International Student Programs and Services
Welcome to St. Francis College!
Our international students come from over 50 different countries representing six continents. Students just like you are what make St. Francis College the best place to study in the world.
We are here to assist you in any way we can throughout the pre-arrival process, while you attend classes, and all the way through graduation. If there is anything we can do to make you experience at St. Francis a better one, let us know!
Working closely with Student Activities and other departments, we organize a variety of programs throughout the year to get you involved in college life. In addition to these programs, we also offer periodic workshops designed around working in the U.S., applying for a driver’s license, applying for a Social Security Number, and other services. Attend one to find out exciting news and updates for yourself!
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
Summer hours (June-August): Monday-Thursday 9am-5pm
Room: 2000, office C
- Before you arrive
- When you arrive
- Tips for living in the U.S.
- Commonly used terms
- Additional forms
All “F” students that study in the United States require a Form I-20. The I-20 proves that you are legally enrolled in a program of study in the United States. This document has information including your name, date of birth, country of birth, country of citizenship, program of study, length of study, how you are funding your education, and SEVIS number. This is one of the most important documents needed in order to apply for a student visa.
- Students will need to submit a copy of the biographical page of their passport. This is to ensure that SFC has the correct spelling of a student’s name and the correct date of birth.
- This form is to be filled out by the student’s sponsor, who will be providing financially for their education at SFC.
- The total cost of attendance and the amount you are required to show in order to receive an I-20 from St. Francis College is $43,188 ($26,188 for tuition and fees and $17,000 for living expenses) for undergraduate students and $33,000 ($16,000 for tuition and fees and $17,000 for living expenses) for graduate students per year.
- International students may be eligible for academic and/or international scholarships.
- The amount that needs to be covered by the sponsor is the difference between the scholarships (academic, international, or athletic) and the total cost of attendance ($43,188).
- This amount is proven through an affidavit of support and bank statements from one or more sponsors. If a student has more than one sponsor, each sponsor would need to submit the Affidavit of Support and bank statements.
- This form is to be submitted only by those students who have a “housing sponsor” who is either an owner of a real estate property (apartment or house) or a person leasing a real estate property.
- In order for the College to accept this affidavit of support, a student’s sponsor will need to complete this form, submit their proof of domicile (lease or deed), and prior year’s tax statements or 3 months of earning statements. Both of these documents are mandatory in order for student to receive the Form I-20.
- This form, AOS-Free Room and Board, is equivalent to $17,000 in cash support for the undergraduate/graduate student and thus, does not need to be shown on the bank statement from potential sponsors.
- This form is a final financial breakdown of personal funds, scholarships awarded, athletic aid, and any additional funds (from a sponsor). Students have to write down the total amount given from these sources.
- This form is only required by the international students who are transferring from another U.S. institution to St. Francis College. Only those students will be required to fill out this form. If a student is coming as a freshman or transfer from an international institution, then they will not be required to submit this form.
- If a student is transferring from an international institution, they will be required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.
- If the student’s SEVIS record is transferred from a U.S. institution, they do not need to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again.
This completes all the documentation needed. Once SFC reviews these, the Form I-20 will be sent to the student. If additional information is needed, the student will be contacted.
Once you receive your I-20, you can now start gathering the necessary documents needed to apply for an “F” student visa.
I-901 SEVIS fee
Now that you have your I-20, you can pay your I-901 SEVIS fee here. The SEVIS fee has been put in place by the Department of Homeland Security and is for anyone seeking a nonimmigrant visa for the United States. This is a separate fee to your visa fee.
Once you have proof of your online I-901 payment, you are ready to apply for your visa.
- Complete the DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
(DS-160 Frequently Asked Questions)
- Make visa appointment
- Prepare documents
- Passport: your passport must be valid for at least six (6) months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States
- DS-160 confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
- Photo: you will upload your photo while completing the online DS-160. If your photo upload fails, you must take one printed photo explained in the photograph requirements
- I-20: signed by your DSO and you issued by St. Francis College
- Additional documentation may be required:
- Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, etc. from schools you attended
- Standardized test scores required by St. Francis (SAT, ACT, etc.)(if applicable)
- Your intent to depart the United States after completing your program
- How you will pay for all educational, living, and travel costs
- Learn appointment expectations
- Receive entry visa
For more information about what documents are required and where to apply for a student visa, click here.
