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International Student Services

Department of Homeland Security Update

On July 14, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded the ICE guidance and FAQs that were issued on July 6 and 7. By doing this, DHS reverts back to the guidance issued in March at the start of the coronavirus emergency and the closing of campus.

As an international student, you have access to a number of benefits and services at the International Center. We are here to ensure that you maintain your legal status while a student at UHart and will provide you with the necessary support for your success.

The Center acts as the liaison between the University and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service, the U.S. Department of State, embassies and consulates abroad, foreign governments, and international organizations.

We also provide you with current information regarding compliance with DHS requirements, including student and exchange visitor status, travel, employment regulations and so much more. Personalized academic and non-academic counseling and referral is available and no appointment is necessary to speak with an advisor.

Important Information

Most students at the University, enter the United States on an F1 student visa or a J1 visa. Learn more about the most common types below:

F1 Student visa

An F1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for those wishing to study in the U.S. You must file an F1 visa application if you plan on entering the US to attend a university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, language training program, or other academic institution. Learn more.

J1 exchange student visa

A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain medical or business training within the U.S. Learn more.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). However, all periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT. Learn more.

To track your application

For questions about applications, regulations, or eligibility, please contact our office at 860.768.4870.

International students should be aware of and comply fully with the following USCIS regulations and University of Hartford policies and procedures:

Immigration Documents

You must maintain a valid passport at all times.
You must maintain a valid, unexpired I-20 or DS-2019 Form at all times. This includes an I-20 or DS-2019 Form with the correct level and major, current funding, and correct personal information.

Full-Time Enrollment

You must be enrolled for your courses by the beginning of each semester. The International Center is required to report under-enrollment to the USCIS within 21 days of the end of the registration period. Any student who is not enrolled will be reported and will be considered out of status.
You must enroll in and attend classes. If you plan on taking a semester off other than summer, you must obtain prior approval from the International Center.
Full time is defined as 12 credits per semester for undergraduates, 9 credits per semester for Master’s and 6 credits per semester for PhD, Artist Diploma students.
You must attend the college or university listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. Prior approval from the International Center is needed if you plan to take classes at another school. If you dual enroll, you must take the majority of your credits per semester at the University of Hartford.

You must complete a full course of study during normal enrollment periods (fall and spring semesters).

If you are enrolled in a program that requires the completion of a thesis or recital and you have completed ALL course requirements, you must register for thesis or recital "continuation" each semester. You must insure that your I-20 or DSP 2019 remain valid for the extension period. You must have the approval of your department chairperson and the International Center.

Program Extension

If you cannot complete your program of study as expected and need additional time for completion, you must have the approval of your academic advisor and the International Center and complete the Request to Extend Program Form.
You must apply for an extension of your program of study prior to the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019. Extension requests should be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the expiration date of the I-20 or DS-2019.

OnLine Courses

Typically, you are only allowed to count one online course per semester toward your full-time status. 

Reduced Course Load

If you will not be enrolled full-time, you must receive prior approval from the International Center. You and your academic advisor must complete the Reduced Course Load Form and submit it to the International Center prior to dropping below a full course load.

Reduced course load options are restricted as follows: You can only have reduced course load for academic difficulty for one semester per degree.
You can have a reduced course load for medical reasons for two semesters per degree (12 months). Medical reasons must be substantiated by a United States medical doctor or a U.S. board certified psychologist.

You can have a reduced course load in your last semester before graduating if you need less than a full course load to graduate.

Change of Address or Name

You must report any change of address or residence to the International Center within 10 days of the change. This information will then be sent electronically to DHS.
If you change your name, you must report it to the Office of the Registrar and the International Center in person and provide legal documentation that reflects the name change. If the name(s) of your dependents change, please report this to the International Center along with documentation of the name change.

Change of Major, Degree or Financial Sponsor

You must obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 if you change your academic program from one degree level to another (e.g., from bachelor’s to master’s level), or one major/field of study to another (e.g. from chemical engineering to physics). You must also obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 if your source of funding changes (e.g. from scholarship to parents).

