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Maintaining F-1 Status

  • Status Maintenance Checklist

    F-1 Status Maintenance Checklist

    While in F-1 status, students are required to follow certain rules and regulations in order to maintain their F-1 status. Failure to properly maintain F-1 status can result in the student's removal from the United States, inability to later seek an adjustment from F-1 status, and inadmissibility to the United States.

    To maintain F-1 status, a student must:
    • The US government requires all international students in F-1 status to report their arrival to campus. You officially report your arrival to Stony Brook through the Immigration Intake form in accessVIS. The Immigration Intake form should be completed as soon as possible after arrival to the United States.

    • DSOs must register the student in SEVIS no later than 30 days after the Program start date (new students in Initial SEVIS status), and each semester thereafter, no later than 30 days after the Next session start date (continuing students).

    • For the first entry for initial school attendance, the school listed on the visa and on the I-20 must be the same, and that is the school the student must intend to attend. 

    • Pursue a "full course of study" at the school listed on the currently valid Form I-20 during every academic session or semester except during official school breaks, or unless approved under a specific exception, in advance, by the DSO. 

    • Make normal progress towards completing the course of study, by completing studies before the expiration of the program completion date on Form I-20. 

    • Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for extension of stay

    • Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for change in educational levels or programs of study.

    • Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for transfer of schools

    • Abide by the F-1 grace period rules. 

    • Report a change of address to the DSO within 10 days of the change, so that SEVIS can be updated. 

    • Abide by rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition on criminal activity.

    • Abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirements.

    • Not work, either on or off-campus, unless specifically authorized under the regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9) or 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10) . 

    • Abide by the aggregate unemployment rules while on post-completion OPT

    A student should also keep his or her passport valid.

     
  • Enrollment Requirements

    Enrollment Requirements

    To maintain your F-1 or J-1 status, you must  enroll   and  complete a full course of study each fall and spring semester, as these are considered “required terms”. It is also important that you are  making normal progress towards completion your degree. For further academic requirements, please refer to the   University Bulletin  or check with your academic department.

    • F-1 students may take one online course (up to 3 credits) per semester which will count toward your full course of study requirement.
    • Earning a “NR”, which stands for no record of attendance, or “W” which indicates withdrawal from a course, do not count toward full-time enrollment.  Earning either of these grades may jeopardize your F-1 status and could result in the termination of your SEVIS record. 
    • If you are unable to maintain full-time enrollment due to medical or academic difficulties, please see your VIS Advisor immediately.  Authorization from VIS is required in order for you to drop below full-time.
    • Part-time enrollment, or a reduced course load, may be authorized by VIS if you are in your last semester and taking the necessary number of credits needed to complete all degree requirements.


    Undergraduate Students:

    • Must register for at least 12 credits during each required term (i.e. fall / spring)


    Graduate Students:

    • G1 / C1 (AdvCert1): 1st yr. Master's (< 24 completed credits), must register for 12 credits/semester
    • G2 / C2 (AdvCert2): Advanced Master's ( > 24 completed credits), must register for 9 credits/semester
    • G3: 1st yr. PhD (< 24 completed credits), must register for 12 credits/semester
    • G4: Advanced PhD ( > 24 completed credits), must register for 9 credits/semester
    • G5: PhD Advanced to Candidacy, must register for 9 credits/semester

     
    Exchange Students:

    • Must register for at least 12 credits during each required term.
  • Immigration Documents

    Understanding Your Immigration Documents

    It is very important that you keep all of your immigration documents in a safe place. Stony Brook University is required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to keep a copy of these documents in your electronic student file. Be sure to provide Visa & Immigration Services with a copy of any renewed or updated immigration documents.

    Passport:

    • Your passport must be valid at least six months into the future.
    • Report a lost or stolen passport to the police, as your home country government may require a police report before issuing a new passport.
    • Renew or replace your passport by contacting your country's U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
    • Submit copies of your renewed or extended passport in  accessVIS.


    SEVIS FORM FORM I-20

    • A Form I-20 is issued by the U.S. institution you plan to attend and allows you to:
    • Apply for a F-1 visa
    • Enter or re-enter the U.S. to pursue your studies
    • Receive other immigration benefits
    • The Form I-20 must remain valid at all times throughout your program.
    • You are required to keep every I-20 issued to you. Do not discard old ones.
    • Obtain a  travel signature from your International Student Advisor before departing the U.S., as you will be required to present it upon reentry.


