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
- All new and transfer international students are expected to arrive to campus for check-in on Tuesday, August 24th at 4pm in the Johnson Center.
- Please check your email for arrival information for the Fall 2021 semester. No airport pick-ups will be offered this year.
- New international student athletes will receive arrival information from their coaches.
- If you are not able to arrive on your assigned date, please contact Michael Drake in International Admissions.
International Student Orientation will have both online & in-person components for Fall 2021.
International Student Orientation is required for all incoming exchange, undergraduate, graduate, and Seminary students.
Online Orientation: Please check your email for instructions and a link to access the orientation modules in Canvas, which should be completed by August 23. This virtual orientation will prepare you to be successful an international student at North Park and in the U.S. and can be completed before arrival.
In-Person Orientation will take place August 24-26 for all new and transfer international students. These orientation sessions are also mandatory. Please find the full schedule here:
Undergraduate students: please also plan participate in Threshold, an orientation for all new undergraduate students, which will take place August 27-29.
Maintaining Visa Status
To get started, 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. 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.
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 all are strongly encouraged to purchase. Please use the button below to submit your enrollment request. The Office of International Affairs will process your enrollment within one week, and will contact you with 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 above
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 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.
Note: this process can now be completed via an online form. Please use the link below to verify your information and credit hours for the semester. You no longer need to submit a paper form or copy of your schedule.
If you have loan paperwork that you need completed for CSN, Lånekassen, etc. please contact the following staff in Student Administrative Services:
Undergraduate Students, surnames A – N: Lauren Foley, email@example.com
Undergraduate Students, surnames O – Z: Eve Crespo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Graduate Students: Sherrie Tillmon, email@example.com
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 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.
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) 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. Currently, we are able to send new I-20s with travel signatures via email, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.
As of January 2021: You will also need to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test. Before boarding your flight you must present proof of a negative COVID test (taken within 3 days of departure). More information can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html.
The Tax Filing Deadline is April 15, 2021. As a nonresident student in the US, you’re legally required to file Form 8843 if you were in the U.S. during the year 2020. You are also legally required by the IRS to file a tax return if you received any income in the U.S. during 2020.
If you did NOT receive any income during 2020, 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 (check your NPU email for this code or contact firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 print, sign and mail your documents to the IRS.
Note: if you had an on-campus job in 2020 and consented to receive your W2 statement online, you can now view and/or print your 2020 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.
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 Career Hub and search for On-Campus, Non Work Study jobs. Note: ISEP students must obtain permission from ISEP before starting work.
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. Learn more about Academic Training.
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 Student Administrative Services.
Registering for Classes
- New undergraduate student registration
- Current undergraduate student registration
- Graduate student registration
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.