It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms
of your immigration status during your stay in the United States.
A violation of the immigration regulations (for example, failure
to maintain a full-time credit load or unauthorized employment)
could jeopardize your F-1 status and legal stay in the U.S. Review
this information carefully and contact International Student
Advisor if you have questions.
What is F-1 "Status"?
“Status” is your nonresident category officially granted by
an immigration official. To be in F-1 “status” means that you
are legally in the U.S. and have benefits and restrictions specified
in the immigration regulations for the F-1 visa category. You gain
status either by entering the U.S. with F-1 documents or by applying to U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services for a change of status for people
already in the U.S. in a different status.
Your admission to the U.S. is for "duration of status,"
that is, for the length of your F-1 status. F-1 status covers the
period when you are a full-time registered student making normal
progress toward your degree, plus an optional period of practical
training following completion of studies, plus a 60-days "grace
period" to prepare to depart the U.S. or change to another
status. Your length of authorized stay is not related to your
F-1 visa expiration date. The F-1 visa is specifically for entry
into the U.S. The F-1 visa might expire before your status expires,
and your status might end before your visa expires.
Documents that You Need to Carry
Federal law requires you to carry "registration" documents
at all times, including your I-20 and passport with I-94 card attached
or F-1 admission stamp (depending on what you received upon your
last entry to the U.S.). We suggest that these documents be kept
in a secure location such as a bank safe deposit box, and you should
carry photocopies. However, if you are traveling outside the Southern
California area, you should carry the original documents with you.
If you are traveling by air, train, bus or ship, you may be required
to produce these documents before boarding. Keep photocopies of
all your documents in a separate location in the event your documents
are lost or stolen. Below is an overview of the documents related
to your F-1 status.
Your passport must be valid at all times.
Keep your passport and other important documents in a safe place,
such as a bank safe-deposit box. Report a lost or stolen passport
to the police because your government may require a police report
before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport,
your country's consulate in the U.S.
The visa is the stamp that the U.S. consular
officer placed on a page in your passport. The visa permitted
you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1 student,
and need not remain valid while you are in the U.S. (Canadian
citizens are not required to have a visa.) If your visa expires
while you are in the U.S., the next time you travel abroad you
must obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S. Exceptions
to this rule exist for short trips to Canada, Mexico, and the
Caribbean islands. Visas can only be obtained outside of
the U.S. at a U.S. consulate.
I-20 Certificate of Eligibility
Issued by SBU,
this document allows you to apply for an F-1 visa if you are
outside the U.S, apply for F-1 status within the U.S., enter
and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status, and prove your eligibility
for various F-1 benefits. The I-20 indicates the institution
in which you are permitted to study, your program of study,
and the dates of eligibility. The I-20 must remain valid at
all times. Request an I-20 extension prior to its expiration
date. Allowing the I-20 to expire before you complete your academic
program is a violation of F-1 status.
The I-20 is a printout from your SEVIS (Student Exchange
Visitor Information System) record. Each student has a unique
SEVIS ID number, which is printed on your I-20 in the top right
I-94 Arrival & Departure Record
When you enter
the U.S. you are issued either an admission stamp in your passport
or Form I-94, a small white card usually stapled to the passport
opposite the visa stamp. In summer of 2013, Customs and Border
Protection (CBP) transitioned to electronic arrival/departure
records for air and sea ports of entry. For most travelers arriving
by air or sea, a paper I-94 card will not be issued. Instead,
the CBP official will issue an admission stamp in the passport.
Travelers at land borders will continue to receive paper I-94
You might receive either a paper I-94 card or an F-1
admission stamp in your passport (no card), depending on where
you arrive. The admission stamp or I-94 card records the date
and place you entered the U.S., your immigration status (for
example, F-1 or F-2), and authorized period of stay (indicated
by "D/S", meaning "duration of status").
Be sure to check the stamp to make sure it is correct. If you
receive a paper I-94 card, keep it stapled in your passport.
You might need a printout of your electronic I-94 information
to apply for various benefits such as a Social Security Number.
You can obtain a printout of your I-94 record at CBP.gov/I94.
Events That Require You to Update Your I-20
Many kinds of updates must be reported to the Department of Homeland
Security through SEVIS and must be changed on your I-20. Notify
ISA of the following changes and request an updated I-20. Keep
every I-20 for your permanent record, even after you graduate.
Do not discard the old ones, even from previous schools. ISA files
are archived and destroyed after several years, so it is your responsibility
to keep your I-20s in case you need them to apply for future immigration
If you are unable to complete
your course of study before the completion date noted in item
5 on your I-20, you must request an extended I-20 before your
current I-20 expires. you must complete and submit a Program Extension Request Form explaining the reason for extension to an ISA.
For more information and instructions,
see an International Student Advisor.
You must register full-time at
the SBU, since the SBU issued your I-20 and oversees your SEVIS
record. If you decide to transfer to another school, contact
ISA prior to completing your final quarter at SBU. For information
about transferring your SEVIS record to the new school, see
an International Student Advisor.
Change of Level
If you will complete your current
program of study and plan to continue at the SBU in another
program (for example, change from a Master’s degree program
to a Doctoral program), your I-20 must be updated. For more
information, see an International Student Advisor.
Change of Major
If you are accepted into a major
or if you change your major (for example, History to Biology
at the same level), you must request a new I-20. For more information,
see an International Student Advisor.
Change of Funding
If there is a substantial change
in the source or amount of your funding, report this change
to ISA and a new I-20 will be issued to you. For example, if
you receive a Research or Teaching Assistantship through your
department, but your I-20 indicates that you use personal funds
to pay for expenses, you should request a new I-20. For
more information, see an International Student Advisor.
