Immigration Advice and Resources
Cornell offers many resources to support our international community. On this page, you'll find answers, advice, and allies for your immigration-related concerns, including campus resources for internationals, immigration emergency aid, university statements of support, and more.
Learn about how the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs advocates for Cornell's international community.
Monthly Immigration Update
Updated September 18, 2023
Alert: Activate Your Immigration Status Now
If you are a new F-1 or J-1 student sponsored by Cornell, you have a legal obligation to complete a status activation with International Services. If you don’t complete this required first step, your SEVIS record may be terminated. If you have received messages from our office asking you to activate your status, please respond immediately.
Once you have completed your status activation, take a moment to read through Maintaining Your Status. This section of our website outlines the rules and requirements for all international students studying in the United States.
F/J Students: Stay Enrolled Full-Time
You must stay enrolled full-time during your Cornell degree program to maintain your immigration status. Failure to enroll and maintain full-time enrollment could impact your immigration status and your ability to remain legally in the U.S.
- Undergraduates: You are required to take at least 12 credit hours per semester in the fall and spring.
- Graduate Students: Full-time enrollment is defined by your degree program. Check with your department, school, or college to make sure you meet enrollment requirements.
If you need to drop below full-time or take a leave of absence, please contact us to discuss your situation. To learn more about maintaining your status, visit About Your F/J Student Status and Maintaining Your F/J Status.
On-Campus Employment for J-1 Students
If you’re a J-1 student working on campus, your on-campus employment must be authorized by your J-1 sponsor before you start working.
- If you are a J-1 student on a Cornell DS-2019 form, get your J-1 student employment authorization letter from International Services. Complete the form to request a J-1 student on-campus employment letter.
- If a different sponsor, such as Fulbright, issued your DS-2019, you need to get an authorization letter directly from your sponsor.
H-1B and O-1: I-94s
H-1B/O-1 scholars: Be sure to check your I-94 after every U.S. entry. We recommend that you save a copy of your I-94 record every time you enter the U.S.
If you’ve recently traveled internationally using a passport that is valid for less time than your H-1B/O-1 approval notice, you may have been issued an I-94 record that is valid for less time than listed on your H-1B/O-1 approval notice. Please take a moment to review your I-94. If the "admit until" date on your I-94 is before the end date listed on your approval notice, email us to discuss options.
If Cornell has filed for a change or extension of your status since your last entry to the U.S., you have a USCIS-issued I-94 on the bottom of your approval notice, so you can disregard this reminder.
International Services Student FAQ
Support at Cornell
Cornell’s Office of Global Learning International Services is here to help students and scholars from around the world thrive at Cornell. Talk with International Services staff about general immigration information, including visas and jobs, finding your niche in Ithaca, campus resources, and more. Get advice from International Services.
If you are a current student, faculty, or staff member experiencing an immigration-related emergency, find out how to get the help you need at any hour on International Services' Stopped at the Border page.
Cornell Law School Clinical Programs provide free immigration legal advice and/or referrals for Cornell students on specific issues such as asylum and naturalization. Income guidelines may apply. Reach out to the clinical faculty team by email at email@example.com or call the clinic at +1-607-255-4196.
Cornell Law’s immigration clinic handles immigration cases for the Cornell community. Contact Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer, associate clinical professor of law, by email to discuss your case. In addition, the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School publishes free online law materials to help people understand the law.
Resources for undocumented and DACA student support can be found on the Student and Campus Life website.
University Statements of Support (select)
Our Core Value as a Community of Belonging, President Martha Pollack (Sept. 15, 2022)
- Statement on the shooting in Buffalo by a white supremacist, President Martha Pollack (May 15, 2022)
- Standing against hatred and bias, President Martha Pollack (May 26, 2021)
- Statement on Anti-Asian violence, President Martha Pollack (March 17, 2021)
- Condemning the events at U.S. Capitol, President Martha Pollack (Jan. 6, 2021)
- Update on racial justice initiatives at Cornell, President Martha Pollack and Vice Provost Avery August (Sept. 4, 2020)
- Additional actions to create a more just and equitable Cornell, President Martha Pollack (July 16, 2020)
Explore the complete archive of university statements.
Guidance and Counseling
- Part of Cornell Health, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) includes the Let’s Talk program. Talk confidentially with a trained healthcare professional and find support for stress, loneliness, anxiety, depression, adjustment challenges, relationship difficulties, questions about identity, managing an existing mental health condition, or other issues. Call CAPS at +1-607-255-5155 to speak with a staff member.
- Cornell's Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives offers general advising on personal and academic support, as well as planning for academic and professional aims and referrals for undocumented students as part of the trailblazers program.
- Cornell's Office of Graduate Student Life serves the Cornell community in many capacities: discussing student concerns, providing available resources and services, and sharing options for handling difficult academic and personal situations. Contact Janna Lamey to identify appropriate resources.
- The staff in the Dean of Students office is available for support, advice, and guidance in navigating various circumstances. Contact the office by email or call +1-607-255-1115.
- Cornell's Faculty and Staff Assistance Program offers free, confidential guidance and support to benefits-eligible employees and their partners to address issues that may be affecting their personal lives and job satisfaction or performance. This resource is part of Cornell's broad commitment to foster and support the mental health and well-being of the campus community.
Housing in Ithaca
- If you're an international student concerned that visa issues will limit your ability to travel to your home abroad during university breaks, on-campus housing may be an option. Send an email in confidence to find out more.
- International Services provides general housing information on its website. Visit Your First Week and Student Resources.
Support from Off-Campus
Hotline to Combat Coronavirus Hate Crimes and Xenophobic Rhetoric
New York's Attorney General Letitia James created a hotline to report hate crimes and bias-based incidents. The hotline comes in the wake of rising reports of harassment and assaults, as well as rhetoric against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The attorney general urges those experiencing hate crimes and bias report an incident by email or by calling +1-800-771-7755. Learn more about the initiative.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides updates on official government policies related to immigration into the United States.
- Informed Immigrant offers important resources for immigrants and allies.
- American Civil Liberties Union provides information and resources to help defend the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
- Miller Mayer, an Ithaca-based immigration law firm, provides immigration policy news and free webinars on legal topics.
- Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition is a network for immigrant community empowerment.