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International Student Handbook


MCAD International Student Handbook 2017-2018

Table of Contents


Welcome to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I hope this handbook addresses questions you might have about studying in the United States. Please review all the information enclosed; you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the policies and procedures. Feel free to contact me for additional information.

My office is located in the Morrison Building, in room M104 in Student Affairs. I can be reached through email at, and I am available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. My office phone number is (612) 874-3628. My office fax number is (612) 874-3502. For immigration emergencies after 5 p.m. please call Public Safety at (612) 874-3700.

I look forward to working with you during your studies!


Britt Nelson
International + Off-Campus Programs Advisor
(612) 874-3628

Academic Life

Academic Success

  1. American professors want students to respect their knowledge and opinions, but generally prefer discussion and debate to respectful silence.
  2. Although most faculty members encourage critical thinking from students, the manner in which criticism is expressed is important. Students show respect by acknowledging a professor's point of view and then offering another point of view for consideration.
  3. Regular attendance at all classes and good note-taking skills are important and expected.
  4. Students may ask an instructor for clarification. Within reason, important points can be repeated if they are presented too fast to comprehend or write down.
  5. Students should pay close attention to instructions given at the beginning of the course about the manner in which the class will be conducted and how grades will be determined.
  6. Students receive a printed syllabus for each course at the beginning of the semester. The syllabus outlines the course's objectives, the material to be covered, due dates for assignments, examination dates, texts to be purchased or obtained from the library, the professor's name, office location, and office hours.
  7. The Learning Center, located adjacent to the Library, can help students produce written assignments that meet accepted standards in any class.

Adding or Dropping a Class

During the first five days of a semester, students may add or drop classes. This is called the Add/Drop period. The deadline for adding classes, and for dropping without a notation on a transcript can be found on the Academic Calendar posted on main MCAD website at No classes may be added after these dates. Students should consult the ISA before dropping a class, as it might affect their visa status.

If an undergraduate international student drops below 12 credits, the ISA must change their file in SEVIS and print a new I-20 with a new status including authorization to drop below full-time. The same applies for international graduate students who drop below 9 credits.

If an international student drops or withdraws from all classes, they must leave the country within 15 days.


A typical undergraduate MCAD liberal arts course involves two and a half hours of lectures each week. There are usually assigned readings, quizzes and tests, a mid-term examination, and a final examination, as well as one or more research papers or projects.

Each MCAD studio class meets for five hours of lectures, demonstrations or directed studio time each week.


Academic life in the U.S. may be confusing. International students often comment that U.S. students are competitive but do not seem to study very hard. Or it may seem puzzling that there is great informality in the classroom, yet the professors are very demanding. Some of these apparent contradictions can be explained in terms of their underlying values. Creativity, tolerance, and flexibility are, in general, along with tradition and respect for authority.

Teaching styles and classroom attitudes vary widely and are influenced by many factors. Even where tradition does dictate academic behavior, the patterns may not be evident to someone coming from another tradition. International students are often surprised at the variety of available courses and number of choices they must make each term. There is a basic structure to MCAD, but many options usually exist as well.

Classroom Etiquette

There are some American student behaviors that a student may find surprising or that would be considered disrespectful in a student's home country.

For example, students may sit in class with their feet up on the chair or desk in front of them. Students may interrupt lectures to ask questions, or even to raise objections to what is being said. In general, none of these behaviors denotes disrespect unless done in a belligerent or aggressive manner. One way in which an American student shows respect for her or his teacher is by being an active participant (commenting or questioning) in class.



International students sometimes find that their U.S. classmates are preoccupied with grades. This can be explained partly by the spirit of individual competition that is fostered and supported by American society. It is also a pragmatic matter, as grades are an important factor in gaining admission to graduate school or getting a job after graduation.

The grading system used by most colleges and universities to evaluate students' academic performances is based on a four-point scale. Undergraduates are expected to graduate with a C average or better. An international student's visa or I-20 will not be revoked if a student fails a class, however good faith progress in a timely manner with the intention of graduating is part of the agreement a student makes when accepting student status in the U.S.


Students must fill out an "Intent to Graduate" form in the Records Office during their last semester at MCAD. Note: If a student intends to apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training) to work for 12 months after graduation, students must see the ISA four months before their graduation date. OPT cases can take 90 days to adjudicate through USCIS.


Homework assignments are usually stated in a course syllabus. International students are often surprised by the amount of daily and weekly assignments, and by the fact that grades are based on these assignments, not just the final examination. Studio classes also have homework, usually due the next week at the beginning of class. The class will have a critique or discussion about every student's art work. The critique may take up to or more than five hours. It is recommended that international students do not delay commencing homework.


Internships are practical work situations or training experiences that allow students to apply what they have learned in class. MCAD offers academic credit for internships, but not all students are required to complete an internship. There is no internship requirement for MFA students.

International students can only enroll in an internship if it is required for a major, regardless of pay. A student must apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) through the ISA prior to beginning work. A student can only receive CPT authorization if they have been enrolled as a full-time student for at least one full academic year. A student is limited to 12 months of full-time CPT. However, a student may accumulate the 12 months throughout their MCAD undergraduate experience. Additionally, there is no limit to the amount of time a student may work part-time on CPT. Students cannot volunteer at a for-profit company.

Learning Center (LC)

The Learning Center functions as an academic support center and enrichment resource for all MCAD students. The LC is comprised of supportive faculty and peer tutors who are available to help students with the wide range of remedial to advanced level assignments and academic challenges they encounter, in both liberal arts and studio classes. Offering individualized tutorial assistance, a variety of instructional handouts, and time management resources, the LC assists MCAD students to gain the most from their education.

Tutors can help students evaluate the content, style, grammar, and organization of their writing. In addition, tutors are available for brainstorming, thesis development, and software assistance. A student can sign up in advance to meet with a tutor.

  • Learning Disability Accommodation
  • Internship Search
  • Movie-based training on computer software using LinkedIn Learning
  • Research
  • Internet and Email Use
  • Grant/Proposal Writing
  • Documentation for Research Papers
  • Artist Statements
  • Resumes
  • Writing/Editing
  • Time Management
  • Test Preparation
  • Blackboard Online Classrooms
  • Basic Computer Software

Off-Campus Study

International students can apply to study abroad. See the ISA for details and restrictions.

Online Learning

Online learning courses are limited for F-1 students. F-1 students may only take one online course / 3 credits per semester if they are taking 12 total credits, and a maximum of 2 online courses / 6 online credits if they are taking 15 total credits. 


Plagiarism is the use of another person's words or ideas without acknowledgement of their source. Although in some cultures incorporating the words of revered scholars is an important part of the style of academic writing, it is not acceptable in the U.S.; indeed, it is considered a serious offence. The consequences of proven or even suspected plagiarism can be severe (for example, a failing grade or expulsion from class or MCAD). Borrowed words and ideas must always be clearly documented. If a student encounters writing difficulties, they should get help as soon as possible. An important distinction exists between group work and individual work.

