Immigration & Compliance
How to Maintain your F-1 Status
Entering the United States (I-20 and F-1 Visa)
You will need the following to enter the United States:
- Dixie State University I-20 Certificate for Non immigrant F-1 Student Status
- Valid F-1 visa(the visa stamp in your passport) issued by the United States embassy/consulate overseas
- Valid passport
- Your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee receipt
Note: Canadian citizens do not need United States visas to enter the U.S. as an F-1 student.
When you enter the United States, you will receive either an admission stamp in your passport marked “F-1” and “D/S” (Duration of Status) or a small white I-94 card with the same notation.
Note: You may not enter the United States more than 30 days prior to the start date in section 5 on your I-20 (refer to “Travel”, later of this page).
Mandatory Immigration Check-In at Dixie State University
You are required to attend a mandatory Immigration Check-In at Dixie State University International Student Services (DSUISS). The Immigration Check-In is required by the United States Department of Homeland Security. If you do not attend, your academic program could be terminated which would end your lawful immigration status. For more information about the Check-In (such as how to schedule a Check-In, what documents are required, etc.) please contact Allison McMullin at email@example.com.
Maintaining Legal F-1 Status
As an F-1 student, you are required to follow certain rules to maintain your legal immigration status. Maintaining this status is necessary to receive the benefits of F-1 status such as employment or program extension. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can cause serious problems with immigration and possibly lead to deportation.
To maintain lawful status, an F-1 student must:
- Attend the mandatory Immigration Check-In at DSUISS
- Attend the university you are authorized to attend
- Complete immigration school transfer procedure when necessary
- Be in good academic standing and make progress towards an academic program
- If you are unable to complete your academic program by the original expiration date, extend your I-20 prior to its expiration date
- If you change your academic program or level, update your I-20 in a timely fashion in accordance with immigration regulations
- Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year.
Note: 12 credit hours is considered full-time for an undergraduate student. The courses you take for “audit” or “visit” do not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement for immigration purposes.
- Know that suspension, dismissal, enrollment withheld, expulsion, or any similar action which prevents enrollment may affect your legal immigration status.
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during the academic year.
- Not be employed without specific pre-authorization
- Keep your passport valid at all times.
Note: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future on the day you return to the United States from a trip abroad.
- Maintain health insurance coverage
- Update your current and permanent address information on your myDixie account within 10 days of moving.
Health Insurance Requirements
All international students are required to have health insurance coverage that meets the University’s standards. You must enroll in an approved insurance program at your Immigration Check-In. If your government or program sponsor is providing you with health insurance, you can apply for a waiver of the mandatory health insurance at Check-In.
Note: Your health insurance coverage must meet University standards, so please bring a copy of the insurance police with you to Immigration Check-In.
Traveling Outside the United States and Reentry
While studying at Dixie State University and traveling outside the U.S., you must have the following in order to re-enter the country:
- Valid F-1 visa (the visa stamp in your passport)
- Passport valid 6 months info the future
- Your most recent I-20 with a travel signature less than 1 year old
Note: Citizens of certain countries returning from Canada, Mexico and the adjacent islands may be able to re-enter the United States with an expired F-1 visa using Automatic Visa Revalidation.
When an F-1 student successfully completes their academic program or Optional Practical Training, there is a 60-day grace period during which the F-1 student and any F-2 dependents may stay in the United States. During the grace period, you may not work or reenter the United Sates in F-1 status.
Extension of F-1 Student Status
The United States Department of Homeland Security requires that you finish your program of study by the completion date on your I-20. The end date on the I-20 (item #5) is established by the admissions office to reflect the average length of time it should take a student to complete the degree requirements. If you need to extend your I-20, DSUISS can provide you with an I-20 extension if you are eligible and apply in a timely fashion.
