Immigration Lawyer presentation

Wednesday, October 2, 1- 2:30 PM, Room 311, Mission Street Campus


Immigration  attorney Jennifer Smyth will be visiting campus to present on “Life After OPT” with information on work visas, green card options for graduates of higher education and other related topics.


Jennifer is a Partner and Immigration Attorney at Dubrovsky Law in San Francisco, CA, focused on U.S. employment and family-based immigration, including temporary nonimmigrant visas, permanent residence (green cards), and U.S. citizenship/naturalization. She is a member of the California Bar Association, the Northern District of California and the American Immigration Lawyer's Association (AILA). She is also a member of the San Francisco and Contra Costa county bar associations.


This event will not be recorded. However, a power point presentation copies will be available in print or via email after the presentation. Feel free to email me anytime following the presentation.


No RSVP necessary. F-2 dependents and friends are welcome to attend. 


New International Student Orientation

Fall 2019
Friday, August 16, 2019, 11AM- 1PM (may end sooner), Room 306.

Self-pay lunch will take place after the orientation (I hope you can make it!)

We will discuss you immigration rights and responsibilities, services offered at CIIS, and any questions that you may have.
Participation in the international student orientation is required. We ask you to prioritize this Orientation. If there is a conflict with your program retreat, please let us know.
Please bring the following copies to the orientation:
  • Visa stamp
  • I-94 Admission Number
  • Proof of Health insurance in English (CIIS offers a health insurance plan which we will discuss at the meeting, so you may choose to wait on this)


Please also bring your SEVIS I-20 form and passport.

This orientation is required for all F-1 visa holders. Please prioritize your attendance for this orientation.  More information will be communicated to incoming international students over the winter months.

If requirements for your degree program interferes with the date please contact Jody. A 'make-up' orientation will be held at the start of the semester for the group who could not attend.

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You must log in to check your admission number each time you re-enter the U.S. to confirm that your entry to the U.S. was recorded properly. Please keep all copies of all I-94 print outs.

This number shows proof of your being admitted to the U.S. in a legal status and is used for many purposes such as applying for a SSN, dealings at the DMV, and applications for OPT among other things.
To retrieve this number electronically, visit:  

If you have trouble retrieving your number, please make an appointment with Jody so we can get it for you.  Please note that often it is the name field that causes issues so if you have more than one last name please try a variety of combinations.



OPT Extension and Unlawful Presence: Spring 2019

Email sent March 26, 2019

Dear All,

Happy Spring Break and Spring Equinox! 

I have some government updates that may pertain to some of you now and other of your for future consideration. Please read when you have a moment.

Take care,



Qualifying to extend your post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Certain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT). Unfortunately, CIIS degree codes are not categorized under the STEM degrees and therefore do not qualify. There is one exception to this rule— the HSX doctoral program.



Previously obtained STEM degrees: If you are an F-1 student participating in a 12-month period of post-completion OPT based on a non-STEM degree, you may be eligible to use a previous STEM degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to apply for a STEM OPT extension. You must have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions, and cannot have already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree. The practical training opportunity also must be directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree.

·        For example: If you are currently participating in OPT based on a master’s degree in counseling psychology but you previously received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, you may be able to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor’s degree as long as it is from an accredited U.S. college or university and the OPT employment opportunity is directly related to your bachelor’s degree in mathematics.


You can find this information at:

1)      CIIS OPT Frequently Asked Questions document on MyCIIS--Student Affairs--International Students




Counting unlawful presence in the U.S.—new definitions to the unlawful presence rule that can affect your future visa/green card applications


This new rule was effective August 2018


This was discussed briefly at the immigration lawyer’s presentation, but I want to reiterate it now. This rule is a serious change to the previous rule, and there are a lot of unknowns for how government officials will interpret particulars of the rule.  International education and law organizations are advocating to change the rule back—to be seen. I don’t imagine this will affect CIIS students, but it is good to be in the know and where to look for pitfalls, etc.


