International Students


Office of International Student Advisement (ISA)

The Office of International Student Advisement (ISA) serves all international students in the Cooper community by providing immigration advisement, services, and resources.  Additionally, the ISA office works to provide robust programming and support to all international students during their time at Cooper.

Contact | Phone: (212) 353-4120 | Fax: (212) 353-4342

Office Location

30 Cooper Square, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10003

Office Hours

Monday-Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM

  • Monday, Wednesday, & Friday: Appointment Only
  • Tuesday and Thursday:  Walk-ins from 1 PM – 3 PM


Quick Links to Page Navigation 

Glossary of Terms

Initial steps to obtaining your visa

Travel to the US

Travel within the US

Maintaining your status

Working on campus


Social Secuity Number

H1-B Visa 

Paying US and Foreign Taxes

Medical Leave or Reduced Course Load

Contact by Law Enforcement

Additional Resources



Terms to Know:

School Code—Unique identifier assigned to each SEVIS certified school, Cooper’s school code is: NYC214F00411000

SEVIS number—Unique number assigned to each I-20 created, located on the upper right corner of an I-20 and begins with the letter N followed by 10 digits

Certification of Finances--Document used to provide proof of financial responsibility and used to obtain both I-20s and Visa’s.

F-1 Visa—A Student Visa that is provided by US Consulates

I-20--Document that allows study and obtaining a F-1 Visa; these are created by a DSO by the authority of SEVP

I-901 Fee--SEVIS fee paid by I-20 holders and required to obtain a Consulate appointment

Entry Date--Date a student enters the United States; an F-1 student is permitted to enter the US a maximum of 30 days prior to the program start date

USCIS--United States Customs and Immigration System

SEVP--Student and Exchange Visitor Program—Division within the Department of Homeland Security that oversees visiting foreign students.

SEVIS--Student Exchange and Visitor Information System--a computer system owned by USCIS and used by SEVP and schools’ PDSOs and DSOs.

PDSO--Primary Designated School Official – Person primarily responsible for the administration of SEVIS

DSO--Designated School Official – Person who administers SEVIS

CBP-- Custom and Border Patrol--the individuals who grant entry across a border to students who hold F-1 Visa’s, I-20s and hold a Status.

Status--Residing legally in the United States by holding an I-20 and making academic progress and maintaining one’s SEVIS record.

Endorsement/Travel Signature--Page 2 of an I-20 that has been signed by the PDSO or DSO at a minimum of every 12 months, but preferably every 6 months

On-Campus Employment--F-1 students are permitted to work part-time during class sessions on-campus and full-time during breaks on-campus without permission

Grace Period—Time period after a program end date, this allows you to remain in the US for 60 days for the purpose of travel in the US

OPT--Optional Practical Training--this allows a student to be employed off-campus full time during breaks or post-degree completion for up to 12 months or part-time during class sessions for less than 24 months

Initial Attendance—An I-20 that is issued to a student yet to begin a program of study.

Active Status—Status of an I-20 holder who is making academic progress.

Electronic Departure Card / I-94—Electronic records that tracks arrivals and departures (which replaces the previous card system). An I-94 is created upon your arrival, and you should check its accuracy by going to the I-94 retrieval section of the USCIS website.


Timeline for an I-20 Holder


In order for an I-20 for initial attendance to be issued, the following must occur:

·         Admission to a program of study for a defined period

·         Deposit and/or acceptance of offer of admission

·         Completion of required proof of financial responsibility (Certification of Finance form)

·         Providing your DSO a mailing address and telephone number at this address

Once a Student Receives an Initial Attendance I-20 Outside the US:

·         Carefully review the I-20 for accuracy; contact the DSO (person who signed the I-20) immediately if there are questions.

·         Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee at in order to receive an I-901 receipt required for  Consular appointments and entry to the US.

·         Contact your local US Consulate (preferably in your home country of citizenship) and ask them what they require for your F-1 (student) Visa interview.

·         Make and attend the US Consulate appointment.


