Listed below are the basic immigration regulations that students with F-1 visas are required to follow while in the U. S. By following the guidelines below, you should have no problem maintaining your F-1 visa status and can therefore take full advantage of the benefits available (such as work permission, practical training, etc.)
- Maintain a valid passport at all times. If your passport has expired or will expire within the next six months, contact your home country’s embassy in the U.S. or your international student advisor on campus for instructions on how to receive a new passport.
- Attend the college/university declared on your I-20. If you currently have an I-20 from another school, you must complete a transfer and receive an I-20 from Coastal. After receiving this new I-20, the Office of International Programs must notify the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) of this transfer. Be sure this procedure is completed with the OIPS no later than 15 days after classes begin. [8 CFR 214.2 (f) (8) (ii)].
- Enroll full-time each semester. Undergraduates are required to enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours per fall and spring semesters to be considered full-time.
- Apply for a program extension if your I-20 will expire and more time is needed to complete your degree program. Please note the completion date on item #5 of your I-20. If you do not plan to graduate by that date, you must apply for a Program Extension 30 days before your I-20 expires. Please visit the OIPS before the program end date noted on your I-20 if you require additional time to complete your degree program.
- Notify Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) of any changes on the I-20. ICE must be notified of significant changes in your immigration status. These may include starting a different degree program, a change of department, or marriage (if your spouse will hold the F-2 dependent visa). Such changes require the Office of International Programs & Services to report to ICE through the SEVIS tracking system. Financial support documentation must not be any older than six months in the case of adding dependents to your visa status.
- If you change schools, complete transfer procedures. ICE must be notified if you change colleges or universities. The student advisor at your new school must initiate a transfer clearance. A transfer clearance form must be sent to your previously attended institution. The previous institution must then verify that you are in status and pursuing a full-time course of study before a transfer can be approved and a new I-20 issued.
- On-campus work is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students may work 20 hours per week while classes are in session. On-campus employment may be full-time during the summer and official school breaks. No special permission from ICE is required for on-campus employment.
- Off-campus work is prohibited unless authorized by the Designated School Official in the Office of International Programs. International students are not allowed to work off-campus without permission.
- Travel outside of U.S. requires a signed I-20 for re-entry. If you are planning to travel outside the U.S. with the intention of re-entering, you must have the Designated School Official sign the back of your current I-20 Form authorizing your re-entry into the United States.
If you fail to comply with the ICE regulations listed above, you will be out of status. Persons who are out of status are not eligible to apply for work permission or other benefits allowed to F-1 students. To request reinstatement of F-1 status you must submit an application to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Customs & Immigration Services. Your DSO in the Office of International Programs & Services can give you the application materials and assist you in this process. It is important to maintain close contact with the Office of International Programs to ensure that you remain in status. If you have any questions about your F-1 visa, contact the Office of International Programs at any time.
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