When adding a dependent to an F-1 student’s I-20, a new I-20 must be made for the student (F-1) and a separate one for each dependent (F-2) showing the additional expenses for the dependent(s).
To generate a new I-20 for the student and their dependent(s), International Student Programs and Services will need the following:
1) Proof of funding (personal bank statements OR affidavit of support AND bank statements from the person who will be supporting your dependents) showing you have access to $5000 for each dependent
2) Dependent information:
- dependent first and last name
- dependent’s date of birth (month/day/year)
- dependent’s country of birth
- dependent’s country of citizenship
- dependent’s gender
- whether dependent is a child or spouse
3) Marriage certificate for spouse (translated to English, if not already in English)
4) Birth certificate for each child (translated to English, if not already in English)
5) Passport for each dependent
Obtaining an F-2 visa
An F-1 student’s dependent who are required to have a valid passport and visa for entry to the United States must apply for F-2 visas at their home country’s U.S. Consulate or Embassy. Each applicant must present the consular officer with a dependent Form I-20 and other documents that may be required to demonstrate eligibility for F-2 status, such as proof of relationship to the F-1 student and evidence of financial resources to support the dependents while in the United States. For additional information about what is required for a visa appointment, refer to the appropriate consulate or embassy website.
Once an F-2 visa is issued, the F-2 dependent would show their I-20, passport, and visa upon entering the United States. They are able to remain in the United States for as long as the F-1 student remains in ACTIVE status.
- Full-time study is not permitted for the F-2 spouse. Part-time recreational study is permitted. (e.g. English language courses, music/pottery classes)
- If the F-2 spouse wishes to study full-time they must first qualify for admission to a college or university. Then, they would need to request to change their status to that of F-1
- F-2 children may only participate in full-time study at the kindergarten through 12th grade
- F-2 children who wish to study full-time beyond high school must apply for a change of status to F-1
- F-2 dependents may not accept employment in the United States
Social Security numbers
- F-2 dependents are not eligible to receive a Social Security number
You have just paid your deposit, committed your academic future to St. Francis College, and now are wondering where to live. Finding off-campus housing can be challenging and expensive in New York City. Don’t worry, SFC has you covered with many different resources to assist you on your journey.
Our residence hall, 55 Clark St., is located in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, a five-minute walk to the College. All single, double, and triple rooms are fully furnished with private bathrooms, high-speed internet, flat screen TV and a refrigerator. Brand new communal kitchens, lounges, a pool table, public computers, wireless internet, and a state-of the-art fitness center make a great living environment for all.
Other Off-Campus Housing Resources
You may also choose to live elsewhere in NYC and the surrounding areas. Before searching for housing on your own, be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) on the NYC Rent Guidelines Board website.
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One of the important elements of your preparation for studies at St. Francis College is to secure health insurance. An important thing to note, the health insurance industry is not public (not provided by the government). Also, as an F-1 student, health insurance is not required, but recommended.
Neither St. Francis College nor the U.S. government will assume responsibility for any sudden illness or injuries during your academic studies in the United States.
Since our health care is very expensive, we strongly encourage you to purchase a policy that will cover your medical expenses while in the United States. You should know that a doctor’s visit alone, even for minor things such as a sore throat, could possibly cost you $300 or more and a emergency room visit could be $500 or more.
The list of insurance companies below may help you select the best health care insurance plan to meet your needs. This is not an exhaustive list. In fact, your best option may be to identify if your health coverage from your home country covers you during your studies abroad.
These resources have no affiliation with St. Francis College. Therefore, we do not endorse any specific site nor do we vet any of the information provided.
International Student Insurance
Professional Service, Inc.
You have just received your visa and now you are planning your trip to the United States. What do you do now?
Due to the law, do not enter the United States more than 30 days before your start date.
Similar to your visa interview, prepare your documents to be shown at the port of entry. These will include:
- I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt
- Copies of the financial documents of your sponsors
- A copy of your admission letter
As you already know, we are located in the greatest borough (Brooklyn) in the greatest city (New York City) in the world. The three airports close by are:
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
There are many options for you to get to SFC from these airports. From rail to taxi to car service.
