Entering the U.S. (I-20 and F-1 Visa) ( Back to Top )
You will need a Shepherd University I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F-1 Student Status), a valid F-1 visa (the visa stamp in your passport) issued by the U.S. embassy/consulate overseas*, a valid passport, and your SEVIS fee receipt, to enter the U.S. as an F-1 student. Please be advised that you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date in section 5 on your I-20 (refer to “Travel”, later on this page). Your entry into the U.S. will be recorded electronically on form I-94 card and marked “F-1” and “D/S” (duration of status). You will need to print this out when you report into Shepherd.
*Please note that Canadian citizens do not need U.S. visas to enter the U.S; rather, they will present their documents at the port of entry.
Maintaining Legal F-1 Status ( Back to Top )
As an F-1 student, you must meet certain obligations in order to maintain legal immigration status. Maintaining status is necessary in order to receive the benefits of F-1 status, such as employment and program extension, and can be crucial to a successful application for a change or adjustment of status in the future. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S. Due to the complexity of U.S. immigration regulations, we recommend that you consult with International Student Affairs anytime you have questions or concerns related to your F-1 status.
To maintain lawful status, an F-1 student must:
- Attend the mandatory immigration check-in program with International Student Affairs.
- Attend the university you are authorized to attend (i.e. the school that issued your Form I-20).
- Complete immigration school transfer procedure when necessary.
- Be in good academic standing and make progress towards an academic program.
- Extend your I-20 prior to its expiration date if you are unable to complete your academic program by the original completion date (see section 5 of your I-20).
- Update your I-20 in a timely manner in the event of a change in your academic program or level.
- Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year. (Undergraduate students must enroll for 12 credit hours each semester and graduate students must enroll for 9 credit hours or be in approved full-time thesis study each semester.)
- NOTE: The “audit” courses do not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement for immigration purposes.
- Maintain satisfactory progress toward degree completion. Suspension, dismissal, expulsion, or any other similar action which prevents enrollment will most likely have an effect on your legal immigration status. In these cases, you are advised to consult with International Student Affairs as soon as possible.
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during the academic year.
- Not work off campus without prior authorization.
- Keep your passport valid at all times. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future on the day you return to the U.S. from a trip abroad. Individuals from some countries are exempt. Check if your country is exempt by reviewing the 6-month club list.
- Notify International Student Affairs when leaving the University at the end of your studies.
- Maintain a valid home (must be outside the US) and mailing (must be your US residential address) on file in International Student Affairs. Addresses must be updated within 10 days of moving.
Employment ( Back to Top )
U.S. government regulations require F-1 students to be in the U.S. for the primary purpose of attending school. In general, employment in the U.S. is restricted. The following employment possibilities exist for F-1 students:
- On-campus employment: Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and available as full time during school vacation and holidays. On-campus employment is defined as work done on the premises of the school that issued the I-20. If anyone other than Shepherd University will be paying you, please consult with International Student Affairs prior to accepting employment.
- Off-campus employment: Under certain conditions you may be eligible for off-campus employment, either based on economic need or practical training. You may not begin the employment unless you have received official authorization. All off-campus employment authorization must be coordinated through the International Student Affairs office.
For more information, refer to Employment Authorization for F-1 Students.
Dependents ( Back to Top )
Dependents are defined as the spouse and/or minor children under 21 years old of the F-1 student. Please be aware that each of your dependents will need his/her own I-20 in order to obtain an F-2 visa at the U.S. embassy/consulate and to enter the United States. F-2 status holders may not accept employment or engage in business under any circumstances.
The F-2 spouse of an F-1 student may not engage in full time study, and the F-2 child may only engage in full-time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade). The F-2 spouse and child may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature.
For more information, refer to F-2 Dependents (link to other page in this section)
Grace Period ( Back to Top )
When an F-1 student successfully completes his/her academic program or Optional Practical Training, there is a 60-day grace period during which the F-1 student and any F-2 dependents may stay in the U.S. This allows for pleasure travel within the U.S. or preparations for departure. During this period the F-1 student may not work or travel internationally with the intent to reenter in F-1 status.
Students who leave their program for any reason prior to completion might not be eligible for a grace period. Consult with International Student Affairs if you have questions!
Taxes and Mandatory annual reporting ( Back to Top )
F-1 students must file federal tax forms for every year that they are in the U.S. The deadlines to file the forms are April 15, if U.S. money is earned (this includes money earned from graduate student assistantships), and June 15, if no U.S. money is earned.