CUNYs Guide for International Students: Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the legal US visa and immigration status needed to enter the US for the purpose of studying at a US college? What status will my dependents need?

You will need to obtain the F-1 Student Visa and Immigration Status or the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa and Immigration status in order to study or conduct research in the US. Your dependents will need the F2 or J2 status.


2. What documents will I (and my dependents) need in order to enter and live in the U.S. during my college stay?

Students and their dependents will need 4 documents in order to enter and live in the U.S. during their temporary stay:
  1. a valid passport
  2. an I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility
  3. students will need a F-1 or J-1 visa.; dependents will need the F-2 or J-2
  4. I-94 Admissions/Departure Card


3. What documents will CUNY students need to take in order to obtain the F/J Visa and Immigration Status?

After being accepted to a CUNY College, you will receive the documents listed below from your Collegeís DSO. You will then need to complete and return the required documents to the DSO. After evaluating your documents, the DSO will issue the I-20 or DS 2019 form needed to obtain the F1 or J1 visa, and US immigration status. Dependents information should be included on the required documents, and is needed for them to obtain the F2/J2 status.
  • CUNY Welcome Letter and forms
  • The Immunization Form
  • The I-20 and DS-2109 Application Form, also know as the Application for the Certificate of Eligibility
  • The Affidavit of Support form, and the
  • Declaration & Certification of Finance form
It is also a good idea to carefully review the section on Obtaining Your Visa and Immigration Status.


4. What documents will I need to take to the U.S. Consulate to apply for the F1/J1 Visa? What will my dependents need to take?


You will need to take your I-20 or DS 2019 and the SEVIS I-901 receipt. It is also recommended that you take copies of the Welcome Letter and supporting financial documents, including the. Affidavit of Support Form.

Your dependents may go with you to the US Consulate or join you later. The will need to take their I-20 or DS 2019. It is also recommended that they take copies of their husband or wifeís; fatherís or motherís financial sponsorship documentation.

Also be prepared to complete the F/J Visa EVAF-Electronic Visa Application Form, and DS 0157/0158 forms.


5. What should I do if the U.S. Consulate refuses to issue either me or my dependent(s) the F/J visa?


First you will need to find out why you or your dependent w ere denied the F/J visa, and then find out when you can reapply. While you are waiting to reapply, e-mail your College DSO for advice.


6. How early can I enter the U.S. before school starts?

F-1 students may enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the date indicated on section #5 of the I-20. J-1 students may enter up to 30 days before the starting date on section #3 of the DS-2019.


7. What should I do after I arrive in the U.S.?


You must check in with your College ASAP in order to validate your F/J immigration status. Failure to do so may result in loss of your legal immigration status.

You and your dependents should report to your College within 3-4 days of your arrival or by the date listed in the instruction letter that your Collegeís DSO will send you. You and your dependents will also need to bring your passport (F/J Visa stamp in passport), I-20/DS 2019, and I-94 when you come.


8. Am I eligible for financial aid?

International students holding the F/J visa type are not eligible for Federal or NY State financial aid. However you can inquire at your College to find out if there is any grant, fellowship or scholarship opportunities for international students.


9. Am I able to I work during my stay?

International students are permitted to work outside their colleges with permission from either their International Student Advisor (DSO/RO), or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. For more information see Understanding Employment Options.


10. How can I open a US bank account?

Many international banks have branches in the U.S. You should see if your home bank has a branch in New York. Otherwise, you can open an account with an American bank. To open an account, you will need your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, I-94 proof of address, and other forms of identification. For more information see Banking.


11. How can I find housing in New York City?

Contact family, friends, current CUNY students, and international student clubs, your international student office and student life/residence office to help you find a home. Also, see the section on housing for other on-line resources.


12. Does CUNY offer health insurance? (Link)

US health insurance is a mandatory requirement for J1 students and their J2 dependents. Since health care in the US is very expensive it is highly recommended that F1 and F2 students obtain medical insurance as well. See the section on health insurance for a list of Insurance that provides health insurance to both F/J students.


13. Do I need a Social Security Number in order to enroll at CUNY?

No. You will not need a Social Security Number to enroll at CUNY College. The University/College will assign you a student identification number. You will need to use this number in order to register for classes and to obtain a student identification card. International students can obtain a Social Security Number for work purposes only (for example, after being granted on or off campus employment). Click here for more details.