UNDERSTANDING F-1 REGULATIONS
F-1 students MUST ENROLL FULL TIME as required by the immigration regulations established by the Department of Homeland Security. International students in F-1 status MUST ATTEND FULL TIME for one academic year before they are eligible for vacation. To be less than full time, students need permission from the International Student Advisor. Following are valid reasons for LESS THAN FULL TIME ENROLLMENT:
A student who drops below a full course study without the prior approval of the International Student Advisor will be considered OUT OF STATUS. New regulations require the International Advisor to report students who are taking less than full time; therefore, it is important that you become aware of the acceptable reasons for taking less than the full time requirements.
- Completion of course of study – A student is in the final semester or session of the course of study and does not need to take a full-time course of study to meet the degree requirements.
- Medical Condition – A student has a temporary illness or medical condition that makes registration for more courses inadvisable. The student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor to the International Advisor to substantiate the illness or medical condition each semester or term as needed, for a period not to exceed 12 months during the entire course of study.
- Academic Difficulties –
- A student has been advised to drop a course because of improper course level placement
- A student has initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, is unfamiliar with American teaching methods. (TOEFL required).
- A reduced course load can be approved only once per program level. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to academic difficulties is NOT ELIGIBLE for a second authorization due to academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at that program level.
Note: Financial difficulties or poor academic performance are not valid reasons for dropping below full time.
An F-1 student is considered to be in status during the annual (or summer) vacation if the student is eligible and intends to register for the next semester. The student is not required to be registered for classes.
A student who is unable to meet the program completion date on the Form I-20, may be granted an extension by the International Student Advisor if the student has continually maintained status and that the delays are caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as change of major or documented illnesses. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension, are not acceptable reasons for program extension. In order to apply for program extension, a student must contact the International Student Advisor at least 30 days prior to the I-20 end date. The end date is located in item 5 of the Form I-20. The student will need to provide proof of financial support for the additional period. This extension must be done prior to the expiration of the current document or the student will be considered out of status.
CCC students wanting to transfer to another school in the United States should contact the International Student Advisor. The advisor will guide the students on the proper procedures to follow for changing schools and maintaining their immigration status.
A student who is maintaining status may transfer to another SEVIS approved school. It is important to note that a student has 60 days to officially transfer to another school. SEVIS records need to be released to the new school within 60 days. The student must be able to begin classes at the transfer school or program within 5 months of transferring out of the current school or within 5 months of the program completion date on his or her current Form 1-20, whichever is earlier. For students on Optional Practical Training (OPT), a transfer can be done only if the student can begin studying at the new school within 5 months of transferring out of the school that recommended OPT or the date the OPT authorization ends, whichever is earlier.
The I-20 must be issued within 15 days of the beginning of classes in order to maintain a valid immigration status. Students, who are leaving the United States between changing school, should reenter the United States using the I-20 issued by the new school.
An F-1 student who was not pursuing a full course of study at the school he or she was last authorized to attend is ineligible for school transfer and must apply for reinstatement or may depart the country and return as an initial entry in a new F-1 nonimmigrant status.
Traveling Outside the United States:
Students who are planning to travel outside the U.S. need to contact the International Student Advisor at least 2 weeks prior to their trip. In case of an emergency visit home, the International Student Advisor will do everything possible to help the student have the necessary documents prior to departure. Students should bring their passports and I-20 to the International Student Advisor for verification. Students should take their transcript, a letter verifying good standing with the college, and financial support documents.
If the visa stamp is valid: The International Student Advisor will need to sign your I-20.
If the visa stamp has expired: The International Student Advisor will need to issue a new I-20 and a certification letter showing that you have been enrolled as a full-time student here at Calhoun. The student should request a copy of his or her transcript of grades from the Registrar's Office. You will need to take these documents with you to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country and apply for a new visa stamp to reenter the U.S. In addition, you should take with you proof of financial support in case the visa-issuing officer asks to see your financial documents.
Preparing for Departure:
- Students who have completed their course of study and any authorized practical training have a 60-day grace period to prepare for departure from the United States or to transfer to another school.
- Students who have approval of the International Student Advisor to terminate their course of study before it is complete have a 15-day grace period to depart the United States.
- Students who terminate their course of study without prior approval by the International Student Advisor or who fail to maintain status are NOT eligible for any additional period.
F-1 STUDENT REGULATIONS
YOUR FOUR MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR LEGAL F-1 STUDENT STATUS
- Passport: Your passport must be valid during your stay in the United States. Six months prior to its expiration, apply for an extension through your embassy.
- I-94 Card - Record of Arrival and Departure: You will be given this card to complete while on route to the United States. This is your identification number with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). This card also notes your entrance date and how long you are allowed to remain in the United States. The I-94 should indicate that you are in F-1 visa status and that you are admitted in the United States for Duration of Status (D/S). Duration of status is indicated by the dates in item #5 on your I-20.
- I-20 Nonimmigrant Document: This document is your permission to stay in the United States as a full-time student. If your program takes longer than the time listed on the I-20, you will need to see your International Student Advisor no more than 30 days in advance to extend your stay. Going beyond the end date on the I-20 is a violation of your status and will require actions of reinstatement.
- Visa: This stamp is located inside your passport and is only your permission to enter the United States. Do not confuse this with your I-20, which is your permission to stay in the United States. Visas are issued by the United States Embassies or Consulates abroad, and a new visa is normally processed in the student’s country.
Maintaining status means that you are here in the U.S. legally, and you are eligible for all the benefits available to the international students.
- Have a valid passport for at least 6 months into the future.
- Attend the College or University that you are authorized to attend. If you enter the U.S. on CCC I-20, you must attend CCC for at least one term before you are eligible to transfer to another school.
- Continue to carry a full course load of study each regular semester:
(Fall and Spring) 12 credit hours per semester
Limits on distance education: F-1 students can take only one on-line or video class distance education class or 3 credit hours per semester.
- You must notify your International Student Advisor if you need to drop below full time. Read carefully the information on Reduced Course Load.
- You must notify your International Student Advisor if you are unable to complete your degree program by the completion date specified on the I-20. See section on Extending your I-20.
- You must notify your International Student Advisor if you change your program of study.
- You must notify your International Student Advisor if you intend to transfer to another school. Following proper procedures is important so that you can maintain your status.
- DO NOT work off-campus without the proper authorization by the Department of Homeland Security or your international student advisor! Read the section on F-1 Student Employment.
- You can take the summer as your vacation.
- You must notify your International Student Advisor within 10 days if you change name and address. Your change of name or address will be reported in SEVIS within 21 days. If you do not report your change of address, you will be out of status.
- Students who have graduated or completed their program of studies have 60 days to make preparations to leave the United States. Students who stay more than 60 days will be overstaying and will fall out of status with immigration laws. Students who overstay may be barred from reentering the United States from three to ten years.
- Students, who withdraw from the program before the date of completion of studies, have 15 days to leave the United States.
- Students who are out of status need to apply for reinstatement. For example, if you have not been full time, or if you take time off when you were not supposed to be off, you are out of status and need to apply for reinstatement. See section on Reinstatement.