International Affairs

International Student Services advises on issues ranging from immigration regulations to resources available for achieving academic, financial, and personal goals. Customized orientations are held before fall, spring, and summer terms to address the specific needs of international students, where you can:

  • Learn about the culture and environments of SAIC and Chicago
  • Attend workshops designed to help you achieve while you are a student
  • Meet faculty, staff, and international student leaders

We offer workshops throughout the year to educate international students on their immigration responsibilities and provide opportunities to enhance their academic experience at SAIC. Our team members are active members of NAFSA, the Association for International Educators. NAFSA and its members believe that international education and exchange—connecting students, scholars, educators, and citizens across borders—is fundamental to:

  • Establishing mutual understanding among nations
  • Preparing the next generation with vital cross-cultural and global skills
  • Creating the conditions for a more peaceful world

Meet with Us

  • Email to schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor.

    Please include your name, student ID number, and the reason for the appointment. Identify two times you are available to meet between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and we will send you an invitation to meet with an advisor virtually or in person. This is ideal if you have several questions or need more time to discuss your questions.

  • Students who wish to ask questions without an appointment can receive virtual “walk-in advising” by clicking on the Zoom link.

    Walk-ins are first come, first served. If an advisor is already speaking with a student, you will be placed in a waiting room. When an advisor is available, you will be moved into the meeting room.

    Hours: Wednesdays from 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. CT

  • An international student advisor will be available at the front desk from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer questions. This is a public setting, so students are encouraged to attend virtual walk-ins with more sensitive concerns.


    Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. 

Learn and Connect

  • International Student Orientation is mandatory for all new incoming students. The program is structured to outline your immigration responsibilities and how to maintain your status while in the United States. Valuable resources and offices are introduced and current international students lead discussions and answer questions. 

  • These workshops are jointly sponsored and presented by the Career and Professional Experience (CAPX) office and International Affairs. During the workshop students will learn about the steps to obtain an internship and fill out required paperwork to begin looking for an internship. A representative from International Affairs will cover Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization and how this is obtained. Workshops are typically held once a semester.

  • International Affairs, along with Student Life and the International Student Advisory Board host an annual trivia night where teams of students have the opportunity to learn more about their peers by competing to answer trivia questions about demographics, sports, politics, and culture to win awesome prizes all while enjoying delicious international cuisine.

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) workshops are held throughout the semester to give students an outline of this F-1 student benefit and the application process. Students in their final semester must attend a workshop early on in the term to be prepared to apply for OPT. The OPT workshop is also available online to students in their final semester.

  • This workshop is geared toward students who are graduating in the current or next semester. International Affairs invites a professional immigration attorney to outline student options after completing their degree programs. Topics typically include applying for Optional Practical Training, the H-1B, the Green Card process, changing to other immigration statuses, and more.

  • Each spring semester SAIC awards travel grants degree-seeking students for the sole purpose of education through personal travel. These awards are given through the generosity of a donor and are granted on a noncompetitive basis. Names are drawn at random from submitted applications during an award ceremony each spring. The grants must be used for travel before the following January. Applications are accepted online.

  • International Affairs hosts a picnic for international students graduating in May of each year. International students are encouraged to join their fellow graduates to celebrate their degree completion with International Affairs and other SAIC staff and faculty. The event is held the week before the commencement ceremonies and is open to graduates and their guests.

  • In the spring and the fall, International Affairs hosts a mixer for international students. This is a great time for international students to reconnect and meet other international students over drinks and snacks. Past events have included activities such as postcard making, games, and a live DJ.

Maintain Your Immigration Status

Visit and log in using your SAIC username and password to access your student portal. Incoming students needing to complete check-in can find a tutorial here: Terra Dotta Check-in Instructions.

Documents and Resources


  • Travel signatures (p. 2 of your I-20) are valid for 12 months for students and 6 months for graduates on OPT. Students who need a travel signature can request them in one of two ways:

    • Virtual Travel Signature Request Please click here to request a new travel signature. A new I-20 with a valid travel signature will be mailed to you. If you are outside the U.S. you may be responsible for the cost of the shipment.
    • In-Person Travel signature - please bring your SAIC I-20 to International Affairs along with a copy of your current schedule (you can print this from Self-Service). I-20s can be dropped off between 11am-2pm Monday through Friday directly to an International Affairs advisor in Sullivan 1203 or left in the after-hours drop box in the lobby. You will be notified when your I-20 is signed and ready for pick up.

  • A Reduced Course Load (RCL) authorization can be requested through International Affairs by a student who has a recommendation from a medical or mental health professional to enroll less than full-time. Students must obtain approval and authorization before withdrawing from any course that would result in going below full-time. Please contact an advisor with any questions at

  • Students should review their program end date located in the “Program of Study” section on page 1 of their most recent I-20. If your I-20 expires before you will complete your program, you must request a Program Extension. Please email with the subject line “I-20 Program Extension” and an image of page 1 of your I-20 to request a program extension.

