As an international student, it’s important to familiarize yourself with local laws based on where you live and study. Keep in mind that there are consequences for your visa or legal status in the US if you have an arrest on your record. We include here some of the most common misunderstandings students have with laws in the US and resources for where you can find further information.

Alcohol Consumption

Remember, the legal drinking age in the US is 21. Also, remember that it’s illegal to have an open container of alcohol in any public place. This even includes holding a glass of wine on your building’s front steps or opening a bottle of beer in a park area. Public drinking is illegal regardless of your age.

Marijuana Use

Marijuana use is illegal at the federal level, regardless of how states within the US interpret legality of marijuana use. This means that even if you’re in a state where it may seem fine, you’re still putting yourself at risk regarding your current and future visa, work, and immigration options. It’s safest to avoid because use of a controlled substance, like marijuana, could lead to your visa being revoked and you being permanently barred from the US.

Visiting City Parks when Closed

Spending any time in a city park (even just passing through) after it’s closed is illegal. Make sure you know when the parks near you close. There is usually a sign near the park entrance. For example, Washington Square Park closes at 1:00 am. If you’re passing through it after 1 am and before it reopens at 6 am, you could get a ticket or face arrest.

Mishaps at the Subway Station

Jumping the turnstile at a subway station is illegal. So is entering through an open gate. The city of New York requires that you pay the fee to ride the subway. Also, for safety reasons, it is illegal to pass between subway cars, even when the train is in the station.

Interpersonal Relationships

Different cultures have different norms and expectations for interpersonal relationships. When you’re new to a diverse setting like NYU, it can be easy to misread relationship cues or misperceive intentions. If you do something that is seen as unwanted behavior, harassment or even stalking, this could be a serious crime, and could lead to your dismissal from NYU, the revoking of your student visa, the loss of your F-1/J-1 status, your being sent home, and even your being barred from reentering the US ever again. Learn more about this topic at the Center for Sexual and Relationship Respect Services.