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F-1 Student Regulations for SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)

 

Southern University and A&M College - Baton Rouge International Student Office has been approved in SEDVIS as of August 9, 2002 for F-1 students. SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System), is an interne-based system that enables schools to electronically transmit (tracking and monitoring) non-immigrant students' current data to USCIS - United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS) and the Department of State throughout their stay.

January 1, 2003: SEVIS Final Rule Effective

February 15, 2003: All schools must enroll in SEVIS and all new I-20's must be in SEVIS for new and current students.

Each school has a Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) and Designated School Official (DSO) to sign an I-20. The PDSO and the DSO must be either United States Citizens or Legal Permanent Resident. (Immigration regulations refer to international student advisors as PDSO and DSO).

 

SEVIS 1-20 FOR NEW AND CURRENTLY ENROLLED STUDENTS

  • New Students - Once Southern University Admissions Office and Graduate School Office admits an international student and the information has been sent to the International Office, this student will be issued a SEVIS form I-20 with a bar-code number on the I-20. Once the student receives the I-20, the student visits the U.S. consulate abroad in his or her country, and the consulate confirms through SEVIS that the I-20 the student is carrying is a valid document.   If everything is in order, the consulate issues the visa. A USCIS office at the airport reports to the ISO office and the office confirms through SEVIS, the student's enrollment.  Southern University continues to provide regular electronic reports through SEVIS to USCIS throughout the student's academic career.
  • Currently Enrolled Students - All currently enrolled F-1 students and their dependents currently within the U.S. will be issued a new SEVIS I-20. Non-SEVIS form I-20s will remain valid until August 1, 2003. After August 1, 2003, non-SEVIS form I-20 can no long be used for entry or any other purpose, but should be kept in a safe place. There are still important documents.

 

MAINTENANCE OF STATUS

Upon entry in the United States, an F-1 student and accompanying dependent(s) must maintain status. The F-1 regulations begin immediately upon entry and continue until final departure. A student is admitted for Duration of Status (D/S).

F-1 Students must comply with the following requirements in order to maintain lawful status:

  • You must report to the Designated School Official (DSO) for SEVIS registration upon arriving at the school.
  • You must be attending the school you are authorized to attend.
  • You must be registered full time:
    •  
      • Undergraduate F-1 students shall carry at least 12 credit hours per semester.
      • Graduate F-1 students at least 9 credit hours per semester.

NOTE: Exceptions must be approved through the International Office BEFORE dropping below these hours. Consequences of not keeping a full course load at all times could result in severe penalties.

  • You must follow transfer procedures if applicable.
  • Obtain a new Form I-20 for a change of major or educational level of study.
  • Abide by the F-1 grace period regulations.
  • Apply for a timely extension of stay.
  • Report change of address to the DSO within 10 days of the change.
  • Maintain a valid passport.
  • Refrain from unauthorized employment.
  • Make normal progress towards completing a program of study.
  • Depart the U.S. in a timely manner.

 

SEVIS REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

No later than 30 days following the deadline for registering for classes, the school is required to report that the student failed to register. During each term or session, and not later than 30 days after the deadline for registering for classes, schools are required to report the following registration information:

  • Registration: Whether the students had enrolled at the school or failure to enroll.
  • Dropped below a full course of study without prior authorization by the DSO or failure to enroll.
  • The current address of each enrolled student.
  • The start date of the student's next session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter.

Within 21 days of a change of any information, schools will be required to report the following information:

  • Any student who failed to maintain status or complete his or her program.
  • A change of the student's or dependent's legal name or U.S. address.
  • Any disciplinary action taken by the school against the student as a result of the student being convicted of a crime; and
  • Any other notification request made by the SEVIS with respect to the current status of the student.

 

GRACE PERIODS

  • 60 Days: After a student has completed a course of study and any authorized practical training following completion of studies, he/she has 60 days in order to depart the U.S., transfer, or file for change of status.
  • 15 Days:  A student who has been authorized by the International Student Office to withdraw from classes has 15 days to depart from the U.S.

NOTE: Students who terminate/withdraw from course of study without prior approval from the International Student Office have no grace period.

 

PROGRAM EXTENSIONS

Program extensions can only be granted for 12 months beyond the current ending date listed on the I-20 and must be accompanied by a letter listing your anticipated completion date.

An F-1 student who is unable to meet the program completion date on the SEVIS Form I-20 may be granted an extension only if the student had continually maintained status and the delays were caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or change of research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. A delay caused by academic probation or suspensions is not acceptable for program extensions.

 

NEW REGULATIONS FOR F-2 DEPENDENTS

F-2 spouses are no long eligible to pursue a full-time course load. If an F-2 wishes to study at Southern University - Baton Rouge on a full0time basis, he/she must apply for a change of status to F-1 within 90 days.