To obtain a program extension, you must show that you have maintained status and that the extension is needed for compelling academic or medical reasons, such as change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or a documented illness. Delays in completing your program caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension approval. You may be eligible for an I-20 extension if:
- The delay was caused by documented academic or medical circumstances
- You have sufficient financial resources to fund your students and living expenses
- The extension is requested with sufficient time for processing before the current expiration
The following are not valid reasons for I-20 extensions:
- To enroll in extra courses or repeat the same course for personal interest or to improve your GPA
- To engage in research on or off-campus
- To finish pending coursework for an incomplete grade
- To engage in non-required Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- To enroll in course work delayed by participation in non-required CPT
- An I-20 which has already passed the program end date cannot be extended.
If your program end date (I-20, section #5) has expired or you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a program extension, you will need to pay a fee and file for reinstatement to F-1 status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Failure to apply for an extension of stay in a timely manner is a violation of F-1 regulations, which can carry heavy penalties.
Department of Homeland Security Address Notification Requirement
SEVIS Guidelines for F-1 Students
SEVIS guidelines require the following addresses and phone numbers to be properly reported and formatted:
- Your “Current Address” must be your address in the USA
- Your “Permanent Address” must be your address in your home country
- Your “Current Address Voice Phone” must be your 10-digit United States phone number
Your address information must conform to SEVIS guidelines for the entirely of your program regardless of whether you are currently in the United States or temporarily outside the United States. If you are temporarily outside the United States and are maintaining your SEVIS status, you can use the U.S. address of a close family member or friend, your previous U.S. address, or your new U.S. address.
F-1 students are not required to report a U.S. phone number. However, if you have a U.S. phone number, then it must be reported as your “Current Address Voice” phone. This must follow the U.S. format of 123/456-7890. Non-U.S. phone numbers may be reported as Permanent or Mobile.
Note: Do not use the international prefix on U.S. phones in the U.S.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is temporary employment directly related to your field of study. During OPT, you remain in F-1 status and are issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT is temporary employment that is required to complete your chosen degree such as internships or cooperative education. CPT works best if you are interested in working off campus. CPT must be completed prior to the completion of your program. During DPT, you must be enrolled in a full-time course schedule, so it is best to limit your work hours to part time locally or remotely.
To be eligible for CPT, you must:
- Be enrolled on a full-time bases for one academic year (two full consecutive terms)
- Be in lawful F-1 status
- Have Dixie State University approved health insurance
- Have a job offer
- Not be enrolled in an intensive English language training program
Note: CPT is processed and authorized term by term. DSUISS department has discretion in recommending CPT.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT
Part-Time CPT is employment for 20 hours per week or fewer. You must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time and be physically present on campus in order to maintain lawful F-1 status during fall and spring semester.
Full-time CPT is employment for more than 20 hours per week. 12 months or more of full-time CPT will eliminate your eligibility for OPT. During fall and spring semester, you must be enrolled full-time or have an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).
Detailed Training Description
Your employer or company must officially offer you a training opportunity. Ask your employer to write a Detailed Training Description. It must:
- Be written on the company’s letterhead
- Be addressed to you
- Include your job title
- Provide a detailed job description (at least a few sentences describing specific duties, tasks, goals, etc.)
- Specify the street address where employment will take place (street, city, state, and zip code). If you will work remotely, the letter should specify this and list the company’s physical address
- Specify start and end dates of CPT employment
On-Campus Employment for F-1 Students
On-campus employment includes work done as a teaching or research assistant as well as jobs in the university library, dormitory, dining facilities, laboratories, and administrative offices. F-1 students are eligible to work on-campus while attending classes. The work does not need to be related to your field of study. You must maintain legal F-1 or J-1 status while engaging in on-campus employment.
- You must be enrolled full time during fall and winter semesters
- You may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session
- You may work full-time on-campus during official university holidays
- You may not engage in on-campus employment after the program end date listed in your I-20
Note: You are not eligible for the Dixie State University work-study program.
Applying for On-Campus Jobs
There is no central hiring office for student jobs. You must visit each individual office and ask for information there. Be sure to ask about application deadlines or any required meetings.
