Re-Entry to the US
F-1 Visa Info
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The F-1 Visa is for non-immigrants to enter the United Sates solely for the purpose of study and after completing studies the individual will return to the foreign country of permanent residence.
The university, after accepting a student, will send a Form I-20 A-B, which is then used to apply for an F-1 visa from an American consulate abroad. To be admitted to the US, it is necessary to have both the I-20 and F-1 visa passport stamp.
After being admitted to the US, the student is then eligible to stay in the US for "duration of status" (D/S on form I-94 and I-20 ID). Duration of status (or to be "in status") means the time during which the student is in compliance with F-1 regulations. Upon completion of studies, the student has an additional 60 days to depart the US.
To be in status F-1 students must:
- Have a valid passport
- Attend the school stated on the I-20
- Enroll in a full course of study (12 credits for undergraduate, 9 credits for graduate) and make reasonable progress towards a degree
- Follow certain procedures for: extension of stay, change of level, and institution transfer
- Limit employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session, 40 hours otherwise
- Refrain from off-campus employment without authorization
- Report address changes within 10 days of the change.
If any of the changes are not followed and permission for an exception has not been granted, the student will be considered "out of status" and in violation of visa obligations. If you are in violation of status, go to the Reinstatement Section.
The benefits of being "in status," on-campus employment, program extension, institution transfer, Curricular Practical Training, and Optional Practical Training, are only available to those students who are in status. There are two possibilities for returning to status: application to the USCIS, or to leave the US and reenter with a new I-20. If a students should get out of status, it is very important to meet with and ISSS advisor to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
Dependents of Students in F-1 Status (F-2) F-2 dependents will be issued their own I-20 forms. A new SEVIS I-20 form is required for F-2 dependents when there has been a substantive change in the information for the F-1. Additionally, the F-2 may not be employed.
F-2 Study Regulations The new regulations prohibit full-time study by a dependent spouse or child of a student (i.e., those in F-2 status). Instead, these dependents must change to F-1 status to pursue this study at the university level. However, F-2 dependents will still be allowed to enroll in courses that are recreational or avocational in nature.
Transfer of Schools
Regulations require that a student who wishes to transfer to a different school must notify the International Student Advisor at their current school that they intend to transfer. The student must specify the new school and present a letter or statement of admission to the new school. The International Student Advisor will update the student's SEVIS record with that information and the "release date." The release date is the end of the current semester, or the expected date of transfer, whichever is earlier. At the request of the student, the International Student Advisor may cancel or change the transfer request at any time prior to the release date. On the release date, the new school will have full access to the student's transfer record and will have responsibility for the student. The old school can no longer access the student's record after the release date; therefore, the current school can no longer cancel the transfer after the release date. If the student changes his or her mind after the release date, the student must work with the International Student Advisor of the new school to do a second transfer to another school.
In order to apply for a transfer to another school, you should fill out and submit a Request for Transfer Eligibility form (MS Word version, PDF version). After you have filled out this form and have submitted proof that you have been accepted to the new school, we will complete the transfer to your new school via SEVIS.
A student may transfer during the 60-day grace period after completion of studies at one school or after optional practical training. In fact, a transfer may occur after the 60-day grace period, so long as the student does not remain in the United States for longer than 5 months between programs. When the International Student Advisor initiates a transfer within the 60-day period following completion of studies, the 5-month period begins tolling on the date the program was completed, not the date the International Student Advisor initiated the transfer. So, the current school can indicate a release date that is the end of the current semester, or within 60 days beyond the end of the semester.
Students in good F-1 status at UM-St. Louis can take classes at another institution during the Fall and Winter semesters if they meet the following requirements:
- The student is fully-enrolled at UMSL (12 credits for undergraduate students, 9 credits for graduate students)
- The student has maintained valid F-1 status
- Attendance at the other school is with permission from International Student and Scholar Services at UM-St. Louis.
If you wish to apply for concurrent enrollment, please complete the Concurrent Enrollment form (PDF version) and submit it to the ISSS.