 

CHANGE OF ADDRESS

Students must notify the DSO within 10 days of any change of address and complete the Form AR-11 to be sent to the BCIS office in London, Kentucky.

 

CHANGE OF LEVEL AND MAJOR

If a student advances to a new program level or different program at SUBR, a new I-20 must be issued. The student should request and receive a new I-20 from the Student Programs Office so that USCIS can be notified of the program change. Such changes include moving from Bachelor's to a Master's program, changing majors, adding a double major, etc.

 

TRANSFERS

The final rule introduces the concept of a "release date" for transfer procedures for transferring to and from U.S. Universities. The student first notifies the current school they attend of his or her intent to transfer. The school updates the SEVIS record with the "transfer out" and "release date". NOTE: the "release date" should be either the current semester completion date or the date of expected transfer. The current school retains control of the student SEVIS record until the release date is reached. After the release date, the current school will no longer have access to the student's SEVIS record and will be unable to cancel the request after the release date.  The student must contact the school PDSO or DSO where he or she is transferring to within 15 days of the program start date.

When transferring between SEVIS approved institutions, students must resume classes within 5 months of transferring out of current school or within 5 months of the program completing date on SEVIS I-20s issued by the current school, whichever is earlier. An F-1 student transferring schools can apply to as many schools as they wish, but they can only choose ONE school to transfer to as the new SEVIS system only allows the current school you attend to release your file to one school.  If a student decides not to transfer after release date, the student must request reinstatement.

 

REDUCED COURSE OVERLOAD

In case of an illness or medical condition, an F-1 student may be authorized to reduce course load for a period not to exceed 12 months in aggregate. This may be authorized once within one program level and must resume full course next available term (excluding summer).

PDSO or DSO must authorize reduced courses load in advance of final semester even if fewer courses are needed for completion.

 

DROPPING TO PART-TIME ENROLLMENT WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL

International students will not be able to drop below full course of study without prior authorization from the International Student Office. "Full-time" means 12 credit hours per semester for undergraduates and 9 credit hours per semester for graduate students. The ISO must authorize a reduction in course load unless it is a student's graduating semester, even if fewer courses of study are needed for completion. If a student drops below a full course load without specific permission from the ISO prior to dropping the course(s), that student will be reported as out of status immediately and will then be subject to reinstatement and/or deportation.

 

FAILURE AND CONSEQUENCES TO MAINTAIN STATUS

Examples of failure to maintain status include but are not limited to:

  • Dropping from full-time to part-time enrollment without prior approval from the PDSO or DSO.
  • Attending a school other than the one a student is authorized to attend.
  • Failure to apply for a timely transfer or I-20 extension or change in level of study.
  • Unauthorized employment.
  • Failure to report a change of address.

All students' records will be automatically updated with SEVIS every semester. Students who fail to maintain status will lose the privileges of their student status and become subject to deportation. Specific consequences may include denial of re-entry to the U.S., inability to move from undergraduate to graduate studies, denial of requests for Practical Training, denial for requests to change visa status, and possible denial of all future visa applications.

 

REINSTATEMENT

If a student drops below a full course of study without prior approval from the DSO, that "event" would be reported to USCIS via SEVIS, and he or she would be out of status. The student may apply to USCIS for reinstatement if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond his or her control such as "serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, or a natural disaster, but does not include instances where a pattern or repeated violations or where a willful failure on the part of the student resulted in the need for reinstatement."  Reinstatement is intended to be a rare benefit for exceptional cases. The student may not apply for reinstatement under any circumstances if he or she is out of status longer than 5 months.  If USCIS does not reinstate the student, he or she may not appeal that decision and therefore must exit the country by the date indicated on the denial letter.

 

Employment of F-1 Status

Students in F-1 status may be eligible for different types of employment under the conditions defined by the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS has defined the categories as on-campus employment, Severe Economic Hardship, and Optional Practical Training. All of them except on-campus employment require application and approval.

On-Campus Employment

Students on F-1 status are eligible to work on campus incident to status. Employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, but may be full-time, 40 hours per week, during vacations and breaks.

Severe Economic Hardship

A student is eligible for employment authorization because of "severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student control." A student must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year. Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) is required to begin employment.

Practical Training

Two types of practical training in a student's major field may be approved after a student has completed one academic year of full-time enrollment.  It may be available either full-time or part-time during the course of study, after completion of the course of study, upon completion of course requirements while preparing the thesis or dissertation; during vacation or breaks, or (part-time) during the semester provided that the student is enrolled for a full-time course of study.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

A student may engage in off-campus employment that is required by a work/study or cooperative education program in which the student is enrolled, and may do without obtaining explicit BCIS authorization.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Permits a student to be authorized to gain practical training in the field of the student's major. OPT must be authorized by the USCIS, and work cannot begin until the Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) has been received.

Contact Ms. Twyana Cain at the International Student Office:(225) 771-2940 for more information.