Shepherd University is pleased and honored to enroll students from around the world and to include many faculty and staff members who originally came from or who had studied or worked in other countries—all add to the multicultural richness of our campus and academic programs.
Many of these international students, faculty and staff have already been in the United States for some time and are now U.S Permanent Residents or Citizens. They have our congratulations and well wishes.
This section, though, is not for them, but rather it is devoted to those who are here with a U.S. visa. This could be as a Visitor (B1/1 status), a student (F-1 or J-1), a research scholar (J-1), an employee (H-1b), or as a Dependent in one of those statuses. Immigration is technical and often confusing for the individual. These pages provide a first reference and they come with the invitation to consult with International Student Affairs on specific instances.
Requesting F1 student status
Prospective international students desiring to study full-time at Shepherd University in one of its degree programs must first seek admission.
Once admission has been granted, the form I-20 will be prepared and sent along with other pre-arrival information. Please refer to Applying for a US Visa Stamp. If, however, you are already in the US in F-1 Student status, please see the instructions at the tab for transferring into Shepherd University. Also, if you would like to transfer academic credits into your degree program at Shepherd University, you will need to make that application prior to your initial start. Included in that application should be course titles and description, a syllabus if available, and any other information you feel would help the faculty correctly evaluate your request for credit.
Finally, if you are already in the US in another visa status, please see the information about how to change your status to F-1.
F-1 students are eligible to work in the U.S. with certain restrictions. For information on F-1 employment options, refer to the following topics:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) (Internship)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) (Pre- and Post-completion of studies)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM Extension
Cap Gap Relief for OPT – H-1B Transition
Students are encouraged to work closely with Career Services in building their resume, gaining interview skills, and in locating employment. Also, recommend that students keep this information sheet handy during the job search: What Employers Should Know about Hiring International Students.
Extension in F1 Status
Students in F-1 status who find they need additional time to finish their academic program beyond the end date on the Form I-20, must apply for an extension of stay in order to remain in the U.S. in lawful status. Extensions may only be authorized if the reason for the delay satisfies the lawful requirements for an extension as set forth in the U.S. immigration regulations.
- Must apply for the extension prior to the program end date
- Must be in-status and have continually maintained status
- Must be making normal progress toward degree completion
- Must provide sufficient financial documentation for time sought
How to Apply
In order to maintain status, extension requests must be approved prior to the program end date on your current Form I-20. To allow adequate processing time, we recommend completing your F-1 extension request at least 30 days prior to your I-20 end date.
If you have an I-20 end date during the summer term (i.e. between May 1 and September 1) and require an extension, we recommend submission of your extension request before June 1.
Step 1: Meet with your academic advisor to inquire about your academic eligibility to extend. Let your advisor know that he/she will need to send an email to International Student Affairs verifying the need for the extension and recommending a new projected date for degree completion.
Step 2: Submit documentation to International Student Affairs that you or your sponsor(s) can support your tuition and living expenses through the new projected date to complete your degree. The requirements for the financial documents are below:
- All proof of financial support must be in English or accompanied by an English translation.
- All proof of financial support must state amounts and clearly state the date that the documentation was written or printed.
- All financial resources must be in liquid assets. We cannot accept real estate or other personal property.
NOTE: Each year the amount of tuition and living expenses are subject to change—please check with International Student Affairs for the current requirements. If you are staying less than a year, you may pro-rate your living and dependent expenses.
Step 3: International Student Affairs will prepare the amended I-20 and notify you when it is ready to pick up.
Important information for F1 Students
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.
F-2 dependents must also file a form.
Visa Information Dependents
Only the spouse and minor children (under age 21) who accompany the primary F-1 visa holder to the U.S. may receive F-2 dependent status. Their eligibility to stay legally in the U.S., as well as to extend their stay, is contingent upon the primary F-1 visa holder maintaining his/her legal status and extending his/her program in a timely manner.
All other family members must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor’s visa to gain entry to the U.S.
The spouse and minor children (under age 21) of the F-1 student may be admitted into the U.S. in F-2 classification, if each dependent presents a SEVIS Form I-20 issued in his or her own name and an F-2 visa. To request an I-20 for your dependents:
- Provide the full name, date and country of birth, and relationship and provide documentation of sufficient financial support to the International Student Affairs office.
- The dependent I-20(s) will be prepared when all necessary information has been received and you will be notified when ready for pick-up.
