Information for Students
Other Resources and Information
One of the main functions carried out by ISS is to assist international students at UMD in maintaining their non-immigrant status in the United States. This office issues non-immigrant documents required by the U.S. government for persons with F-1 visas.
ISS also prepares documents for travel, dependent travel, change of degree program, transfer of schools, extension of stay, and employment options. Please note, however, that the ISS Office is not an office of the Department of Homeland Security.
This site provides general visa information. For detailed questions, make an appointment with ISS staff.
As a foreign national entering the U.S., you must have the following documents as evidence of your legal status: a passport, an I-94 form and an I-20. These documents are necessary for your stay in the U.S. and for temporary departures and re-entry. Have a Designated School Official (DSO) sign your I-20 before you temporarily leave the U.S. Your I-20 form can be endorsed by the following staff members:
Be sure to keep your documents in a safe place!
You should keep copies of all your documents in case they are lost or stolen. Whenever you get a new passport or visa, please give a copy to ISS or come to the office so they can make one for you. If you would like, you can also give ISS copies of any new I-94 you receive (include the front and back of the I-94, even if it is blank). Having copies of your documents will save you a lot of time and frustration in getting documents replaced or will allow you to access them easily when you are applying for benefits such as Optional Practical Training.
You should keep your passport valid at all times. Your passport is your government's permit for you to leave and re-enter your own country. Check the expiration date of your passport. The U.S. government requires that holders of F-1 or J-1 visas keep their passports valid for at least 6 months beyond the date they enter the U.S. A few countries are exempt from this requirement. Federal law does not allow a F-1 visa holder to enter the United States or to be employed in the United States if the passport is expired.
The school sends the student an I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility), indicating the date by which the student should arrive at the institution. The student then takes this form to the U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for an F-1 visa if he/she can demonstrate adequate financial support. The I-20 is issued for the program and level of study you are presently pursuing. If you graduate before the completion date indicated on your I-20 you are considered to have completed your program of study and your I-20 is no longer valid. The third page of the I-20 contains spaces for information about your employment authorization and travel signatures by a Designated School Official (DSO).
I-20 DOs and DON'Ts
TO AVOID PROBLEMS AND EXTRA EXPENSES
Document processing takes time. Please plan ahead as much as possible.
The visa stamp is obtained at a U.S. consulate abroad. It indicates that the holder is eligible to apply for admission to the U.S. Permission to enter is granted only at the point of entry. The official at your point of entry will determine the length of time you will be permitted to stay in the U.S. It is okay if your visa expires while you are in the U.S., but it must be valid to enter the U.S. To determine how long you can stay in the U.S., check your I-20 form, item number 5. You must be enrolled as a full-time student in order to maintain your status.
**Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin the I-94 automation process on April 30th, 2013 for people who enter the U.S. via air or sea. After automation, F-1 students will no longer receive a paper I-94 card in their passport when they enter the U.S. Instead, the passport will be stamped and include information on the date of entry, port of entry, class of admission, and status expiration date. I-94 numbers will be able to be downloaded from the CBP I-94 website. ISS will update with more information as we receive it.**
The I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record) is a white card, which is issued to you upon arrival. It is stamped by a government official and stapled into your passport at your port of entry into the U.S. The I-94 form shows that you are lawfully admitted to the U.S. for a specific period of time. The United States Government requires that you carry your I-94 with you at all times. If you loose your I-94 card, it is expensive and can take up to 6 month to replace. (See United States Citizens and Immigration Services for more information). It is recommended that you have International Student Services keep photocopies of this document in your file. U.S. government regulations require all F-1 students to register for a “full course of study”. Undergraduate students must be registered for 12 credits each term during the academic year. Graduate students must be registered for 6 credits.
Program Extension is required if a student is unable to complete all degree requirements by the date noted in Item 5 of the SEVIS I-20.
Program Extension application must be submitted to and approved by the International Student Adviser before the I-20 expiration date.
Failure to process a Program Extension before the expiration of the I-20 results in the loss of legal status and the ability to work on the campus.
It is required by the U.S. government that international students on F-1 Visa carry a full course load (12 credits for undergraduates and 6 credits for graduates) during the academic year. See Anna Gilmore, International Student Advisor, if you plan to drop below the minimum course hours. Dropping below a full course load without prior authorization can cause you to fall out of legal status. You will need to complete a Reduced Course Load form. Please note, international students can only take a maximum of 3 credits in online courses to count towards their full course load.
To change from your current status to the F-1 status while in the United States, you must apply to USCIS. See directions.
All nonresident F and J visa holders are required to file a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ (U.S. tax forms), regardless of whether they have income from a U.S. source. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publications and form are available in January.
The forms you are required to file:
Forms and instructions can be found at: www.irs.gov.
Students who have been employed on and/or off campus will receive a form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from each employer. The forms will be sent to your mailing address. The W-2 form is required in order to complete tax forms. Scholarship recipients and students from certain countries who earn wages in the U.S. may receive a form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding. The form 1042-S is required for completing tax forms for scholarship recipients.
See the SEVP Travel FAQ: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel/faq_f3.htm
3.A. Can I stay in the United States if my student visa has expired?
Yes, as long as you are student in good standing and have not violated your status, you may legally remain in the United States with an expired F-1 visa.
3.B. Can I renew my student visa while in the United States?
No. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/.
And F-1 info on State Dept site: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html
How long may I stay on my F-1 student visa?
When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in the United States. For a student who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time in the U.S. before departure:
As an example regarding duration of status, if you have a visa that is valid for five years that will expire on January 1, 2009, and you are admitted into the U.S. for the duration of your studies (often abbreviated in your passport or on your I-94 card as "D/S"), you may stay in the U.S. as long as you are a full time student. Even if January 1, 2009 passes and your visa expires while in the U.S., you will still be in legal student status. However, if you depart the United States with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one, applying at an Embassy abroad, before being able to return to the U.S. and resume your studies.
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