Travel Outside the US

Prior to traveling outside the U.S. make sure that your I-20 or DS-2019 has been endorsed within the last five months by the International Center.
F-2 Dependents

If you wish to bring dependents in F-2 or J-2 status, you may request an I-20 or DS-2019 from the International Center. You must compete the Dependent Request Form, and include a copy of your marriage certificate and/or your child's birth certificate.

Employment

You are NOT allowed to work off campus without authorization. F-1 students are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and more hours when classes are not in session. J-1 students are only allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week with their J-1 program sponsor’s authorization. Students may be allowed to work off campus with appropriate authorization. 

Transfer

If you intend to transfer to another educational institution, you must notify the International Center in advance of this transfer by completing the Transfer Out Form and meeting with an International Center advisor.

Withdrawal from School

If you need to withdraw from classes, or are asked to leave the university, you must report this to the International Center. If you report to the International Center prior to your withdrawal, you will have 15 days to leave the United States. If you do not report to the International Center, your status ends immediately.
Grace Period

The normal grace period to remain in the U.S. following degree/program completion is 60 days for F-1 students and 30 days for J-1 students.

The University of Hartford requires all undergraduate and graduate full- and part-time international students on an F-1 or J-1 student/exchange visitor visa to be enrolled in an accident and sickness insurance program.

The University has partnered with Arthur J. Gallagher Co. and the AETNA insurance company to provide insurance coverage to our students. You can view the 20/21 benefits brochure and coverage breakdown.

All international students and scholars will be automatically enrolled in the University's health insurance plan at the time of course registration. The charge for coverage will appear on your University billing. Students may "waive out" (see Waiver Policy below) of the University policy if they are covered by another policy that meets or exceeds University and federal requirements for medical insurance coverage.

We strongly advise that you do not purchase health insurance in your home country, whether through your government, sponsoring agency, employer or private insurance company without consulting with the International Center prior to any purchase. In many instances it may not meet the University's health insurance standards, which are compliant with the U.S. Federal Health Care Reform Law known as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (PPACA).

Waiver Eligibility

The requirement that you purchase the University of Hartford Student Health Insurance Plan may be waived only if you meet certain eligibility criteria and have comparable insurance that is valid in the U.S. Only students who fit into one of the following categories are eligible for an insurance waiver:

  • Student funded by his or her government or the U.S. government.
  • Student receiving health insurance benefits provided by a U.S. employer of his or her parent, spouse or domestic partner.
  • Student enrolled at the University of Hartford but doing studies or research outside the U.S.
  • Student working in the U.S. and receiving health insurance benefits through his or her employer.Student who has private health insurance that meets the University's minimum standards (see minimum requirement below

How to request a waiver? Get a waiver form here.

Any international student who is employed by an academic or administrative department or office of the University of Hartford is required to have a social security number. A U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration. It is used as a personal identification number by all government and most commercial institutions in the United States (for employment, taxes, bank accounts, credit card applications, etc.)

What documents are required when applying for a Social Security Number

  • You must have a letter signed by your intended campus employer which offers you the employment position. The letter must include a description of the proposed employment and the date the employment is expected to begin. This letter must be brought to the International Center.
  • The International Center will verify your full-time student status and complete a "Student Status Verification Letter" and counter- signs your employment letter.
  • Your passport
  • I-20 or DSP 2019 form
  • I-94 Arrival Record (download here)
  • Any other personal identification

A piece of mail that shows your local U.S. mailing address (preferably a billing charge from a utility company or credit card company or a bank statement)
Where to apply for a Social Security number
960 Main St.
2nd floor
Hartford, CT 06103
Telephone 1-800.234.5772 or 493-1857

We recommend that you do not apply for a SSN until you have been physically present in the U.S. for a minimum of ten days. The Social Security Administration must receive data from the USCIS verifying your legal status in the U.S.

Learn more here about employment and Social Security Numbers.

Are you looking to get a U.S. number? There are two main types of mobile phone services: monthly plans with a contract and prepaid plans.