Documents Needed to Apply for an F-2 Visa
- Valid passport
- Photographs (Passport Photo Size Requirements are listed here.)
- F-2 dependent SEVIS Form I-20
- Visa application fee
- Visa application forms
- Supporting documentation, including copies of the F-1 student’s immigration documents, proof of student status, and financial documentation.
Important Information about F-2 Status
After your dependent(s) arrive, please provide the International Student Affairs office with a copy of their passport biographic page(s), visa stamp(s), and I-94(s).
Once you, as the F-1 student, have completed your studies and you are planning to depart the U.S., your F-2 dependents must depart with you as well.
Dependent children over age 21 are not eligible for F-2 status and will need to change to another status such as F-1 (for full time students) prior to their 21st birthday if they wish to remain in the U.S.
At the end of the F-1 program, there is a 60-day grace period during which the F-1/F-2 may stay in the U.S. Once the F-1 primary leaves the U.S., the F-2 dependents must leave as well.
The F-2 spouse and children of an F-1 student may not accept employment in the U.S. However, they may do volunteer work as long as there is no compensation of any kind and the F-2 dependent is doing a job usually done by volunteers.
The F-2 spouse of an F-1 student may not engage in full time study; 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.
An F-2 spouse or F-2 child (post high-school) who desires to engage in full time study must apply for and obtain a change of nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1, or M-1 status.
If you failed to maintain your F-1 status and would like to stay in the U.S. so that you can finish your degree, you must regain your F-1 status.
Status violations are a serious matter and we want to help you regain your status. Reinstatement of F-1 status is an option, but there are risks associated with the process. The decision to proceed with a reinstatement application must be made in close consultation with International Student Affairs. We will assist you to prepare your best case for reinstatement or discuss other options, if available.
Reinstatement is only granted under the limited conditions and is completely at the discretion of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The reason by which a student is seeking the reinstatement must be supported by the regulations.
Please schedule an appointment with International Student Affairs to discuss the situation, options, and process.
J1 Employment Authorization
Employment is any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room or for any other benefit or compensation. J-1 students are required to have authorization from the J-1 program sponsor in order to work in the U.S. If employed without proper authorization, the student will have violated his/her J-1 status which may result in losing benefits of J-1 program and jeopardize his/her permission to remain in or reenter the U.S.
Obtaining Employment Authorization
The Office of International Affairs (OIA) is designated by the U.S. Department of State as the J-1 program sponsor for Shepherd University. This office is obligated to evaluate the proposed employment in the context of your academic program and your personal circumstances. If your DS-2019 specifies the program sponsor (item #2) as “Shepherd University” and the exchange visitor category (item #4) as “student”, you may apply for employment authorization at OIA. If your J-1 program is sponsored by another organization (e.g. Institute for International Education), you must contact them to discuss your eligibility to work. You may not begin employment unless you have obtained employment authorization from your program sponsor and the begin date is effective.
U.S. government regulations require J-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 J-1 students:
- 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 DS-2019. If anyone other than Shepherd University will be paying you, please consult with the Office of International Affairs prior to accepting employment.
- Your specific employment must be approved by your Program Sponsor in advance. The approval may be valid for a maximum of 12 months and must be renewed if employment will continue beyond the original approval dates. Employment approval is automatically withdrawn if your program is transferred or terminated.
- J-1 students sponsored by Shepherd University must request an authorization letter thorough the Office of International Affairs prior to beginning any on-campus employment. For this, OIA needs (1) information about the position indicating title, general duties, start and end dates, and salary; and (2) current immigration-related documents.
- J-1 students who are not sponsored by Shepherd University should contact their sponsoring agency for permission to engage in on-campus employment.
- Visit Human Resources website to search and apply for an on-campus job. You may also inquire directly with the office or department where you are interested in working to find out if they have any positions available. Please note the J-1 students are not eligible for “Work Study.” If an on-campus position is advertised as “Work Study only,” only students who have been awarded federal Work Study funds may apply. This type of aid is typically only available to US citizens or lawful permanent residents.
- Academic Training may be authorized for off-campus employment related to a student’s field of study if it meets certain criteria (e.g., length, relationship to academic program, pre- or post completion of studies, etc.). For authorization, visit the Office of International Affairs with (1) a letter of offer for the position indicating title, general duties, start and end dates, and salary; (2) a recommendation from your academic advisor indicating how the employment contributes to your academic program; and (3) your current immigration-related documents.