Transferring an I-20  or SEVIS Record:

·         Admitted students who are attending school in the US on an I-20 should have their SEVIS record transferred to The Cooper Union, For the Advancement of Science and Art

·         The School Code for Cooper Union is: NYC214F00411000

·         The person who signs your I-20 can also help you transfer your SEVIS record

·         The SEVIS Transfer form can be obtained from the school you are transferring to


After you have Obtained your F-1 Student Visa:

·         Plan your travel to the US.

·         Do NOT enter the US more than 30 days prior to your program start date listed on your I-20 (page 1).

·         Be sure that your Passport entry stamp says “F D/S” (meaning F Visa for Duration of Status).

·         Keep your  I-20 and passport on your person when traveling.

·         Visit your DSO as soon as possible once you are in New York.

·         Provide your current address, even if it is temporary.

·         Inform the DSO of any subsequent address changes within 10 days.

To Travel as an F Visa Holder:

·         Carry your passport and I-20 on your person at all times, NOT in your luggage.

·         Memorize your SEVIS ID# in case you lose your I-20; this could make a difficult situation much easier.

·         When you arrive, check the accuracy of your Electronic I-94 using the USCIS website I-94 retrieval system.

·         The F-1 Visa or any Visa for that matter serves as a key to enter–the Visa opens the “door,” and like a key, once you open the door, you do not need the key to remain inside; this is accomplished by the I-20 which provides legal status.

·         Status is indicated in your passport as D/S or Duration of Status- this means that you are an admitted student to a SEVP certified school and are currently maintaining your SEVIS Record with your DSO.

·         If you hold another Visa (B Tourist or other) and you enter the US using that Visa, make sure that you leave the US and return on the F Visa before attending classes; failure to do this could cause you to lose your student status.


Maintaining your Status:

·         When you study on an F-1 Visa, you must engage in full-time study (minimum of 12 credits for undergraduates except for the final semester) and attend classes.

·         Graduate students must maintain academic progress and engage in a course load to be determined by their graduate advisor.

·         A student MUST inform their DSO (person who signs your I-20) of any change of address within 10 days.

·         When traveling outside the city you are studying in carry your I-20 and passport.

·         Obtain a signature every 6 months to be sure that you will never exceed the maximum 12 month period for signature required for re-entry to the US.

·         Note that you can remain in the US with an expired Visa so long as you maintain your status as an F-1 Student.


Travel within the US:

·         You may travel within the US during your study in the US; it is strongly advisable to have identity documents on your person at all times

·         If you are traveling outside the US and need to re-enter the US, you MUST have a current endorsement (signature) from your DSO  made within the last 12 months.

·         It is advisable to carry other documentation providing proof of enrollment, such as a school issued ID card and grade sheets/schedule.

·         In order to legally reside in the US you need to maintain your status; this is accomplished by attending classes, maintaining academic progress and maintaining your SEVIS record with your DSO.


On-Campus Employment:

·         F-1 students are permitted to work on-campus without authorization part time during the regular semester and full time during breaks (summer and winter recess).

·         Student are not permitted to work on-campus while using the 60 day or less post-completion grace period.

·         In order to be paid for on-campus employment a student will need to obtain a Social Security number.

·         To obtain a Social Security number, first obtain a DSO letter before visiting your local Social Security office


Social Security Number (Obtaining):

·         A Social Security number may be obtained for the purposes of employment; it may not be obtained for any other purpose, although once obtained for employment it may be used for other purposes.

·         First, obtain a job offer. On-campus employment does not require permission to accept the offer. Off-Campus employment requires Authorized OPT with an EAD (Employment Authorization Device) Card to ACCEPT the offer and engage in employment.

·         This will allow you to obtain the DSO letter from your DSO and then proceed to request a supervisor or payroll letter.

·         Bring your DSO letter, supervisor or payroll letter, I-20, Passport, and your Social Security number application to your local Social Security office in order to request a number.  Applications are usually fulfilled for eligible non-citizens within two weeks.



OPT Optional Practical Training:

·         Students engaged in study for at least one academic year are eligible for one year of OPT per academic level (degree type) upon recommendation by their DSO.

·         A student may choose to engage in OPT part-time (while class is in session) or full-time (during breaks or after graduation)

·         Part-time OPT (only during class sessions) counts as a half day per day used and cannot be used after graduation.

