Resources for international students and scholars
Moving to Reno
People become products of their own cultures and environments, having learned the values, attitudes, customs, languages, and other aspects of the culture that surrounded them. It is a challenging, stimulating, and sometimes difficult process to leave one's culture and go to live in another country. You are separated from the people and circumstances that define your role in society when you enter a new culture and this may result, in varying degrees, in a loss of identity. In a new environment, you must learn to adjust to many new and different things all at the same time. Living abroad can be a very exciting experience, but it also requires much effort, patience, and perseverance.
The adjustment cycle
People who enter a new culture almost inevitably suffer from a certain level of disorientation. Cultural adjustment is the process that people go through when they go to another culture. The cycle of emotions that people experience varies somewhat with each individual; however, there is a set of stages that most people tend to experience. You may find that one stage is more pronounced than another, or that you seem not to enter a particular stage at all. This information may be helpful in understanding your reactions to living in the United States.
Stage 1 is characterized by a high level of excitement and perhaps some anxiety. In this stage of initial euphoria, everything is new and students are busy with the initial tasks of settling into the culture. At this point, they are most likely to notice similarities and to assume that people everywhere are basically alike. This stage can last from a few weeks to several months, but it inevitably ends.
Soon after arrival, it becomes apparent that many aspects of living in the United States differ from your own culture. The differences in the educational system, food, dress, language, friendships, values, customs, transportation, climate, etc., start to become noticeable, and people react to the situation in different ways. These reactions, in the irritability stage, are referred to as culture shock. Culture shock can be characterized by feelings of frustration, irritation, exhaustion, and disappointment at the difficulty in learning so many new things all at once. Since the new environment is the cause of the discomfort, some hostility toward Americans, the university, and the U.S. may be expressed at this time. It is common for international students to turn to each other in this stage in order to express their negative feelings. However, as they develop a deeper understanding of the culture, the students gradually adjust.
The gradual adjustment stage is characterized by a sense of greater comfort in the new culture. Students adapt to the educational system, make a few friends, become involved in areas of interest, and establish a routine which allows them to function fairly well in the U.S. There will always be aspects of the culture that they do not like or choose not to adopt, but there are other aspects they enjoy and integrate into their lives. When students begin to make adjustments, they usually stay at this stage until it is time to return to their own culture.
As students near the completion of their studies, they often feel excited and anxious about returning home. Readjustment seems a strange concept to many international students, because they think they are going home to what is comfortable and familiar. However, by adjusting to the U.S. culture, they have changed in ways that may not be apparent until they return home. Depending on how long they have been gone, the situation at home may have changed a great deal as well. As you prepare to go home, the adjustment cycle begins again, and will most likely be characterized by the stages of initial euphoria, irritability, and gradual adjustment. Resolution involves somehow internalizing the experience gained in living in another culture and moving forward with life and career.
As you go through the adjustment cycle, your experience may differ from the described stages. It is very common to have a variety of high and low points during your stay in the U.S. and people have different reactions to living abroad depending on their background, experience, and personality. It is helpful to ask yourself the following questions as you encounter confusing situations:
- How is this accomplished in this country?
- Did the person I'm talking to understand what I said and what I meant?
- What does this mean here?
- Does this mean the same thing here as it does in my culture?
By asking such questions, you will increase your understanding of the culture and develop a pattern of adapting to life in the U.S. Students often wonder how far they must go in their adaptation. There are two extreme responses to a new culture. At the one end is the person who refuses to make any adjustments. This person is probably unwilling to try new foods, to learn the language, and to change daily habits and will find it difficult to function in the culture and focus on returning home as soon as possible. On the other end, the person who completely assimilates becomes so Americanized that one would not know they were not born here. Almost everyone eventually finds a balance between these two extremes. You will probably accept some things about this country and reject others. There is no obligation to take on any U.S. habit or to change personal customs that you do not wish to. The following are suggestions for easing adjustment:
- Learn and observe listen carefully and watch reactions.
- Ask questions - don't be afraid to ask.
- Try not to evaluate or judge - by comparing and labeling things as good or bad you may be misinterpreting the information.
- Try to empathize put yourself in the other person's place and try to see the situation from the other person's perspective.
- Show openness and curiosity.
- Recognize anxiety and frustration - situations you might have treated lightly in your culture may have a greater impact on you here. Sometimes talking to someone who has experienced culture shock can help, such as another international student or an International Student Advisor.
- Become involved - the more you put into the experience, the more you will gain from it. You should make an effort to meet people, form friendships, and get involved in activities.
- Maintain a sense of humor
Flying to Reno
The Reno/Tahoe International Airport is only 15 minutes from the University campus and downtown. Reno can be reached very easily via San Francisco or Los Angeles. Most commonly, connecting flights are arranged through San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and other major cities.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
When you arrive in the United States, a CBP officer will scan your passport and generate an electronic arrival record for you. The officer will place an admission stamp in your passport that will show the date of admission, class of admission (F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2), and the date that you are admitted until ("DS" for international students and their dependents). The electronic I-94 will be available on the Department of Homeland Security website. If the admission information is incorrect, talk to an Office of International Students and Scholars advisor about it as soon as possible
Bringing dependents to the United States
Dependents of students and scholars, who wish to come to the U.S., must have their own dependent visas obtained at the U.S. consulate abroad.
Dependents of F-1 students will be applying for F-2 visas based on the I-20 issued by the University of Nevada, Reno. If you are a current student, please complete the I-20 Request Form and submit the form together with the proof of additional funding to OISS. If you are a prospective student, please indicate that you will be bringing your dependents to UNR, and request the dependent I-20s at the time of admission.
Dependents of J-1 exchange visitors will be applying for J-2 visas based on the DS-2019 form issued by the University of Nevada, Reno. To obtain a DS-2019 form for dependents, please complete a Request for DS-2019 form and submit to OISS together with the proof of additional funding. Research scholars and faculty coming to UNR should indicate their intention of bringing the family to their departmental contact who will be completing the request form.
Dependents of H-1B specialty occupation worker will be applying for H-4 visas/status. Information about the dependents should be included on the H-1B Employee Forms and submitted to OISS at the time of requesting the H-1B status for the principal. Please follow the instructions listed on the form. If the dependent will be applying for an H-4 visa/status at the later stage, please contact OISS to find out what documents are required.
If the dependent is already in the U.S. in a different status and wishes to change to a dependent status (F-2, J-2, H-4), he/she can do so through a change of status procedure without leaving the U.S. and applying for a visa abroad. For more information please contact OISS.
Adequate financial resources are required to support the dependents in the U.S. These resources should be over and above the funding required for F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor and are calculated at $800.00 per month for a spouse and $350.00 per month for each child. Please keep in mind that bringing the dependents involves additional expenses such as: renting a larger apartment, higher food and medical cost, child care and schooling expenses etc.
For more information about the visa application process, scheduling visa interviews and contacting the consulate nearest you, see the U.S. State Department: Visas website.
