ISSS Frequently Asked Questions

Office services

  • Is the ISSS office still available? How can I speak with an ISSS advisor?

    Yes, the ISSS office is still available and is providing all services remotely. If you have questions for an ISSS advisor, call us at 607-777-2510 during our regular advising hours:

    • Monday and Tuesday: 10-11:45 a.m.
    • Wednesday and Thursday: 1:30-3:30 p.m.

    You will need to leave a message including your name, B# and the best phone number to reach you. An ISSS staff member will call you back as soon as possible to answer your questions.

  • I need to get an I-20 for OPT, CPT, travel, etc. How can I request that?

    You can submit all requests to ISSS electronically using our online forms. For pdf forms that require a signature from an academic advisor, we have updated all forms to include an electronic signature option. New I-20s will be mailed to you using US Postal Service first class mail. You may also choose to pay for UPS shipping using our Express Mail form.

Remote learning

Travel

  • How can I get a new travel signature?
    If you are planning to travel outside the United States, keep in mind that travel signatures are not required to depart the U.S. When leaving, be sure that you carry your required immigration documents (passport, visa and I-20 or DS-2019). If your travel signature will expire before you plan to return to the U.S., you can request an I-20 reprint one to two months before you plan to return to the U.S.
  • I’m leaving the U.S. What documents should I take with me?
    You should travel with your passport, visa and original I-20 or DS-2019. Be sure to keep these documents in your carry-on luggage.
  • I’m planning to go home. Will I be able to return to the U.S.?
    Be advised that, effective March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory recommending that people cease international travel. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.
  • I am outside the U.S. and need to renew my visa before I can return to the U.S. What should I do?

    On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced that they have suspended routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. They have not provided an update on when routine visa services will resume. Please monitor the website for the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for any updates.

    Note: If you are currently in the United States and your visa has expired, you do not need to take any action. You can remain in the U.S. with an expired visa and apply for a new visa on a future trip.

  • I’ve heard about the five-month rule. Will I need to restart my status when I return?
    The “5 month rule” only applies to students who are outside the U.S. and not maintaining their status. If you are enrolled full time (including distance learning) in the spring 2020 semester, you are maintaining your status, and the five-month rule does not apply.
  • I received an electronic I-20. Will I be able to use this I-20 to apply for a visa and enter the U.S.?
    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has temporarily approved the use of electronic I-20s. If you received an electronic I-20 from ISSS, it is valid for the same period of time as an original hard copy I-20. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program has coordinated with the Department of State and Customs and Border Protection, and both agencies have confirmed their support for electronic I-20s. We recommend that you print a copy of this letter of explanation and keep it with your I-20. Please note: the electronic I-20 serves as a valid document for the purpose of applying for your visa and entering the U.S. ISSS will retain the original I-20, and you should plan to pick it up from ISSS upon your arrival.

Employment

  • I’m graduating this semester. How do I apply for OPT?

    ISSS staff are continuing to process requests for OPT I-20s. You should review the information on our OPT page, including our detailed instructions on how to apply for OPT. You should submit your application to ISSS as soon as possible. ISSS staff will review your application and issue a new I-20 showing a recommendation for OPT. Your original I-20 will be sent to you via USPS first class mail, or you can pay for it to be sent to you via UPS. Once you have your new I-20, you will need to assemble a complete application and mail it to USCIS. USCIS processing time is 3-5 months, so we recommend that graduating students apply for OPT as soon as possible.

  • How can I have an ISSS advisor review my OPT application?
    When ISSS processes your OPT application, an advisor will send you detailed instructions for assembling your application and requesting an OPT review. You can email the documents for your OPT application to intlwork@binghamton.edu for an ISSS advisor to review.
  • I’m graduating this semester and plan to finish my courses from home. Can I apply for OPT from my home country?  
     You must apply for OPT from within the United States. If you leave the U.S. without applying for OPT, you will not be eligible to apply for OPT. If you have additional questions about OPT eligibility and travel plans, call 607-777-2510 during walk-in advising hours to speak with an ISSS advisor about your situation.
  • Is USCIS still processing OPT applications?
    Yes. USCIS Service Centers and Lockboxes are still open, and they continue to accept and process new applications for OPT and STEM OPT. USCIS has suspended all in-person services, but that suspension does not impact OPT or STEM OPT applications.
  • Can I continue my on-campus job during the Spring 2020 semester?
    Yes. F-1 students (and J-1 students with authorization) can continue working on campus up to 20 hours/week. If you have questions about working remotely, discuss these options with your on-campus supervisor.
  • Are there any changes to employment options for international students during the pandemic?
    At this time, there are no changes to employment regulations for international students. International educators are continuing to advocate for expanded flexibility for international students impacted by the pandemic, but currently there is no additional flexibility related to employment.
  • I’m a J-1 student. How can I apply for Academic Training?
  • How can I apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)?
    The Social Security Administration is not accepting visitors in their offices at this time. You can find additional information about their services online. If you are applying for OPT and do not currently have a Social Security card, you should complete the relevant questions on Form I-765 to request an SSN or replacement card.
  • I am currently authorized for CPT/OPT/STEM OPT. Can I work remotely?
    Yes, the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that F-1 students who are authorized for practical training may work remotely. You should discuss any opportunities for remote work with your supervisor. The Department of Homeland Security has indicated that if you are working remotely on OPT or STEM OPT, you do not need to report a new work site address for employment. If you move to a new address, you must still update ISSS with your new U.S. residential address within 10 days.
  • I have been laid off or furloughed. Am I eligible for unemployment?
    F-1 and J-1 students are generally not eligible for unemployment benefits. New York and many other states require that applicants be "available to work" without restriction in order to be eligible for unemployment. F-1 and J-1 students have very specific eligibility criteria and restrictions for employment and therefore are not eligible for unemployment. If you have additional questions about unemployment benefits in another state, you should speak with an experienced attorney to understand eligibility.

Taxes

Insurance

New students

  • I have been admitted to Binghamton University. What do I need to know?

    ISSS is continuing to issue I-20s and DS-2019s for new students admitted for fall 2020. Many offices at Binghamton University are working closely together to do everything we can to ensure that new students are able to arrive for fall 2020. If you have questions related to your admission or plans, contact Undergraduate Admissions or Graduate Admissions.

  • I received an electronic I-20. Will I be able to use this I-20 to apply for a visa and enter the U.S.?

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has temporarily approved the use of electronic I-20s. If you received an electronic I-20 from ISSS, it is valid for the same period of time as an original hard copy I-20. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program has coordinated with the Department of State and Customs and Border Protection, and both agencies have confirmed their support for electronic I-20s. We recommend that you print a copy of this letter of explanation and keep it with your I-20. Please note: the electronic I-20 serves as a valid document for the purpose of applying for your visa and entering the U.S. ISSS will retain the original I-20, and you should plan to pick it up from ISSS upon your arrival.

Other University services

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding other services and offices on campus, see the Binghamton University COVID 19 FAQ page.

For J-1 Scholars