Our address is:
180 Remsen St.
Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201
At the beginning of each semester, fall and spring, St. Francis College will host an International Student Welcome and Orientation. At this orientation, you will have a chance to meet incoming international students, learn about adjusting to New York City and the American classroom, and have fun while eating and winning prizes.
Orientation is mandatory for all incoming international students.
You will also have an opportunity to learn basic immigration rules and regulations and get to ask plenty of questions.
On your orientation registration form, you will also need to list a local address and local phone number (if you have one) in order to be “registered” as ACTIVE in the SEVIS database.
In addition to the International Student Welcome and Orientation, student will also be required to attend either a freshman or transfer orientation. These will occur before the International Student Welcome Party and Orientation and are also mandatory.
Freshman will be required to take a placement test to determine what math and English class they will take their first semester. You would make an appointment at a convenient time through the Center for Student Success.
During one of these orientations is when you will receive your SFC ID. This card is used for identification purposes and should be kept on you at all times. You need this card each time you enter the building.
Your first semester course schedule is pre-built for you and you will receive it during orientation.
Upon arrival to the United States and Brooklyn, you are required to check-in at International Student Programs and Services (ISPS) within 30 days.
Bring with you:
- A copy of your I-94 (arrival/departure record)
- SFC I-20
St. Francis College
180 Remsen St.
International Student Programs and Services
Brooklyn, NY 11201
As an F-1 student, you are permitted by law to work 20 hours per week during the fall/spring semesters and more than 20 hours per week during winter/summer semesters.
You DO NOT need work authorization to work ON-CAMPUS. You do, however, need a Social Secuirty Number in order to get paid. See "Social Secuirty Number (SSN)" tab below.
Our Career Center can help you edit your resume before you embark on your departmental job search. To visit them or schedule an appointment, visit room 2000 or call 718.489.5360.
While some programs require work experience or an internship, others do not. However, we encourage all students to engage in off-campus work to gain experience in their field of study.
F-1 students are eligible to be authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) while they are enrolled and Optional Practical Training (OPT) after they complete their program of study.
Any off-campus employment must be directly related to your program of study.
What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
- Training directly related to your major area of study
- Training that is part of the curriculum (ex. required internship, student teaching, etc.)
- Occurs before your program end date on your I-20
- Authorization is for one specific employer for one specific time
- You must first secure the opportunity before CPT can be authorized
- You may have more than one CPT opportunity at a time
- You may work full-time (more than 20 hours) during semester breaks and part-time (less than 20 hours) during each semester
- 12 months of full-time CPT eliminates the opportunity for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Occurs after you have been in active status for two consecutive semesters
There are two types of CPT:
- Required part of program – the program requires employment in the field of study to graduate.
- Non-required part of program – the practical experience is for credit and directly related to your field of study. You must be enrolled for the course while engaging in this type of CPT.
How do I get CPT approved?
Bring the following documents to room 2000:
- Class schedule showing that you have registered for the internship/independent study course
- Application & Registration for Independent Study/Internship/Mentored Thesis Form (submitted to Registrar)
- An offer letter detailing the following:
- Start and end dates
- Brief list of job functions
- Number of hours per week
- Company name and address
Sample CPT Job Offer Letter
Steps to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Speak with an international student advisor
- Read the detailed What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)? guide
- View the Choosing a start date graphic
- Complete the OPT Information Sheet
- Read and complete all items on the OPT checklist and I-765 instructions
What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
An opportunity for F-1 students to participate in professional, temporary employment that is directly related to their major area of study, but not a part of the academic curriculum.
Types of employment allowed
Students may work part-time (at least 20 hours per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week).
Employment options include paid and unpaid options:
- Multiple employers. Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program.
- Short-term multiple employers (performing artists). Students, such as musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.
- Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than employment relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
- Self-employed business owner. Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full-time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program.
- Employment through an agency. Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency (before engaging in this type of work, speak with your international student advisor).
Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.
Some majors have been designated as STEM fields; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, by the Department of Homeland Security may be eligible to apply for a 24-month STEM extension after your initial 12 months on post-completion OPT.
To see more information on what majors qualify as STEM,
If you think you qualify or have any questions, be sure to schedule an appointment to discuss next steps.
Similar to applying for OPT, you may apply for the 24-month STEM extension up to 90 days before the end date on your initial post-completion OPT.
