NEW AND RETURNING INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Welcome to Peru State College; we look forward to meeting you as you begin or continue your program journey with us!

Students (new and current) must check-in with the PDSO so their SEVIS record can be activated or updated within 30 days of the start of the semester.

Contact Information
Deann Bayne, Director of Student Records/Registrar
Administration Building, Room 108
dbayne@peru.edu
402-872-2226

IMPORTANT POLICIES AND IMMIGRATION REGULATIONS
As a student in F-1 status, it is very important you understand you are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with U.S. federal laws and regulations governing your visa. Failure to do so will violate your legal status in the United States and will have serious consequences. The following information is provided to assist with common questions and issues we have seen over the years, but is certainly not inclusive of all the regulations.

Grades of Incomplete (I), or Failure (F) and Your Immigration Status
If you receive an “incomplete” for a course, it is very important you complete the coursework by the deadline both you and your professor agree to. If you do not complete your coursework by deadline, your Incomplete will be turned into a failing grade.

If you receive a failing grade that results in your cumulative GPA dropping below 2.0, you may be academically suspended or dismissed for poor academic performance. If this situation occurs, you would be considered out of status. You would need to visit the PDSO to discuss your options.

I-94 Card
When you enter the US, you are given a small, white I-94 card at the airport. This is your Arrival/ Departure Record on which the Immigration Officer usually has written D/S, meaning “Duration of Status”. D/S means you are allowed to stay in the U.S. until the completion of your school program. Do not lose your I-94 card. It is one of your most important documents.

Maintaining a Full-Time Course Load
All F-1 students must maintain a full course of study each Fall and Spring semester until graduation (8CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i). Not registering for a full time load will result in a violation of your status and will result in the loss of your F-1 status. At Peru State College, undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits per semester. Graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credits per semester.

There are only three circumstances in which you may be approved for a reduced course load. Each case requires extensive official documentation and permission from the PDSO. The circumstances are as follows:

  1. Academic Difficulties (Student may be approved only ONCE per program level)
    • Improper course level placement
    • Initial difficulties with the English language
    • Initial difficulties with reading requirements
    • Unfamiliarity with US teaching methods
  2. Medical Conditions
    • The illness must be temporary
    • Medical documentation is required from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or clinical psychologist
    • Approval for medical reasons must be secured each semester
    • Approval cannot exceed an aggregate of 12 months per program level
  3. Final Semester
    • If you are in your final semester before graduation and you do not need a full load to complete your degree requirements to graduate, the PDSO can authorize a reduced course load.

Each of these reasons must be substantiated and approved by the PDSO. Please visit with the PDSO to learn more.

On-line and Distance Learning Courses
Like many other colleges and universities, Peru State College has greatly expanded the number and variety of online and distance learning courses offered—both undergraduate and graduate. These courses often provide students with easier access and greater flexibility than campus-based courses. However, U.S. Federal regulations significantly limit the number on-line and distance learning courses/credits that international students studying in the U.S may apply to their “full course of study requirements” during a given term.

Federal Regulation (8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G))
“For F-1 students enrolled for classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted towards the full course of study requirement if the class is taken on-line or through distance education and does not require the student’s physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class. An on-line or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave or satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing. If the F-1 student’s course is in a language study program, no on-line or distance learning education classes may be considered to count toward classroom hours or credit.”

Regulations also require all international students to be degree-seeking and to maintain a full course of study at the institution in which they are enrolled. F-1 students at PSC are required to maintain a full-time course load for fall and spring semesters. At PSC, a full course of study for fall and spring semesters is considered 12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students.

Maintaining Your Legal Immigration Status
Every international student is responsible for maintaining his or her immigration status. Remember, when you signed your I-20, you certified that, “I have read and agreed to comply with the terms and conditions of my admission and those of any extension of stay as specified on page 2. I certify that all information provided on this form refers specifically to me and is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I certify that I seek to enter or remain in the United States temporarily, and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study at the school named on page 1 of this form.”

