Frequently Asked Questions and Terms
The A to Z of student success and good status
The information given below provides a starting point to answer basic questions of new Knox students and review information provided during workshops or individual sessions. More detailed resources on offices and services can be found at Knox or U.S. government web pages. Please use this information to help you maintain your immigration status and successfully work your way through Knox to graduation!
Freedom to Flourish is important at Knox. So is a supportive community. You'll find all you need to know to plan out your academic progress with this overview of Knox academics. Taking time to get familiar with this information will simplify your life!
The academic year runs from September through June and is listed, for example, as Academic year 2010-2011. Search the Knox Web for the Academic Year calendar to find out when residence halls open, when classes begin, when vacations are scheduled and when finals occur.
Keep the business card of the Knox International Advisor with you in your wallet at all times. Write the name and telephone number of your embassy on the back of the card.
Depending on your citizenship country, you may or may not need a visa to travel to Canada. See the Canadian Citizen and Immigration site for more information.
The 24-hr toll-free number for immigration benefit information and status updates from USCIS is 1-800-375-5283. You must know your receipt number to use this service. You may also inquire on line at www.uscis.gov.
A consulate is the section of an embassy that deals with entry requests to a country by non-nationals, and provides assistance to home country citizens in the consulate location. See the DOS list of Embassies in the United States for more information.
A full time load at Knox is three courses. New students submit a Course Preference Form to the Registrar before their arrival at Knox. Your academic advisor will meet with you after you arrive on campus to clarify your initial goals and the best way to get started. At the end of each subsequent term, you preregister for your courses in the next term. Begin by reading the Class Knox material, and then submit a list of your three courses and an alternate to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) personnel are the USCIS officials students meet most often. Visa interview officers at the U.S. Consulates are personnel of the Department of State (DOS). Consular officers authorize the visa which allows you to request permission to enter the States. Customs officers give or deny permission to enter at the port of entry.
The Designated School Official is a staff member at your school who acts as the liaison between you and the Department of Homeland Security. At Knox, DSO's can be found in Admission, Student Development and the Registrar's office. The International Student Advisor in Student Development is your first contact for immigration related matters.
Diversity Visa Lottery
The United States grants a very limited number of Permanent Resident visas through a lottery process.
Assistance from a Campus Safety Officer is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For Campus Safety assistance call x7979 at any time from a campus phone
For Campus Safety assistance from a cell phone call '3' then 309-341-7979
To call for emergency assistance on a campus phone call '3' then '911'
To call for emergency assistance from a mobile phone press '911'
Please update your emergency contact information with the Office Student Development at least once each year. If you change your cell phone number or email address, please update the DSO as these changes occur.
English Placement Test
The Collegiate English test is intended to place international students in a class that matches your ability to demonstrate skills of analysis and composition in English at the collegiate level. This test is taken by new international students after you arrive at Knox. The results of this test may give you the option to take First-year Preceptorial in your second fall at Knox.
Entering the U.S.
Please read What to Expect When Entering the US as an F-1 visa Student:
The last four numbers of telephones on the Knox campus are referred to as the 'extension' for the office you're trying to call, and are written with an 'x' in front of the number. To reach the extension for the International Advisor, pick up the handset and press 7222. The number is 341-7222. The extension is written as x7222.
Payment of your Knox fees may be done on a yearly, per term or monthly basis. Contact the Business Office in Old Main for assistance at (309) 341-7313 and ask for Ms. Penny Young.
The U.S. government uses the period of 1 October to 30 September for budget accounting. The fiscal year (FY), is named based on the calendar year in which it ends. So, FY 2020 will begin on 01 October 2019 and end on 30 September 2020. This distinction is important for understanding the H1B process.
You will use many forms as a Knox student and specifically as an international student. Common forms related to international status are I-20, I-94, I-515, I-765, IRS 8843, IRS 1040NR-EZ, and the IL1040. Please check to see if you have submitted new student required forms before coming to Knox.
International students are required to comply with the regulations authorizing the issuance of their visa and all local, state and national laws. A letter of good status may be obtained from the DSO to confirm your current enrollment and eligibility to return to Knox College. Please provide the name and address of the person or agency who needs the letter at the time of your request.
A grace period is a bridge of time between one event or status as an international student, and another.
An example would be the 60 day grace period for departing the country after you graduate from Knox.
