• International Student Immigration Regulation

    F-1 Immigration Responsibilities - The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service places responsibility on the student to understand and comply with immigration law. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Study in the States websites are excellent resources for future and current UC international students.

    The following section provides general immigration information. If current students have questions regarding their immigration status, they should contact the Director of International Programs in the International Office on the third floor of the Geary Student Union (GSU). Prospective students should contact the Director of International Admissions/Enrollment in the Admissions Office (Riggleman Hall).

    What is SEVIS?

    SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It involves computerized processes to collect, maintain, and manage information about international students and exchange visitors during their stay in the United States. SEVIS enables schools and exchange programs to transmit electronic information and event notifications, via the Internet, to the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and the Department of State throughout the student’s or exchange visitor’s stay in the United States.

    The SEVIS system ensures that all legitimate foreign students be able to enter the United States and reduces the exploitation of immigration laws by those attempting to enter our country for reasons other than attending schools here.All schools that accept international students must be SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) approved schools. All new F-1 students are issued an immigration document (an I-20) through the SEVIS system.

    Extending your Program of Study

    You may apply for an extension of your study program if you meet all of the following requirements:

    • You have not yet exceeded the time limitation placed upon your study by the expected completion of studies date in item #5 on your I-20.
    • You have continuously maintained lawful F-1 status.
    • The delay in completing program requirements has been caused by compelling academic reasons such as changes in major field of study or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented medical reasons. Delays in completing program requirements, which are caused by academic probation or suspension, are not acceptable reasons for extension of a program of study.

    If your completion of studies date has expired or if you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for program extension, you may need to apply for reinstatement to lawful F-1 status. In this case, immediate consultation with the Director of International Programs is necessary. Reinstatement is at the discretion of DHS.

    Application Procedures

    You must apply for an extension of a study program within the thirty (30) day period before the completion date on your I-20. You should contact the Director of International Programs at least thirty (30) days before your I-20 completion date so that you will have sufficient time to have your extension completed. If your completion date has already passed, please contact the Director of International Programs immediately.

    1. Academic Advisor's Recommendation. A recommendation letter from your academic advisor must verify the reason(s) for the delay in your completion of study requirements, and recommend an extension for your program with a new expected completion date.
    2. Financial Verification. You are required to provide updated financial support documents before the new document can be prepared.
    3. New Documents. You will be given a new I-20 that will replace your previous I-20 but, remember all previous I-20s must be kept.

    Failure to Comply with Program Extension Regulations

    If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible to continue any type of employment (even on-campus employment) or to apply for school transfer, practical training, or other F-1 benefits without a reinstatement.


    In-country (within the USA)

    If you intend to travel within the U.S. during your stay, there are no special documents necessary. Be sure to carry your passport with your I-94 and I-20 so that you will have legal identifying documents in your possession should any problems arise.

    Out-of-country (exit USA with intent to re-enter)

    A valid I-20 needs a signature by a Designated School Official (DSO) for travel. Please come to the International Office at least two weeks before you travel to have the Director of International Programs endorse your I-20.

    Travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands: In most cases, you do not need to have a valid U.S. visa to reenter the United States if your visit will be less than 30 days to any of these countries. However, you must be in possession of a valid I-94 which you must present upon entry to and exit from Canada, Mexico, or a Caribbean Island. A valid I-20 is also required, as is a valid passport. If you will be in one of these countries 30 days or longer, a valid U.S. visa will be required for reentry to the U.S.

    When traveling to Canada or any other country, all regulations of that country apply: You may need to obtain a visa for the country/countries you intend to visit. You should obtain visas at the appropriate embassies or consulates here in the U.S. before departing.

    Full-Time Status and Reporting

    International students in F-1 immigration status are required by Immigration regulation to be full-time students for two consecutive terms each year. Generally, students register full-time for fall and spring terms.

    Full-time undergraduate status is defined as enrollment for a minimum of 12 credits each term. Students who wish to take online courses may do so provided that they are taken in addition to a minimum of 9 credit hours of in-seat coursework. Full-time graduate status varies by program.

    There are exceptions to this regulation made for students who fit into certain classifications.

    • One such classification includes students in the final term of their academic program who need less than the minimum full-time load to complete their program.
    • Another classification includes Master's degree students who have completed all course work and are enrolled only for 1 to 3 credits or continuous registration per term for thesis/dissertation work. In this case, international students must be certain to enroll for the 1-3 credits or continuous registration each of the two terms to retain "active" status as per immigration regulations.
    • A third classification includes students who encounter serious health, academic, or personal problems, which must be verified with the Director of International Programs for permission to withdraw or drop below full-time status.