- Academic Training is limited to 18 months or equal to the period of the exchange visit, whichever is less. This limitation applies to the aggregate of full- and part-time employment.
- Academic Training is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and available as full time during school vacation, holidays, and after the completion of studies.
Change of Status to J1
Eligibility to apply for a change of status to J-1 varies by visa status–please consult Change of Status to J-1. In order to process a change of status to J-1, you will need the following documents:
- Completed I-539 Form
- Completed G-1145 Form
- Original DS-2019
- Proof of Financial Support
- Copy of the electronic I-94 Card
- Copies of Passport Identification and J Visa pages
- Copies of all other documents that prove valid non-immigrant status (for example, forms I-20 forms for F-1 students, I-797 approval notices, Employment Authorization Documents, etc.)
- Check for $370.00 made out to “The Department of Homeland Security”
- Proof that you have paid the SEVIS fee
When you have assembled the documents, please visit the Office of international Affairs for your Shepherd University form DS-2019 and assistance with filing your application.
Extension in J Status
Students in J-1 status who find they need additional time to finish their academic program beyond the end date on the Form DS-2019, must apply for an extension of stay in order to remain in the U.S. in lawful status.
- Must apply for the extension prior to the program end date;
- Must be in-status and have continually maintained status;
- Must be making normal progress toward degree completion or satisfaction of the original purpose for your exchange program;
- Must provide sufficient financial documentation for time sought.
How to Apply
In order to maintain status, extension requests must be approved prior to the program end date on your current Form DS-2019. To allow adequate processing time, we recommend completing your J-1 extension request at least 30 days prior to your DS-2019 end date. If you have a DS-2019 end date during the summer term (i.e. between May 1 and September 1) and require an extension, we recommend submission of your extension request before June
- Step 1: Meet with your academic advisor to inquire about your eligibility to extend. Let your advisor know that he/she will need to send an email to the Director, International Affairs, explaining and verifying the need for the extension and recommending a new projected date for completion.
- Step 2: Meet with the Director, International Affairs, bringing current immigration-related documents, proof of sufficient financial support, and proof of continuing medical health insurance coverage to the Director, International Affairs.
- Step 3: Pick up the new DS-2019. Forms for accompanying dependents will also be prepared at that time.
Important Information about J visa status
Entering the U.S. (DS-2019 and J-1 Visa)
You will need a form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitors), a valid J-1 visa (the visa page 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 a J-1 student. Please be advised that you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date on your DS-2019. Your entry into the U.S. will be recorded electronically on form I-94 card and marked “J-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 form DS-2019 and other immigration documents at the port of entry.
Maintaining Legal J-1 Status
As an J-1 student, you must meet certain obligations in order to maintain legal immigration status and to receive the benefits of J-1 status, such as employment and program extension, and to be eligible 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 J-1 status.
To maintain lawful status, a J-1 student must:
- Attend the university you are authorized to attend (i.e. Shepherd University, the school that issued your Form DS-2019);
- Attend the mandatory immigration check-in program with International Student Affairs;
- Be in good academic standing, maintain full-time enrollment and make reasonable progress towards fulfilling your academic purpose/program. (Undergraduate students must enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester and graduate students must enroll for a minimum of 9 credit hours or be in approved full-time thesis study each semester. “Audit” courses do not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement.)
- Extend your DS-2019 prior to its expiration date if you are unable to complete your academic program by the original completion date;
- Update your DS-2019 in a timely manner in the event of a change in your academic program or level;
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during the academic year.
- Do not work off campus without prior authorization.
- Maintain health insurance coverage.
- Keep your passport valid at all times.
- Notify International Student Affairs when leaving the University at the end of your studies.
- Maintain valid addresses for home (outside the US) and mailing (local US). Addresses must be updated within 10 days of moving.
When a J-1 student successfully completes his/her academic program or subsequent period of Academic Training, there is a 30-day grace period during which the J-1 student and any J-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 J-1 student may not work or travel internationally with the intent to reenter in J-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!
Information on Restrictions of J visa status
The J-1 Exchange Visitor program is administered by the U.S. Department of State with the purpose of increasing “mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through educational and cultural exchanges.” Shepherd University sponsors individuals in J-1 visa status as both students and scholars, and the university community also includes numerous J-2 dependents – the spouse or child (under the age of 21) of a J-1 Exchange Visitor.