  • Key topics university advisors think will be scrutinized
    • As this is a new rule, advisors don’t know exactly how this will pan out. Most discussions find that employment and enrollment are the items that will come to be highly scrutinized during an OPT application, and H1B/green card application, or at airports/border to the U.S. During these times, the government can ask for detailed documents for which if they find a past violation they will deny the application/entry and backdate unlawful presence from the time the infraction occurred.
    • There have been an increases Request for Evidence (RFE) during OPT and H1B visa applications. Documents requested could be tax documents, list of hours worked during CPT and so on. If they don’t find a correlation to your enrollment and participating in CPT, for example, they could ding your there.  Keep good records!


  • What is unlawful presence?

This is the time spent in the U.S. out of status; out of status is when you have violated the terms of the F-1 (M and J visa and all dependents) visa such as working off campus without permission, or not registering full-time or without approved exception. Even if students unknowingly violate terms, if/when triggered, the unlawful presence is counted from the day after such violation occurred.


  • When does the clock start ticking on unlawful presence?
    • Day after the F/J/M student no longer pursues a full course of study and is not authorized for a Reduced Course Load.
    • The day after completing a course of study or program (which includes the OPT and the 60-day grace period)
    • Day after the I-94 expires , if you have a specific date on your I-94.
  • What are the effects of unlawful presence
    • If 180 days or up to 365 days, 3 year bar from entering the U.S.
    • If 360 days or more, 10 year bar from entering the U.S.
    • Triggered upon departing the U.S.; you will not be deported or find ICE knocking on your door
  • How do I maintain my status?
    • Please find the “Maintaining Your Visa Status” document on MyCIIS. You are welcome to attend the New International Student Orientation again (and again) if you like.


  • Reminders: key points to consider
    • Always check that your I-94 has the correct status upon each entry to the U.S.  It should say F-1 and D/S (‘duration of status’) and the date and airport that you last arrived to the U.S. If there are any errors, contact Jody or Yuwen.
    • Keep track of the total of your on-campus jobs and be sure to work no more than 20 hours/week during the fall and spring semester, and 40 hours/week during the summer semester.
    • Always report your CPT. Keep track of your hours per week, and if you don’t have a time card as such, perhaps get weekly emails from your supervisor attesting to your time for the week.
    • Never work off campus without permission.
    • Don’t update your social media with places you may be volunteering as ‘working’; don’t put any work that you may be doing without permission on social media!


  • Concerns? Feel free to check with Jody or Yuwen, but in most cases it will be advised to contact an immigration lawyer.





DHS Fee changes from June 2019

Just an FYI as this may apply to you now or in the future.

DHS will implement an increase to the following fees: 

  • The I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee for F and M international students will increase from $200 to $350. This is for 'initial I-20 holders only'.
  • DHS will maintain the $35 I-901 SEVIS Fee for J exchange visitors in the au pair, camp counselor, and summer work or travel program participant categories, but increase the full I-901 SEVIS Fee for other J exchange visitors from $180 to $220


Student Visa Information

Please refer to information provided in the International Student Handbook and in documents on the MyCIIS International Students section. As well, you can review information on the U.S. Department of State website at





Check all that Apply:

  • New Employment
  • Are you reporting completion of this position
  • Are you amending your current employment information?

Employment Type:

  • Full-Time (more than 20 hours/week)
  • Part-Time (20 hours or less per week)

Are you changing your visa status:

  • Yes - I am changing my visa status
  • No - I am not changing my visa status

Are you transferring to another U.S. SEVIS-approved university?

  • YES - Transferring to another U.S. SEVIS-approved university Please contact the International Student Advisor for assistance to transfer your SEVI SI-20 form.
  • NO - I am NOT transferring to another U.S. SEVIS-approved university


Required for School of Professional Psychology & Health and ACTCM who are registered for practicum/internship/clinic at CIIS counseling centers, ACTCM clinics or elsewhere. You must be registered for the course and have a contract agreement on file to qualify. Exception is for Drama Therapy students in required pre-practicum course where they are not registered for a course, but have a contract on file in the PDT office. CPT must be reported here.