Tips for Getting a Job
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want
- Approach prospective employers with confidence
- Practice answering questions employers might ask
- Maintain good personal hygiene and appropriate dress
United States Taxes
When you get an on-campus job, you will be required to pay tax on your earnings. You may qualify for exemptions if your home country has a tax treaty with the United States.
Documentation Needed After Getting a Job
When you get an on-campus job, you will need to complete the following forms:
- Dixie State University Part-Time Employment Form
- I-9 Form (Employment Eligibility Verification)
- State and federal withholding allowance certificate (W-4) forms
- Direct Deposit Authorization Form if you would like to have your paychecks directly deposited into your bank account
Severe Economic Hardship Employment
If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, you (an eligible F-1 student) may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. These circumstances may include a loss of financial aid or on-campus employment that was not your fault, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and /or living costs, or unexpected changes in your financial condition, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses. Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]
You are eligible to apply for employment based on severe economic hardship if:
- You have been in F-1 Status for one full academic year
- You are in good academic standing and are taking a full course load
- Employment will not interfere with your studies
- You can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control
Employment and Volunteering
While volunteering may seem simple, it is actually a complex area where immigration regulations and labor laws intersect. If you are interested in volunteering, you must be aware of the relevant regulations so that you do not violate any laws and participate in unauthorized employment.
Any off-campus employment for F-1 students must be authorized. Without proper work authorization, off-campus employment would be considered a violation of your F-1 requirements and you could lose your legal immigration status in the U.S., be deported the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or struggle getting a visa in the future. Source: 8 Code of Federal Regulations 214.1(e).
During the academic year, international students in F-1 non-immigrant status must either be enrolled full-time or receive permission from DSUISS for a reduced course load or a full-time exception.
You must be registered for classes full-time by the end of Dixie State University Drop/Add period. If you are not registered full-time by the deadline, your SEVIS record will be terminated and you will lose your F-1 status. There is no grace period to remain in the U.S. following status termination.
For most students, the academic year is fall and spring semesters, while summer is considered the vacation semester. Generally during the academic year, the minimum full-time enrollment for international students is 12 credit hours for Undergraduate students, and 9 for Graduate students.
Note: Pass/Fail classes count towards full time enrollment. Courses that you visit or audit do not count towards full-time enrollment.
Reduced Course Load (RCL)
If you cannot or will not meet Enroll in a full-time course schedule, you must request a Reduced Course Load (RCL). Federal immigration regulations severely limit a student’s ability to be less than full time, but it may be allowed in some circumstances. If you drop below full time without authorization after the drop/add deadline, DSUISS is required to report this to SEVIS and you will lose your F-1 status.
The Designated School Official (DSO), which is the DSUISS Advisors, may allow you to take less than a full course of study if you obtain the approval from a DSO in advance. If you drop below a full-time schedule (after the Add/Drop period) without prior approval of a DSO, you will be considered out of status. Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)]
Note: Lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce course load according to immigration regulations
Note: If approved for reduced course load, you are still eligible for on-campus employment benefits.
You may apply for RCL due to academic difficulties if an academic advisor verifies your situation. You can apply for RCL based on academic difficulties if you have:
- Initial difficulties with the English language (usable only in student’s first year)
- Initial difficulties with reading requirements (usable only in student’s first year)
- Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
- Improper course level placement
A student may be authorized for an Academic Difficulties RCL basis only for a single semester during any one course of study at a particular program level, and must resume a full course of study at the next available semester (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. Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(A)]
You may apply for RCL if a temporary illness or medical condition prevents you from taking a full course load (or any courses at all). You must provide documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to the DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition.
The letter from the medical provider cannot be dated more than 30 days before the start of the semester for which the RCL is requested and must recommend that the student either be enrolled part time or not at all due to medical circumstances.
An RCL for a medical condition can be granted for no more than 12 months while you are pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.
You must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must authorize the drop below full time for each new semester. Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(B)]
Completion of Course of Study
If your final semester requires less than a full-time schedule to complete the program, you must apply for RCL. You must obtain a letter from your academic advisor to verify the situation. Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C)]