Frequently Asked Questions

FIDM's International Student Advisor Has the Answers

"At FIDM, we recognize that International Students represent an important part of our student body, bringing cultural influences from across the globe and further expanding our family of FIDM Alumni to the global markets. Our four campuses are located in California cities that are very appealing both culturally and professionally. Los Angeles, for example, is home to people from more than 140 countries.

The benefits of earning an education in a foreign country extend beyond FIDM's curriculum; a variety of cultural and professional experiences will enrich students and prepare them well for exciting careers."

-- Ben Weinberg, FIDM International Student Advisor

How do I get my student visa?

After acceptance to FIDM, we provide international students with I-20 forms for F-1 visas. If you have any questions about visas please contact your local U.S. Consulate.

Click here to view a PDF with detailed information about being a F-1 Student.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: An International Student Financial Statement form (click to download PDF) is required before an I-20 student visa application can be issued. The information entered on this form must show an ability to finance college and living expenses, in US dollars, for one academic year (living expenses are currently estimated to be approximately $19,000 - $25,000, depending on the length of the program). This financial form may be submitted separately.

Maintaining F-1 status

After an international student obtains a visa and enters the U.S. in F-1 status they must continue to maintain that status and follow F-1 regulations upon entry until final departure. The key requirements for maintaining F-1 status include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Report to FIDM's Designated School Official (DSO) for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) registration upon arriving at FIDM. Students must be registered in SEVIS no later than 30 days after the program start date.
  2. Attend the school authorized on the I-20.
  3. Maintain a full course of study (minimum of 12 units) each quarter and make normal academic progress towards completion of program. Nine of the 12 units must be in the classroom (not on-line), unless approved under a specific exception, in advance (before dropping a class), by FIDM International Students Office.
  4. Transfer or extend program in a timely manner or file timely requests for extension of stay, change of status, transfer, optional practical training, and other benefits.
  5. Keep continuity in program of study (absence from the U.S. or any other academic break of more than 5 months terminates F-1 status).
  6. Refrain from unauthorized work or illegal activity.
  7. When traveling abroad, always return in proper F-1 status.
  8. Keep the passport valid for six months into the future.
  9. Report any changes of address to FIDM's Designated School Official with in 10 days of the change.
  10. Abide by the aggregate unemployment rules while on post-completion OPT.

At normal conclusion of studies or practical training, F-1 students usually have 60 days (grace period) in which to prepare to leave the U.S., to move to a new academic program, or to transfer to another institution. However, certain factors may reduce that grace period.

Employment in F-1 status

An F-1 student may only work under the following conditions (any work not authorized by this section will violate F-1 status and serve as grounds for cancellation).

  1. On-campus employment: Must be performed on campus, and is limited to 20 hours a week while school is in session.
  2. Off-Campus work authorization: In general if an F-1 student wishes to work off-campus before graduation, one of the following circumstances must exist:
  1. Economic Hardship
    Student must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year. Must prove to U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service (USCIS) that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status. It is designed for off-campus employment but there is no specific prohibition on it being used on-campus. Granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time, or until the program end-date, whichever is shorter. Authorization ends if a student transfers schools. Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session; can be full-time during official school breaks. Can be in any job; does not have to be related to course of study. Must apply for Employment Application Document (EAD) from USCIS, and receive EAD before employment begins.
  2. Internship/Apprenticeship/Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)
    Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved school for one full academic year before being eligible for CPT. Additional requirements per FIDM policy are:
    1. Student may only be authorized for CPT during their last or second to last quarter of their program and must maintain a 3.0 grade point average or higher to be eligible.
    2. Student may engage in CPT only for the specific employer, location, and period approved and recorded by FIDM's International Students Office in SEVIS. CPT must be an integral part of student's established curriculum to qualify.
    3. Student must first receive an offer letter from their potential employer specifying the job title, job duties, day and hours of employment, and the company's Employment Identification Number.
    4. The potential CPT must be approved by both FIDM's Career Center and the Education Department/Office of Academic Support prior to being submitted to FIDM's International Students Office for processing.
  3. Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    To qualify, an F-1 student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at a DHS-approved school for one full academic year before being eligible for OPT. Students may engage in OPT for any employer for the duration of OPT authorization, as long as the employment qualifies under OPT standards. Standard OPT is available for a cumulative maximum of 12 months per educational level (none of FIDM's majors qualify for STEM degree recipients, no extension of OPT will be available). OPT must be directly related to the student's course of study. Students on post-completion OPT are limited to a maximum of 90 days of unemployment. Student files I-765 application for EAD with USCIS. Work can begin only after receiving EAD issued by USCIS. F-1 International Students may apply for OPT as early as 90 days before their program end date, the application must be RECEIVED by the USCIS no later than 60 days after students program end date. OPT must start and end within a 14 month period.

STUDENTS: Please see the DSO at your campus of attendance for a complete employment policy form. Refer to the FIDM Portal for more information regarding International F1 students.

What about TOEFL & ESL?

Students whose first language is not English and who have not taken AND passed a regular (not ESL) English class at a U.S. accredited college or a US high school must submit a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score - or a TOEFL equivalent - prior to acceptance. Students who have TOEFL scores of 207 computer-based / or 76 Internet-based and above are exempt from FIDM's Development Writing (ESL) classes.

The minimum TOEFL score or a TOEFL equivalent for acceptance to FIDM is a computer-based score of 183 or an Internet-based score of 65.

FIDM offers Developmental Writing (ESL), an advanced English as a Second Language (ESL) course, for students whose scores range from 183-205 computer-based, 65-74 internet-based.

FIDM students take the Developmental Writing (ESL) classes in conjunction with courses in their major.

The cost for the Developmental Writing (ESL) class is $850 (tuition, books, and supplies).

How do I apply to FIDM?

START HERE with the Step-By-Step Application Procedure page that guides you through the additional information required by FIDM to complete your application with choices to apply online or download the printable version of the application for faxing or mailing.

IMPORTANT NOTICES: FIDM has rolling admissions deadlines for each academic quarter. International Students are especially encouraged to immediately start the application process to ensure the desired start date at FIDM.

International Student application fee payment schedule:

$25* paid upon application to FIDM
$200* paid upon acceptance to FIDM
$300* paid 30 days after acceptance to FIDM
$525* total - *All nonrefundable - For further details refer to the Tuition Section
Is there an International student orientation?

Yes! Each quarter FIDM holds a special International Student Info. Session before school starts. You'll learn important information about your visas and meet the people who can help you during your time at FIDM. All International students with F-1 Visas must attend.

Please bring your:

  2. VISA
  3. 1-94 CARD

  4. STAMPED I:20

What about housing?
Moving to a new country can be a challenging and exciting experience. The FIDM Housing Office will assist you with finding the plan that best suits your needs. Visit the Housing page for more information.