*Students in School of Consciousness and Transformation whose program requires an internship or are registered in for credit that requires CPT should fill out the CPT form on MyCIIS and make an appointment with the International Student Advisor to discuss.*

Please review the full information provided in the document called CPT Application and Information on MyCIIS. It is a LOT of information, but please do read through it.


CPT is defined as “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” It is a considered type of off-campus employment authorization in the F-1 student visa category that is related to a student’s academic program whether paid or unpaid therefore ‘employer’ and ‘employment’ is used even when it is an internship/practicum/clinic and/or is unpaid.

Eligibility Requirements

1. Students must have been in full-time status for at least one full academic year. Exceptions exist for graduate students whose programs require immediate CPT.

2. In order for work to be considered permissible under CPT, it must be a required or an integral part of your degree requirement and temporary.

3. Employment authorization is employer-specific and requires an offer of employment. SSPH and ACTCM students must have a practicum contract for each site on file. Eligible SCT students must provide a letter from your potential employer (more information in application section).

4. You must be enrolled full-time during the semester(s) that you work CPT, and you must be registered for a practicum/internship course in summer semester exception for PDT students who require a pre-practicum, but are not registered. Contract must be on file in PDT Office and CPT must be reported.

5. NOTE: CPT cannot be authorized beyond the program end date of your I-20. If such a case arises, please also submit a Program Extension Form and support documentations.

Please submit documentation at least 2-4 weeks in advance of your proposed employment start date.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Reporting: SPPH & ACTCM Students 
Submit for each eligible CPT contract.
Please note that all categories with * are required.
CIIS User ID :     0  
First Name :
Last Name : 
Email Address (default) :  



Employer / Practicum or Clinic Site Information
Employer Name :
Employer Address :
Employment Dates

These dates are written on your contract.

If the end date goes beyond your I-20 program end date, you need to first process a Program Extension request. The form is available on MyCIIS.

Start Date :
Show Calendar
End Date :
Show Calendar

Employment Details

Use of full-time CPT will affect your eligibility for OPT after graduation. Please review the CPT Application and Information form on MyCIIS. ;


Explain how employment is related to your course of study/degree at CIIS:

Updated I-20 with CPT Information

All I-20s will be updated with CPT information on page 2. If you contract dates change, please re-submit this form with the new dates. Please make comments in the "Additional Notes"  section below. Preferably students can collect their I-20 from Student Affairs in Room 302.


Home Address
Street Address :
City :
State :
Zip Code :
Additional Notes

Additional Notes :


Principal Designated School Official (PDSO, main contact for international students and the U.S. government):
Jody O'Connor (Pronoun: she/her), Associate Director of Student Affairs
1453 Mission St., Room 302, 415-575-6157 ,
Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10A-4P, appointments preferred
Off site: Thursdays, phone appointments okay
Designated School Officials (DSO) listed below are authorized to assist you in Jody's absence.
Fraylanie Aglipay (Preferred Pronouns: She/Her/Hers), Associate Dean of Students
Mission and Arkansas Street campuses,
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International Student Listserv

Let's connect!

All F-1 international students are automatically added as members to this listserv with their CIIS mymail address.
Any other interested person who wishes to join the list can subscribe at .
Members send emails to: 


This listserv is for:
  • communication by the International Student Advisor to F-1 students regarding immigration updates and reminders . Please be sure to read through the emails or digest of announcements so as not to miss important deadlines and instructions. This is the primary way in which information is transmitted to international students.
  • communication between international students and the International Student Advisor for general questions, immigration and Institute information and more.
  • communication between members.


