Current Student Resources


F-1/J-1 Rules

All international students who are in F-1 and J-1 visa status must follow a set of immigration regulations as outlined by the U.S. government in order to maintain their international student status. The following set of rules and regulations is a guide to properly maintaining international student status at Stanislaus State.

Full Course of Study

International students must be registered for a full course of study during fall and spring semesters:

  • Undergraduate students 12 units
  • Masters graduate students 8 units
  • Postgraduate, seeking second bachelor’s degree 12 units

Student have the option to Enroll in summer or winter semesters but these terms are not required.

Online Courses: Only 3 units or one online course per semester is applicable to the full-time enrollment total.

Audit Courses: Audit course units are not applicable to the full-time enrollment total.

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment is limited to up to 20 hours a week when school is in session during fall and spring semesters and 40 hours a week during University vacations and summer vacation. Freshmen students should note that they are not authorized to begin on-campus employment until their second semester at the University.

Off-Campus Employment

In order for international students to work off-campus, they must obtain the proper work authorization from International Education and Global Engagement and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).

For F-1 students, off-campus work authorization options are:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Off-Campus Employment based on Economic Hardship

For J-1 students, off-campus work authorization option are:

  • Academic Training (AT)
  • Off-Campus Employment based on Economic Hardship

Maintaining Valid Immigration Documents

Maintain a valid I-20/DS 2019 and Passport, failure to do so will put you out of status.

Students are responsible for monitoring their expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019. If it is not possible to complete their academic program by that date, students must request a program extension before the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who do not file a program extension in a timely manner will be considered out of status.

Students should keep their passport valid at all times. If the passport will expire soon, student must renew it through the embassy or consulate of their home country.

Change of Local Address

Students who change their local address must report the change to International Education and Global Engagement within 10 days of moving by submitting a change of local address form.


As an F-1 visa holder, students are able to bring dependents (spouse and/or children) during their study. The F-1 visa holder will need to submit a copy of a bank statement for the total of the costs of one academic year plus $6,000 per dependent, a copy of each dependent’s passport, and a copy of their marriage certificate for a spouse. The immigration status of an F-2 is dependent upon the status of the F-1 student. The F-2 cannot remain in the U.S. after the F-1 student has departed. As an F-2 visa holder, dependents are not able to work or study full time.

Special Situations

IF you feel you might need a Reduced Course Load, Leave of Absence or permission to work off campus due to severe economic hardship, contact International Education and Global Engagement and set up an appointment with the office Coordinator to explore options.


Permission to Work

Students who have F-1 status may work under certain circumstances while they are in the United States. There are two major categories of work for which an international student may qualify.

Employment on Campus

On campus employment is permitted only on the campus that has issued the I-20. A student must be in valid F-1 status. A student is limited to 20 hours a week during the semester, but may work full time (up to 40 hours) during vacation periods (summer, winter, and holidays). To be employed, the student will need to have a Social Security Card. To apply for a SS# the student must obtain a job offer on campus; International Education and Global Engagement will issue a confirmation letter to the Social Security Office. A Social Security card may be obtained at a Social Security Office. 

Employment off Campus

You must have permission by International Education and Global Engagement prior to working off campus.

The following is an explanation of the types of work which allow you to work off campus. It includes a description of the rules, how to get permission, and the kinds of work which may be authorized.

  • Severe Economic Hardship: must be authorized by OIE
  • Curricular Practical Training: Internship authorized by International Student Advisor
  • Optional Practical Training: 12 months authorized by OIE per degree level

Severe Economic Hardship

Off campus employment due to Economic Hardship is permitted only in cases where there is proven severe economic hardship. The purpose of this kind of work is to enable a student to earn income that is needed to pay tuition and living expenses because his/her sponsor cannot provide sufficient funds. A student applying for permission to work off campus must prove there is economic necessity due to unforeseen circumstances. In other words, a student must provide evidence that he/she is not receiving enough money to pay for school expenses and that the cause for not receiving enough money is something that was not expected to happen when he/she came to the U.S. Permission to work off campus is granted by the OIE. Students interested in applying must see the International Student Advisor to obtain application. (A student may not apply for this work permission until she/he has been in full-time F1 status for two academic semesters.)

