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F-1 Immigration Status
All international students attending Thiel College are in the U.S. on F-1 immigration status. The F-1 category is the most widely used U.S. student visa. As such, F-1 status is monitored by the U.S. federal government through an electronic database call the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System or SEVIS. Since F-1 students are monitored, both the students and the college have reporting obligations to the government as dictated by federal law. This web page has been designed to help inform you of some F-1 immigration basics and of your responsibilities under F-1 status.
What is an F-1 Student?
An F-1 status holder is a non-immigrant allowed to remain in the U.S. for as long as he or she is:
- A full-time student (enrolled in at least 12 credits per semester) and is making satisfactory progress toward a degree at the school he or she is approved to attend.
- An F-1 student in a period of post graduation practical training that is directly related to his or her field of study and has been authorized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What is SEVIS?
SEVIS is the acronym for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The administrative unit in charge of SEVIS that acts as a liaison for varied U.S. government organizations is called the Student and Exchange Visitor Program Office (SEVP), which operates within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). SEVIS is a web based information system which allows schools certified by the DHS to issue F-1 forms to foreign students applying for or currently in F-1 status (i.e. I-20 issuance, work authorizations, student violations, etc). SEVIS was created primarily for educational institutions to collect and report biographic and program information to the DHS within certain timeframes as mandated by federal law.
F-1 Student Important Documents
- Passport: A document issued by an authority of a particular country proving citizenship status.
- F-1 visa: A travel stamp issued by the U.S. Department of Sate. This does not grant permission to enter or remain in the U.S. It allows the holder of the visa to apply at a port of entry for admission to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
- I-94: This is an F-1 students Arrival/Departure record. This is a student's most important document it grants permission to enter and remain in the U.S. It should be stamped and marker "F-1" "D/S" (Duration of Status).
- I-20 Form: This is the three page document issued by Thiel College and is the certificate of eligibility for an F-1 student visa of F-1 immigration status.
- Financial Support Documents
Who can assist me with maintaining proper F-1 status?
Although the primary responsibility for maintaining current F-1 status is that of each F-1 student, the Thiel College International Student Affairs Office is here to assist you with any immigration concerns or to help you answer any questions you may have.
Rules to Remember
While you are in F-1 status with an I-20 issued by Thiel College the International Student Affairs (ISA) Office is responsible for maintaining your record in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and for helping you understand your obligations under SEVIS.
You, the student, are responsible for notifying the ISA office of any changes in your program or status, and for understanding the rules and responsibilities associated with your non-immigration status. You are responsible for helping us maintain your SEVIS record throughout your period of stay in the U.S. as an F-1 student. Therefore, you must continue to provide information to the ISA office during any period as an F-1 student, including post-completion OPT). SEVIS is an inflexible system with zero tolerance for those who violate the terms of his or her student status.
To avoid serious problems with your immigration status:
- Provide the ISA office at Thiel College with current copies of all immigration documents (I-20, passport, I-94, and funding information). Be sure to bring in your documents for copies if anything changes or is renewed.
- Do not allow your passport to expire.
- Enroll in a full course of study (12 credit hours minimum each semester during the fall and spring semesters). Make sufficient progress toward the completion of your degree.
- Report any change in your address within 10 days of the change (i.e. if you moved from Sawhill Hall, room 203 to Harter Hall, room 134 or if you have received permission to move off campus).
- Notify the ISA office and the Thiel Records Office when there are changes in your academic program information.
- Know your I-20 completion date. Please note: your I-20 is only valid as long as you remain in your degree program.
- Keep all original I-20 documents. These forms tell your story as an F-1 student.
- Complete an official immigration transfer if you wish to change educational institutions. If you wish to transfer, you will need to notify the ISA office, fill out the transfer out form to request that your SEVIS record be released to the new school. You must also obtain a new I-20 for your new school, after the transfer of your SEVIS record.
- Work only with proper authorization. See international student employment for more information on this important topic.
- Have your I-20 signed by the ISA office, if you will travel outside of the U.S. When travelling, make sure that your I-20 has been signed for travel (on page three of I-20). This signature allows an F-1 student to travel for one full year before needing an additional signature. Please plan ahead, request your travel signature at least one week in advance of your departure date.
- Consult the International Student Affair Director when you have ANY immigration questions. Do not seek immigration advice from friends, family or other academic advisors. The ISA office is open Monday Friday 8 a.m. 5 p.m. and accepts walk-in appointments however, its best to make an appointment.