Frequently Asked Questions


  • International students must be enrolled full time, except during the summer or a student’s last semester of enrollment. Full-time is defined as follows:
    • 12 credit hours each semester if an undergraduate student
    • 9 credit hours each semester if a graduate student (note: BGSU Graduate Assistants are required to enroll in 12 credit hours each semester)
  • International students should not drop below full time without prior approval from the International Programs & Partnerships Office. International students who register for less than a full time course load without prior ISS approval will be out of status and reported to U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

International students who wish to take a temporary leave of absence should visit the International Programs & Partnerships Office prior to leaving. If approved, the student’s SEVIS record will be terminated due to “Authorized Early Withdrawal” and the student will have 15 days to depart the U.S. The length of the absence will determine how the student can proceed in returning to the U.S. for study at BGSU.


  • Per F-1 visa regulations, international students are only permitted to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year (fall and spring semesters). During the summer and official University breaks, international students may be able to work up to 40 hours per week on campus.
  • Any work off campus, including internships and co-ops, must be authorized by the International Programs & Partnerships Office before a student can begin such employment.
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Severe Economic Hardship
  • Internship with an International Organization

A student securing employment of any type must apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) through the U.S. Social Security Administration Office. The SSN is imperative for tax purposes and receiving payment for the work you do. A student can only apply for an SSN if he/she secures employment. The International Programs & Partnerships Office assists students with the necessary documentation in order to apply for the SSN.


International students should always keep their passport current for at least 6 months into the future. If your passport is going to expire soon, whether you renew it in your home country or the U.S. may depend on whether you plan to return home in the near future. To renew your passport from within the U.S, you will need to contact your embassy in the U.S. In some cases, this may require a trip to Washington, D.C. or Chicago. For a list of foreign embassies in the U.S., please visit

A student who enters the U.S. with a valid I-20 is admitted into the U.S. for “duration of status.” As such, a student’s F1 visa can expire while in the U.S. without penalty. A student must be prepared, however, to renew his/her visa upon leaving the U.S., and it is recommended that this is done in the student’s home country. For travel to Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands, special provisions apply; more information can be found at


  • In order to drive legally in Ohio, students must obtain an Ohio driver’s license. A license from another U.S. state is valid, but generally only accepted for the student’s first 30 days of residency in Ohio.
  • Students who wish to purchase a car must also obtain auto insurance. Many companies offer auto insurance policies, so it is beneficial to receive a few quotes from different companies before purchasing and signing an auto insurance policy.
  • To obtain a driver’s license or state ID, students must be able to present documents that prove the following:
    • Legal first name, middle name or initial, and current last name
    • Date of birth
    • Social Security Number (SSN), if ever assigned
    • U.S. citizenship or U.S. legal presence
    • Residential street address in Ohio
  • Typically, students will need to take the following to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to prove these things:
    • Passport with F-1 visa
    • I-20
    • Proof of residential address
    • SSN (if applicable)
  • The closest BMV Office is located at 457 E. Market St. in Bowling Green. For more detailed information about this BMV location, please click here.

Nonimmigrant students and scholars are required to file taxes each year by a deadline in mid-April. Please be sure that you watch your mail for important tax documents; these generally arrive between January and March every year. The International Programs & Partnerships Office will send students information on filing taxes as the deadline approaches.

Yes, international students are required to enroll into the BGSU/Aetna Student Health Plan.  International students may qualify for a waiver if they meet certain requirements, the details of which can be found here. BGSU is partnering with Aetna Student Health for the 2016-2017 policy year.  Detailed information about student health insurance plan benefits can be found here.  

Your I-20 is a very important document and should always be kept current. If your residential address, phone number, or any other information (major, program end date, financial sources, etc.) detailed on your I-20 changes, you are required to report this to International Programs & Partnerships within 10 days of the change occurring.

All BGSU residence halls have a small kitchen available for students to prepare food if they wish to do so. Cookware and utensils can be checked out from the residence hall front desk if needed as well.