In general, a paper, homework assignments, quizzes and tests should all be done individually, and evidence (or even suspicion) of collaboration can result in a failing grade for the work or expulsion from the class or MCAD. Studying with others is a good idea, but before students collaborate with others on homework, papers or tests, they should make sure the professor has specifically authorized such collaboration.

Reduced Credit Load

Undergraduate international students are required by law to enroll in at least 12 credits (full-time status), 9 credits for graduate students, except when seriously ill, incorrectly placed, or during their final semester.


Exchange students are pre-registered for classes, but degree-seeking international students are required to register for classes at specific times announced in advance by the Student Affairs Office. For a current schedule of dates, please click on 'Academic Calendar' on MCAD's intranet. Although they receive guidance from staff and faculty, students are responsible for accurate registration; credit is granted for only those courses for which a student is properly registered. Students are also held responsible for every course for which they register unless the course is officially dropped within the stated deadlines.

Each semester, students must meet with their advisor prior to registration to get help with which classes to register for. Once given clearance from their advisor, students will be able to register online through their MY MCAD Registration tab.

Research Papers

Research papers are another aspect of academic life that may seem overwhelming. Some students are unable to express themselves clearly or eloquently in written English; others do not know how to use the online library catalog; others may not be familiar with American academic writing styles or conventions. A student will be expected to know when and how to "paraphrase" or summarize another's written ideas in a student's own words. If a student is not a native English speaker, this may seem difficult and a student may be tempted to quote sources word for word. Because this practice can lead to a charge of "plagiarism", it is essential that a student acquire the skill of paraphrasing. A student will find that if they truly understand the subject, they will be able to express themselves clearly. A Learning Center tutor will read research papers, point out passages that are unclear and help generate phrasing that conveys the intended meaning. A student may have to sacrifice the elegance of the original quotation, but the paper will gain coherence from the effort a student puts into synthesizing all of the materials.

Summer Classes

Attendance at another college during the summer months (May-August) does not require permission by the ISA nor require transfer the I-20 form if the student intends to return to classes at MCAD the following Fall semester.


Transcripts are also known as "marks sheets" or "academic records". A transcript is proof of classes taken and contains the titles of classes and class number. Transcripts show whether a student is an undergraduate or graduate student. If a student transferred credits, it lists the names other institutions and courses taken. Transcripts show credits, grades, and grade point averages. It also lists a student's address and MCAD identification number.

To request a transcript, see the Records Office. International exchange students are given one official transcript at the end of the semester for personal records. A second official transcript is mailed to the International Student Advisor at the home school. Any additional official transcripts cost a fee paid directly to the Records Office.


A student who is maintaining status may transfer from one U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Department of Homeland Security approved school to another. A student who has not maintained status at MCAD is not eligible to transfer and must apply for reinstatement at the home or first school. See the ISA to obtain a "Transfer Recommendation" form and for additional details.

Withdrawing from MCAD

A student must complete a "Notification of Student Withdrawal" form and meet with the ISA to withdraw. Students have five years to return to MCAD before needing to reapply through the Admissions Office. If a student withdraws, they no longer have F-1 status, and must depart the U.S. within 15 days.

Cultural Considerations

Alcohol and Tobacco

U.S. laws concerning the sale and consumption of alcohol may seem very liberal or very constraining to students, depending on nationality. The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years old. MCAD has specific policies to restrict the consumption of alcohol on campus. Refer to the Student Handbook for more details. In many parts of the U.S., public buildings are designated "smoke free", meaning that you cannot smoke in any part of the building. There may also be signs posted on the doorways asking an individual not to smoke within 20 feet of the entrance or exit. Be prepared to see "No Smoking" signs in most offices, classrooms, restaurants and stores.


The U.S. is a check and credit culture, not a cash culture. Students should not carry more than $50 - $100 cash. It is best to carry traveler's checks, personal checks, credit or check cards.

Students should be aware of their personal finances by signing up in advance for online banking services. ATMs can charge up to $3 per cash withdrawal or transaction. If someone overdraws their U.S. checking account they may have to pay a fine up to $30 for that withdrawal. Most banks require a $10 minimum balance.


Checks are only issued through banks or businesses such as Western Union. Checks issued from the bank are also called cashier's or counter checks. A bank or cashier's check is drawn on a U.S. bank account in U.S. dollars. Students who will be in the U.S. studying for more than six months should consider opening a checking account in addition to a savings account. If a student decides to open a U.S. bank account, they should bring their I-20, passport with visa stamp, I-94 card, letter of verification, class schedule or transcript and form W-8BEN (available from the ISA).

Debit Cards

Debit cards are also called check cards in the U.S. They allow a person to deposit or withdraw money from their bank account using an ATM. Different from a credit card, people cannot withdraw more money than is in their bank account. Check cards also allow people to make purchases at stores that accept credit cards (if it has a VISA or MasterCard symbol on it.)

Credit Cards

Credit cards are convenient, but can carry interest rates as high as 23%. The benefit is that credit cards allow people to make purchases even when they have no money immediately available. All bills (for example cell phone) should be sent to a student's dormitory address, not to the general college. In the U.S. credit and debit cards should say the name of the cardholder, not a parent's name or head of account.



The preparation and types of food are one of the more difficult things to adjust to in different countries. At the MCAD cafeteria students are encouraged to try new dishes or ask about unfamiliar dishes. Most importantly, changes in diet can affect emotional, mental and physical health. Eating a healthy diet is particularly important when adjusting to a new environment.

The cafeteria is open during Fall and Spring semesters when classes are in session. The hours are Monday-Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. The cafeteria features hot daily specials, made-to-order sandwiches, hamburgers, fries, salads, smoothies, and other beverages.

Students may create accounts up to $250 with the cafeteria from which funds can be withdrawn in small increments.

Culture Shock

All new students' first days are ones of adjustment. However, for international students this is even more true. A student may experience many changes when

entering college in another culture. Students may experience these phases at the same time or revert back to previous stages at any time.

Four Phases that a student may experience:

  1. Honeymoon: Everything is great, nothing is wrong. They are having a wonderful time.
  2. Shock: There are so many differences in the U.S. that they don't know how to deal with them. They didn't think things would be like this.
  3. Negotiation: They learn to deal with the problems set before them and try to integrate them with their own beliefs.
  4. Acceptance: They are able to live well in the environment with the differences they are experiencing.