    U.S. F-1 Visa Stamp:

    • Placed by a U.S. Consular officials in your passport.
    • Indicates that you are eligible to enter and/or re-enter the U.S as an F-1 student status
    • Does NOT determine your length of stay in the U.S.
    • If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., it is not necessary to renew it as long as you remain in the country.
    • Can only be granted at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.


    I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

    • If arriving by land or sea: a small white card stapled into your passport.
    • If arriving by air: an electronic record is created, and a stamp in your passport is issued by CBP at the port of entry.
    • Along with a valid Form I-20, permits you to stay temporarily in the U.S. as a F-1 student.
    • The immigration official should write “F-1 D/S”  on your I-94 card or stamp. D/S stands for "duration of status" and refers to the length of time a scholar/intern is permitted to remain temporarily in the U.S..
    • You will receive a new stamp with a new admission number each time you enter the U.S.  Exceptions include brief visits (30 days or less) under certain circumstances to Canada, Mexico and adjacent islands.  
    • Submit copies of your new admission stamp and  electronic I-94 record through the Immigration Document Update form in  accessVIS. 


    Admission Stamp

    • An admission stamp is issued when you enter the United States and is usually placed on the page opposite your visa.
    • You will be issued a new stamp each time your re-enter the U.S.
    • The stamp indicates:
      • Location of entry point (port of entry)
      • Date of entry
      • Class of entry (i.e. F-1, J-1, H-1B, etc.)
      • Length of stay ("D/S" or Duration of Status if you're in F-1 status, or a specific date if you're in H-1B, O1 or TN status)
     
  • Address Update

    Update Your Address

    USCIS requires all F-1 students to report any changes to their local (U.S.) or foreign address within 10 days of moving. If you fail to update your US address, you are at risk of losing your lawful status in the US.


    Changing Your Foreign Home Address:
    Students must report any changes to their Foreign Home address to VIS by submitting the Foreign Address Update eform in   accessVIS. Once submitted, VIS will report your new address to SEVIS.


    Changing Your On-Campus Address:
    Students who live on-campus should follow up with Campus Residences in regard to updating their Dormitory Address in SOLAR, so the accurate information can be reported to SEVIS.


    Changing Your Local/Off Campus Address:
    As of March 1, 2019 all changes to U.S. local (off campus) address must be done in SOLAR. Please follow the steps below to report your local address in SOLAR.

    Updating Your Local Address in SOLAR:

    1. Login to SOLAR with your Stony Brook University ID number and password.
    2. Go to Security and Personal Data then click Addresses .
    3. Select Add A New Address to add your local (off campus) address. Even if your address is listed as "Home" or "Mailing", you must still add it as your "Local" address.
    4. Verify your address information, and select "Local" under Address Type .
    5. Click Save , then OK. Your local address should now appear.


    Follow these guidelines when reporting your address in SOLAR.

    • Capitalize EVERYTHING
    • Remember the Street # of your house or apartment building
    • List your apartment # after your street name in Street 1
    • Abbreviate your street using the following codes:
      • Street = ST
      • Avenue = AVE
      • Road = RD
      • Place = PL
      • Court = CT
      • Boulevard = BLVD


    ADDRESS DON'Ts: Please do NOT do the following:

    • Don't put your apartment complex name
    • Don't put your neighborhood


    Below are examples of good and bad address formatting.
    Sample Address: 123 South Main Street, Apartment 101, Grandview Apartments, Stony Brook, New York, 11790

      PREFERRED "GOOD" FORMAT
    Street Address 1 123 S MAIN ST APT 101
    Street Address 2  
    City STONY BROOK
    State NY
    Postal Code 11790

      INCORRECT "BAD" FORMAT
    Street Address 1 123 SOUTH MAIN STREET
    Street Address 2 APARTMENT 101, GRANDVIEW APARTMENTS
    City STONY BROOK
    State NY
    Postal Code 11790

     

     

  • Loss of Status/Reinstatement

    Regaining F-1 Status: Reinstatement or Travel & Re-Entry

    F-1  nonimmigrants who violate the terms of their nonimmigrant status on or after August 9, 2018 will begin accruing unlawful presence the day after the status violation occurs. Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, and then depart, may be subject to three-year or 10-year bars to admission, depending on how much unlawful presence they accrued before they departed the United States. Because of the significant consequences of unlawful presence,  you should make sure to meet all compliance responsibilities.