If you fail to maintain your legal immigration status, you are considered “out of status.” If you are reported as out-of-status, you could be arrested, required to leave the United States, and possibly not be allowed to be readmitted to the U.S.

To maintain your status, MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Comply with all Department of Homeland Security regulations
  • Keep all immigration documents (passport, I-94, and I-20) valid at all times
  • Extend your I-20 before its expiration date
  • Attend the school that you are authorized to attend, as indicated on your I-20
  • Report any name changes, change of address, change of major, change of program of study, change in dependent status, or change in CPT or OPT employment to the PDSO within 10 days. The PDSO will electronically report the address change to the federal government.
  • Register as a full-time student during fall and spring semesters (12 credit hours per semester for undergraduate and 9 credit hours per semester for graduate students). You are not required to take classes during the summer unless it is your first semester.
  • Do not stop attending classes without notifying the PDSO. If you miss classes for two consecutive weeks or more without prior approval, you may be reported as out-of-status.
  • Obtain prior authorization from the PDSO for a reduced course load. The only exceptions to the full-time course rule are (1) academic difficulty, (2) a medical condition, (3) in your final semester
  • Follow required procedures for:
      • Moving from one educational level to another (e.g., Bachelor’s to Master)
      • Transferring from one school to another
      • Filing a timely application for program extension
  • Do not work off-campus without authorization from the PDSO
  • Do not work on campus more than 20 hours per week when school is in session
  • Maintain “normal progress” toward your degree
  • Receive PRIOR authorization from the PDSO before working off campus
  • Obey state and federal laws 

NOTE: Immigration regulations change. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your legal status come to the PDSO.

Visiting Home
While studying at Peru State College, you may want to visit home periodically. You also may want to go home after graduation or while on OPT. It is extremely important you read through the following information to ensure you are prepared with all the information you need to have successful travels.

Visiting Home While Enrolled at Peru State College

  1. I-20 form with a signature from a PDSO on page 1 and page 3. The signature on the page 3 must not be older than 1 year with respect to the date of reentry. You also must carry all of your previous I-20s, if any.
  2. A valid passport. While you are in the United States, your passport must always be valid for at least six months before it expires.
  3. A valid U.S. visa (unless you are Canadian). The visa should not expire before your date of reentry to the U.S. If you plan to obtain a new visa in your home country, you need to carry your latest transcript in addition to the other items mentioned in this section.
  4. I-94 form, a small white paper (usually stapled into your passport) that was issued to you when you entered the United States.
  5. A latest version of the financial documents covering the expenses stated on your I-20
  6. A letter of good standing from PDSO is required while you plan to renew your visa or if your country requires it.

Visiting Home After Graduation And/Or During OPT

  1. I-20 form with a signature from a PDSO on page 1 and page 3. The signature on page 3 must not be older than 1 year with respect to the date of reentry. You also must carry all of your previous I-20s, if any.
  2. A valid passport. While you are in the United States, your passport must always be valid for at least six months before it expires.
  3. A valid U.S. visa (unless you are Canadian). The visa should not expire before your date of reentry to the U.S. If you plan to obtain a new visa in your home country, you need to carry your latest transcript in addition to the other items mentioned in this section.
  4. I-94 form, a small white paper (usually stapled into your passport) that was issued to you when you entered the United States.
  5. A valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).
  6. A letter from the employer stating that you are currently holding a position with them.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT EMPLOYMENT
U.S. regulations strictly limit the amount and location of employment opportunities for international students. The following information is provided to help you understand these limitations. Violation of federal regulation can have strong consequences, including termination of your status. Please review these guidelines very carefully. If you have any questions, contact the PDSO at dbayne@peru.edu or 402-872-2226.

Employment Regulations

When classes are in session, F-1 students may work no more than 20 hours per week on campus [8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)]. Opportunities to work off-campus are very limited and require PRIOR authorization from the PDSO and the U.S. federal government. This includes credit-bearing internships. To view complete information about employment regulations, please visit the employment page.

