The Office of Global Engagement assists international students, faculty and staff with immigration needs, programming and cultural support.
Our staff will:
- Ensure that the University complies with federal regulations governing the enrollment of nonimmigrant students.
- Advise international students on F and J immigration status issues, including enrollment requirements and on-campus employment.
- Provide pre-arrival information and orientation for new students and coordinate with campus partners to facilitate the arrival of new students.
- Sponsor programming that supports international student success and cultural integration.
- Advise students on Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.
- Respond to international student emergencies as needed.
The staff of the Office of Global Engagement is here to support the needs of our international population, but the whole Wilkes University team is here to help.
Here’s where you can find answers to your questions on:
Financial aid and scholarships?
Capin Hall, second floor
Henry Student Center, first floor information desk
Max Roth, second floor
Course Selection & Registration?
Contact your academic advisor in your major.
Capin Hall, first floor
If you have any questions after your conversation with campus partners, please ask the staff at the Office of Global Engagement for clarification.
As a student, you are responsible for understanding the requirements to maintain your status.
If you have entered the U.S. after 5/20/2013 then in place of the I-94 card you have received previously you will now receive an admission stamp in your passport. This stamp DOES NOT serve as your new I-94, however, you can use this to retrieve you admission number. It is now YOUR responsibility to go online and print out your I-94.
- Go to United States' I-94 Retrieval Website.
- Select "GET MOST RECENT I-94" located in the middle at the top of the page or in the middle box located towards the bottom of the page.
- A pop-up window will appear, select "CONSENT AND CONTINUE"
- Complete the form and select "NEXT" to retrieve your new I-94.
- Print the I-94 and bring it to the International Student Services Office
If you have any questions about this please feel free to stop in and ask us.
To request a letter(s) come to the Office of Global Engagement and fill out a Letter Request form.
After we receive the request form your letter(s) will then be completed within 2-3 business days or 3-4 business days if requesting a letter for online classes.
Each semester, Wilkes hosts a mandatory orientation session before school starts for all new international students. During this mandatory orientation, you will become familiar with the campus and available resources.
The orientation program covers:
- Office of Global Engagement services
- Immigration regulations
- Cultural shock and adjustment
- Campus safety
- Health services
- Community programs
- English language testing
- Student organizations
You will receive an email with details about orientation before you arrive on campus.
As an international student, you are required to carry health insurance during your time in the United States.
You will be required to show proof of health insurance during orientation. If you do not have health insurance from an approved vendor, you will automatically be registered for the university-sponsored health insurance.
If you plan to drive while you’re in the United States, we recommend that you obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license. You will be required to have a Pennsylvania driver’s license to purchase a car and obtain the required car insurance.
The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website outlines the process to obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license. The application process includes a written test and driving skills test administered by DMV staff. The Pennsylvania Driver’s Handbook is an indispensable resource when preparing for these tests.
The DMV requires that you present originals of the following immigration documents:
- Valid Passport
- I-94 Card
- Visa (used for last entry)
- Social Security Card, or letter from SSA indicating that SSA did not make a decision yet, or SSA rejection letter
- I-20 or DS-2019
- Letter from the Office of International Student and Scholar Services
- 2 proofs of residency (utility bills, bank statements, lease agreement)
Pennsylvania honors a valid foreign driver’s license with an international driving permit for a period of up to one year. If the foreign license and/or international permit expires before one year, the individual must apply for a Pennsylvania learner’s permit to continue to drive in the state.
The nearest Driver’s license center is located at:
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18706.
Important tips to maintain legal status in the United States as a F-1 or J-1 student:
- Keep your passport valid (6 months minimum).
- Always carry your I-94.
- Complete 12 credits each semester as an undergraduate student or 6 credits as a graduate student, unless you have prior approval from your immigration advisor.
- ALWAYS visit with the Office of Global Engagement staff BEFORE dropping any classes.
- Request an extension PRIOR to your current I-20 /DS2019 expiration.
- Tell your Office of Global Engagement staff if you plan to transfer to another college or university.
- Get a new I-20/DS2019 for any change in your major or degree level.
- Report any change in your local address to the Office of Global Engagement staff by sending an email to email@example.com.
- Have the Office of Global Engagement staff sign your I-20/DS2019 if you plan to travel outside the United States.
- After you finish your degree, leave the United States within 60 days (F-1) or 30 days (J-1).
- Do NOT work off campus or participate in an internship (CPT) without prior authorization.
- Do NOT work on campus more than 20 hours per week while school is in session
In general, F-1 students must be registered full-time. This is defined as at least:
- 12 credits each semester for undergraduate students
- 9 credits each semester for graduate students
Only one online class may count towards the minimum credit amount each quarter. According to the F-1 regulations, an online class is one that "does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class.”
Any course that has some sort of physical attendance requirement, such as for a lecture, exam or faculty meeting, is not considered fully online for visa status purposes.
Hybrid classes that are mostly online but have a physical presence requirement are not counted toward the one class limit for online courses.
Do not register for fewer than the required number of credits or withdraw from a course without first receiving permission from the International Student Advisor. Part-time studies could jeopardize your stay in the United States and make you ineligible for F-1 benefits.
Exceptions to the Full-Time Requirement
- Reduced Course Load (RCL) for Specific Academic Reasons
- Reduced Course Load (RCL) for a Documented Medical Condition
- Annual Vacation Semester
- Final Semester
If you are in any of these categories or have questions, please contact your International Student Advisor.
Graduation or Completion of your Exchange Program
The end of your academic program affects your F-1 status. After you graduate or complete your exchange, you have a 60-day grace period.
Once you leave the United States (including trips to Canada and Mexico) after completing your studies, you are not eligible to re-enter with your current I-20.
The grace period is meant for travel within the states and preparation to depart the United States.
Request a new I-20 if you will continue at Wilkes University in a new degree program.
If you do not complete your educational objective (for example, if you withdraw from your program), you are not eligible for the 60-day grace period.
Dependents (Spouse & Children)
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 may be eligible for F-2 dependent status. Contact the DSO for procedures to invite a dependent to join you in the United States.
Immigration regulations do not permit F-2 dependents to be employed in the United States.
F-2 dependents can study part-time in an academic or vocational curriculum at an SEVP-certified school. F-2 dependents can also study in avocational or recreational programs (hobbies). F-2 dependents may enroll full-time in kindergarten through 12th grade.
An F-2 dependent who wants to pursue full-time study must obtain F-1 status to begin the full-time program.
Post Completion OPT
ISS holds a workshop every Fall and Spring Semester. Here we can guide upcoming graduates interested in participating in OPT on the procedures they will need to take in order to apply.
For further information about OPT ask your International Student Advisor or visit the Study in States information page: studyinthestates.dhs.gov
DHS grants STEM OPT extensions to eligible F-1 students who are currently in a period of post-completion OPT once per degree level (i.e., bachelor's, master's or doctorate). A student may participate twice in the STEM OPT extension over the course of their academic career. Students may not apply for STEM OPT extensions during the 60-day grace period following an initial (usually 12-month) period of post-completion OPT.
To qualify for the STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student must hold a bachelor's degree or a higher degree in an eligible STEM field from an SEVP-certified school that is accredited (by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education) at the time the student submits their STEM OPT extension application to USCIS.
For more information, please contact your International Student Advisor.