Current Student FAQs
Current Student Frequently Asked Questions
Toggle ItemCan I work while I am on the F-1/J-1 visa?Yes, all international students can work on-premises (at Brigham Young University–Hawaii or at the Polynesian Cultural Center) for up to 19 hours per week. You must have authorization from ISS prior to beginning employment.
Working off-campus always requires prior approval and is only possible under certain conditions.
Within 90 days of starting employment in the United States, you must apply for a social security number.
You must also file taxes for the previous year if you engaged in any employment during that time.
If you have a change in employment, you must update ISS within 10 days of the change.
Do not engage in unauthorized employment, either on or off-campus.
Toggle ItemHow do I file taxes?We, at International Student Services are not tax experts. We can, however, provide general guidance and lead you to the right resources. If you have been employed in the U.S., you must file taxes. The tax return for nonresidents is the 1040-NR. Sprintax is a nonresident tax prep software. The school covers account fees during tax season (January to April) and will send a code during that time if you wish to file your taxes with Sprintax. Note: TurboTax is for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, not for students on a nonimmigrant visa. Please file your taxes accordingly.
Toggle ItemHow can I find out about internships?For J-1 Students, any internship before or after graduation is considered academic training. For pre-completion academic training, please work with Career Services and your internship coordinator to initiate the application. Once it is approved by ISS, you will need to pick up an updated DS-2019 from our office to reflect your current internship. For post-completion academic training, please see the Graduate FAQs for more information.
For F-1 students, internships prior to graduation are classified as curricular practical training (CPT). The process is the same as pre-completion AT: you must work with Career Services and your internship coordinator to initiate the application and receive all necessary approvals. From there, we will review your application and supporting documents to make the decision.
If you have specific questions or concerns regarding your visa status while on an internship, please contact our office or schedule a time to meet with your advisor.
Toggle ItemI am going to take a leave of absence…If you are planning to take a leave of absence, please make sure to get approval from the dean of students. You can then sort out any details regarding maintaining status with our office. Please note that if you are taking a leave of absence, you will need to exit the country and then re-enter, as continuous enrollment is required to maintain your visa status in the United States. If you have travel questions or need assistance, please make sure to contact our office and Travel Services for any flight details and booking assistance.
Toggle ItemI am going to take a reduced course loadFull-time enrollment is required to maintain status an international student. The only exception is if you take a reduced course load semester. Please make sure you have approval from the Office of the Registrar and Academic Advising. When you come to our office for a signature, we will sign and scan the form, then update your record to reflect the change in enrollment.
If you have further questions or concerns, please contact the Office of the Registrar or meet with your ISS advisor.
Toggle ItemWhat do I do if I am planning to leave the country for a short time?If you plan to return to the U.S. after leaving for a short time (ie. for a holiday, break between semesters, etc.), you will need a travel endorsement (I-20) or travel validation (DS-2019) signature for re-entry into the United States.
If you are leaving for more than five months for discontinuance or deferment, then you will need to pay the SEVIS fee again and you will be issued a new I-20 or DS-2019. When traveling, make sure that both your Certificate of Eligibility (DS-2019 or I-20) as well as your passport and visa are valid and unexpired. However, please note that when you travel out of country while on a student or exchange visitor visa, it is the sole discretion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow or not allow re-entry into the country.
Toggle ItemWhy do I need a travel signature?The purpose of a travel signature is to authorize out of country travel while during active student status. This signature will serve as proof of your status as a current student when you re-enter the country and pass through customs and border protection. If you are leaving the country and planning to re-enter within 5 months of leaving, you will need a travel signature. If you have deferred, discontinued, or been outside the United States for more than five months, you will need a new SEVIS record and need to repay the SEVIS Fee. The same is true for former students returning to campus.
NOTE: You will not need to re-apply for a visa, if it is still valid. If it has expired, you will need to re-apply for another visa to come back to school.
Toggle ItemHow do I get a travel signature?If you plan to leave the country and return while still in school, please stop by our office to get a travel signature from your advisor. They will also answer any additional questions you may have regarding your travel as an international student.
Toggle ItemCan I request a program extension?Yes. However, we can only grant an extension under the following circumstances:
- Your graduation date has changed.
- You have been approved for academic training.