New Regulations for International Students in F-1 Status
As a service to our international students, we are providing this information to update you on the new regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2003 regarding F-1 students. We understand that this information may appear complicated and very lengthy; however, we need to stress the importance of reading this information thoroughly and making sure you understand how it affects you, your dependent family members and your stay in the U.S. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the International Students Counselor at 292-2254 or stop by the office, located in Building 1, Room 231 in the Counseling and Advising Center.
What is SEVIS?
Every F and J visa holder must understand the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the new mechanism employed by the U.S. government to track the arrival, enrollment and departures of international students and their dependents. As of January 30, 2003, Monroe Community College, and every other college and university in the United States, is now required to use SEVIS.
SEVIS is an internet-based system that requires schools and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) to exchange data on the immigration and academic status of international students and their dependents. Information pertaining to an F-1 or J-1 student or dependent's stay in the United States is available to U.S. embassies and consulates as well as to the INS.
Data schools must report
How does this affect you as an international student?
You MUST maintain your legal immigration status at all times in order to remain legally in the United States. Here are some rules you MUST follow:
Checking in with the International Counselor: If you have NEVER reported to the International Students Counselor with your immigration documents, you MUST do so immediately. These documents include: Form I-20, passport, visa, and I-94 card.
Enrolling full time: Undergraduate students MUST be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours per semester.
Dropping below full time: If for some reason, you don't intend to enroll full time during a semester (taking a leave of absence, medical problem, or initial difficulties) you MUST talk to the International Students Counselor before you drop below full time. We must approve this action prior to it happening or you will fall out of status.
Changing your degree program: If you change your degree program, talk to the ISC first. This information must be updated in the SEVIS system as soon as you know about the change.
Transferring to another school: If you plan to transfer to another school, you must first come to the ISC. The ISC will need to complete an immigration transfer procedure, BEFORE the new school will be permitted to issue you a new I-20.
Updating your address: You MUST update your address with the immigration service within 10 days whenever you move within the U.S.
Those subject to Special Registration (NSEERS) requirements must use the Special Registration form AR-11SR: Special Registration AR-11
The address you enter on the AR-11 should be the place you actually live, rather than a P.O. Box. If you cannot receive mail at your residence, you may indicate a P.O. Box, but must separately notify the ISSO of your actual physical location. No office addresses may be utilized. Privacy can be maintained by checking the appropriate box in "Just the Facts". Failure to complete the address change could result in fines, imprisonment or deportation.
Outside of the U.S.: If you are planning on traveling outside of the U.S., please come into the ISO before you depart. We will need to check your documents and possibly produce a new I-20 or prior to your departing the U.S.
Within the U.S.: For travel in the U.S., we recommend that you carry your immigration documents (I-20, passport, I-94 card), or minimally, copies of these documents.
Graduating and Applying for Practical Training for F-1 students
Timing your application: Regulations have changed regarding the time period that you are eligible to apply for practical training. In the past you could apply for practical training within in 60 days of graduating. Now you MUST complete the application and it must be at the BCIS by graduation day. We will no longer complete practical training recommendations once you have graduated. If you do not complete your application in time, you will forfeit your ability to apply. Those who have completed at least one full academic year of study (fall and spring semesters) may begin the application process up to 120 days before graduation. Those who have not yet completed one full academic year of study (i.e. those in 9-month programs), may apply up to 90 days before graduation.
Get a second degree at a higher level, get another 12 months: Another amendment to the regulations state that you are eligible for an additional 12 months of practical training if you have completed a second degree at a higher level. If you got your bachelors degree, applied for and received 12 months of OPT, and then complete a masters or PhD, you are now eligible to apply for another 12 months of OPT.
Full-time study: Dependents of F students (those holding F-2 status) are no longer able to study full time at the college level. If your spouse is planning on studying full time they will need to be a matriculated student and apply for their own F-1 student visa. F-2's who were, prior to January 1, 2003, pursuing full time study, must apply for a change of status to F-1 by March 11, 2003. Dependents of J visitors (those holding J-2 status) are currently able to be full-time students. This may change in the very near future, so look for further updates on this issue.
Immigration documents for dependents: All F-2 and J-2 dependents will now have to have their own I-20/DS-2019. The ISC will provide further information on this issue in the near future.