Applying as an International Student
North Park University has more than 250 international students from over 50 countries who enroll in our undergraduate programs, Seminary, and select graduate programs.
Arrival and Orientation
- New undergraduate and exchange international students who will live on campus should plan to move in on Tuesday, January 9, between 9:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. Orientation activities for all new international students will take place on January 10-11, 2024.
- Please check your North Park email for directions to campus and detailed arrival information.
- New international student athletes will receive arrival information from their coaches. Athletes may have an earlier arrival/move-in date.
- If you are not able to arrive on your assigned date, please contact International Admissions.
International Student Orientation
International Student Orientation is required for all incoming exchange, undergraduate, graduate, and Seminary students.
Online Orientation: Check your email for instructions and a link to access the orientation modules in Canvas, which should be completed before your arrival. This virtual orientation will be sent out approximately one month before arrival and will prepare you to be a successful international student.
In-Person Orientation: Mandatory sessions take place January 10-11 for all new and transfer international students. Please review the full schedule below.
Undergraduate & Exchange Students: Plan to participate in Threshold, an orientation for all new undergraduate students, immediately following international orientation.
Maintaining Visa Status
Learn how to apply for a visa, pay the I-901 fee, and schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy.
As an international student, you are responsible for maintaining your own visa status.
If you fall out of status for failure to adhere to any of these guidelines, you must apply for reinstatement with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Reinstatement is costly and is only granted under limited conditions. If you think you might be out of status, please contact the Office of International Affairs immediately for assistance.
You must have health insurance each semester you are enrolled at North Park. North Park University offers a comprehensive insurance plan for international students, which you are strongly encouraged to purchase. The Office of International Affairs will process your enrollment within two weeks and will email you a copy of your insurance card. All insurance plans are billed directly to the NPU student account and can be paid through Self-Service. *You can view current insurance rates on the enrollment form by clicking the link below.
Exchange students who wish to submit an insurance waiver, please complete the J-1 Waiver below and submit via email, with a copy of your policy.
Registering for Courses
- If you are an undergraduate (degree-seeking or exchange) student, you must enroll in 12 or more credits each semester.
- If you are a graduate student, you must enroll in 8 or more credits each semester.
- If you are taking classes in Quad B that will count toward the minimum registration requirement, those classes must show on your class schedule at the start of the semester.
- If you are taking an online course, you can only take 1 per academic semester, that is, Quad A and B combined.
Every semester that you study in the United States on an F-1 or J-1 visa, North Park University is required to report to the U.S. Government that you are complying with student visa regulations. This process is called “SEVIS Registration.” Each semester you must submit a completed SEVIS Checklist to the Office of International Affairs.
An F-1 visa is used to enter the United States. In most cases, once you are in the U.S. you are permitted to remain here as long as you are maintaining F-1 status, even if your visa expires. If you are traveling outside of the U.S. with an expired visa, you must renew your visa before returning. Please follow the instructions included here or contact the Office of International Affairs for more information.
U.S. law requires that international students are required to report any changes in name, address, or educational program to their international student advisor within 10 days of the change.
Life in the United States
Student life in the United States may be different from what you have experienced in your home country, or another country in which you may have studied.
Social Security numbers serve as personal identification numbers in the United States. They are also required before a person may be paid for employment.
As an international individual, you must have a job before applying for a Social Security number.
If you have been hired for on-campus employment, you’ll have to complete some paperwork to apply for your Social Security card.
It takes approximately two-four weeks after the date of application to receive a Social Security card in the mail. Unfortunately, you cannot get paid for your work until you have received your Social Security card, so start this process as soon as you’ve found a job.
There are many banks near campus. If you wish to open a bank account in the U.S., please contact them to inquire what paperwork you will need to open an account. Most banks will want to see your student I.D., passport, and/or I-20/DS-2019 to open your account. Some banks may require a Social Security Number.
In order to apply for a regular Illinois driver’s license, you must have a Social Security number.
If you don’t have a Social Security number, you may drive using a valid driver’s license from your home country for one year. In certain circumstances, you may also be eligible for a Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License (TVDL) or a State ID.
You may have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) from your home country. The IDP is a translation of your home-country driver’s license; it does not constitute a legal driver’s license by itself.
If you will leave the United States while you are a student, you will need a travel validation signature on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Each travel signature is valid for 12 months to gain re-entry to the U.S. If a new signature is needed, please contact the Office of International Affairs. Students on an F-1 visa can receive I-20s via email. You must print the I-20 (in color), sign, and carry the paper copy with you when you travel.
In addition to your I-20 you should have the following documents in your carry-on bag while traveling: passport, visa, financial documents (i.e. bank statement), class schedule for current or upcoming semester, and NPU admission letter.
The Tax Filing Deadline is April 15, 2024. As a nonresident student in the US, you’re legally required to file Form 8843 if you resided in the U.S. during the year 2023. You are also legally required by the IRS to file a tax return if you received any income in the U.S. during 2023.
If you did NOT receive any income during 2023, then you do NOT need to file a tax return; however, you ARE still obliged to file a Form 8843 with the IRS. Here is what you need to do:
- Download, Print, & Complete a Form 8843 *We have prepared Form 8843 Instructions to assist you.