The name on your I-20 should match
the name on your passport. If you change any part of your
legal name—first/given name, middle name, or last/family name—on
your passport, this change should be reflected on your I-20.
Conversely, if you want a different name on your I-20, ISA will
wait for you to change your passport first, before updating
the I-20. Note that SEVIS is a separate database from the SBU
database. For instructions on changing your name in the SBU
database, see an International Student Advisor or Registrar.
Full-time Registration Requirements and Exceptions
In general, F-1 students must be registered full-time. This is
defined as at least:
- 12 credits each quarter for undergraduate/graduate students
- 8 credits each quarter for doctoral students at SBU
Do not register for fewer than the required number of credits
or withdraw from a course without first receiving permission from
ISA. Part-time studies could jeopardize your stay in the U.S. and
make you ineligible for F-1 benefits.
Exceptions to the Full-Time Requirement
Reduced Course Load (RCL) for Specific Academic Reasons
must complete and submit the Request for Less Than Full-Time Enrollment Form explaining that one of the following reasons apply to you. Note
that the first three reasons are primarily for new students
beginning their studies, since the exception reasons refer to
Your ISA will review the Form,
evaluate whether or not a drop will be allowed, and if approved,
will print a new I-20 for you with the RCL authorization dates.
An academic RCL is only allowed one quarter per degree level.
You must request the RCL and receive approval from the ISA before
the end of the quarter in which you need the approved RCL.
- Initial difficulty with the English language
- Initial difficulty with reading requirements
- Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
- Improper course level placement
Reduced Course Load (RCL) for a Documented Medical Condition
must submit a recommendation letter to ISA from a "licensed
medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist."
A reduced course load due to a medical reason may be authorized
multiple times so long as the aggregate period does not exceed
12 months. Regardless of the date during the quarter you
request the RCL, it will cover the entire quarter and will subtract
three months from your 12-month allowance. You must request
the RCL and receive approval from the ISA before the end of
the quarter in which you need the approved RCL. We will issue
a new I-20 for you authorizing the RCL.
Annual Vacation Quarter
An annual vacation quarter
is a quarter spent in the United States while not registered
for full-time credits. You are eligible for vacation if you
have completed one full-time academic year (3 consecutive quarters)
prior to the vacation and intend to register for the following
term. During your vacation quarter, you may either enroll part-time
or not at all.
You may take as few credits as required
to complete your degree as long as you register for at least
one credit at SBU. Before changing your credit load, notify
ISA using the Less Than Full-Time Academic Load.
Concurrent Enrollment at SBU and Another College
You can "concurrently enroll," which means you take classes at SBU and another school in the same quarter, and ISA combines the credits to count as full-time. To concurrently enroll, you must take at least 12-credit minimum for a master’s degree at SBU, or at least 8-credit minimum for a doctoral degree at SBU. You must take courses at the appropriate educational level; the credits should count towards your SBU degree. Consult your ISA about your plans in advance to be sure your concurrent enrollment request will be approved by ISA and your academic advisor.
Submit a copy of your registration/class schedule from the other school to ISA at the beginning of the quarter, and email your primary ISA to confirm your concurrent enrollment. After you complete the quarter, submit an unofficial transcript of your completed courses from the other school to ISA. (This step is for F-1 purposes only. To officially transfer the credit, contact the Academic Adviser.)
"Employment" is any work performed or services provided
(including self-employment) in exchange for money or other benefit
or compensation (for example, free room and board in exchange for
babysitting). Unauthorized employment is taken very seriously by
U.S. immigration officials; familiarize yourself with your F-1 employment
eligibility options and always contact ISA before accepting any
work that you are not sure is authorized. See an International Student
Travel: Returning to the U.S. After a Temporary Absence
At the port-of-entry you must present:
- An unexpired I-20 endorsed for travel within the last year
by an ISA. The travel signature is located on page 3 of the
- Valid F-1 visa.
- Evidence of finances.
- Copy of your transcript and current course schedule.
- If returning from Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands (except
Cuba) after a visit of less than 30 days solely in those countries,
your visa need not be valid; however, you will be required to
show your previously issued I-94 in addition to the other documents
- Students outside the U.S. for more than one quarter and
those on Optional Practical Training may have additional requirements.
- Go to Travel & Visas for more information.
Dependents (Spouse and Children)
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 may be eligible for
F-2 dependent status. Contact ISA for procedures to invite a dependent
to join you in the U.S. Immigration regulations do not permit F-2
dependents to be employed in the U.S. F-2 dependents can study
part-time in vocational curriculum at an SEVP-certified
school. F-2 dependents can also study in avocational or recreational
programs--hobbies. F-2 dependents may enroll full-time in kindergarten
through 12th grade.
An F-2 dependent who wants to pursue full-time study must obtain
F-1 status to begin the full-time program.
Loss of F-1 Status
If you violate the immigration regulations you may be able to
regain valid F-1 status either through a reinstatement application
to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or through travel and
reentry with a new I-20/new SEVIS record. The appropriate
option will depend on your individual circumstances; review the
reinstatement and reentry procedures
and consult your ISA for more information.
Graduation or Completion of Your Program
The end of your academic program affects your F-1 status. After
you graduate or complete your program, you have a 60-day grace
If you do not complete your educational objective (for example,
if you withdraw from your program), you are not eligible for the
60-day grace period. Contact your ISA in this situation.
International Student Advisor
The International Student Advisor is located at
the Anaheim campus.
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 am -
International Student Advisor
Ms. Seon Kim
1126 North Brookhurst Street, Anaheim, CA
(714) 533-1495 ext. 230