Visa and Work Information
The Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status for Academic and Language Students is commonly referred to as the I-20 (or, the I-20A-B). A foreign student uses Form I-20 to obtain a student visa (F-1) and to enter the United States to begin a program of study, to document his or her F-1 immigration status, and to apply for certain F-1 immigration benefits.
An I-20 can only be issued by schools certified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A school obtains DHS certification by submitting Form I-17 through SEVIS. A school’s designation is valid for two years. Every two years, the school must apply for re-designation from DHS.
Each campus must have one Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) and other Designated School Officials who serve as resources for international students. The PDSO has the additional responsibility of serving as the main contact for SEVIS. The officials of Simpson College are as follows:
Walter Lain, Asst. Dean for Multicultural & International Affairs - PDSO
Todd Little, Director, Asst Prof of Computer Science, Computer Science – DSO
Jay Wilkinson, Director of International Education, International Studies -DSO
Since February 15, 2003, all I-20s must be issued through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, SEVIS.
U.S. Visas for:
An F-1 student may not accept off-campus employment at any time during the first year of study; however, the USCIS may grant permission to accept off-campus employment after one year. F-1 students may accept on-campus employment from the school without USCIS permission.
2. Family Members
A spouse and unmarried, minor children may also be classified for a nonimmigrant visa to accompany or follow the student. Family members must meet all visa eligibility requirements, including evidence that they will have sufficient funds for their support, and that they will depart the U.S. when the student’s program ends. Spouses and children of students may not accept employment at any time.
3. Returning Students: Visa Renewal
All applicants applying for visa renewals must submit:
- A passport valid for at least six months;
- An application Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158. Both forms must be completed and signed. Some applicants will also need to complete and sign Form DS-157. Blank forms are available without charge at all U.S. consular offices and on the Visa Services Web site under Visa Applications Forms;
- A receipt for visa processing fee;
- A new I-20 or an I-20 that has been endorsed on the back by a school official within the past 12 months.
All applicants applying for visa renewals should be prepared to submit:
- A certified copy of your grades from the school in which you are enrolled;
- Financial documents from you or your sponsor, showing your ability to cover the cost of your schooling
Further Inquiries on Visa
1. Obtaining Form I-20A-B
Questions on how to obtain Forms I-20A-B should be made to Simpson College. Questions on visa application procedures at the American consular offices abroad should be addressed to that consular office by the applicant. General visa questions may be directed via e-mail to the State Department. Due to the volume of inquiries, Visa Services cannot promise an immediate reply to your inquiry. However, to serve you better, please indicate the subject of your inquiry on the subject line of the e-mail. Inquiries on visa cases in progress overseas should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case.
2. Staying duration on an F-1 student visa?
When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full-time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in America. For a student who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time in the U.S. before departing:
- F-1 student: An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.
As an example regarding duration of status, if you have a visa that is valid for five years that will expire on January 1, 2001, and you are admitted in the U.S. for the duration of your studies (often abbreviated in your passport or on your I-94 card as “D/S”), you may stay in the U.S. as long as you are a full-time student. Even if January 1, 2001, passes and your visa expires while in America, you will still be in legal student status. However, if you depart the U.S. with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one before being able to return to America and resume your studies. A student visa cannot be renewed or re-issued in the United States; it must be done at an Embassy or Consulate abroad.
An F-1 student who is maintaining status may transfer from one DHS-approved school to another. An F-1 student who has not maintained F-1 status at the school he or she is authorized to attend is not eligible for transfer.
1. Steps Taken by the Student
At the Current School
1. The student must inform the school he or she is currently authorized to attend of the intention to transfer.
2. The student must determine which school he or she will attend because the “transfer out” form must indicate the name of the new school.
The DSO will select a date when the student is released to the other school. This is referred to as the “Release Date.” Generally, the Release Date is after the last day of the final semester the student will attend his or her current school.
2, At the New School
1. The student must report to his or her new school within 15 days of the program start date indicated on the pending I-20 issued by the new school.
2. The student must enroll in classes at the new school.
The DSO will print a new I-20, which will reflect the information on the transfer, and change purpose from “Transfer Pending” to “Continued Attendance.”
Maintaining F-1 Status
1. To maintain F-1 status, students must do the following:
- Attend the school they are authorized to attend.
- Pursue a full course of study when required.
- Make normal progress towards completing the course of study.
- Apply for extensions of the program before the expiration date on the current I-20.
- Follow USCIS procedures for changing from one program or educational level to another.
- Follow procedures for transferring from one school to another.
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session (full-time on-campus employment is permitted during vacation periods such as summer as long as the student was enrolled full-time in the term before and intends to be enrolled full-time the following term).
- Refrain from off-campus employment without authorization. Limit off-campus employment (with authorization through economic hardship or part-time practical training requirements) to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
- Report a change of address or name to the DSO within 10 days of the change. The DSO must report the change to SEVIS within 21 days.
- Within 60 days of completing the course of study and any authorized practical training, depart the United States, apply for a change of status, or transfer to another school.
- Maintain a valid passport. Although it is unclear what effect passport expiration has on immigration status, students are instructed to always maintain a valid passport.
Students authorized to withdraw from classes must depart the United States within 15 days. Students who have failed to maintain a full course of study without first obtaining the DSO’s approval, or who otherwise failed to maintain their status, are not allowed any additional time in order to depart the United States.
2. Full Course of Study Requirement
For an undergraduate student, at least 12 semester hours of instruction per academic term at Simpson College unless the student needs less than a full course load to complete the program during the final term.
Students may granted exceptions to the full-course-of-study requirement. Please visit with a DSO if this is something that needs to be discussed.
Failure to Maintain Status
Although it is the student’s responsibility to maintain his or her status, SEVIS reporting regulations require the DSO to report a student’s failure to maintain status within 21 days of the student falling out of status.
Reasons for terminating a student’s I-20 can include: unauthorized withdrawal, unauthorized employment, unauthorized drop below full course of study, unauthorized drop below full course time exceeded, expulsion, suspension, failure to enroll, costs exceed resources, extension denied, otherwise failing to maintain status, violation of change of status regulations, no show.
If a student in F-1 status has overstayed the authorized period on the I-20 or otherwise failed to maintain student status, he or she may be reinstated to student status by applying to a DHS district office.
To be eligible for reinstatement, the student must:
- not have engaged in unauthorized employment;
- not be in deportation proceedings;
- not have been out of status for more than five months (unless due to exceptional circumstances); and
- not have a record of willful violations.
Additionally, the student must establish that any violation was due to circumstances beyond the student’s control or as a result of an error on the part of the designated school official, or was a result of a reduced course load that could have been authorized in advance.