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Frequently Asked Questions

I am a new International Student, what should I bring to for the Immigration Intake?

New International Students should complete Visa and Immigration Intake procedures during Orientation week or as soon as possible.  Failure to complete the Intake procedures in accessVIS and report to VIS may endanger a student’s status in the United States.  Students must complete the online Immigration Intake and report to VIS with the following documents:

  • Passport
  • U.S. Visa
  • I-20 / DS-2019
  • I-94 Electronic Document (Printout)
I took a leave of absence from the university a few year ago, but would like return for the upcoming term, how do I request a new I-20?

In order to obtain a Form I-20 in time to arrive for the start of the semester, the Readmission Following Leave of Absence request should be submitted at least 3 months before you wish to return to the U.S. to resume your education. 

To access the Readmission Following Leave of Absence request:
  1. Login to accessVIS ( through the "Limited Services" link on the accessVIS homepage.
  2. Enter your Limited Services Pin, date of birth, and Stony Brook ID#. Click here to have your Limited Access PIN emailed to you.
  3. Expand the F-1 Student Services window within the menu bar.
  4. Complete and submit the Request Readmission Following Leave eform.
How can I make an appointment with an International Student Advisor?

Advising hours are held Monday through Thursday from 9:30a.m. to 4:30p.m.  You may schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor by calling (631)632-4685 or emailing

I submitted a request through accessVIS, how long will it take to be processed?
Please allow 10 business days for processing of all requests submitted in accessVIS.  If a significant amount of time (over 10 business days) has passed, please email with your name, Stony Brook ID# and provide the name of the request and date submitted.

You will be notified via email once your request is approved.  If anything is missing, your advisor will contact you by phone or email.
If received an email that my request was processed, when should I collect my updated I-20/DS-2019?
Once you have been notified that your request was processed, please come within one week to Visa and Immigration Services, E-5310 Melville Library, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. to collect your immigration document and be prepared to show identification (ie. SBU ID card).
Can someone else collect my documents for me?

If you are unable to collect your document from Visa & Immigration Services, you may authorize a friend or family member to collect the documents on your behalf.  To do so, please complete the Authorize Friend to Collect Documents form in accessVIS.

Note: VIS will not release any personal documents without written authorization.

I plan to travel home over winter/summer break, what documents should I have when reentering the U.S.?
When reentering the U.S. after traveling outside of the country, you must have the following:
  • Valid travel signature (travel signatures are only valid for 12 months)
  • Valid passport (valid for 6 months into the future)
  • Valid F-1 Visa Stamp (if applicable)
  • Students on OPT must also have their EAD card and letter from your employer verifying your employment. 
Additionally, if you'll be renewing your F-1 visa we strongly recommend checking the U.S. Consulate/Embassy's website where you will apply for a list of required documents, as requirements tend to differ from country to country
How can I get a travel signature?
To obtain a travel signature please complete and submit the Travel Signature Request form in accessVIS, then come to Visa and Immigration Services during designated Travel Signature Days with your passport, I-94 card/electronic printout and Form I-20 / DS-2019.
Am I eligible to travel to Canada?

Anyone can depart the country, however not everyone can reenter the U.S. Students in F-1 or J-1 status must return to the U.S. BEFORE the end date listed on their Form I-20/DS-2019 AND have a valid travel signature.

All countries have their own travel restrictions and requirements which differ depending on the individual's nationality. Be sure to check the country's official website for information on what documents you'll need visit.

For instance, those traveling to Canada must:

  • Have a Temporary Resident (visitor) Visa depending on your citizenship ( Check Eligibility or Apply Here. )
  • Have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
  • be in good health
I would like to take a cruise - are there any documents I should prepare before I travel?

We advise students to prepare for taking a cruise in the same way that you would for international travel. Continuing students should carry:

  • Original I-20/DS-2019 signed for travel within the last 12 months
  • Passport (valid 6 months into the future)
  • Valid F-1/J-1 Visa
  • Proof of Enrollment:

Although the cruise may not have a planned stop at an international port, it may travel through international waters, or may need to make an unscheduled stop for mechanical reasons. Good preparation will ensure you are able to board the ship and return to Stony Brook smoothly.

I would like to work on campus, what do I need to do?

Students interested in working on-campus, and who do not already have an employment offer, should visit Career Center’s Handshake website to apply for a position.  Once you have been offered a position on-campus, your employer will need to issue you an Employment Authorization Letter with specific information pertaining to your position, each department should have this letter on file.  If the department does not have this on file, they may email directly for a template.  Once the letter is complete, fill out the SSN Authorization Request on accessVIS.  You will receive an email when the process is complete and when you may pick up your letter.  You will need to get a Social Security Number.

What is the difference between CPT and OPT?

Click here for a full description on the difference between CPT and OPT!

When are they OPT & CPT Workshops held?

Click here for the full OPT/CPT Workshop schedule.

What are my immigration options after graduation?

Click here to view Philip Kleiner's presentation about immigration options after graduation.

How do I file my Federal and State Income Tax returns?

Visit our Tax Return page for more information on submitting your tax return. Please note, the VIS office is not equipped to answer tax related questions. Due to the complexity of income tax laws, it is advisable to have questions answered by the IRS or a reliable tax consultant.

Where can an employer find information about hiring students in F-1 or J-1 status?

Your employer can visit our Resources for U.S. Employers page for information on the hiring of international students from Stony Brook University for internships or post graduate work.

Are scholarships available for F-1 Students?

helpful resource for Undergraduate students, seeking additional funding for their course of study. 

How can I avoid immigration scams?

Immigration scams are an unfortunate occurrence that may come in many forms. Scammers may even have very specific, detailed information about you and your immigration situation. Don't be a victim! Please visit to learn more about common immigration scams. DO NOT give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. If you have any questions about your status, contact your VIS advisor.

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