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Intercultural Office

Frequently Asked Questions


Who is considered an international student?

International students are applicants who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. At Messiah College, these are generally students studying here on an F-1 visa.


How many countries are represented at Messiah College?

Currently, there are more than 36 different countries represented here at Messiah.


Since I do not have a family in the U.S. where will I stay over breaks?

Campus is completely closed to students during Winter Break. Students are permitted to remain on campus during Fall Break and J-Term Break. Select students can remain on campus during Spring Break and Summer Break. From the experience of most international students, there are always friends willing to take you home with them during breaks! Also, if you are a part of the Friendship Family program, your Friendship Family may be able to house you (though this is not required of them). In the event that you cannot find someone to stay with over breaks, International Student Programs will work with you to find a solution.


Do international students have to pay more tuition than domestic students?

No. Every student attending Messiah, regardless of origin, pays the same tuition amount.


As an international student, will I be able to work or obtain an internship in the U.S.?

Yes. All qualifying international students are able to obtain an on-campus position. In the case of internships, F-1 students can apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and work through that program. Another choice is Optional Practical Training (OPT). There are many regulations that inform CPT and OPT. Contact Kevin Villegas ( with any questions or attend an information session during the fall semester.


As an international student, can I obtain a U.S. driver's license?

Yes! International students are able to obtain driving privileges in the United States. For more information about this go to the Forms and Guides tab above and, under the How-to section, you'll find instructions on how to go about getting your license! Whether or not you wish to drive, all F-1 visa holders are strongly encouraged to at least get a state identification card shortly after they arrive on campus.


I'm struggling in a class. Can I withdraw or take an incomplete?

Yes. Messiah College does allow students to withdraw from a class or take an incomplete. You must meet with the DSO as well as your academic advisor before withdrawing to ensure you do not drop below full-time (12 credits) status. Students should try to avoid this though and should seek academic support before withdrawing or taking an incomplete. Withdrawal forms can be found at the Registrar's Office and must be signed by the professor of the class from with you are withdrawing.


When and how do I file taxes?

All F-1 visa holders are required to complete and file tax forms with the U.S. federal government, whether or not they earned income in the U.S. Students who are considered non-residents for tax purposes must complete Form 8843 in addition to attaching supporting documentation (notarized copies of I-20(s), passport identity page, visa, and I-94). Students who are considered residents for tax purposes do not need to complete Form 8843, but must complete other domestic tax forms, if needed. To find out if you are considered a resident or non-resident for tax purposes, refer to the IRS Substantial Presence Test.


Most tax forms must be filed between January 1 and April 15 of each year. Students and their dependents who file only Form 8843 must file before June 15. Most international student employees will be able to use a 1040-NR EZ or 1040 NR for the federal taxes.


What documents do I need to travel?

If you are traveling, be sure to have:

  • Your passport good for at least the next six months (which also should include your valid U.S. F-1 visa)

  • Your most current I-20

  • Verification of attendance at Messiah College