Social Security Number

In the United States, a Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to citizens, permanent residents and temporary (working) non-residents by the Social Social Security Administration (SSA). Its primary purpose is to track individuals for taxation purposes; it is not intended to be used for identification purposes. Per current legislation, SSNs can only be issued to someone who:

  1. Is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or
  2. Has a valid job offer and/or is eligible for legal employment

Currently, SSNs are only issued to non-residents who have an employment offer. Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible for an SSN since they are not permitted to work.

Please note that students do not need an SSN to register for classes at Stanislaus State, get a driver’s license in California, or open a bank account. However, landlords and utility, cable and cell phone companies may request an SSN to do a credit history check to determine the amount of deposit they will require to secure housing or to activate services.

The SSA provides more information on SSNs for international students.

Students and scholars who are not eligible for an SSN may be eligible for a Tax Identification Number (ITIN) to use for filing taxes during tax season reporting.

How to Apply for an SSN

Students and scholars must wait at least two weeks after their initial entry into the U.S to begin the SSN application process. The SSA must receive its database update from the ports of entry before the application can be accepted.

To begin the application process, students and scholars must first obtain a job offer. It is not possible to obtain an SSN without this letter. The application for an SSN is free of charge.

Required documents for SSN Application at SSA:

  • Application for SS-5 (available at an SSA office or online)
  • Valid Passport
  • Original SEVIS I-20 (for F-1 visa holders) or DS-2019 (for J-1/J-2 visa holders)
  • A valid I-94 card (a small white Arrival/Departure card stapled to passport)
  • Offer of Employment letter from the department that is hiring the student or from HR. Letter must include estimated start date.

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. The SSA does not accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. SSA will then verify the documents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before assigning an SSN.

A Social Security number and card will be issued within about two weeks of receiving certification from DHS. In most cases, the SSA can quickly verify the documents online.

Most on-campus jobs will allow students to start working while their application is being processed.

The closest SSA office from the University:
Suite ‘ E1
1521 N. Carpenter Rd.
Modesto, CA 95351

Phone Numbers
Local Number: (209) 523-2670
National Toll-Free: (800) 772-1213

Search for your Local SSN Office on the SSA.GOV website 

Identity Theft and SSN

Please note that it is very important to keep the SSN confidential at all times and avoid carrying the SSN card in a wallet. This is a key piece of information that can be used in identity theft incidents.

Identity theft occurs when someone steals personal information and uses it to make financial transactions. This personal information can include an SSN, credit card number, birth date, phone number and/or address. One popular means of this is called ‘phishing’? where thieves pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get individuals to reveal their personal information such as SSN, bank account and credit card information over the Internet. Please note that no bank or credit card company will ask for information by Internet or phone.

Another popular method used is an email message saying individuals have access to a large amount of money and someone can help them collect it. Individuals also may receive an offer to participate in a joint venture where they provide a certain amount upfront and gain a percentage of profits or an offer to cash checks and receive a percentage of a total of that cashed check. All of these are scams and fraudulent.

Always carefully guard all personal information, including SSN, passwords, log-ins and account information. Shred important and confidential documents when disposing of them. A “cross-cut” paper shredder can be purchased at electronic or home appliances stores. As a cheaper alternative, always cut out important information when disposing of documents.

The U.S. Department of Justice provides additional information on Identity Theft and Identity Fraud.

What to do when an identity has been stolen

Students and scholars who believe their identity has been stolen should visit the U.S. Federal Trade Commission website for information on what to do and file a report with the local police department.

One way to keep informed on the security of personal information is to request credit history checks on a regular basis.

Credit History and SSN

In the U.S., a credit history shows an individual’s past record of paying bills, loans, etc. and is used to verify that they are financially responsible. Unfortunately, although it was never its intended purpose, the SSN became the requested identification number used to check personal credit history in the US. It is still commonly asked for when individuals are being considered as an apartment tenant, opening accounts or installing services. Landlords, banks and service companies use the SSN to request a credit history report. 

