- F-1 Students
- J-1 Students
To maintain status, an F-1 Student MUST:
- Notify the International Student Admissions and Programs office (ISAP) of the local address upon arrival and within 10 days of any address change.
- Enroll in a full course of study during the academic year.
- Make normal progress towards completion of a program.
- Extend the Form I-20 before its expiration, if necessary.
- Obtain approval from ISAP prior to reducing enrollment, withdrawing completely, or taking a leave of absence.
- Inform ISAP and update the form I-20 due to a change in major, degree level, or financial support.
- Keep passport valid for at least six months from current date.
- Follow proper procedures for transfer of schools.
- Abide by the F-1 grade period rules.
- Limit on campus employment to a maximum of 20 hours per week, while classes are in session.
- Not engage in off-campus work unless specifically authorized by the ISAP office.
To maintain status, a J-1 student MUST:
- Register full time every semester
- Maintain a current passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future at all times)
- Be aware of grace periods
- Request authorization from ISAP before dropping below a full course load
- Report all changes in address within 10 days
- Report all changes in name, dependents and status through ISAP
- Request my transfer to another school in a timely manner
- Report a change in my program of study
- Request travel signatures before traveling
- Request a DS-2019 Extension at least two weeks before my document expires
- Provide ISAP with any updates regarding passport extensions and visa renewals
- Become familiar with immigration rules
- Check my UWG Student email account regularly for communication from ISAP & the university
International Student Responsibilities
Retain All Documents
Retain All Documents
F-1 & J-1 students need to make a copy of all of important travel and immigration documents and keep them in a safe and easily accessible location. In addition, F-1 & J-1 students must keep all of their original Form I- 20s. A student may receive several Form I-20s/DS-2019 throughout their stay in the U.S., and it is common for a U.S. government agency to request copies of all Form I-20s/DS-2019 issued to a student when applying for a benefit or a change in immigration status. Students should therefore not discard any immigration documents issued to them.
Keep Passport Valid
Keep Passport Valid
The passport must be valid for at least six months into the future at the time the student enters the U.S. Students should contact their home country’s consulate or embassy for instructions on extending the passport within the U.S.
Full Time Enrollment
Full Time Enrollment
ISAP is required to report on each student’s enrollment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by updating the student’s individual SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) record every term. In order to maintain lawful F-1 & J-1 non-immigrant student status, international students must be enrolled for a full course of study during the academic year. Full-time enrollment is required during all fall and spring semesters. All students will automatically be issued a vacation term for each summer semester, unless it is the student’s graduating term or first term of enrollment.
Full Time Enrollment Credit Hours
Undergraduate Students 12 Credit Hours
Graduate Students 9 Credit Hours
Report Local U.S. Address
Report Local U.S. Address
F-1 & J-1 students must inform ISAP of the local U.S. address where he or she resides in order to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requirements. Students must update the address within 10 days of moving to a new location. You can report this information by filling out this form.
Extending I-20s (F-1 Students)
Students must obtain an extension of the Form I-20 and F-1 status at least one term prior to program end date noted on the current Form I-20, if necessary. Students must submit a program extension form and proof of funding to an ISAP to facilitate the extension process. If the student is not approved for the extension and does not obtain a new Form I-20 prior to the current program end date, the student is in violation of F-1 status. It is not possible to extend the Form I-20 after it has expired.
ISAP must be notified of a change of major during the semester in which the change takes effect. A significant change of major must be reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement within 21 days of the change going into effect, and it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that his or her immigration record is updated accordingly. Update ISAP by filling out this form.
Enrolling Less Than Full Time
Enrolling Less Than Full Time
The Federal Regulations list very few situations in which an exception to the full course of study or typical full course enrollment requirement may be deemed appropriate. The F-1 student must meet with an ISAP Staff Member and seek approval PRIOR to dropping or withdrawing from courses when the drop would put the student below the required minimum. If the student does not follow proper procedures he or she will lose lawful F-1 student status. A student authorized for a reduced course load based on the following options must resume a full course of study at the start of the next available semester, excluding an authorized vacation term:
An F-1 may be authorized to reduce his or her course load to six credit hours (and no less) one time, due to academic difficulties.
The following reasons are acceptable academic reasons for a student to reduce his or her course load:
- placement in an inappropriate course level
- initial difficulty with the English language (first semester only)
- initial difficulty with reading requirements (first semester only)
- unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (first semester only)
- to complete course of study in current term Medical Reason (only up to 12 months)
- documented illness or medical condition (only up to 12 months)
- credits needed to graduate will be exceeded (final semester only)
In the case of a reduced course load request based on a medical necessity, the student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to ISAP to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The regulations state that students experiencing a “temporary illness or medical condition” may reduce their course load “for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.” If the student’s medical condition does not permit him/her to pursue a full course of study beyond these 12 months, the student may be required to return to the home country.
Early Withdrawal or Leave of Absence
Early Withdrawal or Leave of Absence
ISAP is required to report on each student’s enrollment every quarter to DHS; therefore, an F-1 or J-1 student must inform ISAP if he or she decides to leave UWG and not return to resume study for the current or following semester. As such, if a student is not going to be enrolled due to withdrawal from the university or leaving for a prolonged period of time (for example, military service), informing an academic advisor is not sufficient. The student must also inform ISAP.