Please keep in mind that in order for a spouse to qualify for a dependent visa you must be legally married and provide a proof of your marriage to the consulate.
One of the first things you should do after arriving in Reno is open an account in a local bank. There is a Bank of America near the university which offers student accounts and currently has an ATM on campus. Other major banks in Reno are Wells-Fargo Bank, U.S. Bank, and Nevada State Bank. To open an account, you must provide proof of identification (passport, driver's license, or student ID). It is not necessary to have a social security card to open an account. The cost and terms of opening and maintaining accounts differ from bank to bank. Banks may charge for transactions, have a basic monthly fee, offer free checking, or require that you maintain a minimum balance. A monthly statement of all transactions will be sent to you every month or you may access your statement online if your bank offers online banking. You must keep an accurate record of your account to make sure you have enough money. Writing a check without sufficient funds, referred to as "bouncing a check," will lead to additional financial charges.
Checking and savings accounts
Services provided by banks in the U.S. are similar to those in other countries, but the terms used may differ from those with which you may be familiar. One of the most common points of confusion is the distinction between a savings account and a checking account. A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your savings account balance. Different banks pay different rates of interest and require different terms and conditions in order to receive interest. While it is easy to transfer money from a savings account to a checking account or vice versa, you cannot write checks for payment from a savings account. A checking account allows the convenience of paying for goods and services without having to carry cash with you. Checks are most often used for the payment of monthly bills (telephone, rent, university bills, etc.). Most area stores and establishments accept checks for purchases; however, many require a driver's license in order to use the check. Most banks offer a check card which is often a credit card that will deduct funds directly from your checking account balance. You can apply for the check card at your bank.
Automatic teller machines (ATM)
Automatic Teller Machines (ATM's) are computerized banking machines available 24 hours a day. These machines are operated with a special card and a secret access number, and can be used for depositing, transferring, and withdrawing money. Some banks offer this service for free, others charge $1 or $2 for each transaction. It's important to make note of all transactions in your checkbook. Currently, there is a Bank of America ATM and Wells Fargo ATM at the Joe Crowley Student Union (JCSU). A Sierra Nevada Credit Union ATM is located in the Student Services Building.
Child care and schooling
Participation in child care and schools is based on the age of children.
- Infant and toddler care covers children ages 0 to 3
- Pre-school is for children ages 3 to 4
- Kindergarten is for children ages 5 to 6 (the child must turn 5 by September 30).
- Elementary Schools offer programs from Kindergarten to Grade 6 (the child must turn 6 by September 30 to begin 1st grade)
- Middle Schools cover Grades 7 and 8 (ages12-13)
- High Schools offer programs for Grades 9 - 12 (ages 14-18).
Child Care facilities at the University of Nevada, Reno
Child and Family Research Center located in Sarah Fleischmann Building, Room 118 offers programs for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years (kindergarten).Please note there is a long waiting list for this facility.
Early Head Start is located at Nelson Center, 401 W. 2nd Street. It provides intensive and comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income families with children under the age of three and pregnant women.
Campus Child Care Connections located at Mackay Science Building, Room 100. This is not a child care facility, but it provides information on how to choose quality child care, support for parents making child care choices, referral to Network family day care providers, referral to other community child care options and access to early childhood resource materials.
The Washoe County School District website provides a wealth of information about the school system in Reno and the surrounding area. If you need to find out which school your child should be attending, please go to the Washoe County School District Register page or call (775) 348-0200.
Any student new to the district must present a birth certificate or passport and an immunization record from your health care provider. A utility bill may be necessary for proof of residency, and the student's Social Security number will be asked for but is not required in order for your child to be registered.
The district offers special ESL programs for non-English speaking students. Each new student with a limited English proficiency is given a language assessment test and placed in classes based on the results of this test. For more information please contact the school in your area.
Telephone and mail service
Campus phone services
All campus telephone numbers begin with the prefix 784 or 682. When making a phone call from a campus phone to another campus office, you only dial the last five numbers (i.e., the Office of International Students and Scholars is (775) 784-6874, so you should dial 4-6874). In addition, when calling off campus from a campus phone, you must dial 9 first, wait for a dial tone, then call the number.
Home telephone service
Whether you live on campus or off, if you'd like telephone service you must contact AT&T by dialing (775) 333-4811 or going to 1450 Vassar St. Installation fees are about $100, and they also request a minimum deposit. There are numerous options available for local services, as well as special features like call waiting, call forwarding, three-way calling, etc. The monthly charges vary depending upon the nature and extent of the services you request. You will need to purchase your own phone, which is available in nearly every department store, including Target, K-mart, Walmart, etc.
For overseas and long-distance calls which are outside the area served by the local telephone company, you have to use a primary long distance telephone company. The quality and cost of services differ from company to company and depend on the time and length of the call. Some companies may provide special calling plans for overseas calls. You are strongly advised to contact the companies and obtain more details. You might consider asking your friends for advice about which company to choose. If a particular company offers any special deals, you should obtain the offer in writing before a choice is made. In the Reno area, there are over several long distance companies from which to choose, but the largest are as follows:
- U.S. Sprint
Most parts of the USA and Canada can be called by dialing direct (1-area code-phone number). For overseas calls, dial 011-country code-city code-phone number. These codes can be obtained from the local telephone book. Please be aware that placing a call through the operator requires an additional charge.
It is wise to obtain a calling card for times when you may need to make a long distance call while traveling. We recommend buying calling cards to call home as these are the most economical. You can buy such cards online or at local international grocery stores. It is also possible to make a collect call, where the person being called will pay for the charges. This happens to be the most costly, however.
Numbers to know
- AT&T: (775) 333-4811
- Emergencies: 911
- Directory Information l-(area code) 555-1212 (for the entire United States)
Facsimile transmission (FAX)
FAX machines are available for personal use for a fee at various locations in the city and on the university campus. Check "Facsimile Transmission Service" in the yellow pages of the telephone directory for businesses providing this service.
The United States Postal Service provides services similar to most other postal services around the world. Personal mail cannot be delivered to you through campus departments or in the residence halls. You may rent a U.S. Post Office box at the University Station, a full-service post office located the north end of campus. The rental rate is approximately $59 for six months for a size extra small box. All sizes and prices can be viewed on the United States Postal Service website.
Getting help with personal problems
Problems or difficulties involving academic work, personal relationships, stress, unhappiness, an individual's view of him or herself etc., are viewed and treated differently in different cultures. If you experienced difficulties when you were living in your home country, perhaps you turned to your family or close personal friends for help and advice. During your stay in the U.S., however, you may be apart from all family and close friends or you may only have one or two family members with you. When problems arise, you may feel the need to find substitute sources of emotional support. In the U.S., many people do not live near their families, and it is not always the custom for Americans to be raised to depend on their families to solve problems. In many instances, Americans will choose to talk with professionals or trained volunteers about problems. The services listed in this section are staffed by persons trained to be sympathetic and objective listeners. A counselor can help you to determine what the difficulty is, empathize with your situation, help you see options that you might not have seen, and help you resolve a difficulty. Any conversation you have with a counselor will be treated as confidential. Your stay in the U.S. will be much more enjoyable if you can find substitutes for the types of support provided by your family or close friends at home. Counseling is one option for dealing with difficulties that arise.
