Information for Students with an F-1 Visa

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Immigration Responsibilities

In coming to the United States you have agreed to follow the laws of your F-1 visa classification. It is very important that you understand these laws and follow them. If at any time you have questions, please be sure to see the International Student Advisor.

  1. Your passport must always be valid for 6 months into the future.
  2. You may attend only the school whose I-20 you used to enter the U.S. or a school you transfer to later.
  3. Your I-20 must remain valid while you are a student. Check the expiration date on your I-20 where it states "complete studies no later than (date)." This is your estimated date of completion. If you will not finish your degree by that date, please come at least 45 days prior to the expiration date to see the International Student Advisor.
  4. You must register for and complete at least 12 credit hours during the fall and spring semesters. Students who have completed all requirements for their degree may, in their final semester, register for fewer than 12 credit hours.
  5. If for any reason you must drop below full-time student status, You Must See the International Student Advisor Before Doing So. Failure to do so prior to dropping will put you "Out of Status" with the Immigration Service.
  6. Working off-campus without proper authorization is illegal and can carry severe consequences. Always consult the International Advisor to explore legal and safe options.

Unless there are special problems, there will be no need for you to contact the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) directly. You should direct any concerns or questions regarding immigration matters to the International Student Advisor. Please remember that it is your personal responsibility to follow all laws and regulations as they apply to you. Prior to mailing anything to INS, make sure to keep a photocopy for yourself. Always send items by "Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested" so you will have a record of when INS received your papers.

Address Reports

It is essential that the International Student Services Office be promptly informed of any changes in your local or permanent address. You must also inform the International Student Services Office of any other changes (citizenship, visa status, etc.) so the new information can be entered into university records.

Passport

This is your identification issued to you by your home country. It includes your photograph, identity, country of origin and nationality. A passport is issued for a specific time (this varies from country to country) and your passport must be valid for at least six months into the future at all times.

The International Student Advisor can assist you by providing addresses and phone numbers of the consulates or embassies if you need to renew your passport or replace it.

United States Visa

The visa is placed directly into your passport by a U.S. Consul overseas. You cannot get a visa in the United States. The visa will indicate the period during which you can enter the U.S. as well as the number of times you can enter with that specific visa.

A visa does not determine how long you can stay in the U.S. An expired visa does not mean that you must leave the U.S., rather, it indicates that in order for you to re-enter the country (after a departure) you will need to get a new visa at an American embassy or consulate.

Common types of visas are:

  • F-1 Student
  • F-2 Spouse or child of student
  • J-1 Exchange Visitor
  • J-2 Spouse or child of Exchange Visitor
  • B-1 Visitor for business
  • B-2 Visitor for pleasure
  • H-1 Temporary worker or industrial trainee

I-20

The main purpose of this document is to certify that you will be accepted as a student at a particular school when you arrive in the U.S. Therefore, you must attend the school on whose I-20 you entered the U.S. Your I-20 shows that you have provided evidence of financial support for the first year of your period of study. This form is used to obtain a visa from the U.S. Consul and to enter the U.S. initially or to re-enter after a temporary absence. The form I-20AB (page 3) must be signed by the International Student Advisor each time you travel outside the U.S. The I-20 is an extremely important document so be sure to keep it secure.

Within the first two weeks of your initial semester you must bring your passport, I-20 & I-94 to the International Student Office so copies can be kept on file of these documents.

I-94

The I-94, a record of arrival and departure, is a small white card usually stapled into your passport upon entry. It is a very important document on which the date and place of entry are indicated. In the upper left-hand corner is an 11-digit admission number. This is your identification number for immigration matters. Also, in the upper right-hand corner the expiration date appears. F-1 students will find D/S indicating "Duration of Status." This is defined as the period of time during which you are a full-time student including any practical training plus 60 days. The I-94 will be collected from you each time you leave the U.S. and a new one will be issued upon re-entry.

The spouse or child of an F-1 student is admitted to the U.S. on an F-2 visa. Their length of stay is valid for the same length of time as the F-1. If the spouse or child does not accompany the F-1 but rather follows, the international office must prepare an I-20 which gives the expiration date of the student's authorized stay.

Program Extension

A student is expected to complete an educational program by the date indicated on the I-20. If however, a student must remain beyond that date, a program extension must be filed. A student is eligible only if the student has continually maintained status and the delay is caused by a compelling academic or medical reason.

You must speak with the International Student Advisor so that forms can be submitted within the 60-day period before the expected completion date noted on the initial I-20.

Legal Matters

If you find yourself in a situation where you think you need legal advice, please come to the International Student Office and ask for assistance. You can obtain a list of lawyers who regularly handle cases involving international students. It is important that you feel comfortable to come and discuss any situation with the International Student Advisor.

Often, there are resources available to you which you may not be aware of. Everything discussed in the International Office is kept strictly confidential so you do not need to be concerned about the privacy of any discussion.