendations are based on your stage in the OPT process. Check with OISVS for the most current recommendations.

If you visit Mexico, Canada or an adjacent island for less than 30 days, you may be able to reenter the U.S. on an expired F-1 or J-1 visa due to automatic visa revalidation laws. Read the U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS) information carefully. You’ll need your: 

Please be aware that you may still need a visa to enter these countries and that citizens of some countries are not eligible for visa revalidation.

If you travel to a noncontiguous country before reentering the U.S., you will not qualify for the automatic visa revalidation provisions. For example, if you take a cruise that visits the Bahamas and Costa Rica (not directly next to the U.S.), you will need a valid F-1 visa to reenter the U.S.

For more information on F-1 Travel, visit the U.S. ICE site. These guidelines generally apply to J-1 exchange visitors as well, but consult OISVS for specific questions.

Check with your airline for specific country requirements. Also consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for how to travel safely and the U.S. Department of State for the most current travel restrictions. Be aware that policies can change quickly.

Nonimmigrant Taxes

U.S. tax laws are very complex. These resources should help you better understand your tax obligation to successfully submit your tax forms. This information is meant to be a general introduction and should not be considered legal tax advice. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. government agency that collects taxes, and their website provides official regulations under “IRS Student and Scholar Tax Information.”


This information is intended only for international students and scholars who are nonresident alien taxpayers with income sources typical of students and scholars at Abilene Christian University. Although the information contained in this site has been reviewed carefully and should be adequate to assist most international students and scholars, it is not a substitute for advice obtained from the Internal Revenue Service or a qualified tax accountant. If your visa status has changed in the past year, or you believe you have a complicated tax issue, please consult the IRS or a qualified tax accountant.

Yes. As an F-1/J-1 student or J-1 scholar, U.S. laws require you to file IRS tax forms each year, even if you did not earn income. Which forms you file depend on many factors, including but not limited to: your visa status, the purpose of your visit, the number of days present in the United States, the amount of income earned and any tax treaty between your home country and the U.S. It is your responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations.

If you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes, yes. If you were present in the U.S. during the previous calendar year, you must file IRS Form 8843. It is a simple, paper form, available in OISVS’s office, that can only be submitted by mail. Students with no earned income only filing the 8843 have a later deadline.

An estimate of your U.S. tax responsibility is withheld from your paycheck or scholarship at the time of payment and sent to the IRS throughout the year. This withholding may not equal the exact amount owed at the end of the year. If too much was withheld, you may be eligible for a refund. If not enough was withheld, you may owe more to the IRS. A social security number or ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number) is required to file for a refund.

Between January and March of every year, employers issue tax documents with a summary of your income and tax withholding from the previous year. These tax documents are the W-2, a 1099 or 1042-S. You will use these documents to complete your tax forms before April 15.

Yes! Students and scholars considered “nonresident aliens” are able to use Glacier Tax Prep software specifically designed for your status. OISVS announces access information in the spring via email.

Glacier Tax Prep is a tax return preparation software program designed only for nonresident alien students, scholars, trainees, researchers and other educational immigration statuses to prepare your U.S. federal income tax return Form 1040NR.

Non-residents cannot use traditional, online tax preparation software.

The two easiest way to find out your resident status are to:

Sources of taxable income may include:

  • Wages that appear on a W-2
  • Scholarship or fellowship income that requires performed services (i.e. teaching assistant, athletic scholarships)
  • Scholarships, fellowships and grants
  • Investment income
  • Gambling income

An ITIN is an individual taxpayer identification number. It serves in place of a social security number if you do not qualify for one and is generally used by students who receive taxable scholarships and do not work on campus. 

After you complete your Glacier registration in the Finance office, bring the W8BEN to OISVS for assistance with the ITIN application process.

If you were employed or paid by ACU, you will need a social security number. Students not employed who have taxable scholarships should apply for an ITIN. Both of these can be applied for at the local Social Security Administration office. 

Social Security Administration:
1202 ES 11th Street, Abilene, TX
Mon., Tues., Thur., Fri.: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Wed: 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

No problem! You will have one or the other but not both. If you have submitted tax forms previously using an ITIN but now you have a social security number, use the social security number.

ACU offers tax workshops to assist international students and faculty in understanding and filing their tax forms. Be sure to check with OISVS about dates and locations.

Additionally, the IRS provides Frequently Asked Questions for international individuals and has an assistance phone for additional help and clarification, 267-941-1000  (choose 1, then 4, then 1 to get a person).

If you owe taxes, there may be penalties assessed if you do not file your tax return on time. These penalties are assessed each month, so we encourage you to file as soon as possible. Check out this IRS resource for more information.