Students and scholars who are not eligible to obtain an SSN probably don’t have a credit history in the United States and this is why they may be asked to pay higher security deposits for housing and services or be restricted in the type of bank accounts they can open. Unfortunately, if they do not meet the eligibility requirements to be granted an SSN, they cannot obtain one merely for identification purposes.

How do I establish a credit history?

One way to build ‘credit? is to obtain a U.S. credit card and pay all bills in full and on time, but please note the use or misuse of U.S. credit cards becomes a key part of the credit history. Over time and if fiscally responsible, it is possible to develop a good credit history in the U.S. which can be used to request better rates or lower deposits on loans, services, etc. However, missed payments or bills sent to a collection agency may result in difficulty in renting, getting financial assistance or obtaining loans/credit in the future.

The Federal Trade Commission provides more information about building a better credit history.

How do I check my credit history?
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides guidance on requesting a free credit report
  • Some banks or credit card companies may have services that regularly monitor an individual’s credit for an additional monthly fee.

FICA Taxes (Social Security & Medicare)

Social Security payroll taxes are collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the payroll taxes are sometimes referred to as ‘FICA taxes.? The payroll taxes collected for Social Security are taxes, but they are also contributions to the social insurance system that is Social Security.

More information about FICA taxes can be found on the SSA website.

Driver’s License

Visitors to California who are over the age of 18 and have a valid driver’s license from the home country may drive in California without getting a California driver’s license, as long as the home country license remains valid.  However, when purchasing a motor vehicle and auto insurance, most insurance companies require a valid California Driver’s license.

Obtaining a California Driver’s License

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website outlines the process of obtaining a California Driver’s License. The application process includes a written test and driving skills test administered by the DMV. The California Driver’s Handbook is an indispensable resource when preparing for these tests. Samples of written tests are also available online for reference.

Obtaining a California Identification Card

A California driver’s license is commonly used as an important form of identification.  International students and scholars who do not drive are instead able to obtain a California Identification (ID) card. The DMV website offers detailed guidelines on obtaining an ID card.

Required Documents at the DMV

In order to verify the applicant’s birth date and legal status for a driver’s license or ID card application, the DMV requires the following documents:

  1. Valid passport
  2. I-94 card
  3. I-20/DS-2019

International Driving Permit

The State of California does not recognize an International Driving Permit (IDP) as a valid driver license. However, California does recognize a valid driver license that is issued by a foreign jurisdiction (country, state, territory) of which the license holder is a resident.

The IDP is only a translation of information contained on a person’s foreign driver license and is not required to operate a motor vehicle in California.

The IDP is also referred to as an International Driver License or International License.

Visiting the DMV

DMV location closest to the University:
825 E Monte Vista Avenue, Turlock, CA 95382

Turlock DMV Office Hours and Customer Wait Time Information

To reduce the waiting time at the DMV office, IEGE recommends making an appointment online.


Most non-nationals are liable for taxation on any income earned in the United States from the beginning of their arrival in the U.S. Income could include salary, scholarships/fellowships, income from U.S. mutual funds or U.S. bank accounts.

Taxes for each calendar year are reported in the Spring of the following year and tax forms are filed with both the U.S. Government (federal) through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. state/s in which income was earned. For example, if you earned income in California (CA) and New York (NY) you would file separate state forms for both CA and NY.

Generally, all F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents are considered non-residents (NR) for tax purposes for their first five years in the United States and would file federal form 1040NR (long form) or 1040NR-EZ (short form). Scholars are typically considered NR regarding taxation for their first two years in the United States. H-1B, TN or O-1 status holders who have been in the U.S. for more than 183 days should go to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) site resources to see if they should file resident (1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) rather than non-resident tax forms, specifically Publication 519 (U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens).

ALL non-residents in F, J, M or Q status and each of their dependents must file federal form 8843, Statement of Non-Residence, each tax season even if no income was earned. You should note that being a resident for tax purposes does not mean resident for immigration purposes.

