It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms of your immigration status during your stay in the United States. A violation of the immigration regulations could jeopardize your F-1 status and legal stay in the U.S. The Designated School Officials (DSO) are here to help assist you in the navigation of the F-1 visa immigration regulations and understanding how they intersect with university policies. Below are links to the government websites with the most current F-1 visa immigration regulations.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
United Stated Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Social Security Administration (SSA)
F-1 status is your nonresident category officially granted by an immigration official. To be in F-1 status means that you are legally in the U.S. and have benefits and restrictions specified in the
immigration regulations for the F-1 visa category.
Prospective and current F students can use information on the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States webpage to learn about the process and rules for studying in the United States as an international student.
Duration of Status
Your admission to the U.S. is for “duration of status,” that is, for the length of your F-1 status. F-1 status covers the period when you are a full-time registered student making normal progress towards your degree. There is also an optional period of practical training following completion of studies, plus a 60-day “grace period” to prepare to depart the U.S. or change to another status. Your length of authorized stay is not related to your F-1 visa expiration date. The F-1 visa is specifically for entry into the U.S. The F-1 visa might expire before your status expires, and your status might end before your visa expires.
Federal law required that you carry “registration” documents at all times, including your I-20 and passport with F-1 admission stamp. Below is an overview of the documents related to your F-1 status. For day-to-day purposes, we suggest that these documents be kept in a secure location and you carry photocopies. However, if you are traveling outside the local area you should carry the original documents with you. If you are traveling by air, train, bus, or ship, you may be required to produce these documents before boarding. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location in the event your documents are lost or stolen.
Your passport must be valid at all times. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police because your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, please contact your country’s consulate in the U.S.
The visa is the stamp that the U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. The visa permitted you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1 student, and need not remain valid while you are in the U.S. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., the next time you travel abroad you must obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S.
I-20 Certificate of Eligibility
Issued by Webber, this document allows you to apply for an F-1 visa if you are outside the U.S., apply for F-1 status within the U.S., enter and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status, and prove your eligibility for various F-1 benefits. The I-20 indicates the institution in which you are permitted to study, your program of study, and the dates of eligibility. The I-20 must remain valid at all times. Allowing the I-20 to expire before you complete your academic program is a violation of F-1 status.
The I-20 is a printout from your SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System) record. SEVIS is an internet-based database that allows schools and federal immigration agencies to
exchange data on the student’s academic career in the U.S. Each student has a unique SEVIS ID number, which is printed on your I-20 in the top right corner.
International students must be aware of the expiration date on their I-20. If students cannot complete their degree by the expiration date on their I-20, students must request a program extension before the expiration date on the I-20. Students who do not file a program extension in a timely manner will be considered out of status.
I-94 Arrival & Departure Record
When you enter the U.S., you are issued an admission stamp in your passport. In summer of 2013, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) transitioned to electronic arrival/departure records for air and sea ports of entry. For most travelers arriving by air or sea, a paper I-94 card will not be issued. Instead, the CBP official will issue an admission stamp in the passport. Travelers at land borders will continue to receive paper I-94 cards.
You might need a printout of your electronic I-94 information to apply for various benefits. You can obtain a printout of your I-94 record.
While studying in the United States, it is important to maintain good F-1 visa student status. Your status relates to the purpose, or reason for why you want to come to the United States. The U.S. Department of State issues you your visa based on your intended purpose.
If the Department of State issues you an F-1 student visa, this means that you are coming to the United States to study. You should not take any action that detracts from that purpose. Maintaining your status means:
— Fulfilling the purpose for why the Department of State issued you your visa.
— Following the regulations associated with that purpose.
An F-1 student’s primary purpose for coming to the United States is to enroll in a traditional academic program.