STEM OPT 24-Month Extension Checklist
1. Original and completed Form I-765
2. I-765 filing fee (check, money order, or credit card)
3. Original and completed Form I-983 (completed by student and employer)
4. Two passport-style photos
5. Copy of qualifying STEM degree transcript
6. Copy of all previous I-20’s (pages 1 and 3 [old] or pages 1 and 2 [new])
7. I-94 printout
8. Copy of passport bio page
9. Copy of F-1 visa (unexpired or expired)
10. Copy of all previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) (front and back)
11. Copy of pages 1 and 2 of the new I-20 with the STEM extension recommendation (get after above
items have been completed, including Form I-983, from ISPS)
1. Check all documents for completeness and accuracy
2. Be sure to sign Forms I-20, I-765, and I-983
3. Make a copy of completed application packet for your records
4. Mail completed application packet to appropriate address:
United States Postal Service (USPS)
Express Mail (FedEx, UPS, etc.)
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
S. State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Who is eligible for a Social Security Number?
- F-1 students who have secured on campus employment, are receiving for-service fellowships, or working off-campus with OPT or CPT.
1. Have your on-campus employer complete the top half of the job offer letter
2. Bring the job offer letter to International Student Programs and Services to get verified by your Designated School Official (DSO)
3. Complete the SS-5, Application for a Social Security Number
4. Take these documents along with your passport, I-94, and your I-20 to:
Social Security Administration (SSA)
154 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
CPT or OPT
1. Obtain written verification from the employer where you will be employed which includes the nature of the employment, number of hours, and the date employment is expected to begin.
2. Pick up a letter from International Student Programs and Services detailing your immigration status and employment eligibility.
3. Complete the SS-5, Application for a Social Security Number
4. If you are on OPT, you will also need to bring your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to the SSA.
If you are an F-1 international student in the U.S., you are required to file taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You must file at least one form with the IRS, even if you earned no income.
The tax year is from January 1 to December 31 of any given year. You file your tax return in the spring of the following year with a filing deadline of mid-April (usually April 15 deadline).
For more information about taxes in the United States, visit the Foreign Students and Scholars page on the IRS’ website. You may also qualify to receive free tax return preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
Important note: The staff at SFC’s International Student Programs and Services are not trained in taxation, and therefore cannot answer specific tax questions or help you prepare your tax forms. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to meet your tax obligations and do so accurately.
Before you begin your tax return, you will need to determine your tax filing status: nonresident tax filer or resident tax filer. Most, but not all, SFC international students will be nonresident tax filers. However, some of you will be resident tax filers even though you have a nonimmigrant visa status. It is important to file in the correct status.
An alien may become a resident alien by passing either the green card test or the substantial presence test.
Are you an "immigrant" (Lawful Permanent Resident) of the United States under the immigration laws of the United States?
Aliens who are Immigrants are Resident Aliens of the United States for tax purposes, under the condition that they spend at least one day in the United States.
If you answered yes to the above question, you do not need to proceed to the Substantial Presence Test.
You must pass both the 31-day and 183-day tests.
- 31 day test: Were you present in United States 31 days during current year?
- 183 day test:
A. Current year days in United States x 1 =_____days
B. First preceding year days in United States x 1/3 =_____days
C. Second preceding year days in United States x 1/6 =_____days
D. Total Days in United States =_____days (add lines A, B, and C)
If line D equals or exceeds 183 days, you have passed the 183-day test.
Exceptions: Do not count days of presence in the U.S. during which:
- you are a commuter from a residence in Canada or Mexico;
- you are in the U.S. less than 24 hours in transit;
- you are unable to leave the U.S. due to a medical condition that developed in the U.S.;
- you are an exempt individual;
- you are a regular member of the crew of a foreign vessel traveling between the U.S. and a foreign country or a possession of the U.S. (unless you are otherwise engaged in conducting a trade or business in the U.S.)
