Current International Students

F-1 Regulations & Maintaining Status | Employment | Passports | Travel & Reentry

F-1 Regulations & Maintaining Status

As a student in F-1 status, you are responsible for learning and understanding all immigration related laws and regulations to maintain valid F-1 student status. Failure to abide by these regulations may result in serious immigration consequences.

You must:

Check-In to Academic Affairs at the Start of Each Semester

You must report to the international student advisor in the Office of Academic Affairs within the first week of classes at the beginning of each fall and spring semester in order to be registered as an active student in SEVIS. Federal regulations require the Office of Academic Affairs to complete this SEVIS registration each semester.

Maintain a Full-Course of Study Each Semester

You must maintain full-time enrollment (12+ credits for undergraduates, 9+ credits for graduates) each fall/spring semester. With few specific, valid and pre-approved circumstances, dropping below full-time status at any point in the semester is prohibited. If you need to drop below full-time status because of academic difficulty, a medical condition or completion of study, you should see the international student advisor to confirm eligibility for part-time status and to receive the required authorization in SEVIS.

Abide by U.S. Federal Employment Regulations

You may not work off-campus (paid or unpaid) without prior authorization. On-campus work (in a student service function - ex. bookstore, library, dining services) is permitted on a part-time basis during the semester (max. 20 hrs/week) and full-time (21+ hrs/week) during college break periods (winter, summer vacation). If you wish to work/intern (paid or unpaid) off-campus, you must see the international student advisor to confirm eligibility and to apply for/receive authorization. See Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training for additional information.

Immediately Report Any Academic or Address Changes to Academic Affairs

U.S. federal regulations require you to inform your international student advisor within 10 days of a change to a your academic program (major, minor, etc.) or change of address (foreign or U.S.). The Office of Academic Affairs is required to provide this information to the federal government through the SEVIS system.

Prior to Traveling Outside of the U.S., Bring Your I-20 to Academic Affairs

Bring your I-20 to Academic Affairs prior to traveling outside of the U.S. to receive an updated travel signature on pg. 3 of your I-20. The travel signature certifies that you are maintaining valid student status and will be returning after a brief travel period to resume studies. Travel signatures are valid for one year from the date signed.

Keep Your Passport Valid at All Times

You must have a valid passport in your possession, and this passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future. For information on renewing your passport, visit the website of your country's embassy or consulate in the United States.

Apply for an Extension Prior to the I-20 Program End Date

If you are maintaining regular progress toward degree completion and need additional time to complete your academic program, you may apply for a program extension. You must apply for an extension before the program end date listed on the I-20. Requests made after the program completion date cannot be completed.

Depart the U.S. Within the 60 Day Grace Period Following Program Completion

You must depart the U.S. within 60 days of the program end date listed on your I-20. Exceptions to this rule include students who have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT), are transferring to a new school or degree level, or have applied for a change of status through USCIS. You may use these 60 days to prepare for departure, apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), transfer to a new school or degree level, or apply for a change of status. You are not permitted to leave the U.S. and reenter during your grace period and should take care to submit OPT applications and/or transfer plans prior to departing the U.S., even for a brief travel period.

Obtain Transfer Authorization Prior to Leaving St. John Fisher College

If you are planning to transfer to another college or university in the U.S., you must inform Academic Affairs of your transfer intentions prior to leaving the College. You must then complete the SEVIS Release Form and provide Academic Affairs with a copy of your acceptance letter to have your SEVIS record transferred to the new institution.

Report Departure Date and Reason to Academic Affairs if Ending Studies Prior to Program Completion Date

You may choose to leave the College early or unexpectedly for a variety of reasons such as early graduation, leave of absence, withdrawal, or termination. Federal regulations require you to inform Academic Affairs if you plan to leave the College prior to the program completion date on your I-20.

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The United States has very strict rules regarding the ability of international students to work in the United States. Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of F-1 status and can carry severe immigration consequences, including deportation. The following types of authorized employment are available:

On-Campus Employment

You may work on-campus for up to 20 hrs/week during the academic year and full-time during official vacation periods (winter, summer break), in a role that provides services to students. If you hold more than one position on-campus, the total hours worked per week must not exceed 20 hours.

On-Campus Job Opportunities

As an F-1 student, you are eligible for non-federal work study positions throughout campus. Several offices consistently offer non-work study student employment:

  • Campus bookstore
  • Library
  • Dining services
  • Academic Affairs - academic tutoring

Additionally, the Career Center's Career Zone service provides a current list of on-campus opportunities. You are encouraged to speak with your academic department for additional on-campus employment possibilities.

Off-Campus Employment

All off-campus employment must be authorized before employment can begin. This includes all internships, practical experiences, clinical rotations and other types of off-campus work experience. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) defines “employment” as any type of service for which a benefit, including academic credit, is received. Therefore, both paid and unpaid experiences are considered employment.

Curricular Practical Training (Internships, Practical Experiences, Clinical Experiences, etc.)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of off-campus employment authorization that enables you to take part in a paid or unpaid academic internship or practice experience integral to your curriculum.

Optional Practical Training (Work Experience)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to accept paid off-campus employment, directly related to your field of study, for a period up to 12 months.

Employment Due to Severe Economic Hardship

This is a more uncommon type of authorized employment, available only to students in need under specific circumstances. When a financial need beyond your control arises, which was unforeseen at the time you applied to the College and after all other potential employment opportunities have proven to be insufficient, you may apply for an Employment Authorization Document through USCIS. If you believe your circumstances may qualify for this authorization, please see the international student advisor to confirm eligibility for this benefit and discuss application procedures.

You are encouraged to meet with the international student advisor in the Office of Academic Affairs or attend a CPT or OPT information session for advisement prior to submitting a CPT or OPT application. Please contact Academic Affairs to schedule an appointment.

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You must have a valid passport in your possession, and this passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future. For information on renewing your passport, visit the website of your country's embassy or consulate in the United States.

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Travel & Reentry Information

Temporary Visits Abroad and Reentry in F-1 Status

In order to reenter the United States after a temporary absence of 5 months or less, you should have the following documents:

  • A valid passport, valid for at least 6 months into the future;
  • A valid F-1 visa (unless exempt from visa requirements);
  • A current SEVIS Form I-20 properly endorsed for travel by the international advisor in the previous 12 months, or 6 months for students on OPT;

You are additionally advised to carry the following documents to help facilitate reentry:

  • Financial documentation;
  • Evidence of student status (ex. transcripts, current schedule, etc.);
  • Previous Forms I-20, particularly one with an original admission stamp;

Upon leaving the U.S., you must surrender your Form I-94 Arrival-Departure record, unless visiting Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands other than Cuba for less than 30 days. Failure to do so may delay reentry to the U.S. in the future.

If you are traveling to your home country to renew an expired F-1 visa, you should see the international advisor prior to departing to obtain a letter of support for your visa application.

Travel to Another Foreign Country

If you plan to travel to a country other than your home country, you must check with the embassy of the country you wish to travel to for information about specific visa requirements and entry procedures.

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