Applying as an International Student
North Park University welcomes students from over 40 countries to our undergraduate college, Seminary, and select graduate programs. Visit our International Admissions page to learn more about admission guidelines and how to apply.
Arrival and Orientation
International Arrival Day for all new international students will be Tuesday, August 21, 2018. You will be able to check-in to the university and move into your dormitory. Please plan to arrive into Chicago O-Hare International Airport (ORD) no later than 14:00 on August 21st. North Park can pick you up from the airport if you submit your flight information by clicking Here.
If you are an athlete participating in a spring sport, please contact your coach for specific arrival dates and times.
If you arrive in Chicago prior to August 21, 2018, you will be responsible for arranging your own accommodation until that Tuesday and getting yourself to campus for check-in.
Arrival for Fall semester 2018, will be Tuesday, August 21. Students must arrive on campus between 10:00 AM- 4:30 PM.
Orientation for new international students begins the week before classes start each semester. After international student orientation, new undergraduate and exchange students will participate in a few days of continued orientation activities, called Threshold, with all other students who are new to the University. Please read your acceptance letter for specific orientation dates.
All undergraduate, exchange students and scholars who are new to North Park are required to attend international student orientation.
Graduate students and those who have already completed a program at North Park are invited, but not required, to attend international student orientation.
Learn more about Threshold and the events you will participate with other new North Park students.
Maintaining Visa Status
For information on how to apply for a visa, pay the I-901 fee, and schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy, click Here.
As an international student, you are responsible for maintaining your own visa status. You must be sure to adhere to the guidelines listed to the right.
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.
Registering for Courses
If you are an undergraduate, exchange, or English as a Second Language (ESL) 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.
As an international student, you are restricted to 1 online course per academic semester, that is, Quad A and B combined.
Every semester that you are studying 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 residing in the U.S., attending school as planned, and otherwise maintaining your visa status. This process is called “SEVIS Registration”. Each semester you must submit a completed SEVIS Checklist, along with a copy of your official academic schedule to the Office of International Affairs.
Please download the checklist for your visa category and the appropriate semester.
All returning spring students must also fill out an IRS form:
All returning spring students must also fill out an IRS form:
As an international student, you are generally not permitted to work off-campus. You may, however, work at an on-campus job for a maximum of 20 hours per week (40 hours per week during official school breaks). You must report any on-campus employment to the Office of International Affairs before beginning work.
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. However, you may not leave the U.S. and return with an expired F-1 visa, even if your I-20 form is valid and your program of studies has not yet ended.
You should always be aware of the date when your F-1 visa will expire. You may not plan on traveling abroad, but you never know when the emergency situation will arise, requiring you to leave the U.S. unexpectedly. If you have an expired via, you will have to apply for a new visa before you return. Please contact the Office of International Affairs for details on how to apply for a new visa.
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 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.
Many banks in the United States require patrons to have a Social Security number before opening an account. Several banks near North Park’s campus do not have this requirement. You will receive details at International Student Orientation.
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).
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.
J-1 Visa Holders: The U.S. Department of State requires all J-1 visa holders to have adequate health insurance during their stay in the United States. Due to this requirement. North Park will automatically bill and enroll al J-1 visa holders in the North Park sponsored health insurance policy. You will have an opportunity to apply for a waiver if you have proof of insurance that meets the minimum standards set by the U.S. Department of State which are:
Type of Coverage Federal Minimum Required Insurance
Medical Benefits $100,000
Repatriation of Remains $25,000
Medical Evacuation $50,000
Deductible per accident or illness $500
F-1 Visa Holders: It is strongly encouraged that you purchase the health insurance policy offered by North Park, however, you may purchase your own plan and submit proof that it meets the minimums listed above.
To purchase North Park’s health insurance please complete the sign up and return it to the Office of International Affairs.
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. If a new signature is needed, contact:
- Sumie Song, Director of the Office of International Affairs (Johnson Center, first floor)
- Tessa Zanoni, Assistant Director of the Office of International Affairs (Johnson Center, first floor)
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.
ISEP students must obtain permission from ISEP before starting work. 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.
In some cases, you may qualify for an off-campus work experience. 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 CPT you are required to attend a CPT workshop offered at the beginning of each academic semester. Please contact the Office of International Affairs for specific steps on how to apply.
ISEP students may be eligible for Academic Training (AT). If interested, you will need to contact your home institution and your ISEP coordinator. Click Here for more details.
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 that 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 must be done in SEVIS with the help of the DSO. If you are interested in OPT, you are required to attend an OPT workshop offered at the beginning of each academic semester.
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.
Travel Signature on I-20 or DS-2019 Forms
If you will leave the United States while you are a student, you’ll need a travel validation signature on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Each travel signature is valid for 12 months. Except for OPT students, which travel signatures are only valid for six months. If a new signature is needed, contact:
- Sumie Song, Director of the International Office (Johnson Center, Student Engagement)
- Tessa Zanoni, Assistant Director of the International Office (Johnson Center, Student Engagement)
Bills, Transcripts, Proof of Enrollment, and Graduation Requirements
Student Administrative Services provides assistance with billing, registration, transcripts, proof of enrollment, and graduation requirements. Contact them.
Registering for Classes
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 consult the Office of International Affairs when advising and working with international students.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Office of International Affairs for more information.