Thursday, June 16, 2016

Maintaining Legal Status

Students in F-1 or J-1 status are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with U.S. federal laws and regulations governing the F or J visa. Failure to do so will violate the students legal status in the U.S., resulting in serious consequences. The international student must take responsibility of the following items in order to maintain legal status:
  • University Attendance: The student must attend the university where they were authorized to go.
  • Valid Passport: The student must have a valid passport for the entire period of stay in U.S.
  • Change of Address: U.S. federal regulations require all F-1 and J-1 students to report a change of address within 10 days to their school and the USCIS.
  • University Transfer: If the student is transferring to another university, they should follow the proper transfer procedure and get approval from both the current and new universities.
  • Full-Time Student: U.S. federal regulations require the student to pursue a full course of study each semester until graduation. The number of credits may vary from university to university. Typically, 12 credits is full-time for undergraduates and 9 credits is full-time for graduates.
  • Employment: F-1 and J-1 students may work no more than 20 hours per week on campus during full-time study. These 20 hours include assistantship work. Students should not engage in any employment off campus without authorization from the university and the U.S. federal government.
  • Health Insurance: F-1 and J-1 students must have university-approved health and accident insurance for themselves and their dependents throughout their stay in the U.S. Students may choose from either the insurance coverage offered through the university, or insurance from a private insurance company.
  • Traveling Outside the U.S.: Students should check with the International Student Office prior to their travel outside the U.S. in order to stay updated about new procedures and documents.
  • Leaving the University: Students may leave the university early or unexpectedly due to a variety of reasons, such as early graduation, leave of absence, withdrawal, or termination. U.S. federal regulations require F-1 and J-1 students to inform the International Student Office and Scholar Services if they plan to leave the university before the expiration date of their I-20 or DS-2019 form with proper reason in writing.
  • Extension: Students who require an extension must apply for one before their I-20 or DS-2019 form expires. Requests for an extension may be submitted at any time up to thirty days prior to the expiration date on the form. Students will need to obtain the Academic Advisors Recommendation Form for Extension of Stay and re-certify their finances.
  • Course Completion: Students in F-1 status must depart the U.S. within 60 days of the I-20 ending date or their program end date, unless they have applied for optional practical training, or are transferring to a new school. Students in J-1 status must depart the U.S. within 30 days of the DS-2019 expiration date or program end date, unless they have applied for academic training, or are transferring to a new J program. If a students application for a change of status is denied by the USCIS, then the student must leave immediately with no grace period.
  • I-94 Card: The I-94 is the white card that the student completes before passing immigration officials upon entrance into the U.S. This is the document that authorizes the student to be in the U.S. as a student for a specified period of time, in a specified program of study, at a specified institution. The dates on the I-94 supersede the visa date, so the student must verify the date before they leave the immigration counter at the port of entry. Two dates appear on the I-94: the date of entrance into the U.S. and the date of expiration. For F-1 and J-1 visa holders, the expiration date is usually D/S (duration of status), which implies the date of program completion. Like the passport, the I-94 must be valid at all times. The I-94 should be kept in the passport. It will be surrendered to airline officials when the student travels outside the U.S. and the student will get a new I-94 card upon re-entry into the U.S.

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