    If you fail to maintain F-1 status, you are no longer eligible for any of the benefits of F-1 status (for example, employment authorization). To regain your status so that you may continue to pursue your degree, there are two options: (1) apply for reinstatement or (2) depart the U.S. and seek a new admission to the U.S. in F-1 status.


    Option 1: Reinstatement

    When requesting reinstatement, you must prove to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you:

    • Have not been out of status more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrate that the failure to file within the 5-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, a full 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.


    You must also establish that violation resulted from either:

    • Circumstances beyond your control (i.e. serious injury or illness, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of your International Student Adviser).
    • Or, a reduction in your course load that would have been within an International Student Adviser's authority to authorize, and USCIS’ failure to approve your reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you.


    Reinstatement Application Procedure

    Step 1:   Meet with your International Student Advisor to discuss how your status was violated and what options you have to regain your F-1 status.

    Step 2:   If approved to proceed by your International Student Advisor, you'll receive an email with access to request a  new I-20 by completing the  Request to Regain F-1 Status in accessVIS, uploading the following required documents:

    1. A letter of explanation addressed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), stating (a) how you violated your F-1 status, and (b) the effects not being reinstated will have on you and your future.
    2. Proof of financial support for the duration of your academic program is required.  
    3. Copies of your current immigration documents including your passport, F-1 visa, and  Electronic I-94 Admission Record or I-94 Card.
    4. Undergraduates ONLY: Undergraduate Students are requirement to submit an   Academic Progress Review Form completed by their general academic advising department and by a faculty or administrative advisor within their major academic department(s).  If you have a secondary major, the form must be completed by BOTH major academic departments.  

    Step 3: Once your Reinstatement to F-1 Status request form has been reviewed, you will receive an email detailing the documents required for   Part II: Assembling the I-539 Application.


    IMPORTANT: 
    For purposes of counting unlawful presence, a timely reinstatement application for F-1 students is one where the student has not been out of status for more than five months at the time of filing. The accrual of unlawful presence is suspended when the F-1 nonimmigrant files a reinstatement application within the five month window and while the application is pending with USCIS. If the reinstatement application is denied, the accrual of unlawful presence resumes on the day after the denial.

     

    Option 2: Travel and Reentry

    In some instances it may be advisable to depart the U.S. and re-enter with a new I-20, rather than applying for reinstatement. You may do this by obtaining a new I-20 from the school you are currently attending or wish to attend, then departing the U.S., applying for a new F-1 visa  and returning to the U.S.  

    A re-entry to the U.S. after a status violation is viewed by Immigration as "initial attendance" in F-1 status. As such, you are bound by restrictions placed on new students, such as the academic year waiting period for eligibility for practical training.


    Travel & Reentry Application Procedure:

    Step 1:   Meet with your International Student Advisor to discuss how your status was violated and what options you have to regain your F-1 status.

    Step 2:   If approved to proceed by your International Student Advisor, you'll receive an email with access to request a  new I-20 by completing the   Request to Regain F-1 Status in accessVIS, uploading the following required documents:

    1. A letter of explanation addressed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), stating (a) how you violated your F-1 status, and (b) the effects not being reinstated will have on you and your future.
    2. Proof of financial support for the duration of your academic program is required.  
    3. Copies of your current immigration documents including your passport, F-1 visa, and  Electronic I-94 Admission Record or I-94 Card.
    4. Undergraduates ONLY: Undergraduate Students are requirement to submit an   Academic Progress Review Form completed by their general academic advising department and by a faculty or administrative advisor within their major academic department(s).  If you have a secondary major, the form must be completed by BOTH major academic departments.  

    Step 3: Upon receipt of your new I-20 you must:

    1. Pay the mandatory SEVIS I-901 Fee online ( click here). Print a copy of your SEVIS fee payment receipt and have it with you when applying for your F-1 Visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate and when entering the U.S.
    2. Schedule a visa interview appointment with a U.S. Embassy/Consulate -  www.usembassy.gov.  We recommend visiting the U.S. Embassy/Consulate's website in your country for a list of documents required when applying for an F-1 visa.

    Step 4:  Submit the  Immigration Intake form in accessVIS and report to VIS for intake and check-in.