Social Security Numbers

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique nine-digit number issued by the U.S. government and required by all employers in the U.S. This number is necessary for you to get a job, pay taxes, obtain a driver’s license, and a few other legitimate reasons. ONLY STUDENTS WHO ARE EMPLOYED OR HAVE A JOB OFFER MAY APPLY FOR A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER. Once you obtain a SSN, it is yours forever and may be used on subsequent visits to the US. You cannot apply until you have been in the U.S. for at least 10 days and have registered for classes. If you work for pay in the U.S., you must have a SSN to file a U.S. income tax return.

Once you have a SSN you should take every precaution against loss or misuse. A SSN is a permanent identification number. It is not intended as a routine form of identification to be given to everyone. It should be given only to those who have a valid reason for needing it, such as your employer for payroll and tax purposes.

To get a SSN, you must apply in person at a Social Security Office. Be sure to take the following documents with you when applying:

  • Valid passport with U.S. entry visa and I-94.
  • Form 1-20 or DS-2019.
  • Letter of employment offer from the Peru State College Human Resources Office.

On-campus Employment

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations 8CFR214.2(f)(9)(i) govern on-campus employment for international students. Under these regulations, international students can work on campus for the educational institution provided their employment does not displace a U.S. citizen and the student is in academic good standing. Students can also work for an outside company operating on the campus, if the company provides a direct service to students. For example, international students can work for the bookstore, but they cannot work for a construction company building a structure on campus.

During the regular academic year, work is limited to a maximum of 20 hours per week. Students may work full-time during official breaks (winter and summer). Students are discouraged from working during their first year.

If you secure on campus employment, visit the PDSO to ensure your employment meets the USCIS definition of on-campus employment and to make arrangements for getting the required federal Social Security number.

F-1 students who maintain lawful status and who plan to enroll at a different institution the next academic term may continue on-campus employment at Peru State College until the reporting date of the new school. They also may begin employment at the new institution as soon as that institution has issued a new form I-20.

Potential On-Campus Employment Opportunities at Peru State College

Peru State College has limited on-campus employment opportunities. Watch for advertisements around campus, announcements or visit an office where you would like to work. The Human Resources Office may also have a list of employment opportunities. Frequent opportunities include:

  • Campus Security
  • Peru Day Care
  • PSC Ambassador
  • Food Services
  • Information Technology
  • Al Wheeler Activity Center

Off-campus Employment

U.S. federal regulation strictly limits work opportunities for F-1 international students. Generally, working off campus is prohibited except under cases of demonstrated severe economic hardship as detailed below.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Regulations For F-1 Students
U.S. federal regulations 8CFR214.2(f)(10)(i) allow F-1 international students to participate in professional, temporary employment opportunities such as internships, co-op education programs or practicums. Regulations require that CPT must be a required or be an integral part of an established curriculum and you must receive academic credit for the employment. CPT may take place during the academic year and/or the summer. To prove that your CPT is integral to the curriculum, it should be mentioned in the section of the college catalog which describes your academic department’s requirements and course offerings. The following rules apply:

  • You must have current F-1 status and must have been enrolled full time for a full academic year (fall & spring) or (spring & fall) before authorization can be granted.
  • Employment is course-, employer-, location-, and date-specific.
  • The authorization period must fall within a given academic term since it is considered to be a course.
  • Failure to enroll in the specific course for which the CPT was approved and failure to complete the employment during the authorization period will result in violation of your immigration status.
  • You must continue to enroll in a full course of study while on CPT during fall or spring semesters.
  • A new authorization is required for each academic term a CPT is used.
  • Students who complete 12 or more months of full-time curricular practical training will be ineligible for optional practical training. The 9-month in-status requirement is waived for students enrolled in graduate studies which require immediate participation in curricular practical training.
  • There is no fee to apply for curricular practical training.
  • The PDSO must authorize your CPT on SEVIS and issue a new I-20.
  • Curricular practical training cannot commence until the student receives the I-20 with the curricular endorsement on the back.