Counseling Services is the primary counseling facility on campus. It is staffed by professionally trained counselors and counseling psychologists whose services are available free to all students. Personal, social or career issues may interfere with your academic achievement or personal functioning and counseling can help you develop self understanding, use your potential more effectively, and plan your goals realistically. Appointments for counseling services may be made in-person or by telephone. They are located in Room 420, Pennington Student Achievement Center at (775) 784-4648
Suicide Prevention and Crisis Call Center
This organization provides phone counseling in crisis situations, such as rape, suicide prevention, domestic violence, and child abuse. They provide information and referral and are there to talk and to listen. You can reach the Crisis Call Center at (775) 323-6111.
Department of Residential Life
Every Residence Hall is staffed with live-in Residence Hall Directors and Resident Advisors who have received training and can assist with many problems through counseling, information, and referral services provided by Residential Life department.
Academic Advising and career development
The University Advising Center and Career Studio offer advice on a variety of academic and career issues. The University Advising Center can be reached at (775) 784-4684 and the Career Studio can be reached at (775) 682-7114.
Safety and security
When entering a new culture, it is extremely important to be informed about the laws and rules governing the society and the campus community. Crime occurs to a certain degree in every culture. Crime prevention, or being aware of the risks and taking precautions, is important. What is "common sense" in regards to safety is somewhat universal, but may also vary from culture to culture. The following is a basic list of laws and regulations that you should be aware of.
- The American Bill of Rights mandates that all residents of the U.S. are equal under the law; racism and sexism are not acceptable.
- Persons under the age of 21 who are drunk could be arrested.
- Open containers of alcohol are not permitted in public areas
- It is a serious crime to drive while intoxicated. In Nevada, you could be fined and/or placed in jail.
- It is illegal for someone under 21 years of age to gamble (this includes slot machines!)
- It is against the law to be in possession of controlled substances/drugs. If you are found to have, for example, cocaine or crack, you could be convicted of a felony and it could result in a jail term.
- It is the law that seatbelts must be worn by the driver and all passengers at all times when in a car. Speed limits are there for your safety and are the law. Do not exceed the posted speed for a designated area.
- Bicycle riders must follow the same traffic laws as automobile drivers.
- Pedestrians have the right of way when crossing the street. If you are driving and someone has stepped into a crosswalk, you must stop whether the light is green or not.
- Sexual Harassment, whether in the form of verbal comments or jokes or conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment is not acceptable and can be addressed through the university system.
- Keep yourself safe from theft by keeping your doors locked when you are away from your room and/or car.
- Signatures are legally binding. Read everything completely before signing anything.
- You will need identification for a variety of reasons. You should carry a form of identification with you at all times. Also, be sure to know your address, telephone number, social security number(if applicable), and your mother's maiden name by memory so you can get assistance when you need it.
- When walking outside at night, take a friend. Take special precautions when traveling to downtown Reno, and be aware that the campus is located near an area that has a lot of visitors and transients. For your safety, you can use the campus Escort Service if you are walking across campus at night by calling 742-6808 ahead of time.
- The University has 26 specific regulations for students to follow, which are all listed in the University of Nevada, Reno Student Handbook and University of Nevada, Reno General Catalog. Please become knowledgeable about all of them.
- In an emergency, dial 911 from any phone. This will connect you to the police, and they will be able to respond whether it is a medical emergency, crime situation, or fire.
The University police enforce all federal, state, and local laws and ordinances on university property and a portion of adjacent streets. They investigate traffic accidents, conduct criminal investigations and maintain 24-hour patrol. The university police can also provide an escort service, help students who have locked keys in their car, and take crime reports. Police Department numbers are as follows:
- Regular Hours (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.): (775) 784-4013
- Non-Emergency (Crime report, escort service): (775) 334-2121
- Emergencies: 911
Health and medical
Health care and health insurance
It is University policy that international students have health insurance coverage with appropriate repatriation and medical evacuation provisions. For the fall semester insurance coverage normally begins mid-August and ends mid-January of the following year. Spring/summer coverage begins about mid-January and ends mid-August. The exact dates may change every year. If students are arriving early for their first semester at the University, they may want to use travel insurance until their health insurance coverage begins.
F-1 students health insurance is mandatory and provided by the university. Students will be covered automatically during their semester of enrollment and charged accordingly. J-1 Exchange, Government Sponsored and students employed and covered by a US insurance policy have the option to waive the university provided insurance if eligible. A copy of the insurance policy coverages must be provided to the Office of International Students & Scholars for review.
The University provided insurance policy through Aetna (managed by Academic HealthPlans) is designed as an accident and sickness policy that is affordable to students. There are certain limitations and restrictions of this policy which you can review by reading the benefits summary.
Insurance waiver: If you want to request a waiver of your University international student medical insurance, go to Student Health Insurance Plan.
If you were born in 1957 or later, you must present documentation of immunization for the following before you can enroll in academic classes at the University.
The Office of International Students and Scholars OISS requires international students receive a tuberculosis (TB) test prior to coming to the United States. Bring the results with you translated into English for the Student Health Center. The TB skin test is a very sensitive test and occasionally, the student will get a false positive result. If an international student has an initial positive TB test once they are in Reno, they will not be allowed to register for classes, and follow-up x-ray testing may cost the student over $100, which must be paid before class registration.
International students must go to the Student Health Center (784-6598) after their OISS check-in and before class registration. The Student Health Center is located in the Redfield Building on the north side of campus. (The easiest way to get there is to take the free university shuttle bus to the North Shuttle Stop). Students may have to pay a small fee if they require any immunizations. In addition, these immunizations may be obtained from the Washoe County Health Department (775-328-2400), located at 1001 East 9th Street.
Student Health Center
The Student Health Center offers quality health care at a reasonable cost for students of the university. If you get sick or injured, the staff of professional physicians are ready to help you. They also offer special health care for men and women, sports medicine for athletes, dermatology services, nutrition and mental health counseling, x-rays, immunization and allergy shots, and many types of lab work. The Center also provides some prescription medications at cost or reduced rates, orthopedic casting, minor surgery, physical examinations, and many other services.
The Health Center Fee is assessed each semester, and you can utilize the Health Center by making an appointment at (775) 784-6598 or by just walking in. The Student Health Center is located on the University of Nevada, Reno campus across from the Medical School and next to the Family Medical Center on the north end of campus. Note: Spouses who are on F-2 or J-2 status who take at least six credits at the university are also eligible for the Student Health Insurance plans.
Health and medical care
Unlike most countries, the United States has no national health care program. Consequently, medical costs are extremely high. It is extremely important that students and scholars, as well as their dependents, be adequately covered by a health insurance plan. At the University of Nevada, Reno, international students are required to pay the university Student Health Center fee and purchase the "Student Health Insurance Plan."
