The Internal Revenue Service, the tax authority of the United States, requires that all colleges and universities follow regulations regarding the taxation and reporting of payments made to individuals who are not United States citizens. Specifically, these regulations apply to all non‐resident aliens, including international students studying in the United States.
Under IRS regulations, international students must pay taxes on any income derived from sources in the United States, including certain portions of any scholarship money received for education. Scholarship payments for tuition, fees, and books are not considered for tax purposes. However, if you receive scholarship payments for room and board, the IRS regulations require that you pay a percentage of that amount for income tax purposes. The percentage of taxable payments for room and board is 14 percent. The taxable portion of the scholarship will be posted to your student account. Therefore, it is important that you consider the payment of any taxable portion of your scholarship award in your overall financial plan to attend Morehouse College.
During the orientation session for new international students, you will be required to register in GLACIER. This is the software program that Morehouse uses to assist with assessing the taxable income for international students.
For more information regarding the IRS tax regulations that affect you as an international student, visit irs.gov. While the college offers no official endorsement of tax preparatory companies, many international students around the country have found Sprintax a helpful tool in the filing process.
F-1 Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides students attending Morehouse on the F-1 student visa the opportunity to gain one year of practical experience in the United States following graduation. It is limited to a total of 12 months in a field directly related to the major course of study. At the time of application, students are not required to have an offer of employment. However, during the OPT period, students are limited to a maximum of 90 days of unemployment. OPT participants are required to maintain contact with Dean Wright to ensure your good status rating with SEVIS.
- F-1 students are eligible for OPT if they have maintained status for one full academic year (two consecutive semesters).
- It is possible to break up the 12 months into shorter segments. However, it is not recommended since sometimes the second period is not granted.
- If a student has engaged in 12 months or more in the aggregate of full-time CPT, the student is ineligible to apply for OPT
- Students must complete their practical training within 14 months after completion of their program.
Part-time Clinical Practical Training:
- Cannot be for more than 20 hours per week (while full-time Practical Training is anything more than 20 hours per week)
- When students work part-time, the hours will be deducted from the available Optional Practical Training at one-half the full-time rate.
- Part-time OPT is not available once the student has graduated.
Regarding Your Status:
OPT is a continuation of your F-1 student status. Upon completion of your OPT, you have 60 days to do one of the following:
- Change to a nonimmigrant status other than F-1
- Be admitted to and have an I-20 issued for a new academic program
- Transfer your F-1 status to another U.S. institution
- Depart the United States
Travel Outside the United States
Students are strongly discouraged from traveling after the completion of studies while they have a pending application for OPT. USCIS could interpret the student's departure from the U.S. as abandoning the application.
However, once the Employment Application Document (EAD) is received, students can travel with the following:
- The EAD, valid visa, I-20 endorsed for travel by the DSO (no older than 6 months at the time of entry) and a letter from the employer to re-enter the U.S
- Caution: If the student has not yet secured employment, the Immigration Port of Entry inspector might not allow re-entry to the U.S.
- Travel during OPT without a valid visa to return is not recommended. However, the student visa can be renewed with the EAD and a letter from the employer.
OPT Validation - Conditions of Employment and Unemployment
Although you do not need a job to apply for OPT, you are now required to have employment for at least 9 months of your authorized period of OPT. Students are limited to accruing 90 days or less of unemployment during the 12 months. If you are changing positions, the regulations allow for a 10 day grace period. It is important to note that leaving the United States does not prevent accrual.
SEVIS requires that institutions report a student's change in legal name, address, or nonimmigrant status, and any change in the employer's information (address and name) and any interruption of such employment throughout the duration of OPT. Upon receipt of the EAD, the student should provide a copy to the Office of International Student Services. In addition, students must update their information every six months starting from the date the OPT begins and ending when the F-1 status ends, the educational level changes, there is a transfer to another school, or OPT ends.
H-1B Cap Gap
Effective April 8, 2008, students on post-completion OPT, who are the beneficiaries of a timely filed H-1B petition requesting an employment start date of October 1 of the following fiscal year, can continue their employment and have continued duration of status while awaiting a decision on the H-1B petition. The extension of the duration of status and work authorization would automatically terminate upon the rejection, denial, or revocation of the H-1B petition filed on behalf of the student. The following information is required to take advantage of the Cap Gap:
- A properly filed petition
- If selected for waitlisting, a photocopy of the documentation.
- If approved for the H-1B, provide documentation to the International Students Office so that a new I-20 can be generated reflecting the extension.
If a rejection/denial of the H-1B request is received, and it is beyond the expiration date on the EAD card, the student must terminate employment. Additionally, within 60 days of notification of denial of the petition, the student must depart the U.S. or change to a status other than F-1.
Students benefiting from the Cap Gap should not leave the United States after the expiration of the EAD. Students who decide to leave the U.S. will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. as F-1 students. Students with an approved H-1B will need to obtain a new visa stamp and can only re-enter under the auspices of the H-1B visa. Students should discuss H-1B requirements with the employer.
Seventeen Month STEM Extension
The U.S. government extended the period of eligibility of OPT for certain majors for an additional 17 months for a total of 29 months of post-completion OPT. Students who completed programs in specific majors in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are eligible for the extension.
A student should apply for the STEM extension during the last three months of the approved EAD.
Applying for OPT Form I-765 Special Instructions
The complete instructions for the Form I-765 can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/I-765instr.pdf. OPT is authorized in three forms with one of the 3 codes stated in the regulations: for pre-completion OPT use (c)3(A); for post-completion OPT use (c)3(B); for the 17-month STEM extension use (c)3(C).
Students cannot apply for OPT earlier than 90 days before the completion of their program of study and up to 60 days after graduation.
Do you need a Social Security Number
International visitors are not required to have a Social Security Card to enter the U.S., open a bank account, sign a lease, or get a Georgia driver's license. However, you may likely be asked for a Social Security Number when trying to do these things. This is because SSNs are used to check financial credit history (i.e., a record of paying bills on time). If you are asked for an SSN by a cell phone carrier, bank, landlord, etc. you should explain that you are not eligible for one as a new student. Since you do not have a financial credit history, you may be required to pay a higher deposit for certain services.
CPT opportunities, such as campus work-study, require the Social Security card. See a designated school official on campus for the required letter from the college, endorsing your eligibility for a SSN, and make an application for the card accordingly. Apply for a Social Security Number.