Some cultural differences a student may experience due to a change in customs are:

  1. Friendship: Most people will be friendly. They will talk about current events, politics, hobbies, and sports. However, personal matters are often not spoken about such as financial or family problems. Some students may be very candid and open on an individual basis, however that does not mean they have become a good friend. It is normal for Americans to only pass by each other with a short "Hi" or nod of the head and to be less forthcoming in groups. When Americans ask "How's it going?", This usually means "Hello" and the correct response is "Fine".
  2. Dress: The attire worn is usually informal. It is not necessary to wear Western-style clothing. Clothing a student has brought from home is acceptable.
  3. Greetings: When Americans greet each other, whether male or female, a handshake is generally the custom. Spatial distance is a very important aspect of nonverbal communication. Most Americans stand three feet (one meter) apart when talking.
  4. Schedules: Americans place a high priority on being punctual. A student will be expected to be on time to events that have specific starting times, such as class, dinner arrangements, appointments, etc.
  5. Professors: The relationship between student and professor is usually open and informal. Most professors want their students to talk directly to them about any questions they have, in order to answer them quickly. Students may call a professor by their first (given) name.

Symptoms of Culture Shock

  • Feeling very angry over minor inconveniences
  • Irritability
  • Withdrawal from people who are different from you
  • Extreme homesickness
  • Sudden intense feeling of loyalty to own culture
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Boredom
  • A need for excessive sleep
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Small pains feel worse
  • Depression
  • Loss of ability to work or study effectively
  • Unexplainable crying
  • Marital or relationship stress
  • Exaggerated cleanliness
  • Feeling sick much of the time

In order to have culture shock, a student need not have every symptom on the list. It is possible that only a few may apply. These symptoms may also appear at any given time. However, headaches and upset stomachs should be checked by a physician before a student decides it's only culture shock. Seek guidance from the ISA during business hours. After hours if it is an emergency, students should go to the Public Safety desk and call for a taxi to see a doctor or visit the hospital emergency room.

Solutions for Culture Shock

Even though some people may not be able to eliminate culture shock, there are ways to ease stress levels.

  1. Keep Active.Explore the new environment. By going outside, one is able to experience first-hand what Americans are doing. Visiting public places, such as a shopping mall, library or sporting events, one will be able to watch and learn how American customs are practiced.
  2. Ask Questions and Be Honest. You cannot assume that you always know what is going on, or that you always understand a particular way of communication. Most Americans will be very helpful. You may need to rephrase a question, check the meaning of something, or repeat what was said in order to be clearly understood.
  3. Make American Friends. By having friends to talk with, you will be able to ask questions about what you do not understand.
  4. Try Not to Misjudge. You will see many things that are different from your own culture. Don't label anything as "good" or "bad" in comparison; most customs, habits, and ideas are simply different from the ones with which you may be familiar. You may also misunderstand some things; don't make judgments without complete information.
  5. Try to Empathize. Try to see another person's point of view, and look at the situation from his or her perspective. Culture influences how different people interpret the same situation.
  6. Be Open and Curious. Try new things, and discover how and why certain things are done. The more you explore, the more you will learn.
  7. Don't Be Afraid to Laugh at Yourself. It is likely that you will make mistakes as you explore a new culture. Laughing at one's mistakes will encourage others to respond in a friendly manner and help with learning from them.
  8. Exercise. By finding an activity that you can enjoy, you will be able to reduce stress and depression.
  9. Participate in Community Activities. Students should talk with their roommates, Resident Assistant, ISA, or other Americans about community activities, religious services, or volunteer opportunities in order to become a member of the community while here.
  10. Work on Language Skills. It is much easier to understand a culture when a student can understand the language being used. Language is key to involvement in a new culture. Even if you can't speak perfectly, attempts to communicate in English will be appreciated. Remember, understanding others and making oneself understood in a new language requires more rephrasing, repeating, and rechecking than usual.
  11. Introduce Yourself to other International Students. They may be experiencing the same problems. By talking to them, you may be able to find different ways to cope with problems.
  12. Evaluate Your Expectations. Students may feel frustrated because in order to come to the U.S., they must have been a very successful student. You may not feel as successful here because you will be learning new academic and social systems.
  13. Be Patient. Many international students experience culture shock in some way while they are here. Recognize the problem and allow time to adjust. If needed, keep a reminder that this is not permanent. Adopt a "wait and see" attitude.

If culture shock continues, contact the ISA and/or make an appointment with Beth Stockinger, Counseling Psychologist (612) 874-3776. This service is free to all MCAD students.

Health Care

Hospitals. A hospital provides initial treatment to patients with a broad spectrum of illness and injuries, especially those that are life-threatening and require immediate attention.

Clinics. A clinic is a small medical facility that provides doctor appointments. Some may have urgent care facilities for same day doctor visits on a first come/first serve basis. Clinics are not equivalents to hospitals. Go to the clinic for illness and minor injuries.

Health Insurance

The college requires all students to be covered under a health insurance policy.

MCAD requires all incoming and returning degree-seeking international students to purchase MCAD's health insurance policy. International exchange students may purchase MCAD's insurance policy, or a US-based insurance plan that is comparable to MCAD's (coverage for office visits, prescription medicine, emergency visits, etc). 

Dental work and eye examinations are not covered by MCAD health insurance and are very expensive in the U.S. The cost is probably far less in a student's home country. Students are encouraged to bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses in case of loss or damage. In addition, they should bring a supply of doctor's prescriptions or medication that they take regularly.

International Payment Options

International students that do not have a domestic (United States) bank account may initiate a bank wire using flywire International Payment Services. For security purposes, this is the only international bank wire service that MCAD offers.

Look for the flywire logo on your MAX Account menu of payment options, at checkout.

You will be directed to flywire's MCAD student dashboard where you will create your own personal flywire account and login credentials.

Choose your preferred payment method - bank transfer or credit card - and receive detailed payment instructions to print or save to your phone for easy reference.

Flywire receives, converts and delivers the funds to MCAD, notifying you each step of the way.

For more information, visit

Problems or questions can be addressed to Miguel Granger (Bursar), in the MCAD Business Office at (612) 874-3809.


Many international students have spent a lot of money and time learning English. When they come to Minnesota and have trouble understanding people, they are frustrated. They may think that they have wasted their resources. There are many dialects of English, even for Americans in the United States. While there are certainly many more varieties of English, American and British English are the two varieties that are taught in most ESL programs. Generally, it is agreed that no one version is "correct." The most important rule of thumb is to try to be consistent in usage. Students should use American English spellings and be consistent in that spelling in all academic writing.

"What part of no don't you understand?"

This is a popular saying in the U.S., stemming out of the movement to protest violence against women. If someone is asking you to do something that you do not want to do or if you feel uncomfortable "just say no." You do not have to offer an explanation. It is better to hurt someone's feelings than to put yourself in a compromising situation.

Ways to say no:

"Thanks anyway."

"I don't want to."

"I'm not interested."


"No way."

"That's not necessary."

"I really don't want to."

"I don't feel like it."

"I don't think I can make it."

"That's not good for me."