Health care costs in the United States are extremely high and for that reason alone it is highly recommended that all dependents are covered by medical insurance. All J-2 dependents MUST, as the condition of their lawful status, have a health insurance which covers at a minimum:
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per person per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
- Expenses associated with medical evacuation in the amount of $50,000
- A deductible that does not exceed $500
For F-2 and H-4 dependents the health insurance is optional, but highly recommended! It is very dangerous not to seek medical care because you are lacking the insurance coverage. The cost of insurance may seem high, but it is much more costly to pay medical bills if you don't have any insurance. University students and scholars may purchase the university student health insurance for their dependents or look for an alternative coverage provided by an outside insurance company. For more information please contact our office.
Be aware that while the state of Nevada provides certain special health programs for its uninsured low income residents, non-immigrants are discouraged from participating in such programs. Taking advantage of federal and state sponsored benefits while in a non-immigrant status, may have a long-term effect on your ability to become a permanent resident at some point of time in a future, and may also have a negative impact on your current stay in the U.S. For more information on this topic please go to point 7 and read the "Public Charge" paragraph. Keep in mind that children born in the U.S. are American citizens and as such are entitled to various health, childcare and other welfare benefits.
Emergency and after-hours medical care
We recommend students and scholars go to Urgent Care first unless it is a legitimate emergency.
- Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center - Emergency Services
- Renown Regional Medical Center - Emergency Services
Students are responsible for the payment of services received from community agencies and for knowing the coverage provided by their medical insurance plans. The Student Health Center does not assume any liability for services that students receive outside of the Student Health Center.
Dental and vision care
Your health insurance plan offers dental and vision coverage. To learn more, or to enroll online, visit UHCSR. The Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) Dental Hygiene Program offers routine exams, x-rays, and teeth cleaning. Call (775) 673-8247 for an appointment. Located at the main campus on Dandini Blvd. (Bus Route 15 from Citicenter, last bus stop), Red Mountain Bldg. (First Building on the Right), 4th Floor, Room 415.
Planned Parenthood of Northern Nevada
Planned Parenthood provides information and confidential counseling on birth control, abortion referral, and pregnancy tests. The closest office is located at 455 West 5th St. (775-688-5555).
HIV and AIDS
People today are worried about getting AIDS. You can't just "catch" AIDS like a cold or flu, because it is a different type of virus. The AIDS virus is transmitted through sexual intercourse, the sharing of drug needles, or to babies before or during birth. If you would like to know more about AIDS or whether you should consider taking a blood test, talk to your doctor. Informational brochures are available at the Student Health Center. In addition, you can get helpful, confidential information from the National AIDS Information line, 1-800-342-2437.
Drinking alcohol and doing drugs
Confidential information and counseling services about alcohol and other drugs are available to students of the university from the Counseling Center. The program includes prevention, crisis intervention, assessment and evaluation as well as individual and group counseling. For more information, contact the Counseling Center at 206A Thompson Student Services Center: (775) 784-4648.
Mental health services
Crisis Call Center
Provides support services in situations of crisis: sexual assault, suicide, substance abuse, physical and mental abuse. It offers a 24 hour hotline, support groups, resource directory.
Phone: (775) 784-8090 or 1 (800) 992-5757.
Training center that offers counseling services to individuals, groups, couples and families from the university and community. Contact info: phone:
Phone: (775) 682-5515 or (775) 682-5516
Location: William Raggio Building, Room 3007.
Psychological Service Center (PSC)
Training center that provides individual, group, couple and family psychotherapy and assessment. Clients work collaboratively with psychology trainees, and the supervising clinical faculty to resolve emotional/behavioral problems and reach personal goals. All assistance and records are confidential, except as excluded by law.
Phone: (775) 784-6668
Location: Edmund J. Cain Hall, Room 206.
Immigration and travel
The following is a list of attorneys whose practice emphasizes Immigration Law. This list is by no means complete; it is published as a service to international students and scholars seeking legal assistance. It is not meant to be an endorsement or guarantee by the Office of International Students and Scholars. The choice of an attorney is the responsibility of the individual. These attorneys are qualified to file petitions for people in Nevada.
The University has contracted with immigration attorneys which University departments must use if they want to sponsor an employee for any employer-sponsored immigration services such as H-1B, TN, and Permanent Residency. In order to receive a referral to an approved immigration attorney, a department contact, not the sponsored employee, should email Adilia Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org to initiate the contact and liaise between the attorney, department, and the employee. The department is responsible for ensuring payment of attorney and USCIS filing fees, the collection of any relevant information, and the documents required for the requested immigration service.
- U.S. Department of State
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides immigration services for immigrants and non-immigrants.
- Forms and Fees
- Case Status and Processing Dates
- InfoPass Appointment Scheduler
- Obtaining Green Cards
Nevada - Reno Field Office
790 Sandhill Road
Reno, NV 89521
USCIS Contact Center: (800) 375-5283
Dependents traveling internationally
Dependents of students and scholars can travel outside the U.S. independent of the principal visa holder. To travel dependents need a valid DS-2019 or I-20 that has been signed within the last six months by an Office of International Students and Scholars advisor, a valid passport and a J-2 or F-2 visa stamp.
A valid visa stamp is not required if you are going to Canada, Mexico or contiguous territories for a period of less than 30 days. This is known as "automatic visa revalidation provision."
If you use this procedure, please do not surrender your I-94 card upon departure. In addition, "automatic visa revalidation" does not apply if you travel for example from Canada to Germany and return to the U.S. via Canada.
Citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba are not eligible to use this provision.
H-4 dependents do not need a travel signature from the Office of International Students and Scholars. They should carry a valid passport with H-4 visa stamp, a copy of I-797 H-1B approval notice and a recent pay-stub or current letter of employment for H-1B principal holder.
The "automatic visa revalidation provision" mentioned above applies to H-4 dependents traveling to Canada and Mexico only. H-4 dependents cannot use this provision to travel to contiguous territories. Please keep in mind you may need an entry visa to travel to other countries. Contact the consulate of the country you are planning to go to for the required entry documents.
The dependent status relies on the principal visa holder to maintain his/her status and to be present in the U.S. If the principal (F-1, J-1, H-1B) decides to leave the U.S. for an extended period of time, the dependents should leave the country as well.
Traveling outside of the United States
We know that you may be concerned about the recent stop on entry into the United States placed on individuals who are citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia. In light of this, if at all possible we recommend that you do not travel outside of the U.S. at this time.
A breakdown of the order and NAFSA's (Association of International Educators) travel advisory regarding the ban can be found at NAFSA travel advisory. This is a useful tool in understanding the current series of events.
If you will need to apply for a new visa, please read the Department of State (DOS) guidance for assessing residence abroad for F-1 and J-1 students, 9 FAM 401.1-3(F)(2) to help you with your visa application process.
The Office of International Students and Scholars and the University are here to support you as a student. We will be here to guide you through more specific information as it is made available to us. We are monitoring the situation and will keep you informed as we learn more. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.