Information about student email accounts: (log in)

Documents for current students

Please refer to CIIS policies and immigration regulations on these forms prior to any action that may affect successful maintenance of your visa status.  Please give yourself at least 2-4 weeks (as much as 12 weeks for OPT) for processing and submit in a timely manner to the International Student Advisor.  Many of these forms require your department signatures and an appointment with the International Student Advisor.

US Immigration laws are complex and always changing. The information provided on this website and in documents is intended only to give you an overview of different immigration procedures. It should not be construed as a substitute for legal advice. Although we make every effort to make certain that all information contained on this web site is current, we make no guarantees as to its accuracy. You are encouraged to consult an international student advisor or an immigrant attorney to see how the law applies in your case.


Forms for newly admitted International Students: click here.

Please refer to the handbook for information on immigration regulations, CIIS policies, cultural adjustment and more:

  • Arriving in SF
  • Maintaining Your Visa
  • Essential Documents
  • Address & Name Update Requirement
  • Enrollment Requirement & Exceptions
  • Audit Units & Online Classes
  • Concurrent Enrollment
  • Extending Your Study
  • Change of Degree Level/Program
  • CPT reporting requirements
  • OPT application and reporting requirements
(.pdf, 1622K)

As an international student, you have an obligation to comply with the immigration laws and regulations of the United States. It is illegal to violate U.S. federal immigration laws and regulations for any reason whatsoever .   Please refer to detailed information in the Maintaining Your Visa Status document and always check in with the International Student Advisor for questions and advance authorization on actions that will affect your visa status.


(.pdf, 149K)

This is a list of organizations for finding funding through grants and scholarships. Please help us keep this information up-to-date and relevant. If you find any good leads for funding, please let the International Student Advisor know.


(.pdf, 558K)

This list includes grants and scholarships for non-residents and U.S. citizens.

(.pdf, 505K)

F-1 students who are maintaining their visa status are eligible to work on-campus.  The MyCIIS Financial Aid tab posts campus jobs. Upon being offered employment students will need to apply for a social security number and complete HR paperwork in order to begin working.


Folks who did not work on campus will need a SSN in order to participate in paid CPT or OPT.


(.pdf, 827K)

There are very few exceptions to the requirement to be enrolled full-time in each semester. Those exceptions include academic difficulty, medical condition, and completion of study, and there are strict criteria for each. In every instance, you must obtain prior authorization from the International Student Advisor. Requests must be made prior to the semester in which a RCL will take place.


(.pdf, 572K)

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permits program extensions for, “compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses.” A program extension may not be granted for reasons resulting from academic probation or suspension. Deadlines and information are listed in the form.


(.pdf, 153K)

STARTING SUMMER 2017:  All SSPH and ACTCM students must fill out the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) online form on MyCIIS and meet eligibility for qualifying CPT.

Students in the SCT programs should review the CPT document and contact the International Student Advisor to verify eligibility.


(.pdf, 182K)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is most commonly used by F-1 students to gain work experience in their field of study after completing a degree program, but there are certain other situations in which OPT may be possible prior to completion of a degree program.  OPT has a cumulative maximum of 12 months per degree sought and requires approval from USCIS. It takes approximately 3 months to receive approval.


You can confirm dates with a date calculator at


(.pdf, 167K)

Information on applying, wait times, taxes, employment, unemployment, travel during pending and approved OPT...

Update: March 2019

Students approved for post-completion OPT will need to create a student profile in SEVIS and update their U.S. address and employer information. Please see details inside the OPT FAQ document.


(.pdf, 790K)
Use for travel while OPT, applying for a social security card if your OPT employment is the first time you are being employed in the U.S.
(.docx, 15K)

You must carry your I-20 with you to enter the U.S. each time you enter! It must be signed on the 2nd page for valid entry after travel.

If you arrive at a U.S. port of entry and do not have all your signed required documents, have not paid the I-901 SEVIS Fee on your current Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” or have a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) status issue, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer may deny your entry into the United States. As an alternative, the officer has discretion to issue you a Form I-515A. This document allows you to have temporary admission into the United States for 30 days. To maintain your nonimmigrantstudent status, you must address your Form I-515A within the time provided to you.