If you have additional questions regarding curricular practical training email dbayne@peru.edu or call 402-872-2226 to schedule an appointment.

CPT Frequently Asked Questions

When should I apply for CPT and where do I apply for CPT? You will need to work with PDSO to secure approval for your CPT. You may apply for CPT if you meet the following conditions:

  • Your field of study requires an internship as part of its academic requirements.
  • You have a job offer from an off-campus employer. This job must be directly related to your field of study.
  • CPT is only available before you have finished all of your coursework towards your degree.

You should apply at least 2 weeks before you want to begin work.

When can I start my CPT? Upon receipt of your new I-20 documents and your CPT approval. The start date of the CPT listed on your I-20 is the first day you can start work.

Can I begin training or volunteering in the position before the first day of my CPT? No. You will put your F-1 status at serious risk. You cannot begin job training or volunteering until you receive your new I-20 with the CPT documented and the start-date has occurred.

Do I have to apply for CPT whether my internship is paid or unpaid? Yes. All work off-campus, whether paid or unpaid, must be approved by PDSO.

Do I have to register for my CPT course credit whether the internship is unpaid or paid? Yes. You MUST register for the corresponding course related to your CPT.

What happens if I do not register for CPT credit? You will place your immigration status at serious risk. This is a violation of federal Immigration regulations.

Do I have to be registered full-time to apply for CPT? Yes. You must be registered as a full-time student to maintain F-1 status. You cannot be authorized for CPT unless you are in valid visa status.

What paperwork do I need to provide to PDSO to secure CPT approval? 1) A letter or email from the Academic Advisor stating that this internship is a required or integral part of your curriculum. 2) A letter from the employer.

What information does the employer need to include in the letter? Your supervisor needs to provide a letter on official organization letterhead containing the following information:

  • Number of hours per week you will work
  • A start and end date
  • A brief description of job duties

How long does it take to secure approval for my CPT and receive a new I-20? It will take approximately 7-10 business days.

Can I be an RA, TA, or GA and apply for CPT at the same time? Yes, but before you do this, please consider your ability of making “satisfactory progress” towards your degree. As an F-1 visa holder, your main purpose is to be a student. You do not want the job getting in your way of studying.

Can I do a CPT in a country other than America? No.

What should I do if my employer is satisfied with my job performance and wants me to continue working after the ending date? Contact PDSO. You may need to submit a new application for CPT.

What should I do if I stop working earlier than my end date? Contact PDSO so we can update your SEVIS record.

What should I do if I want to work somewhere else? Contact the PDSO and we will cancel the current CPT and have you apply for a new CPT.

If you have additional questions regarding curricular practical training email dbayne@peru.edu or call 402-872-2226 and schedule an appointment.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Regulations For F-1 Students
Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an opportunity for F-1 students to participate in professional, temporary employment that is directly related to their major field of study after graduation. Students may work part-time or full-time during their OPT and may work for more than one employer.

  • The Post-completion OPT has a maximum duration of 12 months and ends at the end date on your EAD card, when you begin a new educational degree program, or when you change to a new visa type (for example, H1B).
  • You can be authorized to work for a period up of 12 months (full time) for each degree level attained.
  • Authorization for optional practical training is automatically terminated when a student transfers to another school.

You MUST apply for OPT and you are advised to do so in your last semester at PSC. The application process can take up to 3 months, so it is important to apply as soon as possible after the first day you are eligible, which is 90 days before the Program End Date on your I-20. You can apply up to 60 days after your Program End Date on your I-20, but this is not advised! All post-completion OPT must be completed within the 14 month period immediately following the end of your I-20 Program End Date. Since application processing can take up to two-three months, there is a risk you can lose a portion of the period of eligibility if you apply too late.

If you decide you would like to apply for a Post Completion OPT, you need to work with the PDSO to complete the application. In the meantime, you can begin gathering your application documents and working on them. Bring them with you to our office.

