Students, scholars, and researchers are eligible to study or work in the United States with various visa types. These visa types have many benefits and restrictions that foreign nationals need to comply with in order to stay in this country. To familiarize yourself with the different policies and interpretations, please visit UCF Global. The most important item to remember is not to advise these individuals without knowing the policies since providing incorrect advice could result in the termination of their status.
UCF Global actively recruits international students to bring diversity and international recognition to the campus. They find the best recruitment tool abroad is developing a systematic feeder program through relationship building with international universities, organizations, and students. Faculty members are the most effective in developing these relationships and are thus encouraged to participate in recruitment activities and establish agreements with universities when traveling abroad. Recruitment activities may include giving presentations, meeting with prospective applicants, and making connections between students/institutions abroad and UCF. Faculty members are also encouraged to provide program information to UCF Global recruiters in order to assist the recruitment team in promoting available UCF graduate degree options. UCF Global is able to assist faculty by providing resources, recruiting materials and information on establishing agreements with institutions abroad.
International applicants are admissible to master’s and doctoral degree programs only. International applicants seeking an F or J visa cannot be admitted as non-degree seeking. They also cannot be admitted to certificate programs unless they have been previously admitted to a degree program.
International applicants have additional requirements and must follow earlier deadlines due to the amount of time it takes to process their immigration paperwork in order for them to be able to obtain a student visa.
International students, except those who are from countries where English is the only official language, those who have earned a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university, or those who have earned a degree from a country where English is the only official language or from a university at which English is the only official language of instruction, are required to submit a score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS before they can be admitted to the university. The University of Central Florida strongly prefers the TOEFL exam to the IELTS.
For all doctoral and master’s applicants to programs that require the GRE, the applicants must also submit official transcripts to be evaluated by our college. The College of Graduate Studies employs two International Credential Evaluators that review the academic credentials of applicants (excluding applicants to master’s programs in the College of Business Administration and Rosen College of Hospitality Management) that receive their undergraduate degree at a college or university outside of the United States. They conduct a complete assessment of all required credential documents (official transcript(s) and official certification of degree) submitted by the applicant, including the record of all academic coursework.
UCF Global handles the visa documents checklist for each international applicant. International applicants face additional challenges and need sufficient time to obtain appointments to receive their visa. Therefore, it is extremely important in making admissions recommendations for these applicants as soon as their files are completed and before the international decision deadline for the term.
The process of applying and getting a visa approved varies by country and generally takes one week to four months. Most students apply to various institutions and usually accept the first admission they receive to ensure they are able to start a program on time. To stay competitive, faculty responsible for making admissions decisions need to make them as early as possible, but no later than the scheduled admissions deadlines for international students.
February is the best month to admit an international student for the fall semester, and August is the best month to admit an international student for the spring semester. Please keep in mind that international applicants are not admissible to certificate or degree programs that are exclusively online.
Every semester UCF Global creates a list of admitted students who have incomplete immigration files and forwards the list to the department coordinators. Please use the list to email students encouraging them to submit outstanding immigration documents.
International students tend to be less familiar than domestic students with the U.S. higher education system and often have many questions during the application process. Please make every effort to respond to academic and program related inquiries in a timely manner. For questions on transcript evaluations and English language requirements, please see the Admissions section. If students have immigration-related questions, do not hesitate to forward the inquiry to UCF Global at [email protected].
Once students arrive at UCF, they are required to attend one of many available SEVIS immigration orientations. To obtain the dates for orientations, please view the UCF Global website or contact [email protected]. When communicating with international students about their arrival date to UCF, note that immigration regulations do not allow students to arrive prior to 30 days before the start of classes. UCF Global recommends students arrive two weeks before the start of classes to allow ample time to attend orientations, register for classes and settle in their new homes.
In addition to the challenges of dealing with cultural adaptation and academic success, international students holding an F-1 or J-1 visa are required to learn and comply with immigration regulations to maintain lawful immigration status. Although program and graduate policies may allow students to engage in certain activities, federal immigration regulations and UCF Global policies may prevent students from doing so. Failure to comply with regulations, even when students are misadvised by faculty members, can result in serious consequences, such as termination of immigration status.