Common Immigration Terms
Common Immigration Terms
Admission and Departure Card: Also referred to as I-94 card. Small white card given to all non-immigrant aliens entering the United States. Admission record portion collected at the port of entry, departure record portion is stamped by the immigration officer and is collected at the time when person leaves the United States. Stamp shows date and place of entry, visa status, limitations of stay, and the I-94 number (eleven digits) preprinted on the form.
Asylee: A person at a port of entry or in the United States, who is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country of nationality or habitual residence because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Asylee status is granted by INS and may be terminated by the attorney general. For enrollment and pay purposes treated like an immigrant.
Co-op: A training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Work authorization is granted by the Designated School Official.
COS - Change of Status: without leaving the United States. Application submitted to INS on form I-539. If request approved, new visa status is granted.
CPT - Curricular Practical Training: A training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Work authorization is granted by the Designated School Official.
D/S Duration of Status: F-1 and J-1 students are admitted to the U.S. for the period during which they are pursuing a full course of study at an educational institution approved by INS. (Also see "Maintenance of Status for F-1 and J-1 students").
Dependents: Spouse (husband or wife, must be legally married) and unmarried children under 21.
DSO - Designated School Official: A regular employee of the university (faculty or staff member), appointed by the school and approved by BCIS, who represents the school in all F-1 matters. Only a DSO may sign an immigration document for the school.
EAD (I-688B) Employment Authorization Document: Small, laminated card with photo ID, requested by beneficiary on form I-765 and approved by INS. EAD may be given for Optional Practical Training, Economic Hardship, Temporary Employment of spouses in J-2 status and in some other instances.
Green Card: Small laminated card with photo ID and fingerprint, issued by INS for resident aliens. Treated as U.S. citizens for employment, enrollment and payment purposes.
I-94 card: See Admission and Departure Card
ICE - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: A bureau of the Department of Homeland Security, and the investigative and enforcment arm of immigration (formerly INS) and border security. ICE also oversees the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Immigrant: green card holder, resident alien, permanent resident: an alien who has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Essentially has the same rights and obligations as a U.S. citizen with the exceptions of voting, holding certain public offices and employment by federal agencies in civil service positions.
Non-immigrant: An alien admitted to the United States for a specific purpose for a temporary stay that will end when its purpose has been accomplished.
OPT Optional Practical Training: a benefit of legal F-1 status. Granted by INS based on documents submitted by applicant and school's recommendation. Total length is 12 months, not extendible. May be used during school breaks, for part-time work while school is in session, or after graduation. Work has to be within student's area of study.
Passport: An official governmental travel document that certifies the identity and nationality of a person and grants him/her permission to travel abroad (travel to certain countries may be limited).
Permanent resident: See Immigrant
POE - Port of Entry: airport or border where alien is admitted to the United States.
Refugee: A person outside the United States, who is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country of nationality or habitual residence because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Asylee status is granted by INS and may be terminated by the attorney general.
Reinstatement: An F-1 or J-1 student who has overstayed his/her authorized period of stay or otherwise violated his/her student status may be reinstated to lawful F-1/J-1 status by INS. Application is made on form I-539 accompanied by supporting documents. Contact the Designated School Official for details.
Transfer student: For immigration purposes a student who is pursuing a full course of study at the school he or she was last authorized to attend and is otherwise maintaining status is eligible to transfer to another INS approved school by following the transfer procedures.
USCIS - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Formerly INS, a government agency responsible for the admission, control and status of all aliens in the United States. The immigration regulations are contained in Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations. See also ICE - Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
U.S. Citizen: A person born in the United States, or naturalized, holding a U.S. passport.
Visa: A stamp in the passport issued by an American Embassy or Consulate abroad, allowing the holder to request entry to the United States in a certain visa status within the time period specified on the visa. A visa may allow one, two or multiple entries before the expiration date of the visa.
Visa Overstay: Persons who lawfully entered the United States but who overstayed their period of authorized stay or otherwise violated the terms of their temporary status.
Visa Status: A status granted by INS at the port of entry, stamped on the I-94 card, or later granted through a Change of Status request, verified on an approval notice from INS, accompanied by a new I-94 card.
Out of Status Options
Out of Status Options
A student who has failed to maintain F-1 student status and wishes to continue studying at UWG has two options to regain valid status: Travel and Re-entry or Reinstatement.
These options should be discussed with ISAP in detail. If you have failed to maintain your F-1 status and your SEVIS record is terminated, you are no longer eligible for on-campus employment, practical training, travel signature for re-entry to the US, or any other benefits of F-1 status.
Options for F-1 Students to Regain Status
- Option 1: Travel and Re-Entry
This option includes: obtaining a new I-20, departing the U.S, applying for a new F-1 visa and reentering the US with a new SEVIS record. Prior to departure, you will provide ISAP with new financial documentation in order to obtain a new I-20. After the I-20 is issued, you will be required to pay the SEVIS fee and apply for a new F-1 visa outside the U.S. Upon being issued a new visa, you will be eligible to return to the U.S. at a Port of Entry within 30 days from the start of the semester.
