Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do to get an invitation letter for family and friends to get a tourist (B-2) visa?

Invitation letters are not required to apply for a tourist (B-2) visa. Due to this, OISS does not issue invitation letters. If you want to compose your own invitation letter, you may contact OISS for a sample letter you may use; OISS will not review the information you enter on the letter. Please refer to for more information on requirements to apply for a tourist visa. The most important issue for those applying for tourist visas is to show the intent of their visit, such as will they actually leave the U.S. after their visit. OISS does not know your family or friends therefore we cannot state with certainty that they intend to leave the U.S. after their visit.

Showing strong ties to their home country may help. Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, individual to individual. Some examples of ties may be a job, a house, a family, a bank account. "Ties" are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your possessions, employment, social and family relationships. (U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Publication 10485, June 1997).

How do I apply for a social security number? Does everyone need one?

Only people who may work in the U.S. and have received a job offer (F-1, J-1, H-1B, J-2 with work permission) may obtain a number. Numbers are not issued to B-2 or B-1 visa holders. You can pick up an application for a social security number at the OISS. You must complete it and present it at the social security office, along with your passport and visa documents. Please refer to our social security page for information about how to obtain social security cards.

Can an international student work in the U.S.?

An international student using an F-1 or a J-1 visa document issued by UNR can work but there are many restrictions. Eligibility to work is based on full-time student status. Working on campus is possible for a full-time student for 20 hours per week in the academic year, and 40 hours per week during school breaks. For any work that is not paid by UNR, it is best to consult with an international student advisor at OISS regarding the limited options available. Additional information about working on-campus or off-campus is available.

I would like to go to Canada or Mexico - what do I do?

There is a handout available at the OISS that tells international students and scholars the steps they must take to contact either the Canadian or Mexican Consulates, to determine if they need a visa to enter those countries, and the information needed to make an appointment at the American Consulate in Canada or Mexico once they get to these countries, to apply for a visa for entry to the U.S. For additional information about travel outside of the U.S., visit our travel page.

What do I need from the OISS to travel?

Whether you are an international student or scholar, you should come to the OISS prior to travel to have your visa document signed by an international student or scholar advisor prior to taking a trip. This simply tells the USCIS that you are "O.K." to re-enter the United States. You will also need a passport and unexpired U.S. visa to re-enter the country.

How many credits must I take as an international student?

Undergraduate students must be enrolled in 12 credits. Graduate students must be enrolled in 9 credits (without an assistantship) or 6 credits (if they hold an assistantship). Students who will go below these limits for valid reasons must speak to an international advisor prior to enrolling in fewer than that required credits. Students who have an unauthorized reduced course load will not be able to work and may be required to apply for immigration status reinstatement through the USCIS. Additional information about staying in status, can be found on the status page.

My address and/or phone number has changed. Who needs to know?

Because databases on campus are not linked, all address and/or phone number changes should be reported to all of the following offices: The OISS, Admissions and Records, and Payroll. Changing your mailing address in EPaws does not change your physical address that OISS requires. If you do not report your address change each time you change addresses, important notices, bills and announcements are likely to be lost. Request a change of address form from Admissions and Records.

What is the I-Club? How can I join?

I-Club is the International Club - a social club for international students and Americans interested in interacting with people from all different nations. I Club focuses on educational activities for the general campus population that center on learning more about other cultures and customs, as well as social activities that just give international students a chance to experience recreational activities in the Reno-Tahoe area. Anyone can join! Contact OISS to be put on an e-mail list or fill out an I-club form at the OISS to become a member.

I am an international student and I do not know if I need to submit a tax return?

Everyone in the U.S. needs to submit some form of tax return! If you have not earned any money or received any scholarship, it's very simple. Otherwise, it can be a bit complicated. Either way, the OISS offers workshops in February and March each year to help international students and faculty learn a bit about their tax obligations. Although we are not tax experts in the OISS, we do offer phone numbers and websites that may help. For more information about taxes, visit our tax page.