Faculty members have opportunities to assist international students with adapting to their new environment and reaching the greater academic achievement. We encourage you to use UCF Global as a resource to help international students with their social and academic adjustment. Additionally, faculty should consult or refer students to UCF Global when uncertain that a particular action may violate an immigration regulation and place the student in jeopardy.
Below are the most important immigration regulations students must follow:
- Maintain full-time enrollment during the fall and spring semesters (12 credit hours for undergraduates and 9 for graduates).
- Do not work more than 20 hours on campus during the spring and fall semesters, except when classes are not in session.
- Obtain approval from UCF Global to engage in any type of employment outside the UCF campus. This includes internships and volunteer work.
- Maintain valid health insurance at all times.
- Keep information on Form I-20 up to date and keep document valid during the entire length of study.
Employment and Taxation
All foreign nationals (individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents) employed by UCF must meet with UCF Global Employment and Taxation before starting work to complete their payroll sign-in procedure. They must also complete the I-9 Form prior to their work start date. Please request international students who will be paid by UCF to make an appointment with the IAGS office as soon as possible after arrival.
Faculty involved with the signing and submission of electronic Personnel Action Forms (ePAFs) for assistantships need to be very mindful of the submission process and deadlines. All financial support documentation is required by August 15 of each year for continuing and August 31 for NEW international graduate assistants. Failure to submit the ePAF within the deadline will prevent the graduate assistant from receiving an assistantship and health insurance for that semester. This can be financially detrimental, particularly to new international students who are overspent from immigration fees, travel/moving expenses, and large housing and utility security deposits. Please review the International/Non-Resident Alien (NRA) Employment at UCF Human Resources for instructions on the hiring process, or contact UCF Global at 407-823-2337 and ask to speak to Employment and Taxation. UCF Global copies departments on email reminders to UCF employed foreign nationals prior to their I-9 expiration date, which must be active during the length of employment. Please remind employees to update their I-9 form prior to expiration and for the following:
- Current immigration status expires
- Changing immigration status
- Getting a new I-20/DS-2019
- Receiving EAD card
- Applying for permanent residency
- Becoming a U.S. resident
If you or your department is interested in sponsoring a foreign national for an H-1B work visa, please contact UCF Global Employment and Taxation for guidance. UCF Global works as a liaison with the Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, P.C. law firm to assist with this process.
In addition, if you are deciding to end the relationship with an H-1B employee and/or not renew the employment contract, the department should notify the employee and then send a notification letter to UCF Global immediately. The department should consult with the employee as to his or her intention to remain in the United States or return to the home country. If the employee plans to return home, the hiring department should either purchase a ticket or reimburse the employee for the cost. The department should consult with UCF Global prior to making any final decisions.
International Transcript Evaluations
The College of Graduate Studies offers transcript evaluations at no cost that provide U.S. degree equivalence of foreign education for all international applicants to all of our doctoral programs and any master’s programs that require the GRE (excluding those applicants to master’s programs located in the College of Business Administration and the Rosen College of Hospitality Management).
For master’s programs that do not require a GRE, a course-by-course evaluation is required from an evaluation service. If a more in-depth analysis of the applicant’s transcript is needed or a course-by-course evaluation, applicants will need to contact World Education Services, Inc. (WES) or Josef Silny.
Graduate programs should prioritize requests for evaluations. Prioritizing the best applicants will help with the fellowship nominations process and the admissions decisions. Please see your program director if you would like a high priority for a particular applicant. Doctoral fellowships are awarded through a university committee starting in January, therefore, it is important to submit requests as soon as possible so transcript evaluations can be done for the best applicants prior to this time.
For instructions on how to request a transcript evaluation and an explanation of the priority system, refer to International Transcript Evaluations – Priority Request.
Generally, the peak time for transcript evaluations occurs between the months of October and March, in conjunction with International application deadlines for the upcoming fall semester. It is important to follow the deadlines within this timeline when requesting evaluations.
Please see the International Applicants section for more information on International Admissions, particularly with regard to visas and other concerns of international applicants.