Current International Students

Important Links

As an international student, it is your responsibility to follow both institutional and federal regulations to avoid losing your F-1 student status and visa. Always contact the Office of International Admissions with any questions or concerns you might have about the following regulations:

Be a full-time student

  1. International students must maintain a full course of study (12 credit hours per fall and spring semesters)
  2. Follow university guidelines for chapel and class attendance.
  3. You are not required to enroll in classes during any summer session, but you do have the option to.
  4. When a student does not remain in status the I-20, visa, and I-94 are no longer valid.

Carry Health Insurance

  1. Health insurance is mandatory for international students in the U.S. Click here for information about Carson-Newman’s Health Insurance.
  2. All international students will be charged each semester for student health insurance. It will automatically be included in your bill at the beginning of the semester.

Know About Employment

  1. An F-1 student is legally eligible for on-campus employment with verification from their DSO (Designated School Official) in the Office of International Admissions.
  2. Students may not work more than 20 hours per week during the semester, but may work up to 40 hours per week during school breaks and summers.
  3. Off-campus employment may only be granted by U.S. Immigration under extreme financial circumstances and through the appropriate application process. Contact your DSO for information.

Keep Your Information and Documents Current

  1. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future.
  2. Carry your passport, I-94, and I-20 with you at all times!
  3. Apply for I-20 extensions at least 60 days prior to your I-20 completion date. Contact your Advisor and DSO for approval.
  4. Report any change of address to your DSO within 10 days of moving.

Prepare For Traveling and Transitions

  1. See your DSO at least one week before leaving the U.S. to obtain the appropriate signature on your I-20 and complete your travel clearance form to return.
  2. Once you leave the U.S. after your listed degree is completed, you may not reenter, even if your I-20 has not expired.
  3. When your degree is complete, you have a 60 day grace period to either: apply for a new degree program and I-20, leave the U.S., or begin Optional Practical Training.
  4. Always save your outdated travel documents for future reference.

This school is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.

F-1 students are eligible for on-campus employment which is limited to 20 hours per week while classes are in session, and full-time (more than 20 hours/week) ONLY during official school breaks (winter break, spring break, summer vacation).

  • Step 1: Notify your DSO that you are looking for employment.
  • Step 2: Once you have a verbal agreement to be hired by someone, have your future employer complete the International Hiring Form (will be provided to you), and return this to your DSO. Your employer will also need to contact Financial Aid to verify employment.
  • Step 3: Get a letter of verification from your DSO to confirm your enrollment at Carson-Newman.
  • Step 4: Take your DSO letter of verification, passport, I-94, original Form I-20, and International Hiring Form to the Social Security Office to obtain your social security card.

**DO NOT begin working until you have received your social security card!**

Please refer to the Student Employment Handbook on the Financial Aid page for more details about the hiring procedures, required paperwork, student responsibilities, etc.

If you need transportation to the Social Security Office, please contact the Center for Global Education at

Please contact Nilma Stewart at for any questions or additional information.

This school is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.

The United States Social Security Administration only processes applications for international students who have been offered a position of employment. Please see Nilma Stewart in the Office of Admissions for information on both the on-campus employment and social security application process.

When applying for a Social Security card, be aware that you will need to take the following with you:

  1. Your passport
  2. Your I-94
  3. Your original I-20
  4. Letter of employment containing start date within 30 days
  5. DSO letter of verification

To see the nearest Social Security Office, click here.

For more information on obtaining a Social Security card, visit:

This school is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.

The Department of Safety may issue a temporary driver license to an F-1 student for the length of time the student is authorized to be in the country if the student presents acceptable identification documents, pays required fees, and passes any required tests at the Driver License Service Center. As an F-1 student, you may be eligible to apply for a temporary license if you present the following documents:

  1. Valid foreign passport
  2. F-1 student visa
  3. Your I-94 (which will indicate your authorized stay)
  4. Original signed I-20
  5. Verification of a social security number, if one has been issued
  6. 2 proofs of Tennessee residency (any bill or piece of mail that comes to your address)
  7. Approximately $20 for license fee

Please also see Nilma Stewart in the Office of Admissions to obtain a DSO letter of verification to take with you. To get information on the nearest Driver License Service Station, click here.

For more information on obtaining a Temporary Tennessee License, visit

This school is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment option available to F-1 students when the employment is directly related to the major area of study. To be eligible for OPT, you must have maintained legal F-1 status for at least 9 consecutive months or one full academic year. You must not have used full-time CPT for 12 months or more from any previous school. You may apply within 90 days prior to your program end date. It’s very beneficial to attend any OPT workshops that Carson- Newman offers to gain a better understanding of the guidelines of OPT.

There are 2 types of OPT: Pre-completion and Post-completion.

  1. Pre-completion OPT can be used before your program completion date (while you’re still enrolled).
  2. Post-completion OPT is used after your program completion date (after you graduate).

Both types of OPT will be deducted from the same 12-month OPT time limit.


  • Job offer is not necessary to apply and will not expedite the OPT process
  • Employment on OPT must be directly related to your major area of study and commensurate with your educational level
  • Total OPT time per degree level is 12 months; the 12-month allotment per degree level may be divided into various segments. An undergraduate student who completes 3 months OPT during one summer is eligible for 9 months remaining after program ends. If the same student then begins a Master’s level degree in the U.S., he/she is eligible for a new 12 months of OPT. Any leftover (unused) OPT time from the previous degree level does not carry over to the new degree level. OPT time is not cumulative.
  • Part-time OPT is authorized for up to 20 hours per week; Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12-month limit at 50%
  • OPT may be used full-time only during official annual summer vacation or after all course work is completed for degree
  • Pre-Completion OPT may be used while school is in session, prior to course completion, provided that it does not exceed 20 hours per week
  • Post-Completion OPT (after program completion) is granted for full-time use only
  • OPT start date must fall within 60 days of program completion (this is not necessarily the same date as graduation day)
  • On full-time OPT, you may enroll in classes that are “incidental” to the employment; Do not begin a new degree program on OPT

Documents needed to apply for OPT:

  1. Carson-Newman OPT application- your academic advisor will need to complete the bottom section
  2. Form I-765- Application for Employment Authorization
  3. Check for $410 made out to Department of Homeland Security to accompany I-765
  4. Copy of current and all previous I-20’s
  5. Copy of I-94
  6. Copy of visa stamp
  7. Two identical passport style photos (name printed lightly on back in pencil)
  8. Copy of ID pages in passport
  9. Copy of any previous EADs you have had
  10. New I-20 with DSO OPT recommendation

**Please first notify your DSO that you are beginning the OPT application process to make sure that you have met all of the qualifications.**

Your DSO facilitates the OPT application process, but final authorization is processed by Immigration. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the application is submitted at least two weeks in advance of the program completion date. While you are on OPT you are still considered an F-1 Carson-Newman Student, and therefore must continue to report to your DSO to maintain your status.

This school is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.

Before traveling, you must complete the Travel Clearance Form and see your DSO to have your I-20 signed.

This school is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.