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How to get the most out of international student services at US universities

As a foreign student you will discover that ISS offices can play a key role in helping you with immigration, visa, orientation, banking and cultural issues.
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   08-08-2018

International Student Services

International student services (ISS) offices at US universities are a lifeline for foreign students trying to find their feet in a new country. It’s a place foreign students can turn to for help with their F1 student visa status, immigration regulations, and orientation.

The New School, the well-known design and liberal arts university in Manhattan, New York says its ISS office provides both immigration advice and cultural support. The university which includes the Parsons School of Design, the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Performing Arts also holds regular orientation, workshops and seminars.

“We want The New School to be a home away from home and we are here to help students meet the challenge of stepping outside the boundaries of the world they know as they interact with other students,” said a spokesperson for international student services at the New School.

“We also advise incoming students on higher education practices in the US and other cultural adjustment issues.”

The University of Washington offers valuable advice on topics like taking classes at another school, travel, Social Security number eligibility and even on-campus employment opportunities.

Jody Pritt, director of international student services at the University of South Carolina, says international students should make the ISS office a pit-stop for advisement.

“We advise on matters ranging from obtaining a US driver's license to obtaining health insurance, or to identify opportunities for them to engage in community service, not to mention personal needs like finding housing, immunization requirements, setting up cellular phone service and much more," Pritt told “US News & World Report.”

Pritt says the ISS office at the University of South Carolina also holds several employment workshops throughout the year, including one in which a local immigration attorney discusses immigration issues to consider after graduation.

The University of Kansas also helps answer questions internationals students may have while processing paperwork for maintaining their legal student immigration status. It also walks students through paid and unpaid employment options while they are engaged in Optional Practical Training (OPT). The ISS office has a detailed section on its website on how and when to apply for the coveted OPT program.

All ISS offices encourage international students to drop-in or contact staff via telephone or email with academic, cultural, social and personal concerns.

"They feel comfortable discussing those with us, both because of the broad range of international living experience represented by our advisers, and because we have established a valued relationship with them since before they arrived in the US," Rick Lane, director of international student services at the University of Illinois, Springfield told “US News.”

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