After a temporary absence from the United States, certain documents must be presented in order to re-enter the U.S . Please note: re-entry after travel out of the country is never guaranteed.
If you will not be returning to the University of Nevada, Reno, you do not need a travel signature. Please talk to an OISS advisor for further information depending on your case.
F-1 degree-seeking students
F-1 degree-seeking students must have the following:
- Passport valid for at least 6 months from the date you re-enter
- Valid F-1 visa stamp in the passport
- Current travel signature on page 2 of the Form I-20, obtained from OISS
- Travel signatures are valid for 1 year and must be valid upon re-entry
- Recent transcript if the student has attended school in the U.S.
- Proof of financial support.
F-1 post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) students
F-1 post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) students must have the following:
- Passport valid for at least 6 months from the date you re-enter
- Valid F-1 visa stamp in the passport
- It is possible to renew your F-1 visa while on post-completion OPT or STEM OPT
- Current travel signature on page 2 of the Form I-20, obtained from OISS
- Travel signatures are valid for 6 months and must be valid upon re-entry
- If you cannot come to OISS for the signature, complete the Student I-20/DS-2019 Request Form to request a new I-20 with a travel signature
- Travel signatures are valid for 6 months and must be valid upon re-entry
- EAD card if OPT has been approved or receipt notice if OPT application is pending
- Please note: if your visa has expired or you have applied for STEM OPT, we advise that you do not travel until you have the OPT approval
- If you do travel while your OPT application is pending and it is approved while you are out of the country, you will need to have the EAD card and job offer letter to return
- Job offer letter if your OPT has been approved
- Proof of financial support if you don't have paid employment.
J-1 students must have the following:
- Valid passport
- Valid J-1 visa stamp in the passport
- Current travel signature on the Form DS-2019 obtained from OISS or from the program sponsor if not UNR. Travel signatures are valid for 1 year (unless your program is less than 1 year) and must be valid upon re-entry
- Job offer letter if you are on post-completion AT.
F-2 and J-2 dependents
Dependents in F-2 or J-2 status must also have valid passports and visas. They must also have a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature.
Canadian citizens do not need to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. They must, however, obtain an entry stamp in their passport and carry all of the other appropriate documents with them, including an I-20 or DS-2019.
Entry visas to other countries
To travel outside the U.S. to a country other than the student's or scholar's home country, an entry visa may be required. Contact that country's embassy or consulate in the U.S. for information. Go to the websites of the Foreign Embassies in the U.S. to find the country(ies) you will be traveling to.
If an international student or scholar is traveling outside the U.S. and their visa has expired, or they have changed status while in the U.S., they will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad in order to re-enter the U.S.
Short trips to Mexico or Canada
Under automatic revalidation provisions, short trips (30 days or less) to Mexico, Canada, or adjacent islands, a valid visa is not needed to re-enter the U.S. A valid passport, I-20 or DS-2019 with a current signature and Form I-94, must be presented. Nationals of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designated country, including Iran, Syria, and Sudan are not eligible for automatic revalidation. If you apply for a visa while in Mexico, Canada or adjacent islands, you give up using the automatic revalidation.
The student or scholar should not surrender the I-94 at the border or the airport if they are going to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days. Contact the Canadian Consulate at (213) 346-2700 or the Mexican Consulate at (916) 441-3287 before traveling to those countries to find out their entry requirements and restrictions.
List of countries whose citizens require visas in order to enter Canada as visitors.
Advice on travel for F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 students, scholars, and dependents
For those of you who will travel outside of the U.S., we would like to offer the advice below. If you are traveling inside the U.S., it is wise to carry your passport and visa documents wherever you go, but you do not need a valid visa stamp in your passport when traveling inside the United States.
If you are traveling outside the U.S., please read the following carefully:
- You must have a valid visa to get back into the U.S. if you are traveling outside the U.S., and it must be in the F-1 category (if you are F-1) or the J-1 category (if you are J-1), etc.. Please check your passport. If your visa is NOT valid, or if it is in a B or other category (for example, spouses who entered with an F-2 visa stamp but now have an F-1 visa status), you must apply for a new visa at an American Embassy or Consulate when you travel outside the U.S., in order to re-enter the U.S. Note: Canadian citizens are not required to have visa stamps in their passports. There is currently no way to apply for an F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2 visa inside the U.S.
- Travel in Canada or Mexico: It is very difficult to get a visa in Canada or Mexico if you are not a native of the country. Anyone who applies for a visa in Canada or Mexico who is not from the country, and receives a denial, will now be required to return to their home country and will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. In addition, citizens of countries that are deemed "state sponsors of terrorism" are no longer allowed to enter Canada or Mexico. Other citizens of certain countries are now required to have a visa in order to enter Canada or Mexico. Please contact the OISS if you have questions.
- Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future (for example, on December 1, 2002, your passport must be valid until June 1, 2003, or longer). If your passport is expired or will expire within 6 months of your re-entry, you must have your passport renewed before returning to the U.S. For a list of countries exempt from this rule, go to Six Month Club.
- You must have your I-20 or DS-2019signed for travel by an advisor at the OISS. Failure to get the document signed could have serious consequences under current security procedures. In addition, if you are a student, we cannot sign your immigration document unless you have enrolled full-time or have been given permission to enroll less than full-time by an advisor at OISS. The travel signature is valid from 1 year while studying and 6 months while on post-completion Optional Practical Training.
- Visa application: Go to Student and Exchange Visitor Visas for information on how to apply for a visa.
- For all travelers, we also recommend that you travel with the following additional items:
- A current University transcript
- A student ID card
- A health insurance card
- Proof of funds to be in the U.S. without working illegally
- Proof of employment authorization and job offer letter if you are working off-campus
- All I-20 or DS-2019 documents, with the current, valid document signed, and other documents previously issued available for inspection. For example, if you entered the country to go to IELC, then transferred to TMCC, and then transferred to UNR, please have the UNR (most recently issued) I-20 or DS-2019 signed and ready to present. Please carry the IELC and TMCC (old) I-20s or DS-2019s, in case you need to verify your continuous legal stay in the U.S.
- Transit Visas: It is now necessary for nationals of certain countries (including Bangladesh, Ghana and India) to apply for a special transit visa when traveling home through many European countries (such as Belgium, Denmark and Germany). If you do not have the transit visa when you arrive at the airport, it is likely you will not be allowed on the plane.
- We advise that you check your electronic Form I-94 after your arrival to verify all the information is correct. If any of the information is incorrect, please see an OISS advisor as soon as possible.
Please talk to an advisor at OISS with any travel concerns. We are here to help! Call (775) 784-6874, Monday thru Friday (8 am to 5 pm) for an appointment.
Requirements for transit visas at airports between the U.S. and selected countries
International students and scholars on any type of non-immigrant visa who are from a country listed below must apply for a transit visa to stopover at an airport on the way home if their airport stop includes:
Transit visas are obtained at the consulate in the U.S. of the country at which you will have a stopover. Consulates have more information at their websites.