- You are studying full-time at the institution listed on your I-20;
- You can demonstrate funding for the period of your extension; and,
- You are making satisfactory progress towards the completion of your educational program
You are not eligible for a program extension if any of the following applies:
a. you have not been studying on a full-time basis and did not have ISSS approval for part-time enrollment
b. your need for more time is due to incompletes, withdrawals, or failing grades
c. you have engaged in unauthorized employment or committed any other violation of F-1 regulations
d. you submit a late request for an extension
Your permission to stay in the US ends on the date listed on item 5 on your I-20. If you need to stay beyond the date listed on your I-20 and you meet the conditions outlined above, you will need to complete the extension application. If you would like to apply for a program extension, please complete the F-1 Extention Request form (MS Word version, PDF version) and submit all requested materials to the ISSS.
a. by not studying on a full-time basis or by failing to obtain prior ISSS approval for underenrollment
b. by not making normal, full-time progress toward degree completion
c. by failing to apply for a program extension before the expiration of your I-20
d. if transferring from another institution, by failing to obtain or activate your UMSL I-20 within 15 days after the beginning of the semester
e. if starting another degree level at UMSL, by failing to obtain and activate a new I-20 reflecting your change of program or degree level within 15 days of beginning your new program.
Reinstatement through travel
If you are currently out of status, you may get back into status by traveling abroad and then reentering the U.S. If your documents are processed properly by the USCIS border official, you will be returned to status upon reentry. Proper processing requires that the border official issue a new I-94 card with the date of your reentry and the notation "F-1 D/S" marked on the card. If you present a new I-20 the official should mark the top right corner of the I-20 with the notation "F-1 D/S".
The disadvantage of this means of getting back into F-1 status is that the USCIS does not consider you to have been officially "reinstated." This distinction means that if you get back into status via travel you must wait nine months after reentry to be eligible for practical training or off-campus work authorization.
F-1 student who fails to maintain the conditions of F-1 status or has overstayed the authorized period of stay may apply to be reinstated to lawful F-1 status only if the student:
- is currently pursuing, or intends to pursue, a full course of study at a school which issues the I-20; has not been employed without authorization;
- establishes that failure to maintain student status was due to circumstances beyond his/her control and that failure to receive reinstatement would result in extreme hardship;
- is not deportable on any other ground other than overstaying or failing to maintain status; and
- submits a complete application request for reinstatement.
We require that a student register for a full-time course load before issuing the Form I-20 for reinstatement. However, you may begin to prepare your application for reinstatement prior to becoming a full-time student again. While you are waiting for a response from USCIS, you are not eligible for off- or on-campus employment or practical training.
To apply to the USCIS for reinstatement, you will need the following items:
- a letter in which you request reinstatement. You must explain the circumstances which caused you to go out of status. You must prove that these circumstances were "beyond your control." You must also explain the reason(s) that failure to be reinstated would cause an "extreme hardship" for you (such as being unable to finish your degree).
- A completed I-539 form (PDF version). Complete pages 1 and 2 and do not leave any questions unanswered. Make sure the address you write on the form is where you will be for the next 3 to 4 months.
- your original I-94
- copies of your passport. Include copies of the picture, passport number and the date of expiration.
- check or money order for $290 made payable to "United States Citizenship and Immigration Services".
- a copy of the initial I-20 issued by the school for admission. You should include copies of I-20s from other school's you have attended.
- a new I-20
- financial documents showing you have the financial resources to pay your living and educational expenses
International Student and Scholar ervices will mail the documents to USCIS. It may take USCIS three to four months to respond to your request. When you receive a response from USCIS, bring your documents to ISSS so we can make a copy for your file.
IMPORTANT: Please be advised that your application for reinstatement will be denied if the adjudicating USCIS officer is not convinced that you are out of status due to "circumstances beyond your control" and that " failure to be reinstated would cause you extreme hardship." If your application is denied you will be given a date by which you have to depart the United States. Your options would be:
a) to leave the U.S. by the date shown on the I-94, or
b) to consult an attorney.
International Student and Scholar Services will gladly give you information about these options but cannot provide you with the legal assistance that your case may require.
Reinstatement Letter Instructions
The letter to the USCIS requesting reinstatement should be no more than one and a half pages using the following format.
I. What are you asking?
You are requesting reinstatement to student status. State that, as the officer will see from this letter, the violation of status was due to circumstances beyond your control. You will need to say whether or not you violated any other regulation or are in deportation proceedings, but don't explain this here.
II. How did you violate your status and why?
III. What did you do during the time you were in violation of status?
What did you do to support yourself? How have you committed yourself to improving your situation?
IV. What will you do in the future so that you do not violate your status again?
V. Ask the officer to give consideration to your situation, and if there are any questions, leave a number where you can be contacted.
Sign and date the letter.
For PDF files, you may need to download Adobe Reader at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readermain.html