(.pdf, 294K)
Please use these documents when submitting required financial documentation for the visa process or updates/changes to your I-20 form.
For Wire Transfer information, please contact the CIIS Business Office at

Use this form along with official documentation of proof of funding, required for the visa process and extensions of the I-20 program end date.


(.pdf, 170K)

Fee waiver is used to request non-payment for the I-765 application which is used for the OPT or Severe Economic Hardship application. In addition to the form, a one-page explanation and evidence is required.

Print the most up-to-date form from the USCIS website linked up above. Instructions are also available on the link. Include the fee waiver request form with your application for OPT or other USCIS applications.
(.pdf, 106K)
Tax Information

All F1 students living in the U.S. must file at least one tax form each year, whether they worked or not. All F1 students need to file the Form 8843. Students who worked must also file the Form 1040NR-EZ. Tax workshops are held in March each spring semester.


All forms and information begins at



U.S. employers are required to withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from wages earned in the U.S.  Individuals in F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 status are exempt from these withholding as long are they are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes. Employers are frequently unaware that F-1 students are exempt from the Social Security tax law and you can recover taxes wrongly withheld.


(.pdf, 586K)

It is the responsibility of each international student to know their rights and responsibilities for filing taxes in the U.S. CIIS does not advise any student on tax filing, only provides basic information in helping clarify the U.S. tax system.

(.pdf, 86K)

Please use this form to go line by line through your 1040NR-EZ. You will need any of the tax documents that you received:


W2 from all employers-- CIIS for campus jobs, and any other employers you had for CPT and OPT.


1099 from employers whom you worked for and got paid as an independent contractor. These forms are usually issued only if you earned over $600, but all income is required to be reported regardless of if you received this form or not. You can request a 1099 from the CIIS Business Office.


(.pdf, 695K)

This document is filed by all F1 and adult F2 dependents who resided in the U.S. in 2017 even if you did not work on or off campus.


(.pdf, 103K)

This form is used by students who earned money through campus employment or various employers while on CPT/OPT.


(.pdf, 117K)

Welcome to CIIS’ Unique Culture of Transformative Learning!

Aug 5 - Aug 16: International Student Summer Bridge Writing Intensive. This two-week writing intensive is geared specifically for the international student community. International students will have the opportunity to engage academically and connect socially with other new CIIS international students. The program is designed to challenge you intellectually, sharpen your academic writing skills, and give you an early orientation and introduction to the University and program expectations and culture. For all of these reasons, CIIS requires all incoming international students participate in the Summer Bridge Program as part of the International Student Orientation on Friday, August 19th.


Aug 12-16: Domestic Student Bridge Program Writing and Diversity Intensive. A writing, diversity, and social awareness intensive for working students, first generation college students, returning adult learners, and historically underrepresented students. Similar to the writing intensive for international students, this module will prepare incoming students for the types of writing required across academic programs at CIIS. This interactive, two-day workshop is designed to re-familiarize students with the critical reading, writing, and analytical skills that are the foundation for effective academic writing. We'll also engage in community-building activities to strengthen communication skills and classroom engagement.


August 16: New International Student Orientation. Please see details at


August 16: Bridge Welcome Party (in Lobby). A celebratory launch event for all students participating in the Bridge Project, complete with music, dancing, gifts, food, and guest visitors from the CIIS community.


Please review details and the video on the main CIIS website .  
CIIS requires all newly admitted international students to participate in the Summer Bridge Orientation program.  Additionally , any continuing English language learner at CIIS is also welcome to enroll .


What is the Bridge Project?