Effective as of March 19, 2002, some European Community countries (under the Schengen Agreement) began requiring "airport transit visas" from the nationals of the following countries:
- Rep. of Congo
- Sierra Leone
- Sri Lanka
Palestinians holding travel documents for refugee status issued by Egypt, Lebanon or Syria.
Please contact the foreign consulate (or visit their website) in the U.S. of the country you will land in if you have any questions or concerns about your particular travel plan.
It is unknown how long each consulate takes in issuing a transit visa so please allow time for this important step in your travel. It is likely that you will not be allowed on a plane if you are required to have a transit visa and you arrive at the airport for departure without one.
Employment, taxes and finances
Employment in the United States
Immigration laws governing the employment benefits for dependents vary from category to category.
F-2, H-4, O-3 and TD dependents
F-2,H-4, O-3 and TD dependents cannot work in the U.S. unless they change to a different immigration status (i.e. F-1, J-1, H-1B) which has employment provisions. Unfortunately, since they are not eligible for employment, they cannot apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).
J-2 and E-3 dependents
J-2 and E-3 dependents are eligible to apply for work authorization to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Detailed information about the application process is provided at J-2 Work Permission. Please keep in mind that the J-2 dependent is able to begin employment only after receiving the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from USCIS which takes approximately 90 days to receive a work permit.
Once you receive the EAD card, you can also apply for a Social Security Number at the local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. To apply for a Social Security Number please go to the SSA office located at 1170 Harvard Way in Reno. Please bring your passport, visa, Form I-94, DS-2019 and EAD card. If you have obtained J-2 status through the change of status procedures, you should also bring the I-797 form; the approval notice from USCIS.
From F1/J1 to H-1B
Given the recent and numerous changes in federal laws governing the employment of non-citizens, prospective employers may be uncertain about hiring someone who is not a U.S. citizen. It is for this reason that we would like to clarify the regulations regarding international students, particularly F-1 students.
It is important to clarify that F-1 students in good standing are only allowed to work on-campus at the university they are attending. There are three exceptions to this rule: (1) off-campus work for economic hardship, (2) curricular practical training or (3) optional practical training. These options are described in question/answer form below. For the on-campus work, international students can apply through the University student employment office for a variety of campus jobs. There are no extra forms that need to be completed, as long as the student stays in status as a full-time student.
Can international students work in the United States?
International students generally hold either F-1 (student) or J-l (exchange ~visitor, scholar) visas while studying in the United States. F-1 and J-1 students in good standing are eligible for any on-campus employment at their university while they are enrolled. They can work up to 20 hours a week during the semester and up to 40 hours a week during breaks.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permits students in both visa categories to be employed full-time by U.S. employers through the "Practical Training" program following completion of their program of study.
What is Curricular Practical Training?
Students that have been in F-1 status for at least nine months may apply to participate in a Curricular Practical Training (CPT) program which is defined as an integral part of an established curriculum (such as: Alternative work/study, internship, or cooperative education) for which academic credits are awarded. Graduate students in programs which require training are not bound to the "nine months in F-1 status" requirement.
What is Optional Practical Training?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is intended to provide hands-on practical experience complementary to the academic program. Students on practical training are still considered to be F-1 students at the University of Nevada, Reno, even though they may be working elsewhere in the United States. Students must have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by the USCIS before employment may legally begin. The student is responsible for applying for the EAD; the employer is burdened by any part of the application process.
Work based on Economic Hardship for F-1 Students
Students in F-1 status may apply for work based on economic hardship if they have: (a) maintained full-time status, (b) been in the U.S. for over 9 months, and (c) experienced an unforeseen financial situation that has created an economic hardship.
If training or employment will be longer than 12 months, students should consider changing their status during the period of practical training to an H-1B visa, a non-immigrant temporary working visa which allows one to work for up to six years.
OPT may be used in a variety of ways. Most international students apply for full-time employment authorization upon graduating from the university. A total of 12 months of full-time work authorized by the USCIS is granted. Some may apply to do OPT part-time during the program of study. During vacations such as summer, full-time OPT is allowed. Commonly, our office only authorizes full-time OPT following completion of studies evidenced by a supporting letter from the student advisor.
How long are students eligible to work?
A student on an F- 1 visa is eligible for up to a total of 12 months of employment before or after completion of his/her degree. Students with J- 1 visa status are eligible for a total of 18 months of employment before completion of their degree or following graduation.
How do students obtain permission to work?
A student on an F-1 visa may obtain an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) from the USCIS upon recommendation of his/her school. Students must submit the appropriate BCIS forms, as well as a fee. Adjudication may take a month or two.
A J- 1 visa holder receives authorization directly from his/her school after receipt of a job offer and needs a letter of permission from his or her sponsor.
What must a company do to employ an international student?
An employer need only complete an I-9 form as for any new employee. Employers do not have to:
- Sponsor a student for a green card
- Prove that no U.S. citizen is available to do the job
- Complete any special paperwork, other than the usual for U.S. citizens.
What will the student have as proof of employability for off-campus work?
A student that holds an F-1 visa will receive a laminated EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card, which looks similar to a driver license. It is issued by the USCIS upon receipt of the student application and recommendation from the student school.
J-1 visa holder is authorized by his or her school and will receive an extended DS-2019 (pink immigration form) once he or she has a letter proving a job offer.
Should taxes be withheld from the student pay
Contributions for Social Security should not be withheld from wages on non-immigrant students on authorized practical training; however, earnings from student employment are usually subject to federal and state income taxes. Refer to IRS publications 518 and 519 for additional information.
What if a company wants to extend the student employment?
Students are eligible to apply for an H-1B (temporary worker) visa, which can provide three to six additional years of employment. A student on an F-1 visa, or a student on a J-1 visa not subject to a home residency requirement, may continue to be employed, provided that a change of visa status—usually to H-1B—is applied for and approved by the USCIS. It is only valid for employment with the company that petitioned the student. The international student who has graduated must reapply to the USCIS if he or she wishes to change firms.
What role does the company play in obtaining an H-1B visa?
Employers should apply for an H-1B petition a few months before practical training expires. Employers must obtain an approved Labor Condition application from the local Department of Labor office attesting to salary and working conditions in order to file for the H-1B visa. The cost for processing this paperwork may be absorbed by the employer or the employee, according to the employers policies.
Are there any restrictions on obtaining an H-1B visa?
A student on a J- 1 visa may be subject to a home residency requirement. This requires the student to return home for two years after the completion of practical training before changing to another visa status in the United States. He or she is ineligible for H-1B status until the residency requirement is fulfilled or waived.
What are the advantages of hiring an international student?
International students can offer employers a wide range of skills and abilities:
- Multiple language skills
- Flexibility and ability to adapt to new situations
- Knowledge of business practices in another country
- Proven intercultural abilities
- Demonstrated motivation
- A U.S. education
- Proven English language ability and an understanding of American culture
As with all regulations and laws, there are exceptions to every rule and according to specific situations. If you have any other questions or need clarifications regarding a particular case or situation, please feel free to contact OISS.