Please Note: If you choose to travel to regain status, there is no guarantee that you will be issued a new visa or permitted to re-enter the U.S. The U.S. Department of State will review your visa application and decide if you are eligible for a student visa. The decision to admit you to the U.S. is made by the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. ISAP will prepare you as best as we can for both encounters, but we cannot guarantee you will be allowed to re-enter.
If you are admitted to the U.S. with your F-1 visa, you will gain F-1 status. However, you will have a new SEVIS record, which means that you must be in status for 2 semesters with the new record to be eligible to apply for OPT or CPT.
Option 2: Apply for F-1 Visa Status Reinstatement through USCIS
The F-1 visa status reinstatement process is subjective. USCIS reviews the applicant’s I-539 application and supporting paper materials and makes the decision on whether or not to approve the F-1 visa status reinstatement. ISAP will review your case and materials carefully and will determine whether we believe you are a good candidate for reinstatement. If we believe you are not eligible for reinstatement, we may suggest that you travel and re-enter the U.S to obtain lawful status.
Applicants for F-1 visa status reinstatement will be evaluated based upon the following criteria:
- Applicant has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or the failure to file within the 5 month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that the applicant filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances).
- Applicant does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of [USCIS] regulations.
- Applicant is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20.
- Applicant has not engaged in unauthorized employment.
- Applicant is not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act.
- Applicant establishes to the satisfaction of the [USCIS], in detail showing, either that:The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO, but do not include instances where a pattern of violations or where a willful failure on your part resulted in the need for reinstatment.
- The violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within a DSO's power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.
Procedure to apply for F-1 Visa Status Reinstatement
- Step One - Meet with ISAP to assess your eligibility for F-1 visa status reinstatement. The advisor will determine if you are a viable candidate for F-1 visa status reinstatement. If so, they will explain how to request the new I-20 required for the reinstatement application.
- Step Two– Prepare the following documents:
- USCIS form I-539, available on the USCIS web site: http://www.uscis.gov/forms. Complete the form as a draft and during final review the ISAP advisor will suggest any changes needed before a final version is submitted to USCIS.
- I-539 Application Fee (http://www.uscis.gov/forms), payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.
- A cover letter from you requesting reinstatement to F-1 status and explaining your circumstances. You should explain that the violation of F-1 status resulted from circumstances beyond your control and/or that the failure to be reinstated would result in extreme hardship. Attach any additional supporting documents.
- A new SEVIS I-20 issued by UWG for purposes of reinstatement (signed by you and an ISAP advisor).
- A photocopy of your previous I-20 form(s).
- Financial support documents to show evidence of continued funding—documents should be recent (no more than 6 months old).
- A photocopy of your passport photo page—include any other pages that contain the expiration date, extensions, or any biographical information. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future.
- A photocopy of your most recent visa (stamp), used to enter the US.
- Your original I-94 card (if issued paper I-94) or CBP entry/admission stamp (if issued electronic I-94). Be sure to copy front and back of paper I-94 clearly showing the USCIS stamp. Keep this copy for your records.
- A photocopy of your transcript and course registration from MyUWG.
- Step Three- Meet with ISAP advisor with whom you have been communicating to review the final application for reinstatement.
- A decision to reinstate you to F-1 student status is at the discretion of the USCIS.
- Processing times at USCIS vary greatly. Expect to wait 3-6 months before receiving a response.
- While the application is pending, you are NOT eligible for any F-1 student benefits, such as practical training employment authorization or on-campus employment. If you are reinstated into F-1 status, you must obtain proper authorization before working.
- Travel outside the U.S. while a reinstatement application is pending may be considered an abandonment of the application. If you need to leave the U.S. while your application is pending, you must meet with an ISAP advisor prior to travel.
- If the application is approved, USCIS will endorse the new I-20 form and return it to the mailing address listed on the I-539 form. ISAP will contact you if we receive any updates on your behalf. Please also contact ISAP when you receive information from USCIS.
- If you have dependents in F-2 status, their status is automatically reinstated with your reinstatement.
- If the application is denied, you will begin to accrue days of unlawful presence in the U.S. (accrual of more than 180 days of unlawful presence could subject a person to a 3-year or 10-year bar from reentering the U.S.). If your application is denied, you have the option to file an appeal with the USCIS, but we will strongly encourage you to hire a competent immigration attorney.
Remaining Out of Status
Choosing to remain in the U.S. out of status is a high risk decision that the ISAP office does not recommend. If you remain in the U.S. after your I-20 has been terminated, your name will be made available to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and you risk being deported from the U.S. You are not eligible to receive any benefits of your previous status, such as work authorization (on-campus work, CPT or OPT). ISAP will contact the Office of Human Resources to inform them that you are out of status, and your UWG employment will be terminated immediately.
Remaining in the U.S. after you have SEVIS record is terminated is a very serious offense of immigration regulations and may prevent you from returning to the U.S. in the future. If you are certain you would like to remain out of status for the course of your degree, you will be required to provide a signature to ISAP stating that you understand the consequences.