Typical Forms You May Receive

Employers will be sending you a statement of income earned and applicable taxes withheld (W-2) and/or tax treaty benefits claimed (1042-S). Form 1099 would be sent by either Banks to show interest or income earned through their services or you would receive it if you worked for a temporary or staffing agency or worked as a consultant. You will use information on these forms to assist you in completing your federal and state tax returns.


This form shows all income earned and income tax at the state and federal level that is withheld. You would receive a W-2 from each employer and thus may have multiple W-2’s to use.

  • The purpose of the 1042-S form is to report U.S. taxable income and U.S. income tax withholding for:
  • Scholarships, fellowships or grants awarded to students or postdoctoral fellows and compensation for services rendered. 
  • Income claimed as exempt from U.S. income tax under a tax treaty. Treaties are claimed by filing form 8233.

This form shows any interest earned on bank account, stocks, funds, etc. which you may need to claim. It also reflects any income earned through a temporary or staffing agency or if you are hired as an independent consultant.


As an F-1/J-1, please disregard this form in regards to tax filing as it is only needed for U.S. residents and citizens to claim a possible tax exemption (Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning Credit) for education expenses. It would not be applicable since you are a non-resident. However, certain non-resident aliens who are married to U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens and who qualify to file a joint-income tax return, may, in some cases qualify to claim the credits.

Also, a “dummy” or placeholder Social Security Number (SSN) may appear on this form. If you do not have an SSN and you have been issued a “dummy” SSN, this place holder number is not a valid SSN to use for non-tax purposes.

If you have any questions regarding this form, please contact the International Education and Global Engagement.

Filing for Taxes

You will use Forms W-2, 1042-S and 1099, if received and applicable, to fill out your federal and state tax forms. For additional information go to IRS website.

State of California Taxes

Please contact  International Education and Global Engagement for more information regarding California state taxes.

State of California Franchise Tax Board:

Other States

If you need to file income tax returns for states other than California, more information is available here.

FICA Taxes (Social Security & Medicare)

F.I.C.A. stands for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act which is a taxation on income earned where the funds are used for federal programs that provide benefits for U.S. citizens and permanent residents when they retire, are disabled, or are the children of deceased workers. Funds withheld for F.I.C.A. are reflected on paycheck stubs and also in boxes 4 and 6 of your W-2.

Internationals and F.I.C.A.

F-1 and J-1 student visa holders are typically exempt from paying F.I.C.A. taxes for their first 5 years in the United States and these taxes should not be deducted from paychecks. J-1 scholars and researchers are typically only exempt for 2 years. The mechanism for the exemptions are found under Internal Revenue Code 3121 (b)(19) and is available to persons in F-1, J-1, M-1 and Q immigration status.

It is a blanket exemption with the only qualification being that the person be a nonresident for tax purposes and that the work is authorized (CPT, OPT, AT). IRS Publication 519 is a good resource, specifically pages 44 and 45. 

Obtaining Reimbursements of F.I.C.A. Witholdings

If your employer has mistakenly withheld F.I.C.A. taxes, you must work with them directly to request a reimbursement. If they will not assist you, you can file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms 843 or 8316 to request reimbursement. Please note that J-2s with work authorization are not exempt from FICA taxes.

Tax Related Resources

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

1040NR and 1040NR-EZ

Form 8843 Statement of Non-Residence

Publication 519 U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens

Publication 901 U.S. Tax Treaties

Form 8233 Request for tax treaty exemption

Form 843 and Form8316 Incorrect withholding of FICA tax

State of California website: 

Other state websites:

Amended Returns

If you have filed incorrect tax forms, IEGE strongly encourages you to use the services of either a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), tax attorney or licensed tax firm to correct your tax filing and return any reimbursements you were not eligible for. These services will incur a charge and you can contact them for estimates. 

Understand that when you submit any tax forms to the U.S. government, you are making a legal and recorded statement of status and eligibility which must be correct.  False filings can seriously impact future immigration eligibility and status. 

Please note that amended returns should be filed as soon as possible to avoid any penalties. 

