Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) administers the immigration regulations. It is important for you to know the rules, which pertain to your status, for INS does not consider ignorance of the law a legitimate reason for failing to obey it. If you have any questions, please direct them to the International Student Officer at your site.
YOU MUST HAVE YOUR I-20 WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES. Your I-20 ID must be validated by INS before you begin attending school/college. Moreover, in order for you to travel, the I-20 ID has to be endorsed by a designated school official. (Any request takes three working days to be processed.) You should always have the I-20 ready to travel, do not wait until the signature expires to have it renewed. If you changed your status in the U.S. and wish to leave the U.S., a new I-20 must be issued. A new F-1 Visa must be obtained from your home country embassy.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months into the future at all times. It is your responsibility to remember when it will expire and contact the nearest Consulate or Embassy of your country to renew it.
The visa stamped in your passport at the U.S. Consulate is for permission to enter the U.S. for a specific purpose and period of time. This stamp is only important for entry or re-entry to the U.S.; if it expires while you are here, there is no need to worry. However, if you decide to travel outside the country, you need to renew the visa at the U.S. Consulate.
I-94 (DEPARTURE RECORD)
This form is attached to your passport at the port of entry to the U.S. This form determines how long you can remain in the U.S. Aliens on the F-1 visas usually have their I-94 stamped "D/S" (Duration of Status) which means that students can remain in this country for all the time required to complete the studies as long as all the regulations of the student visa are followed.
F-1 students must maintain medical health insurance coverage throughout the length of study.
DURATION OF STATUS
F-1 students are considered in status for the entire length of time during which students are enrolled as full-time students (12 credits - Semester I and II), plus any authorized period of practical training and an additional sixty days to prepare for departure. The length of time is stated on the I-20. If additional time is needed to complete a degree, a program extension has to be filed one month before the I-20 expires.
Limitations of Duration of Status: Duration of status is limited by the time designated on the I-20. Students do not have to request an extension of their status if they complete the degree within the time given on the I-20. Students who need more time to earn the degree must file for an Extension of a Program of Study one month before the I-20 expires. If students do not request the program extension on time (30 days before it expires), they lose their F-1 status and all other benefits.
On-campus employment is available after one semester of regular classes and if the student is in good academic standing.
Off-campus employment - Economic Necessity is available after one academic year of full-time attendance and good academic standing.
Curricular Practical training (COOP Program) is available after one academic year of full-time attendance, completion of 24 credits towards degree, have a 2.5 GPA, and have passed ENC 1101.
Practical training after completion of studies is available for international students who pursue an A.S. or A.A. degree. The practical training is for a period of one year.
Students are eligible to take a vacation break during the summer term. However, students who start attending during the summer term must complete 9 credits, and will only have three weeks of vacation before the new fall term begins.
FULL TIME ENROLLMENT
Students must register for no less than 12 credits each major term (Fall and Spring), and must register full-time for summer if it is the initial term of enrollment. When students register or drop below 12 credits, and when they are purged by the instructors for not attending a class, they are placed in the out-of-status category; in summary, to maintain legal status, international students must earn 12 credit hours or more each term.
Students that drop or add a class will receive a refund during the first week of classes ONLY. If you are withdrawn by your instructor due to excessive absences or poor grades you are still responsible for payment. A "W" will place you out-of-status if you are required to maintain 12 credits. An "F" demonstrates that you made an attempt and will not put you out-of-status with Immigration.
REINSTATEMENT OF STUDENT STATUS
An F-1 student who has overstayed his or her authorized period of stay or has otherwise failed to maintain F-1 student status may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of an INS officer. The student makes application through the International Student Officer. INS charges a fee of US $140 money order for this process with no guarantee of reinstatement.