H1B is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign national employee to work in a "specialty occupation" for a limited period of time. H1B sponsorship through the prospective employer may be applied for either while in the U.S. or from abroad. H1B visas last for no more than six years and are subject to a quota or 'cap' per fiscal year. The initial filing period for H1B petitions begins on 01 April of each year, for employment beginning in the fall of that year.
The Honor Board investigates all cases of alleged violations of the honor system, determines guilt or innocence, and specifies the punishment. Honor Board was founded through the leadership of Ismat Kittani and is composed of two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and two faculty members.
The USCIS Employment Eligibility Verification form is used when applying for a job in order to prove your authorization to work in the U.S. based on citizenship or other limited eligibility. A current passport, Employment Authorization Document, Permanent Resident Card and/or I-94 number are required.
Your USCIS Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status is as important during your stay in the U.S. as your passport. Keep the I-20 with your passport and do not travel with it on a regular basis. Remember to obtain a travel endorsement each spring from your International Advisor, whether or not you plan on traveling abroad during the summer.
The USCIS Arrival Departure Record Form is provided by the airline and completed before landing. You must keep your I-94 card in your passport and surrender it upon departure. CBP will stamp your I-94 card, your passport and your I-20 for your first entry to the U.S.
If you have lost or inaccurate travel documents a temporary 30-day USCIS entry permit may be obtained at the U.S. Customs point of entry. Always travel with your Knox ID and the business card of the DSO to help you verify your student status.
The USCIS Application for Employment Authorization is used when applying for Optional Practical Training upon completion of your program of study. You should submit this form as soon as you decide you want to remain in the U.S. for employment, but no earlier than 90 days before graduation.
The Illinois Individual Income Tax Return is filed by F-1 or J-1 visa holders requesting a refund of taxes withheld by the State of Illinois in the previous calendar year.
IRS 1040NR-EZ Form
The U.S. Nonresident Income Tax Return is filed by F-1 or J-1 visa holders requesting a refund of taxes withheld by the federal government in the previous calendar year. EZ means this is the simplest form.
IRS 8843 Form
The Statement for Exempt Individuals is filed on an annual basis. You will be asked to report your specific entry and exit dates to record your length of stay in the U.S. while in F-1 or J-1 visa status.
Your Knox College identification number stays with you throughout your time as a Knox student and you'll use it often. Carry your ID with you, on or off campus. It's the only ID you'll need to carry unless you're driving or traveling for multiple days away from Galesburg.
On a yearly basis, all students are required to purchase health insurance from the College or show proof of insurance that provides coverage in the United States. Medical care in the States can be surprisingly expensive and you are advised to use the Student Health Center as your first choice for care. Contact the Office of Student Development at 309-341-7222 for more information on insurance plans.
For USCIS purposes, international students are those who attend Knox with an F-1 visa status.
If you hold any other visa status or are a Permanent Resident (PERM), please make this known at the time of your application.
For Residence Life purposes, any enrolled student who has a home address outside the 48 contiguous United States is eligible to stay on campus during winter and spring breaks without charge, provided you make your request in writing to the Dean of Students for Campus Life.
Eligibility to work on campus is an automatic benefit of F-1 status, but not a benefit of other visa types. Students may only work for the SEVIS college of record, may work no more than 20 hours per week -- or the maximum set by the institution -- during the academic term, and may only petition to work off campus after their first year of study. Use the Knox Job Bank to search for campus employment. Campus jobs are neither required nor guaranteed.
Language Placement Test
The language exam is intended for students who plan on enrolling in Spanish, French or German while at Knox. You take the test on-line at http://departments.knox.edu/languageplacement.
Then, enter "fire1" as the password to log in. See Class Knox for more information.
When petitions are filed relating to changes in nonimmigrant status, USCIS uses a pre-screening facility for fee receipt and checks of form completion and basic eligibility. A record of your check having cleared through the lockbox facility is often your first indication that your petition has been passed on to a Service Center for review.
Math Placement Test
The math exam is intended to place you in a course that will be challenging, but not impossible. You take the test on-line at http://math.knox.edu/placement. See Class Knox for more information.
Please read this guidance on preparing for Med School from Knox faculty. While early selection to the Knox-Rush and George Washington University programs are open only to permanent residents and U.S. citizens, the preparation guidance is excellent advice prior to interviewing at medical schools in your senior year.
Depending on your citizenship country, you may or may not need a visa to travel to Mexico.