Students in F-1 and J-1 status may work up to 20 hours per week (40 hours during the winter, spring, and summer breaks) on campus but are not eligible to apply for off-campus employment during their first nine months in the United States. After nine months in the U.S. in nonimmigrant status, the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (F-1) or the program sponsor (J-1) may grant part-time employment permission only under special conditions. Family members of F-1 visa holders (F-2) are not allowed to work in the U.S. under any circumstances. The U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services may grant employment permission to family members of J-1 students (J-2) under special circumstances.
The purpose of the I-9 is two-fold: to establish identity and employment eligibility. In the case of international students and scholars, work authorization can be determined in the following ways:
Utilizing List A
An international student/scholar may provide an unexpired foreign passport and I-94 to establish identity. To establish employment eligibility, the I-94 should be accompanied by either a current University of Nevada, Reno I-20 (students) or current UNR DS-2019 (students/researchers/professors/specialists). Those students who enter the U.S. with an I-20 are admitted in the F-1 visa class (degree-seeking students). Those students and visiting scholars that enter the U.S. with the DS-2019 are admitted in the J-1 visa class (exchange visitors).
Those students on a University of Nevada, Reno I-20, engaged in a full course of study, are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week during fall and spring semesters (40 hours per week during vacation periods, including Spring Break) without any additional USCIS authorization. Make sure that the I-20 has been issued by the University of Nevada, and is in the student's name (i.e., make sure the applicant is not a dependent, an F-2 dependent is NOT allowed to work in the U.S.). Also make sure the I-20 has not expired (#5 "complete studies not later than" on the I-20) . If the I-20 has expired and there is no current employment authorization on the 3rd page of the I-20, please refer the student to the Office of International Students and Scholars at (775) 784-6874.
If an F-1 student has graduated and is engaged in practical training, he/she may provide an unexpired employment authorization document (EAD card) containing a photograph as a document to establish both identity and employment authorization. These students may be restricted from certain work categories at the University of Nevada, Reno (i.e., those students no longer enrolled in courses are not allowed to continue in student positions.)
J-1 students, like F-1 students, are allowed to work on campus 20 hours per week or 40 hours per week during vacation periods. The student category is indicated in section #4 of the DS-2019. Please verify that the DS-2019 has been issued by the University of Nevada, Reno (item #2 of DS-2019) and is not expired (see item #3 for program duration). If the DS-2019 has been issued by an agency other than the University of Nevada, Reno, the student should provide a letter of work permission from a responsible officer of that agency (examples might include USIA, IIE, AED, etc).
J-1 Researchers/Professors are allowed to work full-time or part-time during the period authorized (item #3 of the DS-2019) in the area specified on the DS-2019 (category and purpose in indicated in section #4). Please verify that the DS-2019 has been issued by the University of Nevada, Reno. If not, they should also present a letter or work authorization from the issuing agency.
H-1B Work Visas
For those in the H-1B visa category, the I-94 issued by USCIS contains information regarding the visa class, validity dates, and petitioner. H-1B statuses are employer specific, therefore the I-94 should state that the petitioner is the University of Nevada, Reno. Please Note: If you hire someone that will need to obtain an H-1B or transfer H-1B to the University of Nevada, Reno, please contact OISS at 784-6874. It generally takes at least 2-3 months to procure or transfer an H-1B.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and tax preparation
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury that assists tax payers in understanding and meeting their tax responsibilities.
Tax Information for International Students and Scholars
Please note that the following information should be regarded as a general guideline to taxes only. OISS staff are not allowed to advise or answer questions regarding individual tax returns because it is against the law to give tax advice unless a person has received the proper training.
The deadline to file taxes for the previous calendar year is April 15 of the following year. In the U.S. you are required to file a return even if you do not owe any taxes. As a Foreign National student or scholar, you may need to file tax forms each year with the IRS, even if you earned no income. It is your individual responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations Students or self-funded visiting scholars, who did not work but were present in U.S. need to file Form 8843 Statement for exempt individuals only. Filing a complete tax return is not required. Form 8843 is available at the Office of International Students and Scholars or can be prepared using GLACIER Tax Prep software.
U.S. tax laws can be complex and confusing and the laws that apply to foreign nationals are not the same as those that apply to U.S. citizens. These resources should help you to better understand your tax obligation, to learn what and where to research, and to successfully submit your tax form. This page is meant to be a general introduction.
We at the Office of International Students and Scholars are not tax professionals, so this cannot be considered legal tax advice. You are advised to review the information from the IRS specifically addressed to foreign students and scholars, the IRS website. The page about Taxation of Nonresident Aliens another resource that may be helpful.
OISS provides access to tax software and trained tax professionals through GLACIER Tax Prep, which we hope will be helpful to you as you complete your IRS tax reporting requirement.
OISS offers complimentary access to tax preparation assistance only on Federal taxes. It is your decision on whether to use this service or to find your own resources.
What is GLACIER Tax Prep Software?
It is a tax resource OISS has arranged to help international students and scholars affiliated with UNR with their tax reporting requirement. Most students and scholars can successfully complete their tax reporting requirement using GLACIER Tax Prep. You are not required to use GLACIER Tax Prep, it is just one option available to you.
GLACIER Tax a web-based tax preparation software program designed exclusively for international students, scholars, and their dependents identified as a nonresident alien for tax purposes in the U.S. during any time in the previous calendar year. This software becomes available each year in March. Get step-by-step instructions in completing your tax return
- Determine the correct tax forms you need to fill out
- Complete your tax return from abroad if necessary
- Get information on fellowships and tax treaties
- Get information on printing and mailing tax forms
- Get technical and tax support from GLACIER Tax Prep
- Complete your Federal tax return at NO COST to eligible international students and scholars
Who Can Use GLACIER Tax Prep?
The following individuals identified as a nonresident alien for tax purposes are eligible to use the GLACIER Tax Prep program sponsored by OISS:
- Any F-1, J-1 and other non-immigrant,students enrolled at the University of Nevada, Reno during 2016
- F-1 students on Optional Practical Training during 2016
- J-1 students on Academic Training during 2016
- J-1 and other non-immigrant international scholars affiliated with the University of Nevada, Reno during 2016
- F-2, J-2 and other non-immigrant, dependents of the above
In general international students and scholars are required to file non-resident tax returns if they meet the following conditions:
- Students on F and J visas are presumed to be non-residents for tax filing purposes for up to five (5) calendar years (including OPT or academic training).
- Scholars on J visas are presumed to be non-residents for tax filing purposes for up to two (2) calendar years.
- Scholars on H visas are presumed to be non-residents for tax filing purpose if they have been in the U.S. for less than 183 days in the preceding calendar year.