"That doesn't work for me."

"Absolutely not." (strong phrase)

"Forget about it!" (strong, informal)

Ways to say no for the moment:

"I'll take a rain check on that."

"Let me get back to you."

"Maybe next time."

"Let me think about it."

"We'll talk later."

"Let me check my calendar…"

Phrases Americans often use without expecting a true answer:

"How are you?"

"How's your family?"

"Let's have lunch."

"I'll call you."

"What's going on?"

"What's happening?"

Ways to end a debate or argument:

"Let's agree to disagree."


"Can we agree to talk about it later?"

"We're not really getting anywhere…"


The U.S. is a multicultural society founded on tolerance and mutual respect. A student should not hesitate to seek out opportunities to practice religious beliefs. Organized religious groups of many denominations can be found close to the MCAD community. For local chapters of an organization or directions, see the ISA.


Topics to discuss:

  • cleaning
  • neatness
  • food
  • cooking
  • household supplies
  • borrowing
  • guests
  • music
  • television
  • smoking and alcohol
  • study time and places
  • sleeping time
  • privacy

Living with others can be an enriching yet challenging experience. The Housing Director will inform students of their roommate(s). Once students know who they will be living with, it is important to conduct a candid discussion as soon as possible and come to an agreement about daily living. It's important to include in the discussion positive characteristics sought in a roommate, as well as unacceptable traits. By doing so, the chance of something minor turning into a major problem is far less.

Keep in mind four crucial points in terms of daily living with roommates: communication, commitment, consideration, and mediation. When people are open to communication, problem-solving becomes easier. Students must realize their responsibilities managing their relationships and commit to let their roommates know when they are dealing with stress. It is likely that students will be able to work out most of their problems amongst themselves. However, if nothing seems to work and things seem unresolved, students should seek mediation. (Adapted from Boston College's off-campus housing services.)

Social Life

Recreation, diversion and friendships contribute to a balanced life. All students should get involved in campus life. There are many organizations and groups eager for new members. They include the Student Union (SU), Students in Design, Draw League, Photographers Club, Animation Club, 3D Club, Audio Lounge, Anime Club, Soccer, Bike Club, Comic Heads, and more.

There is a difference between "friendliness" and "friendship". Most Americans will be friendly, but such friendliness is not necessarily a prelude to friendship. Avoid misunderstanding by learning the signals of growing friendship. It takes time for friendship - a close relationship - to develop between Americans, just as it probably does in other cultures. Americans often refer to acquaintances as "friends". There are, however, degrees of friendship. In the U.S., people often say "Hi, how are you?" or "How are you doing?" and then do not wait for a response. These are polite phrases rather than questions.

International students should make an effort to meet people so that friendships can develop. Because crossing borders is a unique and powerful experience, some students, at least initially, may think that they have more in common with other international students than they do with Americans. Participating in campus life is a good way to find friends.

Students may be surprised by the informality of relations between men and women in the U.S. Couples go out alone in the evening to attend a movie, concert, lecture or party; students may get together for a "study date". Relationships between American men and women of college age range from simple, casual friendships to strong emotional and physical commitments.

Student Housing

  1. Students can stay in their campus apartment during semester break and spring break. Fall residents who will not be living on campus during spring semester must be moved out by January 3. Spring residents who are not living on campus during the summer must be moved out by May 20. Students who want to live on campus during the summer must complete a summer housing application, and pay for summer housing at the beginning of each month. Students do not need to be enrolled in summer classes to live on campus during the summer.
  2. The cafeteria is closed during all breaks.
  3. Students who rent an apartment off-campus, may be entitled to a property tax refund. People must file federal and Minnesota State taxes by April 15. Refund checks are mailed by the state government in August.
  4. Students who live on campus or close to MCAD can be escorted to their apartment by a Public Safety Officer. Students who live off-campus can be escorted to their car whether it is in the parking lot or on the street.
  5. MCAD strongly recommends that all students living on or off campus purchase personal property insurance. The college does not accept responsibility for students' personal property. Students may already be covered through their parents, however if they are not, the Housing Office has brochures from an independent insurance agent. Property insurance protects students against fire, theft, water damage or vandalism of such items as cameras, TVs and computers.
  6. There is a lost and found box at the Public Safety desk. If valuable things are lost off-campus, students should contact the police to ask if filing a report is necessary.
  7. Emergency drills: Fire drills are held once per semester in campus housing. Students are required to evacuate the building when they hear a siren. Students may be fined $10 for not evacuating.
  8. Tornado sirens are sounded from neighborhood schools and community centers on the first Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m. Students should not be alarmed and do not need to seek shelter.



Minnesota law gives cyclists the same rights and privileges as motor vehicle drivers. Cyclists have the right to ride on the road and must know the applicable traffic laws and act accordingly. Minnesota laws calls for cyclists to ride with the flow of traffic and as close to the right side of the road as practical, except in the following situations: when overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway, when reasonably necessary to avoid roadside conditions (fixed or moving objects, vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, narrow lane widths) which make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. Wearing a bike helmet is an inexpensive form of insurance against traumatic injury. Most bicycle deaths and permanently disabling bicycle accidents are due to head injuries. When purchasing a bicycle helmet, look for a sticker that indicates if it meets the Snell Memorial Foundation or ANSI standards.

General Rules of the Road on a Bicycle:
  1. Minneapolis cyclists are encouraged to use the designated bike lanes where provided.
  2. When entering a roadway from some place other than an intersection, yield the right-of-way to all vehicles and pedestrians approaching the roadway. Even if you have the right-of-way, be prepared to yield if necessary.
  3. Pass to the left of a slower vehicle. Give an audible signal when necessary before overtaking and passing pedestrians and vehicles. Listen carefully for vehicles. Maintain control of the bicycle and position on the road.
  4. Obey stop signs and traffic signals. Running a stoplight on a bicycle is a dangerous violation. Signal intentions to let other drivers on the roadway know what the intended direction. Give a hand signal continuously 100 feet before turning to inform other drivers, unless both hands are needed to control the bicycle.
  5. Bicyclists are prohibited from riding on sidewalks within any business district or upon any sidewalk where prohibited by appropriate signage.
  6. Ride after dark only if the bike has a white/clear headlight and red rear reflector, as required by law for night riding. Other good ideas not in the law include wearing light-colored clothing or reflective vests and leg-bands. Allow plenty of time for travel and watch for unlit roads, potholes and other nighttime hazards. The key is that a cyclists must be visible. While night riding accounts for only about four percent of all bike riding, over sixty percent of bike fatalities occur at night.

MCAD is a proud sponsor of Nice Bike, a Minneapolis public bicycle sharing program. A kiosk is located in front of the Main Building. Generally, bikes are available from April to November. For subscription information, fees, maps and usage details, see Nice Ride.


