International Students
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Maintaining Lawful Student Status in the United States

In order to be eligible for and receive all the benefits that CIS provides to International Students (e.g. practical training, school transfer, change of status) it is necessary to maintain lawful status in the United States. To maintain Lawful F-1 status you must:

  • Keep your passport valid.
  • Have a valid Form I-20 (a SEVIS generated Form I-20 by August 1, 2003).
    • Your Form I-20 expires on the Program End Date, found on your Form I-20, where it says
      “… complete studies not later than,” or on the date you complete your academic program, whichever comes first.
  • Maintain full time enrollment during the fall and Spring Semesters (a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester).
  • Demonstrate normal progress toward completion of your degree or educational objective.
  • Accept no employment of any kind with out proper authorization from the coordinator for international student services/DSO or, if necessary, CIS.
  • Make certain that you inform the coordinator for international student services/DSO at your institution (the institution who issued you your current Form I-20) of any legal changes to your name or any changes to you physical address (The DSO must have your current physical address).
    • These changes must be reported to the International Student Advisor/DSO within ten days of the change.

Full-time Enrollment

Non-immigrants who are in the United States on F-1 visas, enrolled at institutions that operate on a term schedule, are required to maintain full-time enrollment during both the fall and spring terms (a minimum of 12 credit hours per term).

  • Regarding online or distance education courses, F-1 students are not permitted to count more than one course or three credits toward the full course of study requirements. However, F-1 students may enroll in more than one course or three credits of online or distance education coursework after the full course of study requirements have been met. For example, if a student enrolls in three classroom based courses (worth a total of 9 credits) and one online course (worth 3 credits), the student can enroll in more distance education courses.
  • In order to maintain lawful F-1 status, you MUST HAVE THE APPROVAL OF THE coordinator for international student services/DSO BEFORE YOU REDUCE YOUR COURSELOAD BELOW 12 CREDIT HOURS FOR ANY TERM.

Taking a Leave of Absence from School or Dropping Below 12 Credits?

It is important to understand that according to CIS there is “no such thing” as a leave of absence from school for an F-1 student. The reason for this is simple. The principle objective of an individual in F-1 Status is to be a student. If you are not enrolled full-time as a student during the academic year (Post-Completion Optional Practical Training not withstanding), then you are not engaged in the activity for authorized and dictated by your status. This means that while the college can grant a student a leave of absence for academic, medical or other personal reasons, CIS does not recognize a leave of absence.

Under the following academic circumstances the DSO can authorize a student to drop below a full course of study, taking at least six credit hours:

  1. Initial difficulty with the English language;

  2. Initial difficulty with reading requirements

  3. Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods;

  4. Improper course placement;

  5. To complete course of study in current term (which means that the student will complete their program of study at the conclusion of the semester, and need to complete less than twelve credits to do so);

  6. Imminent failure of course.

This authorization allows the F-1 Student to drop below a full course of study while maintaining lawful F-1 Status. Additionally, due to properly documented medical circumstances, the DSO can authorize a student to drop below a full course of study, taking at least six credit hours (or if necessary for medical reasons, carry no course load). If due to either academic or medical reasons you are considering reducing your course load to below 12 credit hours (or carrying no course load due to medical reasons) you MUST meet with the Coordinator for International Student Services/PDSO prior to doing so to discuss your specific situation, your options, your responsibilities and the required documentation.

Important Note: Students who wish to receive authorization for an RCL must submit the appropriate of the following three forms: Request for a Reduced Course Load due to Academic Difficulty for Students in F-1 Status; Request for a Reduced Course Load due to Medical Condition for Students in F-1 Status; or Request for a Reduced Course Load due to Completion of Study for Students in F-1 Status. These forms can be found at the following URL: www.hvcc.edu/international/forms/hvcc.html.

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1. The information provided on this topic was clear and easy to understand.
2. After reviewing this information I understand what I need to do to maintain Lawful F-1 Status.
   

Points to Consider

  • Within the first thirty (30) days of each semester that you are enrolled at Hudson Valley Community College, you must "check-in" with the coordinator for international student services, so that (s)he can indicate that you are present by "Registering" you in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
  • Working without proper authorization is considered by CIS to be the most serious violation of its regulations.
    • It is important, therefore, that you consult the International Student Advisor/DSO before you accept an offer of employment or begin to work. If you are eligible, the International Student Advisor/DSO will assist you with your application for employment authorization.
  • Make certain that you inform the International Student Advisor/DSO at your institution (the institution who issued your current Form I-20) of any legal changes to your name or any changes to you physical address. The DSO must have your current physical address!
    • These changes must be reported to the International Student Advisor/DSO within ten days of the change.
  • Make sure you meet eligibility criteria before your record in SEVIS transfers visa sponsorship to another school in the United States.
  • A Reduced Course Load (RCL) for academic reasons can only be authorized once per degree level.
  • Obtain extensions of status, as needed, in order to remain in the United States.
    • Individuals in F-1 Status are granted permission to stay for the period of time reasonably required to pursue a full course of study in an educational program, plus a grace period of 60 days in which to depart from the United States, transfer to another SEVIS Approved institution, apply for a change of status, or apply for employment authorization.
    • The 60-day “clock” begins when you Form I-20 expires.
      • Your Form I-20 expires on the Program End Date, found on your Form I-20, where it says “ … complete studies not later than,” or on the date you complete your academic program, whichever comes first.
      • After the 60 grace period has ended, if you are still in the United States and have not received a valid Form I-20 from a transfer institution or applied for either a change of status or employment authorization (and are awaiting a decision), you will begin to accrue “Unlawful Presence.”
  • If you change programs of study or levels of study, you must notify the Office of International Student Services, since this information will need to be entered into SEVIS, and a new Form I-20 will need to be issued.
  • If you need additional time to complete your current program, you must apply for an extension before the completion date on your I-20.
    • If you believe that you will need more time than is permitted on your current visa document, you should contact the International Student Advisor/DSO for complete information.