·         Full-time OPT can be used during breaks as Pre-completion OPT or after Graduation as POST-Completion OPT

·         Application for OPT: Consists of I-765, G-1145, I-20 with OPT recommended by DSO, and all other previous I-20’s, a copy of the passport identity page and Visa, 2 passport photos and the appropriate fee. Processing times may vary, but SEVP has 90 days to process any request.

·         A part-time and full-time application cannot overlap

·         A part-time application cannot overlap with breaks

·         A full-time application cannot overlap with school sessions

·         The Post-Completion grace period is a 60 day window after the program end date on your I-20

·         Post-Completion applications may begin during the 60 day Post-Completion Grace Period but not after

·         Students may not work on-campus during the grace period

·         Generally many employers will begin employment and or Internships on the first Monday in June

·         In general many employers have new employees begin new work on Monday

·         Each OPT request requires a new application as well as a new application fee

·         Processing times vary, but in general a student should leave at least 60 days between application and start date

·         USCIS guidelines allow for 90 days to process an application

OPT Employment Information Sheet (This form should be sent to your DSO as soon as the information is available or has changed)

Letter to Employer for OPT 


STEM OPT Extension:

·         Students engaged in studying Engineering and employed in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) may be eligible for an extension of their OPT for 24 months

·         A student would need to graduate with a STEM eligible degree OR have a previous STEM eligible degree

·         The student would need to have a STEM eligible employer (STEM related field and a member of E-Verify) for the last four months of their OPT plus at least the first day of the extension.

·         STEM Extension requires a new STEM OPT application and Fee and DSO recommendation

I-983  for should be completed by a STEM Extention employer and provided to your DSO when applying for STEM OPT. It should also be updated annually.


H1-B Visa:

·         Obtaining an H1-B Visa requires a number of necessary steps; saving the majority of your OPT for Post-completion, especially for a non-STEM degree, can make this change of status (COS) more feasible. 

·         Your DSO hosts an annual meeting to discuss the process


US Taxes:

·         F-1 students should file taxes annually regardless of whether they have any earned income or not

·         Each student should file an 8843 to maintain their non-resident tax status

·         If you had earned income you should also file (before April 15th of the following year) a 1040NREZ to report your income and if necessary pay any owed taxes

·         To file you will need your W-2 from your employer

·         Note that F-1 Students cannot as of this writing file their taxes electronically themselves

Foreign Taxes:

·         Students who need assistance with Foreign tax forms should contact their DSO directly. Please note that we do not offer tax advice; that would only be provided by your accountant.


Special letters:

·         Students who need letters for visits to US Consulates, employers, relatives, etc. should visit the DSO to review and document the required information.


Medical Leave / Reduced Course Load:

·         Students who require a reduced course load or Medical Leave of Absence should work with their Academic Advisor or Dean in order to obtain permission to do so.  Additionally, medical documentation must be presented to your DSO

·         A two semester limit per academic level exists for this permission

·         If a student must leave the US for more than 5 months, the student would need to obtain a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID #

·         If the F-1 Visa is still valid the student would not need to obtain a new Visa or pay another SEVIS (I-901) fee


Contact by Law Enforcement

Recently students have reported that they have been contacted by individuals claiming to be government officials requesting wiring of funds. If you suspect that you have been approached by someone in this way please call 212 353 4192.

Please know that Law enforcement either Federal or local will NOT contact you by telephone- either cell or landline.

They will NOT ask for money and they will NEVER ask you to wire money.

You CANNOT be arrested for not following their directions.

Anyone purporting to be in Law Enforcement and doing this is a FRAUD.

These criminals can be very convincing, sometimes even watching you while they call and spoofing the telephone number of the police or 911 on the CallerID, if you have any doubts tell them to call your DSO and hang-up.

Actual Law Enforcement will contact you by letter or in person.

If you receive a letter please bring it to the Office of International Student Advisement at 30 Cooper Square, 3rd floor.

If you are greeted in person be sure to view the identification of the person claiming to a government official and realize that the US is a country of Laws and that we have policies and procedures that must be followed.

Please note that this scam is only a variation of other fraudulent activity and that these criminals are very imaginative and will attempt to exploit your fears.


Additional Resources:




  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.