OPT Application Process

  1. Read the Employment Authorization Instructions
  2. Provide a check or money order made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the fee(DO NOT ABBREVIATE).
  3. Provide 2 passport-style photographs taken within 30 days of filing the application. Gently print your name on the back, without damaging the photo.
  4. Complete the Employment Authorization Form
  5. Get a new OPT I-20 from the PDSO to include with your application packet.
    • **OPT applications must be submitted to USCIS within 30 days of the DSO signature date on your I-20 or your application is not valid.
  6. Ask the PDSO to provide computer screen shots from SEVIS showing any previous CPT authorizations.
  7. Provide a front and back copy of your I-94.
  8. Provide a photocopy of the most recent visa you used for entering the U.S.
  9. Provide a photocopy of your Passport pages showing your name, photo and date of birth.
  10. Provide copies of all previously issued EADs, if any.
  11. We recommend that you send copies of I-20s reflecting previous CPT authorizations and OPT authorizations.
  12. The EAD application must be completed and sent to USCIS within 60 days of a student’s I-20 program end date.
  13. Students may only begin working after receiving the Employment Authorization Document issued by USCIS on or after the start date on the EAD
  14. Follow the mail instructions on Form 765 to mail the application. Mail Documentation to Phoenix for Nebraska: USCIS PO Box 21281 Phoenix, AZ 85036

If you have additional questions regarding curricular practical training email dbayne@peru.edu or call 402-872-2226 to schedule an appointment.

OPT Frequently Asked Questions

I do not have a job offer yet. Can I go ahead and apply for OPT? Absolutely! You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT. You are encouraged to apply as soon as you can (90 days before your Program End Date) as it can take months to process.

How many OPTs am I allowed? You can do an OPT per completion of each educational level. When you complete your bachelor’s degree, you are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT. If you then go on to graduate school and complete your master’s degree, you are eligible for another 12 months of OPT.

When should I apply for OPT? We strongly recommend that you begin the OPT application as soon as you can. Per federal regulations, you cannot apply sooner than 90 days prior to the Program End Date on your I-20.

I did a CPT during my studies. Does this impact my OPT eligibility? Only if your CPT was full time for 12 months. Otherwise, it does not impact your OPT.

I have to indicate a start date for my OPT. What should that date be? Your requested OPT start date must be no later than 60 days following your program end date on your I-20.

What is the absolute latest date I can submit my OPT application to the USCIS Lockbox Facility? The USCIS Lockbox Facility must receive your application no sooner than 90 days prior to and no later than 60 days after the program end date on your Form I-20.

How long does it take USCIS to approve my application?  It varies. It can take up to twelve weeks and sometimes longer. Apply early to allow enough time to receive your EAD card.

Is there an OPT application fee? Yes, check the USCIS website for current fees.

Can I track my application after it has been sent to USCIS? Yes. Sign up for email updates on the Government dashboard

My OPT start date has arrived, but I still do not have a job! What do I do? You can be unemployed for an aggregate period of 90 days. If all of your periods of unemployment added together total 90 days, you may be required to leave the United States. Please contact PDSO for help if this happens.

Are there requirements regarding what type of jobs I can accept? Your job must be related to your just-completed degree program.

Do I have to keep PDSO updated while on OPT? We will need a copy of the offer letter from your place of employment so we can place in your file and update your SEVIS record.

Can I begin work without my EAD card in hand? No, you must have this in your possession. If you begin work before you receive your EAD card, you will be in serious violation of regulations. Once you receive your card, make a copy and provide it to PDSO.

Can I travel outside the United States while my OPT application is pending?  Yes, you may travel outside the U.S. after you have filed for OPT. However, you may be asked to provide the USCIS Processing Center receipt proving that your application has been filed. If you to travel abroad make sure you have documentation from your employer confirming the job offer or actual employment. Otherwise, you assume the risk of not being allowed to re-enter the United States.