Definition of Exempt Individual
- Foreign Government Related Individual
- Employee of Foreign Government
- Employee of International Organization
- Usually on A or G visa;
- Teacher, Professor, Trainee, Researcher on J or Q visa;
- Does NOT include students on J or Q visas;
- Does include any alien on a J or Q visa who is not a student (physicians, au pairs, summer camp workers, etc.);
- must wait 2 years before counting 183 days; however if the J or Q alien has been present in the U.S. during any part of 2 of the prior 6 calendar years in F, J, M, or Q status, then he is not an exempt individual for the current year, and he must count days in the current year toward the substantial presence test;
- Quality of being an Exempt Individual applies also to spouse and child on J-2 or Q-3 visa;
- Student on F, J, M or Q visa;
- must wait 5 calendar years before counting 183 days;
- the 5 calendar years need not be consecutive; and once a cumulative total of 5 calendar years is reached during the student’s lifetime after 1984 he may never be an exempt individual as a student ever again during his lifetime;
- Quality of being an Exempt Individual applies also to spouse and child on F-2, J-2, M-2, or Q-3 visa;
Closer Connection Exception for Foreign Students only
Answer the following questions:
- Do you intend to reside permanently in the United States?
- Have you taken any steps to change your U.S. immigration status toward permanent residency?
- Have you substantially complied with the United States immigration laws for your student nonimmigrant status during your stay in the United States?
- During your stay in the United States, have you maintained a closer connection with a foreign country than with the United States?
If you answered "NO" to the first two questions above, and "YES" to the last two questions above, then you have a basis for claiming you are still a nonresident alien, even though you have passed the substantial presence test. To claim the exception for students on an income tax return, a student should attach Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition, to his form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Refer to The Closer Connection Exception to the Substantial Presence Test for Foreign Students for further discussion.
Closer Connection Exception for All Aliens
Answer the following questions:
- Were you present in the U.S. fewer than 183 days in the current year?
- Is your Tax Home in a Foreign Country? (See Revenue Ruling 93-86)
- Do you maintain a closer connection to that country than to the United States? (See Treas. Reg. 301.7701(b)-2(d)).
- During your current year in the United States, have you taken any steps to change your United States immigration status to permanent residency, or have you taken any steps to adjust your immigration status in the United States?
If you earned income in the U.S., you will need to complete both of the following forms:
If you did not earn income in the U.S., you still need to complete:
Join campus activities
Student Activities is very active at SFC. There is always something to do and we encourage you to take part in the many different activities throughout the academic year.
Join community groups and events
Living in the greatest city in the world has its benefits. Everything from Wall St. to the U.N. to multiple Fortune 500 companies is headquartered here. This means that there are more different types of people and more languages spoken than anywhere in the world.
Just like SFC, the New York Public Library wants to support you during your time here in the U.S. They offer free English classes for students who already speak English but want to improve their reading and writing.
If you are struggling with your English, Google Translate offers free, basic translation services. Download the app!
Get involved with community sports leagues
Many different organizations throughout New York City offer you chance to participate in a wide variety of sports. Being a member of a sports league is a great way to meet people while having fun playing a sport. If you are interested, check out NYC Social or Zog Sports.
Throughout your academic career you will be challenging with different problems to solve. By asking questions, it will help you develop those oh-so-important critical thinking, reading, writing, and listening skills.
Asking questions should not be limited to the classroom or an academic environment. Asking questions is great way to learn new information, like when you need directions for the nearest subway stop.
United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
The department that oversees the safety on the United States from all threats, foreign or domestic. This department is the overarching area in which all other immigration departments are under.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The agency that handles all immigration related matters. When you apply for OPT or a STEM Extension, you are doing so through USCIS.
United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
CBP protects America’s borders and regulates what goods enter the country. Each time you arrive at a border (land, air, or sea), you will meet with a CBP officer. They will determine your eligibility to enter the United States. These meetings usually are 1-2 minutes but may be longer if additional information is needed from you. It is important to always have the necessary documents (passport, I-20, visa, etc.) in hand before speaking with a CBP officer.
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
ICE's primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
TSA’s mission is to protect the nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. You will see TSA agents when you go through security to board planes in the U.S.
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)
SEVP monitors F and M students and their dependents while in the United States to ensure that rules and regulations are followed by international students. The program also certifies schools to allow them to enroll F or M students. International students studying in the United States can only attend an SEVP-certified school. To be certified, schools must prove that they are operational, meaning that they possess the necessary facilities and instructors, and engage in course instruction prior to requesting SEVP certification. SEVP also monitors the SEVIS database.
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
The database Designated School Officials (DSO) use to enter your biographical, academic, and financial information needed for your Form I-20. All information transmitted through this application becomes the property of DHS and the United States Department of State.
Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (I-20)
All “F” students that study in the United States require a Form I-20. The I-20 proves that you are legally enrolled in a program of study in the United States.
F-1 student visa (F-1)
The type of visa issued to students who have been admitted to SEVP-certified schools.
F-2 visa (F-2)
The type of visa issued to dependants (spouse or children) of the F-1 student visa holder. Each F-2 will receive their own I-20 and have to apply for an F-2 visa in the same way the F-1 would have to.
Form I-94 (I-94)
Upon your admission to the United States at a port of entry, you will be issued a Form I‑94. International students who enter the country at an air or sea port of entry are issued an electronic form. It shows the terms of your admission, including your legal status, length of time you may stay and expected departure date.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Training (employment) that is directly related to your program of study (internship, student teaching, etc.).
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Training that is directly related to your program of study. If you want to work after your program completes, you would apply for OPT through USCIS.
- Stay for an extra semester
- Enroll less than full-time
- Regain F-1 status
- Invite a friend or family member to visit me
The Program Extension Request is to be used by F-1 students at St. Francis who are unable to complete their course of study by the program end date on the Form I-20.
- Submit your request at least 30 days prior to the program end date listed on the I-20
- If you fail to submit your request by the program end date, you will be considered out-of-status. If this happens, meet with the international student advisor to discuss reinstatement options
- The extension will extend your I-20, but not your visa
- You may remain in the U.S. with an expired visa but a valid I-20
- If you travel outside the U.S., you will need a new visa to re-enter
- Have continually maintained legal F-1 status
- Seek an extension for a delay caused by a compelling academic or medical need, such as: change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or documented illness
- For changes in funding source, provide financial documentation for the educational and living expenses during the extension.
- NOTE: Delays caused by academic probation are NOT acceptable reasons for program extension.
If there is a change in your funding source, you must provide proof that you are able to continue meeting the expenses of studying at St. Francis College. This includes: living and education costs, plus living expenses for dependent family members, if any. This yearly total amounts to $43,188. If you are only extending your program for one semester, the total is $21,594.
Please bring the following documents showing funding for the duration of your extension:
- An Affidavit of Support from your sponsor stating that they will support you during your extension
- Recent bank statements, issued within the past six (6) months
- An updated St. Francis scholarship letter (if applicable). Funding amounts must be clearly stated
To request a program extension,.
International students in F-1 status are required to maintain full-time enrollment during the school year. If you cannot or will not meet this requirement, you must request a reduced course load. Federal immigration regulations severely limit a student's ability to be less than full time, but it maybe allowed in some circumstances explained below.
If you drop below full-time without authorization after the add/drop period, the Office of International Student Programs and Services at St. Francis is required to report this to SEVIS and you will lose your F-1 or J-1 status.
According to 8 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) § 214.2(f)(6)(iii), the Designated School Official may allow an F-1 student to engage in less than a full course of study as provided below.
A student who wishes to drop below full time must obtain the approval from a DSO in advance, regardless what the reason might be. A student who drops below a full course of study (after the add/drop period) without prior approval of a DSO will be considered out-of-status.
A lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce course load, according to immigration regulations.
What is full-time?
Undergraduates: 12 credits per semester
Graduates: 8 credits per semester
Immigration regulations specify four academic difficulty reasons for which a reduced course load may be approved:
- Initial difficulties with the English language (only in the first year)
- Initial difficulties with reading requirements (only in the first year)
- Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (only in the first year)
- Improper course level placement (advisor must provide explanation)
- A student may be authorized for an academic difficulty RCL only for a single term during any one course of study at a particular program level, and must resume a full course of study (see full-time requirements above) at the next available term (excluding summer).
- A reduced course load for academic difficulties must consist of at least 6 credit hours for undergraduate students and at least 4 credit hours for graduate students.
A student may apply for RCL if, due to a temporary illness or medical condition, they are unable to be enrolled full-time (or, if necessary, no course load).
- The student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist, to the DSO to prove the illness or medical condition.
- The letter from the medical provider cannot be dated more than 30 days before the start of the term for which the RCL is requested.
- The letter from the medical provider must recommend either that the student be part-time or not enrolled due to medical circumstances.
- A reduced course load for a medical condition can be granted for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.
- The student must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must authorize the drop below full-time for each new term.