It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms of your immigration status during your stay in the United States. This includes any updates to the rules and regulations while you are currently studying in the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States Website:
Full Course of Study
International students must be registered for a full course of study in classes that meet their degree requirements during fall and spring semesters:
- Undergraduate students – 12 credit hours
- Master’s graduate students – 6 credit hours
International students are limited in the amount of online courses they are able to enroll in and maintain good F-1 status. Only 3 credit hours or one online course per semester is applicable to the full-time enrollment total. Audit courses are not applicable to the full-time enrollment total.
International students are not required to enroll in courses during summer terms and this rule does not apply to summer terms.
Change of Local Address
Immigration regulations require all international students to report any change of address to be reported to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) within 10 days of moving. Update your local address by emailing the Webber International Student Services and a DSO will update your SEVIS record. This applies to students while they are actively on OPT in the U.S.
Please note that your local address must be your physical address. P.O. Boxes are not an acceptable form of address.
F-1 students who complete an academic program or OPT have a 60-day grace period. F-1 students who have received prior authorization to withdraw from classes have 15 days to depart the US after the withdrawal date. Students who withdraw from classes without prior authorization are not eligible for a grace period.
Reinstatement of F-1 Status
Students who fail to maintain their F-1 status are considered out of status. If they wish to continue their education at Webber as an F-1 student, they must correct their status. They can either travel and re-enter the U.S. with an initial attendance I-20 or if eligible can apply for a reinstatement of their F-1 status via mail. Email a DSO to schedule an appointment with an advisor immediately to discuss these options.
Late Arrival for Returning Students
International Students are expected to be physically present in the US by the first day of classes for each semester. If travel or visa application delays will result in a late return to Webber, you must notify International Student Services (ISS@webber.edu) and obtain approval from the Academic Affairs Office.
Late arrival is defined as arriving after the first day of class but prior to the drop/add period ending (first five business days of class). If the Academic Affairs Office approves you to arrive “late” (past the program start date but prior to drop/add ending), you will need to request a travel letter stating this approval by the Academic Affairs Office. The travel letter should include how late the Academic Affairs Office is willing to let you start the semester, verify that you are pre-registered for full-time enrollment for the current semester, and that you will be able to catch up with your classes. A copy of this travel letter must be emailed to International Student Services.
The travel letter is designed to be helpful when entering the U.S. after classes have started, but your admission into the U.S. is not guaranteed. Admission to the U.S. will be determined by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Inspector at the US point-of-entry. We strongly recommend that you do everything to arrive on time. Please remember that academic policies and F-1 requirements can intersect, but the F-1 visa regulations are your governing authority and will supersede academic policy.
Students arriving late should keep in mind that different courses have different requirements for absences, assignments, or group work. A student may be dropped from a class if the student has too many absences or it is deemed that the student will not be able to keep up with the course work.
You MUST check in with a DSO upon arrival to Webber. You will need to bring a printout of your I-94 record for your file.
Students who arrive late are required to maintain full-time enrollment throughout the semester. Please note, no reduced course loads will be approved for students who are not able to enroll in the right classes or for academic difficulties.
Making academic progress is very important for all students, especially international students who come to U.S. on an F-1 student visa. To maintain an F-1 immigration status, the regulations require students to make academic progress towards a degree and towards graduation. An international student that fails to progress academically may have difficulties renewing their visa, transferring, or completing their program by the end date on their I-20.
If you are an international student on academic warning, probation, or have been dismissed, please see below for how the academic standing will affect your F-1 immigration status.
Academic Standing Terms and Explanations
The following terms and information relate to undergraduate students. Graduate students need to maintain a GPA of 3.00. Please see the University Catalog for the full Academic Policies and Procedures.
Good Academic Standing
Students must pass 24 credit hours in two semesters to meet the requirements for full-time student classification. Students in good standing are those whose cumulative grade point average is at the required level for the student’s class standing. A student is considered doing satisfactory work when a GPA of 2.00 or better is maintained and substantial progress is made toward completion of graduation requirements.