Pedicabs are three-wheeled bicycles for the area in and around downtown Minneapolis. 612-338-1128


A state driver's license and car insurance are required in order to own and drive a car in the state of Minnesota. The Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act requires that every car and motorcycle operated in Minnesota is covered by proper no fault and liability insurance.

Examples of national insurance companies:

AAA (American Automobile Association):

American Family:


State Farm:

Metro Transit Bus and Light Rail

Bus schedules are available in the wall pockets outside of the Art Cellar in the Morrison Building. The current local fare during non-rush hours is $1.75 and $2.25 during rush hours (Monday-Friday 6:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m.) Buses accept $1 bills and U.S. coins. Bus fare boxes and drivers cannot make change. If a rider needs to travel on more than one bus to reach their destination, they should ask the driver for a transfer when they pay their fare. A transfer is good for unlimited rides in any direction for up to 2 1/2 hours, but does not apply to Downtown Zone fares.


  • Airport: Super Shuttle,
  • Local: Red and White Taxi 612-871-1600,
  • Blue and White Taxi: 612-333-3333,
  • Uber (Smart phone required),
  • St. Paul & East Suburbs: Suburban Taxi 612-522-2222,


If a student leaves the U.S. for 5 months or less, they may be readmitted using the same I-20 form. If a student leaves the U.S. for more than 5 months, a new I-20 form must be issued by the ISA.

A student should also have a valid passport, I-20, visa, current proof of financial support (and EAD card during OPT). Students should also carry proof of full-time enrollment (transcript or class schedule).

If a student exits the United States on an expired visa, they must go to a U.S. Consulate office and get a new one. If a student travels to Canada or Mexico during semester breaks, a Canadian or Mexican visa may be needed. Check with the ISA before travel. Travel within the U.S. and territories is not restricted and no special documents are required. However, it is extremely important that students carry their passports and valid documents in the event they need to present them to law enforcement officials. Customs and Border Protection officers regularly stop rail and auto traffic within 100 miles of the U.S. border to check immigration documents.


Canadian Students

Canadian students do not need to obtain a visa to enter the United States. However, students must have a passport to prove citizenship and identity. In addition, a student needs an I-20 issued by MCAD and proof of financial ability in order to enter at the U.S. border.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is work authorization that allows for a student to work in a job related to his/her field, on or off campus.

Internships are required for the BSc and BFA programs. MFA students are not required to complete internships, but can during the summer after their first year.

By MCAD's guidelines, students are required to spend 120 hours working in an internship for 3 credits. Legally, a student may accumulate up to 12 months of working on an internship throughout an undergraduate degree. This training may be full-time or part-time. For immigration purposes, there is no limit to the amount of time a student may work part-time. Since Master of Fine Arts degree seeking students are not required to have an internship, one must be recommended and approval granted by both the mentor and MFA Program Director prior to employment.

Part-time CPT 20 hours a week or less shall be deducted from the available practical training at one half the full-time rate. Full-time CPT for 12 months or more forfeits all Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Students must have been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year and be in legal F-1 status to qualify for CPT. Students may not begin employment until he/she has the CPT authorization in hand and a new I-20 listing the employer, address and job description.

Application Process:

  1. Download and read internship program information from the Career Development department on the intranet.
  2. Login at
  3. Register the internship.
  4. Ask the supervisor for a signed letter on company stationery stating job start and end dates, job duties, supervisor name, title, phone number and email address.
  5. See the ISA for a recommendation in SEVIS, a new I-20 form with CPT notation listing the company's address, phone number, job duties, how it relates to the student's major, start date, end date, and if the position is full-time (40 hours/week) or part-time (20 hours/week).
  6. Give a copy of the new I-20 to the employer and complete Internal Revenue Service paperwork (if applicable.
  7. There is no post-completion CPT or internships under CPT after graduation.


Do not accept freelance work until after graduation.

Receiving a benefit in exchange for services rendered (free room and board for baby-sitting or free rent for acting as a caretaker of an apartment building or having an internship cite employer offer free conference fees or airline flight in return for work) is considered to be employment and is not acceptable. See ISA for information on off campus work permission based on Unforeseen Financial Change (limited eligibility).

Employment (On-Campus)

Only degree-seeking students are allowed to work on-campus. Employment is limited to 20 hours per week during the school year, but can be 40 hours per week during school breaks. A student must speak with departments or offices separately to inquire if they are hiring international students. Students do not need to obtain permission from the ISA (unless they do not yet have a Social Security Administration card and number) to work on-campus. International students may donate work to the Art Sale, to be eligible to apply for an international student scholarship. Exchange students are not eligible for the scholarship, but may donate their work to the Art Sale.


The I-20 is a legal document which a student must present to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to obtain an F-1 visa. The I-20 must be presented at Customs and Border Protection at the airport each time a student travels abroad and returns, and must reflect accurate information.

Changes in name, country of citizenship, major, degree program, financial resources and addition or deletion of F-2 dependents (spouse or children) must be reported and new I-20 form issued. Keep all I-20 forms. Students might need them if they decide to return to the U.S. at a later date, for example as a Ph.D. candidate, as a spouse of a U.S. citizen or as a "green card" holder/permanent resident. Even if a student gets a new I-20 which reflects CPT or OPT, they are recommended to keep all versions forever.

I-20 Completion Date

The I-20 reflects an expected program completion date. Students are allowed to pursue full-time studies up to that date. The completion date does not include 12 months of Optional Practical Training which a student may apply for based on graduation.

If a student completes a program before the expected completion date, the ISA must change the I-20 to reflect this date. After graduation, students have a grace period of 60 days to depart the U.S., gain admission to a new program of study and obtain a new I-20 or apply for a change of visa status.

If a student is unable to complete a program for academic reasons, they must be granted a program extension and permission by the academic advisor. A letter explaining the reason for the delay in completion and new expected completion date must be submitted to the ISA before the I-20 is changed.

If a student is ill and cannot complete their academic program, a letter from a physician verifying that the illness prohibits the student from maintaining full-time progress and dates of illness needs to be submitted to the ISA. A letter from the academic advisor is also needed stating the new expected date of completion of all degree requirements.

Students unable to complete their program of study by the expected completion date and who fail to extend their I-20 before it expires will violate their legal status and overstay their visa.

I-20 Grace Period Eligibility

Department of Homeland Security regulations automatically give a 60-day grace period to F-1 students who complete a program of study. The 60-day grace period should be calculated from the date of completion. Students authorized for Optional Practical Training have a 60-day grace period beginning from the date OPT expires. Students who do not complete a program of study are ineligible for a 60-day grace period.

Students who discontinue their program of study are not eligible for a 60-day grace period. Based on prior approval from the ISA, students have only a 15-day grace period in which to depart the U.S. Students are strongly encouraged to obtain the 15-day grace period approval to avoid problems re-entering the U.S.


