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Common Mistakes

Common Mistakes Wheaton F-1 students Make

#1  Students forget to report updates to their DSOs.  Here are some things you are required to report:
  • Change of address (within 10 days of moving)
  • Change of major
  • Change of graduation date
  • Employment
#2  Illegal employment.  The following are all forms of illegal employment:
  • Working or participating in an internship off-campus without authorization (see CPT and OPT pages and ask your DSO for more info).
  • Working more than 20 hours a week on campus during the school year (you can work more than 20 hours during the summer break or winter break).
  • Working at a job without pay and thinking that it is "volunteer work".  Understand the difference between volunteer work and paid work.
  • Working on/off campus after your program end date, without OPT approval + an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You cannot work during your 60 day grace period after graduation, nor can you start work while waiting for OPT approval/EAD card.

#3 Forgetting to get a travel signature on your I-20.
If you look on the back of your I-20 document, you will see four lines for the DSO to sign for valid re-entry into the U.S.  The signature must be less than one year old on the day you will re-enter the U.S. (OPT/STEM students need a signature every 6 months).  Before you leave the U.S., make sure the DSO signature on the back of your I-20 is valid (request 2 weeks before travel).

#4 Traveling (outside the U.S.) without the proper travel documents. when preparing for travel you must always prioritize packing these documents!
  • You must have a valid visa to re-enter the U.S. anytime you travel- this includes travel during your post completion OPT. Anytime you are returning to your home country, take a moment to check your visa end date so you can decide if this is the best time to re-new your visa so the end date matches your future plans.