If you have been in the U.S. in your respective status for longer than the time indicated above, or if you have changed your immigration status, you may have to file a resident tax return. For help determining your tax filing status request a GLACIER Tax Prep access code from OISS and let the software determine your tax filing status. Your tax residency is defined by U.S. tax laws and is used for tax filing purposes only. Your tax residency (i.e. resident alien, non-resident alien, dual status) determines your tax obligations and your tax deductions, credits and exemptions. Your tax residency status and your visa status are two separate issues.
Tax preparation and filing
Use GLACIER Tax Prep software to file non-resident tax returns (federal taxes). You must request an access code from OISS to access the software. Access Codes are available late February, OISS will send an email when the access codes are available.
To obtain an access code come to OISS and present your University of Nevada, Reno ID, or email your request to email@example.com with your full name and NSHE ID number.
To prepare your taxes you will need your passport, I-20 or DS-2019 or I-797 notice (if you changed your status in the U.S.), W-2 (summary of earnings) and/or 1042-S forms and any other tax filing forms you may have received.
If you have not received your W-2 from the University, contact the Payroll Office (Ross Hall, Room 102, phone: 775-784-6653) to request your W-2 or go to Business Center North Payroll. Form 1042-S is issued by the Controller's Office to those who received room and board scholarship or took advantage of tax treaty benefits. Email firstname.lastname@example.org request the 1042-S if you have not received it yet.
Check your Employee Self-Service account first to make sure you did not receive an electronic version of the W-2 and/or 1042-S.TAX WORKSHOPS - offered by the Controller's Office and OISS. These workshops will provide a brief overview of tax filing procedures and will include a demonstration of GLACIER Tax Prep software for non-resident aliens. Separate workshops will be provided for students (F-1 and J-1) and scholars (J-1 and H-1B)
For those who need help with the software or are not sure how to answer some of the questions, we offer hands-on-assistance labs for GLACIER Tax Prep software only; OISS will announce the location and dates.
For those filing as a resident for tax purposes, see the Internal Revenue Service: Resident Tax Filing Options for options to prepare and file your resident tax return.
- Download non-resident tax forms: 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ and 8843
- Download resident tax forms: 1040EZ, 1040A, 1040
- E-file the resident tax return
- Ask questions regarding resident taxes: 1-800-829-1040
Local IRS office: 300 Booth St, Reno, NV 89509, phone: (775) 824-2218
- Obtain tax forms and publications - no help with tax return preparation
- Help with completing forms for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- Information about non-resident taxes, tax treaties and international tax law
Tax Treaties: Publication 901
- Provides a summary of tax treaty provisions for various countries for students and scholars (teaching and research).
State Income Tax:There is no state income tax in Nevada, therefore no need to file the state income tax return. You must still file a federal tax return.However, if you worked in another state during the tax filing year, you may be required to file a state income tax return for that state.
General information for non-resident taxes
(reportable and non-reportable income)
- Income that is "sourced" in the United States (lawful employment in the U.S.).
- Scholarships from a U.S. institution for room and board only.Such financial aid is subject to federal income tax withholding at 14% rate unless the payments are exempt from tax under a tax treaty.
- Stipends, fellowships, graduate assistantships, or any other financial aid which require that the recipient perform services in exchange for financial aid (reported on forms 941 and/or W-2).
- Income partially or totally exempt from tax under the terms of a tax treaty.
- Income that is "effectively connected with U.S. trade or business" (any income or interest received from real property located in the United States in a form of rents, profits and royalties, capital gains on securities sold on the U.S. stock market, dividends).
- Income from foreign sources
- Scholarships, grants or any other type of financial aid received from sources outside the U.S.
- Scholarships from a U.S. institution which covered tuition, books & fees only.
- Interest income which comes from the following sources and is not effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business:
- interest from deposits in any U.S. bank, savings and loan association, credit union or insurance company
- portfolio interest on investments sold in foreign markets.
Refund of Social Security and Medicare taxes:Students and Scholars in F and J status are not subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes as long as they are considered non-resident aliens for tax purpose (5 years for students and 2 years for scholars). You can request a refund from your employer, or if this is not possible, you may file Form 843 and Form 8316 with IRS. Forms are available at the Internal Revenue Service.
Foreign students in F-1 and J-1 status are considered nonresident aliens exempt from paying social security/medicare taxes if they have been in the United States for less than five calendar years. This exemption applies to on-campus employment as well as any period of practical training, including post-completion optional practical training (OPT) or academic training, or other DHS authorized employment. Students, who have been in the U.S. for more than five years, are considered resident aliens for federal income tax purpose and are liable for social security/medicare taxes.
Foreign scholars, researchers and teachers in J-1 status are exempt from paying social security/medicare taxes for two calendar years. Spouses and dependents in J-2 status are NOT exempt and must pay social security/medicare taxes. For more information on this topic please refer to Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens or to Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide.
If you qualify for exemption from social security/medicare withholdings but your employer has been deducting these taxes from your paycheck, you can request a refund from your employer. If this request cannot be accommodated, you must file Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. It takes approximately 6 months to process your claim with IRS.
Social Security Administration
A social security card is required for students and scholars who intend to earn money in the United States. A social security card is not needed to open a bank account,although it is much more convenient to have a Social Security Number to obtain services, such as utilities, credit cards, etc.
Social Security Office
1170 Harvard Way
Reno, NV 89502
Local Number: 1 (888) 808-5481
National Toll-Free: 1 (800) 772-1213
The law which came into effect October 2004, allows international students to apply for a Social Security number (SSN) ONLY if they have an employment offer and the required authorization for the employment. The purpose of having a SSN is for employment only; the SSN should not be required to open a bank account, get a driver license, cell phone or other utilities.
The Social Security Administration Office will process applications for a Social Security Number only under the following circumstances:
- On-campus employment for students who have been offered a job at the University of Nevada, Reno. Please refer to Social Security Number Request for the letter required to apply for the SSN.
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization for off-campus employment. You must be eligible and be authorized by OISS to do CPT and this authorization will appear on page 3 of your I-20.
- Employment Authorization Document card received from the Department of Homeland Security as a result of your application for Economic Hardship or Optional Practical Training for off-campus employment.
- Academic Training authorization for J-1 students only. You must be authorized by OISS to do academic training.
Social Security Card
A social security card is required for students and scholars who intend to earn money in the United States. A social security card is not needed to open a bank account, although it is much more convenient to have a Social Security Number (SSN) to obtain services, such as utilities, credit cards, etc.
Applying for a Social Security Card
You must apply in person at the local Social Security Office with the documents outlined below:
- Passport and a valid Form I-94
- Application for a Social Security Card
- Form I-20 for F-1 students
- Form DS-2019 for J-1 students
- On-campus Employment letter signed by the on-campus employer and OISS
- J-1 scholars: Form DS-2019
- H-1B workers: Form I-797 - approval notice
- J-2 dependents: EAD card
F-2 and H-4 dependents are not eligible to apply
For on-campus employment for F-1 and J-1 students, upon filing for a social security card, you will be given a letter confirming your application. Give a copy of the letter to the employing department. After 2-4 weeks the card will be mailed to the address you list on your application form. Once you receive the card, please bring it to the department to have your records updated.