An I-94 is the DHS Arrival/Departure Record that is issued to people who are admitted to the U.S. and hold a non-U.S passport. In the past, it was an actual white card that was placed into passports, but as of April of 2013, it has now become automated. If you need to access your I-94 number for obtaining a driver's license, social security card, etc please go to:

Maintaining Legal Status

  1. Attend the school authorized to attend by USCIS (only the school whose name appears on a student's I-20 form).
  2. Provide the MCAD ISA and USCIS with an updated local address within 10 days of any change. Whether you are moving into a new apartment or dormitory, you must report a change of address. USCIS will not accept post office box numbers. If a student moves while an OPT request is pending, a student must also complete a form AR-11 online at Terms to tell the U.S. government your new address. A student must also complete the change of address form available in the MCAD Records Office in order to change all mailings sent out from the college.
  3. Maintain full-time student status throughout every Fall and Spring semester (undergraduate students: 12 credits, graduate students: 9 credits). No student may drop below the required number of credits in the Fall and Spring except under extremely limited circumstances. In order to drop below full-time, a student must be authorized in advance by the ISA. Getting a grade of W (withdrawal) is considered a drop even if a student completed all course requirements. Classes which are taken as an "audit" do not count toward the full-time credit requirement. In addition to consulting with a student's academic advisor, seek the advice of the ISA before dropping, adding or withdrawing from any classes. Summer is considered a student's annual vacation and you need not enroll for 12 or 9 credits.
  4. Keep a current "certificate of eligibility" (I-20) correct and valid at all times. Apply for extensions of stay at least one month before the document expires; see the ISA before the beginning of the summer if a you plans to travel out of state. MCAD strongly recommends that the ISA sign page 3 of a student's I-20 every six months or before every trip outside the U.S.
  5. Maintain an acceptable grade point average (GPA) in accordance with the standards published in the MCAD Student Handbook.
  6. Keep a valid passport. A student's passport must be valid for 6 months into the future. Copy page 1 for your file in Student Affairs.
  7. Complete necessary immigration transfer procedures when changing from one school to another in the U.S. Students must meet with the ISA for a transfer in SEVIS before leaving MCAD for your new school.
  8. Inform the ISA within 60 days of completion or termination of program of study. Students may then leave the U.S., receive a new I-20 for a new program or school and enroll in the next possible semester or apply for a change to another immigration status with USCIS.
  9. If a student changes majors, degrees or levels, a student must inform the ISA so they can update your record in SEVIS.
  10. Fulfill all financial obligations (tuition, fees, insurance, fines, etc.) by the end of each semester. If financially supported by another individual or organization, the student must agree to be responsible for paying any obligations left unpaid by that party.
  11. Do not work or freelance off-campus.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students can work in a job related to their field of study and may receive monetary compensation. Students may engage in OPT while school is in session, during vacations or after graduation. Part-time practical training, 20 hours per week or less, shall be deducted from the available practical training at one-half the full-time rate. Applications may be submitted to USCIS 90 days before employment begins. A student may work up to 12 months full-time. Post completion OPT must be requested prior to graduation and completed within 14 months of a student's graduation. Time to process OPT applications is approximately 90 days. Applications are processed in the order in which they are received. If a student's address changes during the year after they graduate, they must email the ISA within ten days after completion of moving. Twelve months of OPT can be granted for every change of academics level (BFA to MFA, MFA to Ph.D..).

Application Process:
  1. Complete Form I-765 (see ISA).
  2. On line of form I-765 enter: International Student Advisor, Student Affairs, MCAD, 2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
  3. Use eligibility code (c) (3) (B) for post-completion OPT
  4. Take two color passport photographs
  5. Decide the dates for employment
  6. Make a check for $420 payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." Fee nonrefundable.
  7. See the ISA for a recommendation in SEVIS, verification letter and transcript. Bring the I-94, all I-20's, visa stamped passport and photos.
  8. Mail form, documentation, photos and $420 fee to: USCIS, P.O. Box 21281, Phoenix, Arizona, 85036 for US Postal Service (USPS) delivery. For Express mail and courier deliveries, mail to: ISCOS, ATTN.: AOS, 1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S., Suite 100, Phoenix, Arizona 85034

Periods of Unemployment

Students may not accumulate more than 90 calendar days of unemployment during the 12 month period of initial post-completion OPT. Employment must be 20 hours per week or more. Volunteer work or unpaid internships in your field count as employment. Keep written documentation of all employment.

If you have accumulated 90 days of unemployment, you will no longer be in F-1 status.

Report the name, of employer, address, job description, supervisor, website, phone number, address and start date to the ISA. Upon receiving the I-797 receipt and EAD card in the mail, bring both to the ISA.

Travel during OPT

Under normal circumstances, a student who has both (1) an EAD for post-completion OPT or receipt notice and (2) a job or job offer, should not experience difficulty reentering the US. However if either of these two conditions is missing, then the student is assuming risk of not being allowed to re-enter the U.S. For travel out of the U.S. during OPT, keep a valid passport, valid F-1 visa, valid I-20, valid travel endorsement on page 3 of the I-20 signed by the ISA, documentary evidence of funding, evidence of past full-time enrollment at MCAD (official transcript), EAD card and employment letter (from your company on letterhead stationery). Always check with the International Student Advisor (ISA) before leaving the country.


A passport is a legal document issued by a student's country of citizenship. It must be valid at all times for six months into the future during a student's stay in the U.S. Passports may renewed through an embassy or consulate in the U.S. Do not alter, insert or overwrite any information in your passport. If a change is necessary, it must be done by an authorized government agent. Do not tear out any pages of one's passport. Passports will act as international students' primary document for identity.

When filling out any form use the exact spelling and name as it is written in your passport, NOT including hyphens (-). Include your middle name as it is written on your passport (if any) and include on all paperwork for consistency.

Federal law does not allow a F-1 visa holder to enter the U.S. or be employed in the U.S. if their passport is expired.

Off-Campus Employment Based on Unforeseen Financial Change

Special work status is available for students who have unforeseen financial circumstances. A student must provide proof that there is an unforeseen severe economic necessity beyond the student's control and that other employment opportunities on-campus are not available or are insufficient. A student must apply for this status before working off-campus. Time to complete the authorization process may take up to 120 days. A student cannot work until they have received an EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) from USCIS.

Employment is limited to 20 hours per week during the school year, but can be 40 hours per week during vacations. The I-20 must also reflect the change in authorization. Authorization ends upon the program completion date or school transfer and lasts for a period of one year or less. An extension is possible if a student is enrolled in the same program and can document that the financial situation persists. Students must have been in legal F-1 status at MCAD for at least one academic year.

