Immigration Resources

International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO)

ISSO supports an environment conducive to the education and development of international students and scholars of Iowa State University. ISSO provides advice, counseling and advocacy regarding immigration status, US employment regulations as well as support with social, cultural, financial and personal concerns.

Location: 3241 Memorial Union 
Telephone: 515-294-1120 
Office hours: M-F 8:00 am-5:00 pm, but may change during breaks and in the summer. Check the website to register for an appointment.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

This is the government agency that regulates immigration laws in the US. Visit for more information about this agency.

Immigration issues

  • Please direct all immigration questions/issues to ISSO and/or to USCIS for up-to-date information.
  • H-1B status cannot be transferred from one employer to another. A new H-1B application needs to be submitted to USCIS, in which your new employer is the sponsor for the application. If you are changing from another U.S. immigration status to H-1B, USCIS must approve the application before you start to work.  If you are transferring your H-1B to Iowa State, portability may apply.  Please consult ISSO for further analysis of your situation.
  • Currently, ISSO can help you obtain H-1 status in-house without charging you additional fees if you are employed by ISU (but this may change in the future).

Note 1: ISU cannot sponsor international postdocs for a “green card” application. This is because a postdoctoral position is considered an extension of the student status, thus is not considered to be a permanent position. Based on your status, you might be eligible for a self-sponsored application for permanent residence using the National Interest Waiver (NIW), or as an “alien of extraordinary ability” (EB1A). As these are not employer-sponsored petitions, Iowa State cannot assist you with their preparation.  Should you change positions into a permanent one, contact ISSO to find out whether you are eligible for ISU sponsorship.

Note 2: ISU is an E-verify employer. Thus, ISU employment can be used to support a STEM extension of OPT status for an additional 24 months.

Social Security Number (SSN)

A valid SSN is absolutely required to work legally in the US. Please contact ISSO to obtain information on how to apply for a SSN.

International travel

Going away to a job-related conference or going home for a vacation? Make sure to talk to an ISSO advisor prior to leaving the country. They can assist you in making sure you have all the proper travel documents in your possession. Furthermore, depending on your visa status, your country of origin and the kind of research you perform, your return to the US may be delayed by mandatory background checks. It is safer to be informed prior to leaving the country.

English lessons in Ames

Visit the Ames Community School District website for information about English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.