Optional Practical Training is a benefit of your F-1 status, and is generally done after you complete your undergraduate, Master's or Doctoral degree. OPT lasts only for one year and is nonrenewable, unless you majored in a STEM area of study. Students on OPT will owe taxes for the first time and are required to file a return in order to maintain good status.
Out of Status
To be out of status means that you have done something that prevents you from maintaining full-time enrollment in your program of study, or that your immigration documents indicate that you are no longer eligible for the previously held status. An application and fee must be submitted to regain status, or you may depart the country before returning.
You must possess a passport valid for a minimum of 6 months past your anticipated departure. Some countries allow renewal of your passport while abroad. Please check with your embassy for procedures on passport renewal and replacement. You do not need to travel with your passport unless you are away from Knox on break.
If you need a police report for an application or petition, contact the Galesburg Police Department at (309) 343-9151 for their service window hours. Their headquarters is at 150 South Broad Street, just west of the Galesburg Public Library.
Program of study
Program of study is the term used in SEVIS to refer to your academic program and length of stay. Graduation is generally the end of your program of study at Knox.
A quiz is a short examination on course material that has been studied to date. A quiz may be scheduled or be unannounced, i.e. a 'pop quiz'.
The Nebraska Service Center (NSC) is the USCIS facility where petitions from Illinois for Optional Practical Training are adjudicated. NSC screens many types of requests from 20 different states.
Social Security number
The Social Security number (SSN), establishes identity for U.S. citizens, but does not serve the same purpose for nonimmigrant students. Eligibility for an SSN occurs after obtaining F-1 status and campus employment. If you lose your SSN card you may apply for the first replacement at no cost, as long as you are currently employed. Please safeguard your SSN as you do your passport.
Students graduating with a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) may extend their OPT period for an additional 17 months, if working for an employer registered in the E-Verify program.
International students and scholars are required to submit tax related paperwork in April of each year, for the previous calendar year. You will receive a W-2 statement from the Business Office in January of the year tax returns are due. Tax returns need to be filed no later than 15 April if you wish a refund of taxes withheld.
Students may buy their own telephone or use a cell phone instead. All students are encouraged to sign up for a free individual voice-mail account that can be accessed from any phone. Every student is provided with a long distance access code for land line use. Keep your code private and be aware of the cost of calls abroad before you dial.
Knox directory service is available to the Knox community online. The number for directory assistance at Knox is "0", which will connect you to the Knox operator from 8am-4pm on M-F. For assistance in dialing abroad check the country calling code.
To call any Knox number from a Knox phone, just enter the last four extension numbers. To call a number away from Knox, press '3' then the local number, or '3' then '1' then the area code and local number.
Every student should check their I-20 for a travel endorsement signature by the DSO each Reading Day. If you forgot to have your I-20 endorsed and return to the U.S. on a Form I-515, see your International Advisor on the first business day after your return to Knox. Returning students are responsible for the cost for mailing a replacement I-20 via international courier service.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service is the federal government agency responsible for matters relating to nonimmigrant stay or legal immigrant processing. Along with other agencies, USCIS shares data with the Department of State (DOS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
U.S. Embassies provide service to U.S. citizens abroad and visa services to travelers. Check Department of State web pages for an up to date list of U.S. Embassy locations.
A visa is a document used to request entry to the country upon arrival at the port of entry. International students may be in the U.S. with an expired visa, but you may not return to the United States until you present a valid visa, valid passport and Form I-20 endorsed within the previous year. It is expected that F-1 visa applicants understand and intend to abide by the temporary nature of their stay before a visa is issued.
Visa application may take place up to 90 days before your program start date, but you may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before your program start date. Be prepared to discuss what and why you want to study at Knox, and to present your Knox I-20 and proof of ability to pay.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
If you have family or friends traveling to see you from one of the VWP countries, they may enter the U.S. without a visa for 90 days or less if they have a current machine-readable passport. For a list of VWP countries see the Customs link.
The IRS Wage and Tax Statement is generated based on your Social Security number and records the income you made during the previous calendar year. The federal and state taxes that were withheld from your pay are also recorded here. A tax return must be filed to obtain a refund of any taxes withheld that you do not owe.
Galesburg has four distinct seasons, with humid summers and cold winters. The average temperature can range from 08C to 24C in the fall, and -10C to 10C. Dressing in layers is best.
Remember to check with your DSO for recent changes to procedures or eligibility conditions.