- Mail the form to the following address: Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301-0215
If you received income (through a campus job, internship, or any other source type of paid work) North Park University has arranged free access to Sprintax Tax Preparation for you. Sprintax will guide you through the tax preparation process, arrange the necessary documents and check if you’re due a tax refund. To use Sprintax, all you need to do is:
- Register for Sprintax and follow the simple instructions
- Complete the online questionnaire
- Enter the unique code (NPU100F23) on the ‘Review your order’ page
- Sprintax will prepare your tax return, including the Form 8843.
- Once you complete the preparation process in the Sprintax software, you must submit your documents to the IRS (either by mail or E-file). You also must complete any necessary payments.
Note: if you had an on-campus job in 2023 and consented to receive your W2 statement online, you can now view and/or print your 2023 tax statement via Self-Service. If you did not consent to receive your W2 statements online via Self-Service, your paper copy will be mailed to you. If you have questions about your W2, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an international student, you were granted a visa for the primary purpose of study, so your employment opportunities may be limited to on-campus work or positions that further your academic training.
As an international student you are permitted to work on campus up to 20 hours per week. During official school breaks (summer, fall, winter and spring breaks, but not regular weekends), you may work on campus up to 40 hours per week. All on-campus work requires prior authorization by the Office of International Affairs. Looking for an on-campus job? Create an account on Handshake and search for On-Campus, Non Work Study jobs. Note: ISEP students must obtain permission from ISEP before starting work.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) refers to any off-campus internship, field experience, or practicum in your major of study. Degree-seeking students must complete one academic year in F-1 status and meet North Park’s requirements for internship or practical before being allowed to participate in CPT. If you are interested in learning more or applying for CPT, you must watch the following video tutorial and follow the instructions provided here:
Once you’re ready to apply, please submit this form:
Here are the letter templates, which you can forward to your clinical coordinator or employer:
If you are completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree at North Park and have been in F-1 status for one academic year, you may apply for OPT no sooner than 90 days before and no later than 60 days after your program end date (graduation). OPT gives you permission to look for employment and work in your major field of studies for one year after your graduation. In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for pre-completion OPT.
Applying for OPT costs $410 and you will need to request an OPT I-20 from the Office of International Affairs. If you are interested in OPT, you are required to watch the following video and carefully read the step-by-step instructions here:
Once you’re ready to apply, you must submit this form:
The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student’s program of study in an approved STEM field. Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT (often for 12 months) have the option to apply for a STEM OPT extension. Student must apply before their post-completion OPT expires. Please review the SEVP STEM OPT Hub for more information about the STEM OPT extension.
Please carefully read the instructions provided here. You must submit a request form and receive a new I-20 from the Office of International Affairs with a STEM OPT extension endorsement, before completing the application process.
Once you are approved for STEM OPT you must submit the reporting form (linked here) to the OIA every 6 months. Please carefully review the reporting requirements and travel resources.
If your financial circumstances have changed dramatically since the processing of your initial I-20 or DS-2019, you may be eligible to apply for Severe Economic Hardship work permission if the cause of the financial difficulty was out of your control. Applying for Severe Economic Hardship work permission costs $410 and must be done in SEVIS with the help of the DSO.
We encourage you to get involved in a volunteer activity while you’re studying at North Park. Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends and learn more about U.S. culture. Please note that federal guidelines for degree-seeking international and exchange students are very strict as to what constitutes a volunteer experience. Please contact the Office of International Affairs to obtain approval before engaging in any volunteer activity.
Post Program Options
- You may take 60 days to travel within the U.S. and prepare to depart the country. You cannot work during this period of time, and you may not depart and re-enter the country.
- You may apply for another program at North Park.
- You may apply for an academic program at another U.S. university.
- If you’ve completed an undergraduate or graduate degree, you are eligible to apply with the USCIS for one year of employment authorization in the United States. This employment opportunity, referred to as Optional Practical Training (OPT), is only permitted in your major field of study. Please contact the Office of International Affairs for information on applying for OPT.
After completing an exchange program, a student on a J-1 visa has 30 days to travel within the United States and prepare to depart the country. You cannot work during this grace period, and cannot depart and reenter the country.
The Office of International Affairs
North Park University’s Office of International Affairs provides assistance to future and current North Park students who are not citizens or legal residents of the United States. Before you arrive at North Park, you will communicate primarily with the admissions team, while the Office of International Affairs staff will help you make your transition to Chicago and keep your paperwork in order once you are here.
When you’re on campus, visit the Office of International Affairs in the Center for Student Engagement on the first floor of the Johnson Center.
Questions? Email us: email@example.com
The Office of International Affairs is located in the Center for Student Engagement on the first floor of the Johnson Center. The staff in the Office of International Affairs prepares documents for international student visa applications, interfaces with the U.S. government on all visa-related issues, and maintains student visa records. While we ask that faculty and staff defer to the Office of International Affairs on all questions regarding visa laws and immigration matters, we understand that students sometimes have more frequent contact with their professors and advisors than with us.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Office of International Affairs for more information.