There J program is quite versatile as compared to many other visa statuses in the U.S., but it also comes with restrictions that could affect your future in the U.S. This page is meant to explain the most prevalent restriction applicable to students and help you determine how they might affect you. You can also contact the Office of International Affairs (OIA) for information specific to your situation.
The Two-Year Home Residency Requirement –212(e)
The Two-Year Home Residency Requirement specifies that an individual who is subject must spend an aggregate total of two years in his or her home country before being eligible for the following visa statuses:
- Any H status (including H-1B or H-4)
- Any L status (including L-1 or L-2)
- U.S. lawful permanent residence
In addition, individuals who are subject to 212(e) may not apply to the USCIS for a change of status to any status (including F, B, or any other status). Individuals who are subject to 212(e) may exit the U.S., apply for a new visa abroad (for any status other than H, L, or lawful permanent resident), and re-enter the U.S. in the new status.
International visitors may be selected for the two-year home residency requirement based on three criteria:
- If the exchange visitor’s funding comes all or partially, directly or indirectly, from the U.S. government or a foreign government for the purpose of the J-1 program.
- If the field of the J-1 activities are on the skills list specific to his or her home country – the list of fields that the home country government requested to be included.
- The purpose of the J-1 program is for the exchange visitor to receive “graduate medical education or training.”
J-2 Dependents become subject to 212(e) if their primary status-holder, the J-1 Exchange Visitor, is subject.
Individuals who are subject to 212(e) remain subject until either the home-residency requirement is satisfied or the individual obtains a waiver. A J-2 Dependent is no longer subject to 212(e) if his or her primary status holder is granted a waiver.
If you believe that you have been selected to be subject to 212(e) by mistake (for instance, if you have been selected because of government financing, but you haven’t received government financing), or if you would like to discuss the options for a Waiver of 2 yr rule, consult with OIA.
Only the spouse and minor children (under age 21) who accompany the primary J-1 visa holder to the U.S. may receive J-2 dependent status. Their eligibility to stay legally in the U.S., as well as to extend their stay, is contingent upon the primary visa holder maintaining his/her legal status and extending his/her program in a timely manner.
All other family members must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor’s visa to gain entry to the U.S. For more information on B-1/B-2 visitor visas for other family members, refer to Information for inviting dependents, relatives and or friends to the U.S.
To request a DS-2019 for your dependent see International Affairs and provide your dependent’s full name, date and place of birth, current residential address, telephone number and email address (if applicable). When the DS-2019 is ready, you will be notified to come and pick it up.
Documents required to Apply for a J-2 Visa
- Valid passport
- J-2 dependent DS-2019
- Visa application forms and fee
- Supporting documentation including marriage certificate for a spouse, birth certificates for children and financial support information.
Important information about J-2 Status
- After dependent(s) arrive in Shepherdstown, please provide the Office of International Affairs with a copy of their passport biographic page(s), visa stamp(s), and electronic form I-94(s).
- A J-2 spouse or child may not be admitted for longer periods of time than the principal exchange visitor. After the program completion date on the Form DS-2019, the exchange visitor J-1 and the J-2 dependents may stay in the U.S. for an additional period of 30 days; this is called the grace period. During this time, they may travel within the U.S. but may not be employed.
- The status of the J-2 may be extended when the program and Form DS-2019 of the J-1 primary is extended. However, once the J-1 primary has completed his or her program and has left the U.S., the J-2 dependents must leave as well.
- Immigration regulations require that all J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents be covered by health insurance while participating in the exchange visitor program.
- Dependent children over age 21 are not eligible for J-2 status and will need to change to another status such as F-1 (for full time students) if they wish to stay in the U.S.
Employment and Study
J-2 employment may be authorized in by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for 12-months or for the J-1 principal’s authorized stay as indicated on Form I-94 and Form DS-2019, whichever is shorter. If the J-1 principal’s authorized period of stay is extended or is longer than 12-months, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) may be renewed once a year.
For more information on applying for an Employment Authorization, refer to J-2 Employment Authorization Procedurs
After obtaining the EAD, the J-2 spouse may apply for a Social Security Card and will be subject to federal, state and local income tax on their earnings.
Currently there are no regulatory restrictions on study for J-2 dependents.
F1 and J1 Status
If you are in F or J status and plan to travel outside the U.S., you may need to stop by International Student Affairs to request a travel signature before you depart. In order to be readmitted in F-1 or J-1 status, you must possess a valid travel signature on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 at the time of your re-entry to the US.
