International Student and Scholar Services Home


Welcome New Students!

ISSS is very excited to welcome new students for Fall 2018 Orientation! If you are a new student, get started preparing for your life and academic career at UAlbany by visiting our New Students page, here, and registering for Orientation.  Please also review our International Student Pre-Arrival checklist.


International Celebration Save the Date

The international celebration will be held on Wednesday, May 16th 2018 at 2:30pm in the Campus Center Ballroom.  More information on how to RSVP is forthcoming.  Graduating international students, departing exchange students and scholars, and graduating study abroad returners will all be recognized at this special ceremony.


SEVP Portal for OPT Reporting Launching March 23rd

Beginning March 23rd, SEVP will launch an OPT portal which will allow students on 12 month OPT to report their information through the portal. Students on STEM OPT must continue to report through ISSS because any changes also require an update to the I-983 form. In addition to using the portal, students on OPT are still required to keep their SEVIS USA, phone number, and email up to date in MyUAlbany. For detailed information on the portal and how to use it, please click here.

For students who cannot or choose not to use the portal, please use the OPT data form to report changes to employment to ISSS. This form has been updated effective March 2018. Please complete the portions of the form applicable to your change in employment.

USCIS Updates Language Related to STEM OPT, Employer-Employee Relationships, and Third Party Placements

It has recently come to our attention that USCIS has made updates to their webpage “Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT),” particularly as it relates to the STEM OPT employer-employee relationship and third party locations or clients.  ISSS is providing the below information as a courtesy update to students. 

This is not a regulatory change, but rather signals a possible change in policy interpretation by USCIS.  Policy and procedure can change (and changes frequently), so the following is also subject to further updates and changes.  However, it is worth noting that policy changes can have future impacts, including but not limited to impacting future applications for benefits through USCIS.  If you feel these updates may relate to you and your current employment situation, we recommend you bring this information to the attention of your employer and/or your employer’s attorney(s) for further discussion and evaluation.

You may read USCIS’s updated webpage here: You may also read some history on the policy related to third party sites on NAFSA’s website, here.

A few key updates include:

  • “a STEM OPT employer may not assign, or otherwise delegate, its training responsibilities to a non-employer third party (e.g., a client/customer of the employer, employees of the client/customer, or contractors of the client/customer).”
  • “under no circumstances would another F-1 student on OPT or a STEM OPT extension (who is undergoing training in their own right) be qualified to train another F-1 student on a STEM OPT extension.”
  • “Moreover, the training experience must take place on-site at the employer’s place of business or worksite(s) to which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has authority to conduct employer site visits to ensure that the employer is meeting program requirements. This means that ICE must always have access to a student’s worksite; if the student is sent to different worksite locations as part of the training opportunity, ICE must be able to access such worksite locations. For instance, the training experience may not take place at the place of business or worksite of the employer’s clients or customers because ICE would lack authority to visit such sites.”


OPT/CPT Workshops Spring 2018

OPT workshops are offered weekly during the Spring 2018 semester.  F-1 students are required to participate in an OPT workshop prior to applying for OPT.  The earliest May 2018 graduates may apply for OPT is February 18th, 2018 and all students are encouraged to apply early due to lengthy processing times (on average, USCIS takes 90 days to process an OPT request).  For a full schedule, click here or the image to the right.  No pre-registration is required for workshops.

Additionally, ISSS will hold six CPT workshops this Spring.  Please click here or click the image to the right for the full schedule.


Travel Signature Days Spring 2018

All F and J students are required to have valid travel signatures in order to re-enter the United States after travelling.  For the majority of full-time F-1 and J-1 students, travel signatures are valid for up to one year for re-entry.  However, travel signatures are only valid for 6 months for students on OPT.  In general, ISSS recommends students get a travel signature every 6 months, especially if they are renewing a visa.

Normal processing times are 5-7 business days for travel signatures.  However, students are encouraged to come to one of our five travel signature days during the Spring semester, where you can have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed on the spot by an advisor.  All you need to bring is your original I-20 or DS-2019.

Full a full schedule, click here or click the image on the right.


Review Updates Related to the Executive Order

Updated December 4, 2017: ISSS has posted updates on the recent Supreme Court decision related to the travel ban, here.

Please read ISSS will continue to post any updates and resources pertaining to the executive order on our website, here. Students who may be directly impacted as a result of these recent federal orders and ongoing court cases should also consult this page for important information before travelling outside the United States this summer. As always, students should contact ISSS for the most up to date information and for assistance with any of their concerns pertaining to federal updates.


Join Cultural Connections and IFP

Cultural Connections is a student group which coordinates the International Friendship Partners,a series of programs designed to help both American and international students make friends with each other. Participants will also learn different cultures and languages through cultural activities. You can choose to participate in one or more programs listed below:

Part I
International Buddies Program: You will be helping new international students adjust to academic and community life at UAlbany.

Part II
Language & Cultural Exchange Program: The International Friendship Partners Program is designed to provide an opportunity for U.S. and international students to interact regularly on a small group basis outside of the classroom setting.

Part III
Community & Public Service Program: You can take RSSW 291 (2 credits) for meeting friends and doing cultural activities! Please find program syllabus in application.

Apply for any of the above programs here!