Application Process:
  1. Obtain supporting materials and write a letter to USCIS explaining the unforeseen change in financial circumstances, document economic hardship, and document the inability to obtain on-campus employment and/or salary of on-campus employment is insufficient.
  2. Complete Form I-765 (see ISA).
  3. Use eligibility code (c) (3) (iii).
  4. Take two color passport photographs.
  5. Decide dates for employment.
  6. Make a check for $340 payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." Fee nonrefundable if denied. See ISA to inquire about waiving this fee.
  7. See the ISA for a recommendation in SEVIS, verification letter and unofficial transcript. Bring your I-94, all I-20's, visa stamped passport and photos.
  8. Mail forms, photos and $340 fee made out to: USCIS, P.O. Box 21281, Phoenix, Arizona, 85036 for US Postal Service (USPS) delivery. For Express mail and courier deliveries, mail to: ISCOS, ATTN.: AOS, 1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S., Suite 100, Phoenix, Arizona 85034

Social Security Card

A social security number can only be issued to a degree-seeking international student if they have been offered a job on-campus. The closest Social Security Office is located at Suite 1, 1811 Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 and open from 9:00 am to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.

Application Process:

  1. Apply, interview and be offered a position.
  2. See the Director of Financial Aid for International Student Work Study funds.
  3. Obtain a letter from the ISA stating the current on-campus job. Obtain a signature from your supervisor.
  4. Complete the Social Security Application form:
  5. Apply in person at least 3 days after arrival through the initial port of entry at the Social Security Office with completed application form, employment letter, visa, passport, I-20 and I-94.

State Identification Card

The primary identification for international students is their passport. However, it is recommended that degree-seeking students also obtain a Minnesota state identification card. State I.D. cards are not the equivalent of a driver's license and cannot be used for identification at U.S. airports.

To obtain a Minnesota I.D. card, a student should bring the following to the basement level of Midtown Global Market at 920 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407:

  1. Passport, visa, I-20 and I-94
  2. $18 cash or personal check
  3. Official transcript with birth date written in margin

Students can apply for either a state I.D. or a Minnesota Driver's License. Each are the standard forms for identification in Minnesota and are usually required when making financial transactions (for example when you write a personal check, make a large credit card purchase or buy alcohol or tobacco).

Every Minnesota resident who drives a car or motorcycle must have a Minnesota driver's license. The operation of a vehicle without a driver's licence is illegal. It is also illegal to permit another non-licensed person to drive their vehicle. Driver's licenses can only be obtained by passing an examination on driving laws, an eyesight test and a driving test on the road.

State I.D. cards and driver's licenses must be renewed every year to prove current student status and have a notation of "check status date." A letter from the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services will arrive in the mail to remind students to renew. If you move apartments or dormitories, you must inform DVS. This requirement continues into extension time of F-1 status while on OPT.


MCAD strongly encourages all degree-seeking students to file taxes and comply with federal and state tax regulations. Filing is the personal responsibility of every student. The benefit of filing is that many international students receive a tax refund.

All students (including those who did not work) are required by U.S. tax laws to complete and mail the form 8843 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) whether they earned money or did not work. Filing can protect students from being improperly taxed in the future. If a student has not worked, the deadline to file the 8843 is June 15, 2014. If you worked anytime in 2013, you need to file additional forms like the 1040NR-EZ. In order to file, you will need the port of entry and dates present in the U.S. calculated from your passport and I-94.

ALL international students are required to file.


Glacier Tax Prep (required for filing)


U.S. Federal Taxes

Forms W-2 and 1099 are mailed to international students in January. If you have not received income totals by February, contact your employer. Obtain a 1098 -T from the MCAD Business Office if you received a scholarship. It is your own responsibility to file your own taxes.

The deadline for filing taxes is midnight April 15.

Minnesota State Taxes

Once you have filed federal taxes, you must file state taxes. To file an individual return and download forms M1 and M1W:

If you rent an apartment off-campus, you may be entitled to a refund. In addition to the M1 and M1W, ask your landlord for a Certificate of Rent Paid (CRP). Then complete a Property Tax Refund Return form M1PR from

State of Minnesota tax forms are simple to fill out after the Federal Tax Form is completed. No software program or special assistance is offered for State of Minnesota tax forms.

All international students must file a Statement for Exempt Individuals (8843). Those who earn an income in the U.S. or receive a scholarship from a U.S. source (MCAD scholarship) are required by law to file by April 15 for benefits received the previous year. Most non-resident tax forms are NOT available in libraries or post offices. These forms can be found on the IRS website.

Students without Social Security numbers and who receive non-work income (scholarship, investment dividends) need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer I.D. Number (ITIN). Please see the ISA to see if you qualify.

Download the form W-7 at:

ITIN numbers: Supporting documentation includes a letter from the ISA stating the student does not have a job offer pending or already secured employment on campus. You will need a stamped letter from the Social Security Administration stating you are ineligible for a Social Security number (also called a "rejection letter") in order to file for an ITIN number.

The nearest local IRS office:

250 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401

U.S. tax laws are equal in complexity to immigration law. So, when in doubt, check with an expert. MCAD staff are not certified personal accountants, and are legally unable to address individual concerns. Choose wisely when hiring a service to prepare complex tax returns. If you are working an internship, your company or organization has to comply with Department of Labor and IRS laws for employers. They will probably not know how to advise you on filing as an individual.

If you have been in the U.S. for less than five years as an international student (F-1) you cannot file as a "Resident Alien". Consult the IRS's Substantial Presence Test. If you file in error, contact the IRS for back filing.

The University of Texas at Austin International Office has answers to frequently asked questions (

You can hire professional accountants like University of Minnesota Professor Gary Carter for approximately $300 ( Students who earn under $30,000 may attend IRS sponsored VITA sites for assistance. One free IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program site which welcomes international students is AccountAbility:

Violation of F Visa

  1. Do not work off-campus unless you have the necessary written CPT authorization from the ISA in advance. Work authorization must be listed on page 3 of a student's I-20. If a student works off-campus without authorization, they cannot apply for "Reinstatement to Student Status". This is a serious offense. See the ISA immediately.
  2. Do not work on-campus more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. A student may work full-time (40 hours a week) during vacation periods (winter, spring, or summer break) as long as they were enrolled as a full-time student the semester before and intend to return to MCAD the next semester.
  3. Do not take a leave of absence, withdraw from a class or drop below 12 credits (undergraduate) or 9 credits (graduate student), without first checking with the ISA. If a student withdraws before graduation, they do not have a 60-day grace period, and must leave the U.S. within 15 days.

If you fail to "maintain legal student status" or are terminated from your program, you can no longer legally enter the U.S. with the I-20 issued from MCAD. The MCAD ISA will be no longer authorized to sign the your forms. In this case students should not plan to travel out of and return to the U.S. using an MCAD I-20.