In addition, you will need a valid F or J entry visa. The exceptions to this are for Canadian citizens and travel to contiguous territories to the United States.
If traveling to another country, do not forget to research the entry visa requirements for citizens from your country.
If you have questions or concerns about traveling, we recommend you consult with International Student Affairs.
Upon return to the University from international travel, please provide International Student Affairs a copy of your new I-94 information (download), new entry visa, and new passport identification page, as appropriate.
As always, you should also be aware of important immigration and security regulations to ensure that you can leave and re-enter the U.S. The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Customs and Border Protection may review information and documentation of international visitors at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad or at U.S. Ports of Entry.
The following pages provide detailed information to prepare you before you leave the U.S.:
|Important travel information||Provides detailed information on travel and re-entry to the U.S.|
|General information||Information from U.S. Department of State|
|What to Expect at a Port of Entry with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer||Provides important information on what to expect when arriving at a U.S. port of entry.|
|U.S. Electronic I-94 Admission Number Retrieval||Provides access to the Admission Number assigned at a U.S. port of entry.|
|U.S. Department of State list of U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide||Provides an official listing of U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.|
|U.S. Department of State visa wait times||Provides the latest information on U.S. Department of State visa wait times.|
|10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa||Advice from NAFSA: Association of International Educators on applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa.|
Updating your address with DHS
All non-U.S. citizens who are present in the United States for more than 29 days are required to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of any change in their U.S. address within 10 days of the change. This includes lawful permanent residents of the U.S.
If you are in F1 or J1 status, you must report address information to your school or J program sponsor which will be reported to DHS on your behalf. In addition to a current U.S. address, F-1 students are also required to maintain home country address information. Those who are not in F or J status must report address information to DHS directly.
See below for guidance on how to report address changes to fulfill DHS reporting requirements. If you are on University payroll, you should also notify your department administrator to be sure that your payroll records are updated as well. Academic and immigration records are maintained separately from payroll records.
Updating Your Address
- Currently enrolled F-1 Students and J-1 Exchange Students (Shepherd University DS-2019) Contact International Student Affairs to update your SEVIS record and login into RAIL to update your University record.
- F-1 or J-1 Students who have graduated from Shepherd University and are on post-completion OPT or Academic Training. Contact International Student Affairs to update your SEVIS record and to verify the name, address and start dates for your current employment.
- J-1 Visiting Scholar (Shepherd University DS-2019). Contact the Office of International Affairs to update your SEVIS record.
- J-1 Exchange Student or Visiting Scholar (non-Shepherd University DS-2019) Your DS-2019 was NOT issued by Shepherd University, but by another sponsoring agency, for example, Fulbright, IREX, etc. You should follow the address updating guidelines of the organization that issued your DS-2019. You should also be sure to maintain current address information in your Shepherd University student and/or employee record, if applicable.
Transfer into or out from shepherd university
If an Exchange Visitor is transferring from another institution in the U.S. to Shepherd University, THE EXCHANGE VISITOR WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO REPORT TO until he/she has been released to transfer from the current institution. This can be accomplished by following the instructions in #4 in the “Information About the Exchange Visitor” forms. These transfer rules also apply if the exchange visitor is changing departments within Shepherd University or if the exchange visitor is changing institutions. He/she will need authorization (a new DS-2019) from the losing and gaining units/schools. In transfer-in cases, the supervisor for the exchange visitor must write a letter explaining how the work can be considered a continuation of the work begun initially. Transferring from one exchange visitor program to another will not extend the Exchange Visitors stay beyond set time limits. Exchange visitors sponsored by a government agency cannot transfer from that government agency to Shepherd University.
The SEVIS Transfer is different from the academic transfer. In a SEVIS Transfer, a student may be changing from one academic level to another (i.e. high school to college) or within the same academic level (i.e. sophomore in college to sophomore in college). The SEVIS Record will be transferred; however, you will maintain the same SEVIS ID Number. If all transfer procedures are followed, you should not need to pay the SEVIS Fee again and any valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp you possess at the time of the transfer will remain valid until the printed date of expiration of the visa stamp.
- Transfer – the electronic transfer of a SEVIS record from one SEVP-certified school to another.
- Transfer-out school – the school that the individual is leaving.
- Transfer-in school – the school to which the individual intends to transfer
- Transfer release date – the date on which the individual’s SEVIS record is made available to the transfer-in school for update and can no longer be amended by the transfer-out school. The date is set in SEVIS by the transfer-out school.