The Bridge Project is a summer intensive and year-long program of support designed to assist first-year students in building academic confidence and cultivating a sense of belonging as they enter into CIIS’ unique educational culture. Serving a diverse and global community, the Bridge Project will connect students with a supportive cohort of peers, mentors, faculty, and advisors through writing workshops, diversity and social justice modules, field trips to San Francisco venues, and social events. All programs are free to participating students.


What will I (as a student entering CIIS) gain from participating in the Bridge Project?

As a participant in this dynamic Bridge Project initiative, you will:

  • Gain assistance with transitioning into a new city and educational environment
  • Join a supportive cohort of 30 first-year students
  • Hone foundational writing, research, and classroom communication skills
  • Cultivate resilience, belonging, and academic confidence, as you gain tools for thriving during your time at CIIS
  • Participate in community-building workshops, San Francisco field trips, and welcome mixers
  • Connect with mentors, peers, and advisors who will support you throughout your time at CIIS
  • Receive a Certificate of Completion for completing the Bridge Project during a closing ceremony honoring your work

Fall and Spring 2019-2020 Workshops and Social Events. Over the course of the spring and fall semesters, Bridge staff will host a number of events. Possibilities include International Education Week, an evening with guest presenter, Eduardo Duran, and a Social / Movie Night.


Ongoing Year-Long Support: Besides the above learning modules, students will work with advisors and peer mentors throughout the Bridge year, cultivating a sense of resilience, belonging, and confidence in their academic and professional skills. Possible support modalities will be individualized based on students’ needs and professional goals, and may include:


  • Integrated academic support through CWS credit-based writing and research courses
  • Advising meetings with Bridge leadership and staff
  • An online Canvas community page with resources, tutorials, and videos
  • Collaborating with faculty to integrate support modules and workshops in individual classes
  • Support for living and thriving within the context of the San Francisco Bay Area
Please contact International Student Advisor, Jody O'Connor, with questions at

Summer Bridge Project Flyer

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Forms for Incoming Students

Congratulations on your acceptance!

Please review the International Student Acceptance Packet for the steps to obtain the SEVIS I-20/student visa.
All incoming international students are required to attend the Summer Bridge and New International Student Orientation.  Information can be found in the sections to the left.
Contact me with any questions: Jody O'Connor,


This document explains the next steps for  newly admitted students to obtain a student visa. It also includes information on scholarships, employment and services for international students.
You may scan copies to Jody O'Connor at, but please keep the originals for your visa appointment and arrival to the U.S. Jody may require the originals be presented at the New International Student Orientation.
(.pdf, 778K)
Submit the Certificate of Funding form with original financial support documentation showing the minimum amount required to obtain the I-20 as outlined in the International Student Acceptance packet.
(.pdf, 170K)
F-1 visa applicants must pay a one-time fee to supplement the administration costs of the Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS). New students are required to pay this fee.
(.pdf, 656K)
The CIIS Summer Bridge Program is required for all incoming international students. It will be held August 5-16, 2019.  
The New International Student Orientation is held August 17, 2018 and required by all F-1 student visa holders. Information will come to all incoming international students over the summer.
Please review details and the video on the main CIIS website.
** Students who have conflicts with the dates due to their program retreats or intensives should inform the International Student Advisor in June-July**
(.pdf, 299K)
This is a short list of some organizations for finding funding through grants and scholarships. Please help us keep this information up-to-date and relevant. If you find any good leads for funding, please let the International Student Advisor know.
(.pdf, 483K)
Students already attending a U.S. institution who wish to transfer their SEVIS I-20 form to CIIS must also submit the Transfer Eligibility form.
(.pdf, 591K)

Many applicants for student visas are denied for reasons that can be avoided if a little advance knowledge and common sense are applied. Here are some tips prospective students should consider when preparing for an interview with a US consular officer (or at the border, for Canadians).


(.pdf, 462K)

If you are a newly admitted student in the U.S. in a valid visa status and wish to change to the F-1 visa status, you may file a Change of Status application, can remain in the U.S. and should begin your studies at the start of the semester for which you are admitted.


(.pdf, 606K)