60 Day Exit Grace Period
F-1 students must depart the United States within 60 days of the I-20 Program End Date. Those that have applied for optional practical training, are transferring to a new school, or have applied for a change of status with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) are exempt from this rule.

Severe Economic Hardship
F-1 students can apply for special authorization to work off campus if they can demonstrate and prove new and unexpected circumstances have resulted in severe economic hardship. The circumstances may include the following:

  • Loss of financial aid due to no fault of the student
  • Loss of on campus employment if it is not the student’s fault and there is no other on-campus employment
  • Large increase in tuition or living costs
  • Substantial decrease in relative value of currency that student depends on to pay expenses
  • Unexpected changes in the financial conditions of the student’s sources of financial support
  • Unexpectedly, large medical bills not covered by insurance
  • Other substantial unexpected expenses

To be eligible, the student must:

  • Be in valid F-1 status and enrolled for at least one academic year
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Demonstrate that on-campus employment is neither available or sufficient

If you think you may qualify under “Severe Economic Hardship”, contact the PDSO. Do not start working without prior authorization as you will be in violation of your F-1 Student Status.

Off-campus employment must be recommended in SEVIS by the DSO, and be adjudicated and approved by USCIS, which issues an EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) as evidence authorized.  A student cannot begin the off-campus employment until he or she receives the EAD card from USCIS. An F-1 student must file a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” and pay a fee to USCIS.  The process starts with the PDSO’s permission to seek employment in an off-campus job.  If USCIS approves the application, the student will receive a Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) from USCIS and can begin working.

Work Time Limits
Employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session and full-time during holidays or vacation periods. Employment authorization is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain status. Authorization for off-campus employment is granted in one year increments.

It can take up to 12 weeks or longer for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to be processed by the Nebraska Service Center. Therefore, students are urged to allow sufficient processing time for this procedure by submitting their paperwork early. Employment may not commence until the student obtains the EAD.

If you are currently working off-campus and do not have appropriate hardship authorization documents that you can show the PDSO, you are in violation of your F-1 student status.  You will need to cease your off-campus employment and find something on campus or complete the hardship paperwork.

If you feel you may have a case for working off campus due to Severe Economic Hardship, I encourage you to make an appointment with me so that we can discuss your options.  You can email me at dbayne@peru.ed to schedule an appointment.

REGISTERING AND PAYING FOR CLASSES
Students must register for classes before the beginning of each semester and must pay all tuition and fees by the end of the second week of each semester. Failure to register and pay all costs of attendance by the deadline will be reported as out-of-status.

As an international student, payment of your account may be handled by the following options:

Wire Transfer – preferred method
Contact the Business Office.

Online Payment – log into MyPSC with NUID and password
If international credit card is used, a convenience fee of 4.25% is charged for payment processing.
If U.S. debit or credit card is used, a convenience fee of 2.75% is charged for payment processing.

Cash/Check Payment
Students may stop by the Business Office to make payment of cash or check. The check should be made payable in U.S. dollars.

Payment Plan – log into MyPSC > Student Accounts > Payment Plan – Enroll/Pay link
Fall payment plan is not available for enrollment until Tuesday, August 29th.
Terms and Conditions of the payment plan may be found at www.peru.edu/businessoffice.

Contact Information:
Business Office
P.O. Box 10 | Peru, NE 68421
402-872-2211 | businessoffice@peru.edu

WHEN TO NOTIFY THE PDSO
  • Before changing your major or program of study
  • Before dropping below full-time for any reason
  • Before withdrawing from a class
  • Before you apply for work authorization with the USCIS
  • When you are interested in employment options
  • To report a change of address and/or phone number
  • To report a name change
  • Before applying for a driver’s license or Social Security Number (SSN)
  • To report receipt of SSN
  • Before you leave the U. S.
  • If you apply for another visa status
  • If you apply for permanent residency
  • During your last semester at PSC
  • Before you transfer to another school
  • If you have a hold on your account

Ending Your Studies Sooner than Expected
If you are graduating earlier than expected, taking a leave of absence, or any other reason that causes you to end your studies at Peru State College before the program end date stated on your I-20 or DS-2019 form, U.S. federal regulations require you to inform the PDSO prior to leaving the college.