Two-Year Contracts:
  • These are the most common contracts in the United States. Contract plans offer lower monthly rates and very low prices on new phones compared to prepaid plans. Typically, the best prices are offered to customers who sign two-year contracts for phone service. While the rates are lower, terminating a contract early requires the customer to pay a large penalty.
  • To qualify for a contract plan, a cell phone provider will generally review the applicant’s credit history. Since new international students do not have Social Security numbers or credit history in the United States, they typically require a security deposit which could be $400 to $800. As with any contract, please ensure that you understand all requirements and charges before signing it.
Non-Contract
  • “Pay-As-You-Go” or Prepaid Plans: Prepaid plans are easier for new international students to obtain because they do not require a Social Security number and/or a credit history check. These “pay-as-you-go” plans use the same phone networks and offer the same services as contract plans, but usually at higher rates. Advantages of these plans include no long-term contracts, security deposits, or penalties for cancellation.
Major cell phone carriers and vendors in the US

Having a U.S. bank account is a great way to manage your finances while studying at the University of Hartford. Opening a bank account is not complicated. Many banks offer free checking to students. These accounts typically come with an ATM card or debit card, the ability to write checks, and the ability to access your account online to review the balance and transaction history.

What do I need?

Documents you should take with you to open your account include:

  • Your unexpired passport
  • University of Hartford ID
  • Your I-94 Arrival Record
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 Form
  • Any secondary form of identification you may have
  • Form W-8 BEN if you are not eligible for a social security number or ITIN.

Types of accounts and cards

Checking Accounts

Banks offer different types of checking accounts designed to fit individual needs. The cost of checking varies from bank to bank. Some banks charge per transaction, some have a basic monthly fee, and others offer free services if you maintain a certain minimum balance in your account at all times. You should be able to access information regarding your personal account, including all transactions and deposits, through the bank's website.

Debit Cards

A debit card, also known as a check card, allows you to withdraw or deposit money to your bank account using an automatic teller machine (ATM) and to make purchases at stores that accept the card. Debit cards are not credit cards.

Savings Accounts

A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your savings. Interest is paid either monthly or quarterly. The difference between a savings and a checking account is that you cannot write checks on a savings account.

Bank Cards

Many banks issue cards that enable you to deposit and withdraw money 24 hours a day by use of an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). These machines, frequently located outside the bank, are very convenient. By using a bank card, you can avoid waiting in line at the bank and can have access to money after the bank closes. Banks that are members of a national ATM network allow you to access your funds with your bank card at selected ATM’s throughout the country. There are many ATMs located on campus.

Credit Cards

Credit cards may be convenient, especially if you unexpectedly have major expenses. You can pay University and medical fees, airplane tickets and car repairs with any major credit card. You must understand that you can easily accumulate large bills with credit cards, and before you know it, you may be in debt. Before you accept a credit card, you must be sure to understand all your obligations. Most banks charge an annual fee. If you are unable to pay your full balance each month, you will be charged high interest rates (usually 18 percent or higher) on the remaining balance and any additional charges you make. Make sure you stay within your budget when making credit card purchases.

Local banks in our area include:

All international student are subject to special rules with respect to the taxation of their income. Learn more about it here.

Being an international student at the University of Hartford can be an exciting time in your life and you may wish to share this experience with family or friends from back home.

If you wish to invite family members or friends (other than your spouse or child for a permanent stay with you) to visit with you in the United States for a short time, they should apply for a B-2 Visitor Visa through a U.S. embassy or consulate back home.

You should provide them with the following:

  • A personal invitation letter, which should include your name, school, relationship to the applicant, name of applicant, applicant’s place and date of birth, dates expected to visit the United States, duration of visit, preferred arrival date, and whether you will provide financial support for the applicant’s visit.
  • An letter  from the International Center
  • Copies of your I-20 or DS-2019, visa stamp, and I-94 Arrival Document.
  • Copies of your proof of financial support, such as bank statements, University of Hartford assistantship letters, and/or personal bank statements if you stated that you would provide financial support for the applicant during his or her stay in the U.S.

Typically your guest will be allowed entry to the U.S. for a period not to exceed six months.

As an international student, you are in possession of three important documents, all of which help to determine your legal status in the U.S..

Passport

You must keep your passport valid at all times while you are in the U.S.. (unless you are exempt from passport requirements). If your passport will expire while you are still in the U.S.., you must contact the embassy of your home country to make arrangements to have it extended. You will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S.. with an expired passport. If you lose your passport, you should immediately take steps to have it replaced. You must contact the International Center if your passport has been lost, stolen, damaged, or expired. Find a list of foreign Embassies and Consulates in the U.S.

Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record

The I-94 Arrival/Departure record is created at the time of your entry to the U.S.. This electronically created document indicates your visa category and contains an 11-digit identifying number called the "admission number," which is used to keep track of your arrival to and departure from the U.S.. This form determines how long you can stay in the U.S.. You will need this form if you wish to apply for a Social Security Number, a Connecticut driver’s license or Connecticut state ID card or open a bank account. You should download your form soon after your arrival to the U.S.. You should also bring a copy to the International Center if you have not done so already.

Follow these steps to print your I-94 Form:

  • Go to Arrival/Departure Forms: I-94 and I-94W
  • Fill out your information in the fields provided
  • Check the correct name spelling, all personal information, the visa category and expiration date of the authorized stay
  • If errors are found, you will have to contact the Immigration Service in Hartford Ct.  They will make an appointment for you with the Customs and Border Patrol office at Bradley International Airport.
  • If there are no errors, you must print out your I-94 Form and keep it with your passport and I-20/DSP 2019 Form
Form I-20/DSP 2019

This form is issued by the International Center and used to obtain an F-1or J-1 student visa from a U.S.. Embassy or Consulate abroad. You should read and clearly understand all the information printed on your I-20/DSP 2019. You are required to keep the information on your I-20/DSP 2019 accurate. If you lose your I-20/DSP 2019, you should immediately request a new one from the International Center.

You must carry your I-20/DSP 2019 with you if you travel outside the U.S.. for any reason during your course of study. In addition, you must contact the International Center to have your I-20/DSP 2019 signed prior to your travel or you may be denied reentry to the U.S.. Travel signatures from the International Center are valid for five months.

You should update your I-20/DSP 2019 Form if:

  • You change your academic program from one degree level to another (e.g., from bachelor’s to master’s level), or one major or field of study to another (e.g., from chemical engineering to physics).
  • Your source of funding changes (e.g. from parents to scholarship).
  • You add dependents
  • You need to extend your program of study beyond the original program completion date on your I-20/DSP 2019 Form

Expiration Date on Form I-20/DSP 2019: The expiration date on your form is the date that your program in the U.S.. is expected to end. If you are on an F-1 visa, you will have 60 days from that date before you are required to leave the U.S.. If you are on a J-1 visa you will have 30 days. This period of time is considered a "grace period" and you may use this time to prepare for your departure, or to travel in the U.S..

During the grace period you are not permitted to engage in employment of any kind. You will not be permitted to reenter the U.S.. if you travel outside its borders after the date listed on your I-20/DSP 2019, even if it falls within this 30- or 60-day period.

VISA

The F-1or J-1 visa stamp in your passport permits you to enter the U.S.. for a specific purpose and within a specific period of time. The visa may either be for single, double, or multiple entries. If it is authorized for single entry only, you will need to apply for a new visa in order to reenter the U.S.. at a future date. If the visa is authorized for two entries, you may leave and reenter the U.S.. one more time. If the visa is authorized for multiple entries, you may come and go as many times as you wish, provided that your Form I-20/DSP 2019 remains valid and travel occurs within the dates specified on the visa.

What do I do if my visa expires?

Please note the date of your visa’s expiration. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S.. but your I-20/DSP 2019 and I-94 are valid, your legal immigration status in the U.S.. remains valid. Your visa is used for entry or reentry to the U.S.. only and does not dictate the length of your authorized stay. That is determined by your I-20/DSP 2019. If your visa has expired and you depart the U.S.., you will be required to obtain a new visa while outside the U.S.. before attempting to reenter the U.S..

Exception: If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands for a period of less than 30 days, you will be permitted to reenter on an expired visa, provided that it corresponds with your current status and that your I-20/DSP 2019 and I-94 are valid. If, however, you applied for and were not granted a new U.S.. visa, you will not be permitted to reenter the U.S.. using the expired visa. If you change your immigration status within the U.S.. and then leave, you will be required to obtain a new visa in the new category before reentry to the U.S..