Information for F-1 Students
Your Legal Obligations
It is essential to remember that you must take full responsibility for maintaining your status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). That is, you are responsible for finding out, knowing, and following pertinent regulations.
If you take time early on to familiarize yourself with your obligations to USCIS, you should find it easy to maintain your legal status. If, however, you allow yourself to fall "out of status", it may be extraordinarily difficult to reinstate your F-1 status with USCIS.
The best resource to assist you in maintaining status is the staff of the Office of International Student Services (OISS). Every effort has been made to provide reliable and accurate information on rules that govern student immigration classifications. When regulations change - as is frequently the case - the OISS will have current information. It is important for students to check their webmail accounts, as the staff will send out important messages.
A Few Words of Advice for Students
If you are the least bit uncertain about your status - for example, whether your program will be full-time, whether your permission to stay is valid, or whether you can be paid for an assistantship - check with the OISS immediately. Students who do not meet the full-time or normal progress requirements may have problems restoring their status. Therefore, if you believe your circumstances warrant extraordinary consideration, it is extremely important that you make an appointment with your International Student Advisor. We are here to help you and advise you.
Immigration Regulations and the Role of an F-1 Student
Full Time Study
Maintain a full course of study each Fall and Spring semester for the duration of your program.
*** Note - some programs in Petrocelli College follow a trimester schedule of Fall, Spring, and Summer
- FDU Full Time Course Load = 9 credits for Graduate Programs and 12 Credits for Undergraduate Programs
- Only one online course can count toward the full course of study requirement each semester.
- You must be actively attending classes to maintain status. Non attendance of classes is a violation of status.
- There are limited exceptions to the full course of study rule, and you must obtain permission from ISS before dropping below full time.
- A full course load is not required to complete the academic program in the final semester. The final program requirement may not be an online course.
Off Site Study
You may only take classes at an off campus location if the Office of International Student Services has given a written approval for the particular course or courses.
If you would like to take an off campus course must meet with an International Student Advisor and gain approval prior to engaging in an off campus course.
According to university policy, students may not be engaged in another program at another institution while matriculated at FDU.
Report Address and Name Changes within 10 days to ISS
ISS is required to provide a valid address and other student data to the federal government. We are the only university office authorized by the federal government to process this data.
Report Changes in Program to ISS
You must notify ISS whenever there is a change in your academic program, program dates or level of study. For example, if you change your major or switch to from a Bachelor’s program to a Master’s program, you must be issued a new I-20.
Keep ALL I-20s
You may receive many I-20s throughout your studies in the U.S. (for CPT, OPT, change of major, transfer, etc.) Never throw any of them away!
ISS Notices and Announcements
ISS will often send out and post important information on immigration regulations that could affect you directly. You must check the following locations for these announcements:
The FDU webpage “ISS News” - ISS FDU Facebook - Your FDU Webmail account
*** Note – we will contact your directly through your FDU Webmail account.
Travel Signature on I-20
Students must receive a travel signature on page 2 of the most recent I-20 prior to traveling outside the United States. Once the I-20 is signed the travel signature is valid for 12 months.
Your visa is valid for travel up until the expiration date. Once the visa expires you are not required to receive a new visa as long as you maintain your F-1 status within the U.S. A valid F-1 visa is only required for re-entry into the U.S.
You should have the following documents to reenter the U.S. after traveling abroad:
- Most recent SEVIS I-20 with current signature on page 2 by an International Student Advisor
- Valid passport – valid for at least six months from date of return to US
- Unexpired F-1 visa in your passport – exception see Automatic Visa Revalidation on ISS webpage
- Proof of financial support (sometimes requested at the Port of Entry)
- Proof of registration for current or upcoming semester (if possible)
F-1 students may work no more than 20 hours per week on campus when classes are in session and full-time during official university breaks (summer and winter breaks) [8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)]. You cannot work off-campus, including unpaid work experiences, without PRIOR authorization from ISS and U.S. Immigration. Off campus work authorization for an F-1 student must be in the form of Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training (Pre or Post Completion), or Severe Economic Hardship. Unauthorized employment will result in termination of your immigration record.
Upon completion of your academic program you must do one of the following:
- Depart the U.S. within the 60 day “grace period”
- Apply (or have already applied) for OPT - You will have a 60 day “grace period” following the end of OPT
- Transfer your SEVIS record to a new school
- Enter a new academic program at FDU
- Apply (or have already applied) for a Change of Status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Note the completion date listed on your I-20.
The program end date on your I-20 is an estimated end date. Your actual program ending may extend beyond or end before the I-20 end date. Once you complete your program you will need to take one of the above steps even if you have additional time on your I-20. In addition, if you cannot complete your studies by the end date listed on your I-20, you must visit ISS before this date to file for an extension.
**This information is not exhaustive and may change without notice. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your legal status in the United States, please make an appointment to meet with an advisor. **