Program Extension
If you need to extend the Program End Date on your I-20 or DS-2019 because you may not be graduating on time or for any other reason, please inform the PDSO. Requests for an extension may be submitted at any time up to thirty days prior to the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019. Once received, the PDSO will provide the update electronically to the federal government. This must be completed prior to the Program End Date on your I-20 or DS-2019.

You do not have to pay a fee for a program extension. The PDSO only has to extend your program end date on SEVIS. USCIS will then be informed and you will have maintained your status. To be approved for a program extension, you must have maintained F-1 status and must have a compelling reason, such as academic or medical, which can be substantiated by documentation. Examples can be a 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.

Once your program extension application is complete, the PDSO will prepare a SEVIS I-20 showing your new completion date. Be sure to keep this new I-20 and all previous I-20 forms you have been issued. They must be submitted on request to an immigration officer when you travel outside the U.S. If you are past the Program End Date on your Form I-20, or you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a program extension, you will need to file for reinstatement to F-1 status, for which the USCIS will charge a $290 fee. Keep in mind that failure to apply for a program extension before your Program End Date is a violation of F-1 regulations, which, under recent changes to immigration laws, can carry heavy penalties.

Requesting Leave Authorization
International students are allowed three types of leave: annual vacation, temporary absence, and medical leave.

  • Annual Vacation — Annual vacation leave can only be taken after attending school as a full-time student for one academic year in the U.S. (one fall and spring semester). Annual vacation leave cannot extend beyond one semester. If you choose to take annual leave in fall or spring, you cannot take it during summer of that same academic year. If you intend to leave the U.S., you must have your Form I-20 endorsed by the International Education Coordinator in order to re-enter the US.
  • Temporary Absence – This leave applies only to cases where you leave the U.S. to return home. Temporary absence cannot extend beyond 5 months. You must have your Form I-20 endorsed by the International Education Coordinator in order to re-enter the U.S. You must provide proof that you have purchased tickets to return home. The PDSO will grant personal leave only after reviewing your travel documents.
  • Medical Leave — Medical leave is available only when a doctor has certified in writing that you are unable to attend classes due to your health. The PDSO will grant medical leave only after reviewing and accepting your medical documentation. This leave cannot exceed an aggregate period of 12 months at a particular program level.

If you fail to request leave and do not report for classes, you will be reported as out-of-status.

Requesting Reinstatement of Status
If you fall out of status for reasons beyond your control, you may be eligible to apply for a reinstatement of status. If you are reported out-of-status, you can request reinstatement with USCIS. The PDSO can assist with this reinstatement request. The reinstatement fee is currently U.S. $290. Your case will be reviewed by USCIS to determine if any mitigating circumstances warrant reinstatement. If your request is denied, you will be required to leave the country.

Reporting Program and Address Changes
If you make a change in your academic program, program dates or level of study, you MUST notify the PDSO immediately. We are required to submit this change electronically to the federal government.

If you have a change in address, MUST report this to the PDSO within 10 days of your move. The PDSO is required to provide this and other student data to the federal government electronically.

Transferring to Another College/University
Students who plan to transfer to another college or university must inform the PDSO. We will require a copy of your acceptance letter to the new school, as well as a Transfer Out form the school will provide to you. Once these documents have been received, the PDSO will transfer your record to the new school.

Traveling Outside the United States
If you have plans to travel outside the United States, bring your I-20 or DS-2019 form to the PDSO at least 7 days prior to traveling to see if an updated signature is required. A new form may need to be issued to you. If you will be traveling AND applying for a new visa, you will also want to request a letter of certification from the PDSO, to verify that you are a full-time student. To view complete information about employment regulations, please visit the employment page.