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life as an international student

There is a lot know when you first arrive on campus. We hope that this page will help you adjust to the university and Champaign-Urbana!

your immigration status

As an international student, maintaining your immigration status is your responsibility, including:

  • Keep your passport current.
  • Update your residential address in iStart no more than 10 days after you move.
  • Do not let your immigration documents (I-94 and I-20 or DS-2019) expire.
  • Inform ISSS if you wish to change your department or degree level.
  • Maintain a full-time course load (12 credit hours in most cases).
  • Request official permission to accept work outside of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • Make sure that all travel documents are in order before taking any trip outside the U.S.
  • Comply with applicable U.S. federal taxation laws and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements
  • Complete an employment authorization form (I-9) in your hiring department if you will receive a university paycheck.
  • Do not work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  • Be aware of immigration law. Never seek advice from a friend; ask ISSS if you are in doubt.

Record Keeping

Please keep all of your previously issued immigration documents, you may need them again if trying to change to another status in the US or applying for work authorization.

Office Hours

Time allotted by Professors or Teaching assistants for students to come to their office and address questions about the course.

On-Campus work

F-1 and J-1 students are able to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. You may work 40 hours per week on campus during the Summer semester (provided it is not your first or last semester), and during scheduled campus breaks.

Assistantships & tuition waivers

F-1 and J-1 students are able to work up to a 50% assistantship while school is in session – 20 hours per week. Usually a 25-50% assistantship comes with a full tuition waiver. Also, if you hold a 25-50% assistantship, you are required to register for 8 credit hours instead of 12 credit hours in order to maintain your immigration status. Please consult with your department for additional registration requirements.

Pay periods & the "Work Week"

For scheduled pay periods for university employment, see the OBFS website. The “work week” is calculated from Sunday through Saturday, so you will need to keep track of your time with that in mind.

I-9 forms

Please make sure that you will out this form with your hiring department before you start work. Form I-94 will be needed - paper Form I-94 (front and back) OR Electronic Form I-94 (accessible from

It is possible to live in this area without owning a car. Visit the Public Transportation page for all transit options.

Bicycle Riding