Completion of Course of Study
A student must apply for RCL in their final term if fewer courses (i.e. less than full-time) are needed and required to complete the course of study.
The student must obtain a letter from their academic advisor to verify that the current term will be the final term for the student to complete their academic program.
To request a reduced course load,.
- Be enrolled and attend classes full-time at the school listed on your current Form I-20. Full-time is 12 or more credits per semester for undergraduate students, and 8 or more credits per semester for graduate students. Exceptions to the full-time requirement must be authorized in advance by ISPS
- Complete your studies before the program completion date listed on your I-20
- Keep your I-20 valid by following proper procedures for a program extension, reduced course load, change in educational level, change in field of study, and transfer of schools
- Remain in the U.S. for no longer than 60 days after completing your current program of study or after completing an authorized period of practical training
- Keep your passport valid at all times unless you are exempt from the passport requirement
- Accept no employment except that which is authorized in accordance with the immigration regulations
- Report any change of address or phone number to ISPS within 10 days of the change
If you fail to maintain status, you are ineligible for any of the benefits of F-1 status (ex. employment authorization).
There are two ways to regain status: apply for reinstatement or depart the U.S. and seek a new admission to the U.S. in F-1 status.
The process to regain valid F-1 status can be challenging, stressful, time consuming, and financially cumbersome. We want to discuss your options with you. We also encourage you to contact an immigration attorney so you can make an educated decision and consider the risks with both options.
Schedule an appointment with your international student advisor to discuss both options.
Option 1. Travel and reentry
Before receiving an INITIAL I-20 with a new SEVIS number, you would need to provide updated documents, these include:
- Copy of passport
- Copy of student visa
- Financial Certificate
- Affidavit of Support
- Affidavit of Support-Free Room and Board (if necessary)
Option 2. Reinstatement
This option allows you to stay in the country while USCIS is reviewing your reinstatement application and while you are still enrolled and attending classes full-time. This option costs you money and could take between 12-18 months to be resolved. During the review period, you are not eligible to leave the country unless you want to abandon your reinstatement application and choose Option 1.
To request reinstatement, you must meet the following guidelines:
- Have not been out of status more than five (5) months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrate that the failure to file within the five-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that you filed for reinstatement as soon as possible under these circumstances)
- Do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of immigration regulations
- Are currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, full-time course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20
- Have not engaged in unauthorized employment
- Are not deportable on any ground other than overstaying or failing to maintain status
In addition to the above mentioned guidelines, you must also meet the following:
- The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of your OISPS advisor, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or a willful failure on your part resulted in the need for reinstatement
- The violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within the international student advisor’s authority to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you
- Check or money order for filing fee, made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
- Copies of all previously issued I-20s (including from any previously attended English language programs or other institutions other than St. Francis)
- Copies of financial support documents
- Copy of passport
- Copy or transcript and current (or future) course registration
- A letter from you requesting reinstatement to F-1 status explaining your circumstances. You should explain that the violation of F-1 status resulted from circumstances beyond your control and/or that the failure to be reinstated would result in extreme hardship. Attach any additional supporting documents.
- Copy of reinstatement I-20 from ISPS
What is the major difference between the two options?
Students who are reinstated continue in their previous F-1 status. Students who choose travel and reentry are considered initial status students. This is most important when considering eligibility for Optional Practical Training or Curricular Practical Training. Students who reenter using a new I-20 will be required to complete one academic year before becoming eligible to apply for off-campus employment.
What are the costs associated with each option?
Which option is the least risky?
Each option has its risks. If your application for reinstatement is denied, you will be required to depart the U.S. immediately. If you are denied re-entry at the border, you may be required to return home immediately from the port of entry.
May I continue to study while my application for reinstatement is pending?
Yes, you must continue to study in order to maintain your F-1 status.
May I continue to work on-campus while my application for reinstatement is pending?
No. Once it is determined that you have violated your student status, you must stop working immediately.
How long will the reinstatement process take?
Reinstatement applications take approximately six to nine months, and as long as one year and sometimes longer.
We understand the massive commitment that our international students put forth in obtaining an American education and we recognize that our students may wants friends and family to visit from time to time, especially for graduation.
Your friends/family will most likely be arriving on a. The next steps would be to have this person apply for this visa. To assist you, we have provided a sample letter of what you can write to assist them in this process.
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