Violation of a F-1 visa regulation results in the loss of legal status in the United States. Consequences include but are not limited to:

  • Ineligibility to work on campus
  • Ineligibility to apply or pursue CPT or OPT
  • Ineligibility to apply or pursue off campus work permission
  • Ineligibility to receive an I-20 transfer recommendation from MCAD to another school
  • Ineligibility to attend a new school
  • Ineligibility to apply to DHS for a change of visa status


The visa is a stamp or inkjet print with a photograph on a page in a student's passport. It permits students to enter the U.S. It is a "knock on the door" to the U.S. and does not guarantee admission. Your visa may expire while you are in the U.S. Students cannot renew visas while in the U.S. If you leave the U.S. and your visa is expired, you must get a new one if you wish to re-enter the U.S. You must go to a U.S. Consulate (preferably one in your home country), show the Consulate a current I-20 form. Obtaining a renewed visa is not guaranteed. If you apply in a third country (not the U.S. and not your home country) the Consulate may impose stricter requirements or be unwilling to renew a visa because you a citizen or resident of another country.

If a student wants a new visa, they must also obtain a new I-20, have a valid passport, a current photograph, and financial verification for the ability to pay tuition and living expenses while at MCAD. Students should also be prepared to provide the consulate with original transcripts from every school they attended in the U.S. and every I-20 from those schools. The student should request a letter of enrollment from MCAD before applying for a new visa.

If a student changes out of F-1 status (not a full-time student studying at MCAD), they should hire an immigration lawyer. For a list of local lawyers, see the ISA. The ISA can only provide information regarding F visa status. If any of a student's documents are ever lost or stolen, a student should see the ISA immediately. It will take time and money to have any document replaced.

The change of nonimmigrant status can be expensive. For example, dependents must pay the $200 SEVIS fee in addition to the I-539 form filing fee to change from F-2 to F-1.

Categories of Visa

  1. F-1: academic student (university or college)
  2. J-1: exchange visitor (scholar)
  3. F-2: spouse or child of F-1 student
  4. J-2: spouse or child of J-1 visitor
  5. M-1: vocational student or other non-academic student (community college)
  6. M-2: spouse or child of M-1 student
  7. H1B: speciality occupation
  8. H2B: temporary worker (skilled or unskilled)
  9. H4: spouse or child of H1, H2, H3 individual
  10. P2: artists and entertainers in reciprocal exchange programs
  11. P3: artists and entertainers in culturally unique programs

Change of Address

The Department of Homeland Security requires all students on OPT to inform the person responsible at the college from which you graduated of a change of address.

Regaining Legal F-1 Status

There are two ways in which a student may regain legal F-1 status:

  1. Reinstatement of legal status application to DHS.
  2. Reentry into the U.S. with a new "initial admit" I-20 form.

See the ISA before pursuing either path. Students who are reinstated by DHS or who reenter the U.S. with an "initial admit" I-20 will be required to enroll as a full-time student for at least one academic year before becoming eligible to apply for off campus work permission and or CPT or OPT.

DHS Declaration of Unlawful Presence

If a DHS official or immigration judge declares an individual to be unlawfully present in the U.S., the unlawful presence will begin on the date of the DHS decision - not of the date the student violated his/her status. Unlawful presence will have an effect on future eligibility into the U.S. Individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 continuous days but less than one year are barred from admission to the U.S. (under any visa type) for a period of three years from the date of departure. Individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for one year or longer are barred from admission to the U.S. (under any visa type) for a period of 10 years.

Family Visits

See ISA for letters of invitation for visiting family members needing tourist/pleasure visitor visas. Bring the following information: dates of proposed visit, purpose of the trip, activities during visit (commencement), visitor's funding source (i.e. personal accounts).

International visitors to the U.S. from Visa Waiver Program countries (VWP) are required to apply for travel authorization online at Filing is recommended 72 hours before travel begins and is valid for two years after approval. Visitors should check with the U.S. embassy website to make sure their country is still eligible for the VWP before travel, see for details.

Where to go for Help

Academic Advisor (BFA) / Director of Graduate Program (MFA):

  • Academic problems
  • Curriculum requirements
  • Switching major

Counseling Psychologist:

  • Culture shock / adjustment
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Relationship issues

Financial Aid Office:

  • Financial aid & scholarships
  • International work-study funds (BFA)
  • Grad Assistant funds (MFA)

International Student Advisor (ISA):

  • Maintaining status
  • Employment and internship requirements
  • Transferring to another school
  • Visa problems > Workshop on OPT
  • Travel while a student
  • Withdrawal from a class

Learning Center:

  • Assistance with writing & editing
  • Help with time management
  • Training on software & digital skill development
  • Learning disability accommodation


  • Details about a specific course
  • Understanding a lecture or assignment

Public Safety:

  • School ID
  • Late night escorts
  • Emergency medical problem


  • Request for unofficial & official transcripts
  • Course schedules
  • Add / Drop forms
  • Intent to graduate

Resident Assistant (RA):

  • Apartment maintenance issues
  • Lost keys
  • Roommate mediation

Student Affairs Office:

  • General college questions
  • Clubs and student activities
  • Health insurance information
  • Local medical resources
  • Requirements for graduating and major field of study



Department of Homeland Security [DHS]
DHS includes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). DHS protects the homeland against terrorist attacks.
Department of Labor [DOL]
The Department of Labor has the responsibility for interpreting and administering statutes related to workers and employment issues on campus, CPT and OPT.
Department of State [DOS]
The Department of State has the responsibility of managing U.S. embassies and consulates abroad and issues all visas.
Duration of Status [D/S]
Duration of Status is used on the I-94 card, which means as long as a student abides by the law and maintains status, students can stay in the United States for as long as they are in school.
The Internal Revenue Service [IRS]
The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for taxes.
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number [ITIN]
For those students who cannot obtain a Social Security number who have not been offered an on-campus job. Used for claiming tax treaty benefits or paying taxes.
Principal Designated School Officer [PDSO]
For every school campus, a PDSO must be assigned. At MCAD, the International Student Advisor is the PDSO. The PDSO performs the following functions in SEVIS: creates, saves, updates, and submits records for students and their dependents, prints students' and dependents' I-20 forms.
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System [SEVIS]
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is a web-based system for maintaining information on international students and exchange visitors in the U.S.
Social Security Administration (SSA)
The Social Security Administration is responsible for social security numbers, which are needed to work on and off campus in the U.S. Talk with the International Student Advisor to see if you are allowed to work.
Social Security Number [SS#]
A Social Security number is issued by the federal government to track an individual for the purposes of taxation, retirement and disability for workers. Non-residents are taxed.
The U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS]
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for adjudicating OPT petitions for employment, naturalization petitions for green cards and interprets immigration law.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP]
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for immigration inspections at U.S. ports of entry facilitating legitimate travel.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE]
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is responsible for security in the U.S. border, immigration investigations, detention, removal, intelligence policies and SEVIS.