- Program start date – the date the student’s program of study begins at an SEVP-certified school.
For more information about terminology and the transfer process, visit this page hosted by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
Generally, as long as F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors (students and scholars) are maintaining their current status, they are eligible for a SEVIS transfer. In the case of a transfer for an exchange visitor, the original program objective must be fulfilled as a result of the transfer.
Requesting Transfer In as an F-1 or J-1 Student:
Students in F-1 and J-1 visa status who are currently in the US studying at another University or who are completing Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT) following a degree program, must seek a SEVIS “Transfer In” to Shepherd University if they wish to begin a new degree program.
To effect the inbound transfer, International Student Affairs will need:
- Copy of the admission letter to Shepherd University with the desired start date;
- Copies of your passport identification page, current immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019), current I-94, and email and mailing addresses;
- Name and contact information for your immigration advisor at the current school; and
- Financial support documents.
Your current international student advisor will receive an email notifying him/her of your admission to Shepherd and requesting information about your current immigration status and SEVIS record and asking to coordinate the release date of your SEVIS record to Shepherd University. Once the record is released, the I-20 or DS-2019 will be prepared and you will be notified when ready to pick up.
Requesting Transfer In as a J-1 Exchange Visitor (Scholar):
Exchange Visitor Scholars wishing to transfer into Shepherd University may do so providing (a) they are currently in status at another sponsoring institution; (b) they have not reached the maximum allowable time authorized in their category; (c) they will continue to pursue the original purpose of their exchange visit; and (d) they have sufficient funding.
To effect the inbound transfer, International Affairs will need:
- Copy of the invitation letter issued by Shepherd University with the desired start date;
- Copies of your passport identification page, current and all preceding forms DS-2019 for this exchange period, current I-94, and email and mailing addresses;
- Name and contact information for your immigration advisor at your current school; and
- Financial support documents.
Once the SEVIS record is released, the new transfer DS-2019 will be prepared and pick up will be arranged. Check-in at Shepherd must occur at or slightly before the start date on the DS-2019.
Requesting Transfer Out as an F-1 or J-1 Student:
If you are currently studying at Shepherd University in F-1 or J-1 status and you plan to continue your studies at another US university, the International Student Affairs will need to complete the SEVIS transfer procedure so that your new institution will be able to issue a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.
To effect the transfer out, International Student Affairs will need a copy of your admission letter to your new school and the contact information for that school’s immigration adviser. Once these are in hand, International Student Affairs will coordinate with the new school’s immigration adviser on the transfer of your SEVIS record.
Requesting Transfer Out as a J-1 Exchange Visitor (Scholar):
To effect the transfer out, International Affairs will need a copy of your new invitation letter and the contact information for that school’s immigration adviser. Once these are in hand, International Affairs will coordinate with the new school’s immigration adviser on the transfer of your SEVIS record.
Leave of Absence
Taking a Leave of Absence is a very serious decision that affects your immigration status.
To find out how this can affect your status, please schedule an appointment with International Student Affairs.
If you have already decided to take a Leave of Absence and/or have departed the US, please confirm via email to Mary Beth Myers.
Reduced Course Load
International students who are in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 student visa classification are required by law to maintain full-time enrollment status during all normal enrollment periods.
- For undergraduate students, full-time status is defined as 12 credit hours of course work per term.
- For graduate students, full-time status is defined as 9 credit hours of course work per term or Full-time Thesis Study.
The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and/or the U.S. Department of State (DOS) allow very limited reasons for a student to engage in less than full-time enrollment. In order to qualify for the Reduced Course load authorization (RCL), an international student must apply for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) with the International Student Affairs office prior to dropping below full-time. If a student fails to continue full-time enrollment and/or be approved for a reduced course load, he/she is in violation of F-1 status resulting in termination of his/her SEVIS record.
There are three types of situations in which a student might be eligible for a Reduced Course load authorization: Academic, Medical, and To Complete Course of Study in Current Semester.
The following are academic criteria for which a student could apply for an RCL. The first three reasons pertain to a student’s first semester. For each of these reasons a student must be enrolled for at least six credits, or half the credits required for a full course of study. A reduced course load can be approved for academic reasons only once while pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. Use of an academic difficulty reduced course load does not affect eligibility for the other criteria (Medical and Final Semester).
