International Student Office
International Student Regulations
The following rules apply to those in F-1 status and are expected to be followed. Failure to follow these procedures and regulations may result in negative ramifications to your F-1 visa status. Please remember that the following immigration information is not exhaustive and is subject to change without notice. International students and scholars should contact the PDSO/International Student Advisor to arrange an appointment to discuss any questions or concerns related to your legal status in the United States.
To remain up-to-date on changes in U.S. immigration law and/or changes in ISO policies and/or procedures, to be informed about workshops and training sessions offered by ISO, and much more, please check your Union University emails daily.
F-1 Student Status
An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a "full course of study" to achieve a specific educational or professional objective, at an academic institution in the United States that has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to offer courses of study to such students, and has been enrolled in SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). Once the educational or professional objectives have been attained, the F-1 student is expected by the U.S. government to return to his or her residence abroad.
What is SEVIS?
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the web-accessible database for monitoring information about exchange visitors, international students and scholars subject to this program.
Maintenance of Status
Once a person is admitted to the U.S. in F-1 status, he or she must meet certain obligations in order to maintain status.
- Maintain a valid (not expired) passport.
- Maintain a valid (not expired) I-20.
- Keep all immigration documents in a safe place, including your old I-20 forms. Do NOT discard old copies.
- Enroll and maintain a full course-load each term.
- Follow correct procedures if transferring, changing academic goals, or extending your program of study.
- Work no more than 20 hours per week if you work on campus.
- Do not work off-campus without the required authorization from the Union University International Student Office.
- Comply with all Union University regulations
Maintain a valid (not expired) passport.
Any travel document issued by a country's authority showing the person's origin, identity, nationality, allowing for entry into a foreign country. A student's' Passport must be kept valid at all times during a person's stay in the U.S.
Maintain a valid (not expired) I-20.
The Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status (School Copy, pages 1-3). This is issued by the university to the student upon student's being admitted to the university. I-20 must be valid at all times while student is in the U.S. Your current I-20 continues to be valid based upon the signature at the bottom of the I-20.
REPORTING CHANGES TO I-20
Students must notify the International Student Advisor when any of the following occur:
- Extension of Program
- Changing or Transferring Schools
- Change of Academic Level
- Change of Major
- Change of Funding
- Name Change
- Applying for OPT/CPT
- Change of Address
Students must provide a physical address unless it is impossible to receive mail there. If students provide a mailing address, they must also provide their physical home address.
All these changes must be reported to the International Student Advisor within 10 days of the change occurring. Failing to report such a change within the 10-day period is a violation of F-1 status.
Keep all immigration documents in a safe place, including your old I-20 forms. Do NOT discard old copies.
A visa to enter the U.S. as a nonimmigrant is a stamped entry on a page of the passport. It allows you to request the immigration officer at the port of entry to grant you admission to the U.S. under conditions specified to the type of visa you hold. Application for a nonimmigrant visa usually requires a personal appearance before a consular office at a U.S. consulate or embassy. It must be accompanied by appropriate documentation (i.e. valid Form I-20 for F-1 students, valid passport, financial documents, etc.) It acts as a key to enter the country. Must be valid, not expired for entry.
Once you are within the U.S. and are maintaining legal status, your visa may expire without consequence to your immigration status. If you need a new visa, you may apply for one when you travel to your home country. Please click on the following link to access the U.S. State Department website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/questions/questions_1253.html
FORM I-94 AUTOMATION
The I-94 is an arrival and departure record. Before May 1, 2013 every person entering the U.S. was temporarily issued an I-94. When a person entered the U.S., the Arrival Record was detached and kept by the USCIS. The Departure Record was stapled into the person's passport on the same page on which the visa has been stamped and will be removed and kept by the USCIS when the person departs from the U.S.
As of May 1, 2013, the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) has automated Form I-94 at air and sea ports of entry. The paper form is no longer provided. Rather, the student will be provided with a CBP Admissions Stamp on their travel document.
Students must now visit www.cbp.gov/I94 to obtain a copy of their I-94 record of admission.
The Admission Number is the 11-digit number that is issued to persons entering the U.S. It is used as an identification number and is the basis for the USCIS arrival/departure database known as the Nonimmigrant Information System (NIIS). The Admission Number is found by visiting www.cbp.gov/I94 and printing your I-94.
Enroll and maintain a full course of study
Students may only take one class (3 credits) of distance learning per term toward their full-time status. Distance education is defined as a class that does not require physical attendance for classes, exams, or other purposes on the campus where it is offered.
Example: For a traditional undergraduate student, twelve semester hours is considered "full-time." Therefore, an F-1 international student may only take three of those hours through distance education. Basically, nine hours of every semester must be spent in traditional classroom education.
REDUCED COURSE LOAD
Students may take a reduced course load in their final term if only one or two classes are needed to complete the degree.
Students may reduce their course load below full time for 2 reasons: academic or medical. In both cases, they must first obtain authorization from the International Student Office before they drop any classes.
Academic reasons, such as initial difficulty with English or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods, or improper level placement, permit the International Student Office to authorize the student to reduce his/her course load to 6 hours for one term only. Such students must resume a full course load the next term, including summer.
Students who become ill may be authorized by the PDSO to reduce their course load or take no classes at all for up to 12 months per academic level. Such students must provide the ISO with a letter from a licensed Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy, or a licensed Clinical Psychologist before dropping courses. The PDSO must re-authorize reduced course load for illness before each term begins with new documentation from the medical provider.
Students must notify the PDSO at the beginning of the term in which they return to class full time after taking a reduced course load to avoid falling out of status.
International students must contact their International Student Advisor to determine eligibility for a Reduced Course Load.
Follow appropriate procedures upon program completion, changing academic goals, transferring to a different school or extending your program of study.
COMPLETION OF PROGRAM (GRADUATION)
F-1 students must notify the International Student Office of your intentions after completing your program or leaving Union University permanently in order for your SEVIS record to be updated. If you are unsure of your future plans, please be sure to meet with the International Student Advisor so that your post-graduation options can be explained to you.
An F-1 student who has completed a course of study and any authorized practical training following completion of studies will be allowed an additional 60-day period to prepare for departure from the United States or to transfer. Any questions should be directed to the International Student Advisor at ext. 5031.