  • Please complete the online OPT workshop and the OPT Document Upload Course in Canvas. If you need access to either of these courses, please email When you have finished uploading your documents, please email We will then set up a phone or video appointment with an international advisor to review your paperwork. The advisor will issue a new I-20 for you and provide you with instructions for how to prepare and ship your application to the USCIS.

  • Please email all questions to If we are unable to answer your question over email or you prefer to speak with an advisor, we can set up a phone or video appointment.

  • The best way to reach an International Affairs advisor is through emailing However, we do typically respond to voicemails within one to three business days. Please email so we can advise you over email or set up an appointment if needed. If you are on campus, we are also available during our daily walk-in hours from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

    As always, if you are experiencing an emergency, please contact Campus Security at 312.899.1230.

  • An I-20 authorized for CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is necessary for you to work at any off-campus internships. If you are interested in participating in an internship off-campus, please work with CAPX to set up your internship for SAIC credit. After CAPX approves the internship, they will send paperwork to International Affairs. An International Affairs advisor will create your new CPT I-20 and then ship it to you. Do not start any work off-campus until you have received a CPT authorized I-20. Only work during the CPT dates authorized on your I-20.

  • Please email to start this process. We will send you the documents we need from you to create your new I-20. We will also be able to advise you on if you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa to return to SAIC.  To begin this process contact Academic Advising to be academically reinstated. We will not be able to issue your I-20 until after you have been reinstated by Academic Advising.

International Affairs Staff

Lawrence Rodriguez headshot.

Lawrence Rodriguez, Director, International Affairs

Lawrence Rodriguez received his Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance Music with a Minor in Theatre Arts at Cal Lutheran University. Although his family is from Guam, Rodriguez was born and raised in California. After graduation from Cal Lutheran, Rodriguez spent a short time with the Walt Disney Corporation and the Rubicon Theatre Company, before returning to Cal Lutheran and working in the Residence Halls and International Programs offices for three years. He then worked for three years in the Admission Office, recruiting heavily throughout Asia and Europe.

Rodriguez came to SAIC in 2006 and has served as an immigration advisor to incoming and current international students and provides educational and cultural programming here at SAIC. In 2015, he became the Director of International Affairs overseeing both International Student Services and Study Abroad.

Outside of the office, Rodriguez cofounded a nonprofit organization, Cheer Los Angeles, which raises money in support and research for people suffering from HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases.

Jessica Wolfe 2019

Jessica Wolfe, Assistant Director, International Student Services

Jessica Wolfe holds an M.Ed in College Student Personnel from Loyola University and a BS in English/Education from Indiana University. She grew up in the Chicago area and has held several varied roles in Higher Education over the past 15 years ranging from Academic Advisor to Associate Registrar to Disability and Veteran Support Services. Wolfe has worked with international students for many years both at Harrington College of Design and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. 

As an undergrad at Indiana University, she studied abroad in England where she participated in a student teacher exchange program, co-taught creative writing and American literature in an English secondary school about an hour south of London, and spent many weekends getting hopelessly lost in the English countryside before the invention of smartphones. She has long had an interest in the arts and, according to her academic advisor, was only a few credits shy of a fine arts minor upon graduation from Indiana University. In her spare time, she enjoys working in ceramics and trying out new restaurants.

Headshot of Melody Miller and a Dog

Melody Miller, International Student Advisor and SEVIS Analyst

Melody Miller moved to Chicago from Indianapolis, Indiana to attend SAIC for her Master of Arts in Modern and Contemporary Art History (2020). She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from IUPUI in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is currently pursuing a second Master of Arts in Disability Studies at CUNY’s School of Professional Studies. Melody previously worked in International Affairs as an administrative assistant, and as a student office assistant (among many other on-campus jobs, including as an Art History, Theory, and Criticism teaching assistant).

When not at work, Melody enjoys cooking, baking, cross-stitching, reading, and entertaining her giant dog, Gouda.

Victoria McAllister, Associate Director, Study Abroad

Victoria McAllister joined the International Affairs team in December of 2016. Born and raised in the industrial Urals region of Russia, she has been working in the higher education field since 2009. After receiving both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in North-American studies and Spanish language from Ural Federal University, she continued on to work there as a Spanish and English language instructor. At the same time Victoria has been working as a freelance interpreter for various local organizations including international adoption agencies and Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts. In her free time she loves to travel the world and the USA (having been to about 20 countries so far), exploring Chicago and its neighborhoods, cooking and spending time with her family.

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Contact Us

International Affairs

Sullivan Building
36 S. Wabash Ave.

Visit Us in Person

Walk-In Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Office Hours

Monday through Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.