- Initial difficulties with the English language
- Initial difficulties with reading requirements
- Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
- Placed in an improper course level
A student can apply for an RCL if he/she has a medical condition that warrants taking less than a full course of study. The student will be required to provide International Student Affairs with a recommendation letter from a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist which clearly states that the professional recommends the student to enroll part-time or not at all. The letter need not detail the medical or mental health issue. Reduced Course Load for medical conditions can be granted for no more than 12 months in the aggregate during any one course of study but is approved on a semester by semester basis.
Final term (to Complete Course of Study in the Current Term Criteria):
A student can apply for an RCL if he/she needs less than a full course load and will complete his/her course of study in the current term. This allows students to register for only the number of credits required to complete the course of study. A student cannot be registered for only an online course in his/her final semester. If applying for an RCL to complete course of study and a student does not finish, the student’s F-1 status will be in jeopardy. A student is not eligible to seek an extension after approval of an RCL for To Complete Course of Study in the Current Term Criteria.
How to Apply:
You must apply for the RCL request before dropping below full-time.
Step 1: Meet with your academic advisor to inquire about your particular eligibility. Let your advisor know that he/she will need to send an email to International Student Affairs confirming the situation and recommending the reduced course load.
Step 2: Meet with International Student Affairs, providing the needed information supporting your request. If you are applying due to Medical reasons, you will have to present a letter from the medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist requesting the reduction for medical reasons (e.g., to recover, continue treatment, etc.). It is not necessary for the letter to contain detailed medical information.
Step 3: Once your academic advisor has recommended your Reduced Course Load and you have provided the needed support information, International Student Affairs will review the application and issue a new form I-20 with and endorsement for Reduced Course Load on page two. If you are a J-1 student you will receive a memo indicating the RCL approval.
Step 4: Pick up the new I-20 or memo from International Student Affairs.
Short term visits for relatives or friends
Information for Inviting Dependents, Relatives or Friends to the U.S. for Short-term Visits
If you are inviting others to visit you on a temporary basis, they should plan to enter the US using a visitor visa (B-2) or the visa waiver program if they are a citizen or a national from a country for which it is an option.
The applicants for the visitor visa will need the following:
- Their passport, valid for more than six months beyond the intended stay in the United States.
- The visa application and associated fees and/or the payment receipt (visitor visa B-2 webpage).
- Photo – uploaded during the application process or a printed photo.
- Evidence of sufficient financial resources to cover the cost of the trip.
- Evidence of employment in, family ties to, or intent to return to the home country after the visit.
- Supporting Documentation from the Shepherd student or exchange visitor
Below is a list of supporting documentation which may be provided by the Shepherd University student, scholar or employee to assist friend(s) or relative(s) with obtaining visitor visa:
- A letter in English written by the Shepherd student, visiting scholar to the friend(s) and/or relative(s) being invited into the U.S. This letter should state:
- The purpose of the visit (i.e. graduation, vacation, birth of baby, etc.);
- The intended duration of the visit;
- Your intention to provide your visitor with lodging, food, etc., if appropriate; and
- Proof of financial support for the visit, if you will support them during their stay.
- A copy of the student’s or visiting scholar’s immigration documents:
- Current passport
- Most recent visa stamp
- I-94 record (download from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website)
- Form I-20, Form DS-2019, I-797 Approval Notice, etc.
- A copy of the student’s official transcripts from the Registrar’s Office documenting full-time studies and progression to the degree
Letter of Invitation from the International Student Affairs Office
A letter of invitation from the International Student Affairs Office is not required for your friend(s) and/or relative(s) to seek the visitor visa or entry on the visa waiver program. The government has indicated that they want the invitation letters to be written by the individual inviting the visitor to the US and not by an office on campus. Therefore, Shepherd University does not provide such letters.
Visitor Status and Extension of Stay
The initial entry I-94 record (download from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website) governs how long a visitor may stay in the United States. People entering the U.S. on a B-2 visa are routinely granted B-2 status at the port-of-entry with a six-month period of stay. However, this time can vary from 30 days to six months. Check the I-94 record for confirmation.
An extension of B-2 visitor visa status may be requested on Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Applications may be submitted by mail to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or online using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS). The extension request must be submitted & received by USCIS prior to the expiration date on the I-94 record. The International Student Affairs Office suggests applying at least 2-3 months prior to the expiration date on the I-94 card. It may take 3-6 months to receive the extension approval or denial back from USCIS.
More information about travel to the United States may be found at travel.state.gov.