Non-residents cannot E-file (electronically file) tax forms but will need to print them, fill them out and mail them as hard copies to the federal and state governments. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I did not work this year; do I need to file anything?

Yes, even if you do not have a source income in the U.S.  As a nonresident for tax purposes with no U.S. source income, you (and any dependents) must file federal Form 8843 only. 

I worked on- or off-campus this year; must I file an income tax return?

Yes. All non-residents who were present in the United States during the tax year, must file a federal and state tax return if they had income in the United States during the tax year.

What should I put in item #10 on the 8843 that asks for me to contact information for my ‘academic or other specialized program’

You would put the name of the Dean of your academic department and the general contact info for the academic department.

What is the difference between the 1040NR and the 1040NREZ?

The 1040NR is a longer, more detailed tax form, totaling five pages, which can be used by any non-resident. The 1040NREZ is a simplified version of the same form, which can be completed by non-residents who meet certain requirements. Just remember EZ stands for ‘easy? or a less-detailed form.

Most students can file the 1040NREZ. Note: Married students from India whose spouse had no U.S. source income should file the 1040NR. See the 1040NR instructions for more information.

Do I need a Social Security Number to file a return?

You need either a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) in order to file your tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will reject returns without these numbers. (Numbers that begin with 999 or 90 are not U.S. Social Security Numbers).

What is a tax treaty?

Currently the U.S. has tax treaties or agreements with approximately 40 countries and territories under which their citizens may be exempt from all or part of U.S. federal income tax.

To see if your country is among these and how a treaty may affect your tax status, read the IRS Publication #901.

When should I file my income tax return?

Tax returns must be post-marked by April 15th.

Where can I get additional U.S. tax forms?

Where can I get help in preparing my return?

Completion of Academic Program

After successfully completing an academic program, F-1 and J-1 students are given a grace period allowing them to remain in the U.S. for a specified time after program of study, OPT or Academic Training.

Travel and re-entry to the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student during the grace period is not possible.

F-1 Students

F-1 students have a 60-day grace period in which they are permitted to do one of the following:

  1. Begin a new program of study: Students must apply to the new program, be admitted and be issued a new I-20 from International Education and Global Engagement (IEGE) before the end of the grace period. Proof of funding is required to issue the new I-20.

  2. Transfer to another institution: Student must apply to another institution, be admitted, have the SEVIS records transferred out to that institution and be issued their new I-20 before the end of the grace period. In order to transfer out the SEVIS record, student will need to meet with an OIE immigration advisor and submit the SEVIS Form.

  3. Apply for a change of status: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive the application to change the immigration status before the end of the grace period.

  4. Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT): U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive the application to change the immigration status before the end of the grace period. However, IEGE recommends that students apply for OPT as soon as possible. Please keep in mind that it takes 3-4 months to process the OPT application and students cannot begin working until they receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. To apply for OPT, contact International Education and Global Engagement and set up an appointment.

  5. Depart the U.S. before the end of the grace period.

J-1 Students

J-1 students have a 30-day grace period in which they are permitted to do one of the following:

  1. Begin a new program of study at Stanislaus State: Students must apply to the new program, be admitted, and be issued a new DS- 2019 from International Education and Global Engagement before the end of the grace period. Proof of funding is required to issue the new DS-2019.

  2. Transfer to another institution: Students must apply to another institution, be admitted, have the SEVIS records transferred out to that institution, and be issued their new DS-2019 before the end of the grace period. In order to transfer out the SEVIS record, students will need to meet with the Exchange Visitor Program Coordinator and submit a SEVIS transfer form.

  3. Apply for a change of status: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive the application to change the immigration status before the end of the grace period.

  4. Apply for Academic Training: J-1 students who plan to work in the U.S. after graduation but have not yet applied for Academic Training must do so immediately. Although students are not required to begin employment right away, IEGE must approve the Academic Training application before the end of the 30-day grace period. However, IEGE recommends that students apply for Academic Training as soon as possible. Please keep in mind that students cannot begin working until they receive the new DS-2019 and written authorization from IEGE.

  5. Depart the U.S. before the end of the grace period.