Students whose semester (term) grade point average falls below 2.00 receive an academic warning. Student grade sheets and transcripts reflect the warning status. International students may be required to meet with a DSO to discuss the negative effect this may have on the student’s F-1 immigration status.
The student will be placed on automatic academic probation at the end of any semester when the student’s cumulative grade point average (on all hours attempted at Webber International University) falls below the following minimum standards:
1. 1.59 for those students having attempted up to 12 credit hours
2. 1.85 for those students having attempted 13 – 24 credit hours
3. 1.93 for those students having attempted 25 – 36 credit hours
4. 1.97 for those students having attempted 37 – 48 credit hours
5. 2.00 for those students having attempted 49 – 60 credit hours
Student grade sheets and transcripts state a student is on probation and a letter from the Chief Academic Officer is sent to the student detailing academic restrictions.
International students are required to meet with a DSO to discuss the negative effect this may have on a student’s F-1 immigration status. If an international student is on academic probation or suspension, they are no longer eligible to extend the program end date on their I-20.
If additional time is needed to complete the program, the student will be required to apply for immigration reinstatement (the original immigration record will not be extended and will be terminated) or exit the United States and reapply for a new I-20 and visa to resume studies.
To complete by the program end date, a student should consider enrolling in more than the minimum number of credits to be considered full time. A student may also think about taking additional classes during the summer term.
Students on probation who fail to meet the probation requirements will be academically dismissed by the Academic Standing Committee for unsatisfactory progress toward the attainment of their degree.
Any student earning less than a 1.00 GPA based on hours attempted in any semester is subject to academic dismissal.
International students which are academically dismissed will need to do one of the following within one week of grades coming out (winter break or summer break):
- Students may apply for a “Reinstatement.”
- Students may transfer to a different school. (The student must first get admitted to a different school or program and show International Student Services the acceptance letter and complete a visa transfer/clearance form from the school you wish to transfer your SEVIS record. The SEVIS record will remain active as long as the transfer is done in a timely manner.)
- Students may withdraw from Webber International University and exit the U.S. within 14 days. The student’s immigration record will be terminated.
- Students who take no action will have their SEVIS record terminated and will be out of immigration status. Students who remain in the U.S. will be here illegally.
Reinstatement for Dismissed Students
Students who are academically dismissed who can provide evidence of academic rehabilitation (i.e., two courses passed at another college) may apply for reinstatement at Webber International University six months after their dismissal. You can petition for reinstatement through the Academic Affairs Office.
After successfully completing an academic program, F-1 students are given a grace period allowing them to remain in the U.S. for a specified time after program of study, OPT or Academic Training. Travel and re-entry to the U.S. as an F-1 student during the grace period is not possible. Please review the following guidelines regarding the grace period pertinent to F-1 student status:
F-1 students have a 60-day grace period in which they are permitted to do one of the following:
- Begin a new program of study at WIU: Students must apply to the new program, be admitted and be issued a new I-20 from the Graduate Admissions Department before the end of the grace period. Proof of funding is required to issue the new I-20 with the program level change. Please contact the Graduate Admissions Department with any questions regarding the financial documents necessary for I-20 issuance. Once the student submits the required financial documentation for the program level change, the program level will be updated in SEVIS by a DSO and a new I-20 will be issued.
- Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Transfer to another institution: Student must apply to another institution, be admitted, and have the WIU SEVIS record transferred out to the new institution before the end of the 60 day grace period. In addition, the start date at the transfer-in school must be within five months of the last date of enrollment at WIU or within five months from the last date of employment on OPT. To request a transfer of the SEVIS record, student will need to submit the SEVIS Transfer Out Request Form to a DSO.
- Apply for a change of status: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive the application to change the immigration status before the end of the grace period.
- Depart the U.S. before the end of the grace period.
The immigration status of an F-2 is dependent upon the F-1 student and they cannot remain in the U.S. under the F-2 status after the F-1 student has departed the U.S. during the grace period.