International Student & Scholar Services

Maintaining Your Immigration Status

 

F-1 & J-1 Regulations

Students are responsible for observing the regulations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State (DOS), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS). the following responsibilities apply to international students who are in the U.S. with F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status for study at Rollins College: 

Full-time Enrollment

Students must take a full course load every required term of their academic program; for undergraduates full-time is a minimum of 12 course credits, for graduate students full-time is a minimum of 9 course credits. Under limited circumstances, students may be permitted to take less than a full-time course load with permission from OISSS. Authorization to enroll less than full-time must be approved prior to the start of the term. 

Keeping Documents Valid

Passports and immigration documents must be valid at all times; passports must be valid at least six months into the future.

Checking-in with OISSS

International students must check-in with OISSS if missing International Student Orientation or resuming studies after a leave of absence.

Transferring U.S. schools, Academic Programs, and Program Extensions

International students transferring schools within the U.S. to rollins or to another academic program within Rollins, or extending their program must follow DHS procedures in a timely manner. Immigration documents, Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, must be issued for the new school or program within the first two weeks of the new program start date. For an extension, the new Form I-20 must be issued prior to the expiration date on the current immigration document. The program end date of your Form I-20 or DS-2019 is the date by which the Immigration Service expects you to complete the requirements for you academic program. If not completed by this date, contact OISSS at least 30 days in advance to apply for a program extension.

Employment Authorization

Students with F-1 visa status are permitted to work on campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during summer vacation breaks. J-1 students require approval for on-campus employment. Authorization for off-campus work is required. Students may not seek or accept paid or unpaid off-campus employment without prior permission from OISSS. This involves a written authorization on the Form I-20 or DS-2019.

Health Insurance Requirement

International students in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant visa status must participate in the Rollins health insurance program, unless a waiver request is submitted by the deadline and approved. Spouses and children with J-2 visa status are also required by federal law to have insurance coverage. Coverage for F-2 spouses and children is highly recommended. Information can be found on the Rollins Health Insurance Policy and the Waiver Process webpage.

Change of Address

Change of address must be reported to both OISSS and the Office of Student Records within ten days of change. Reporting a change of address to Student Records is not enough. Immigration regulations require that the Office of International Student & Scholar Services always has your most current local U.S. address and home country address. The Office of International Student & Scholar Services will report the change to Immigration Service through the SEVIS system.

Admission for “Duration of Status”

You have been admitted by Immigration to the United States for “duration of status” or "D/S" which is defined by the immigration service as:

• The time during which you are pursuing a full course of study (as shown on your Form I-20 or DS-2019) and making normal progress toward completion of your program, plus 
• The time you are engaged in authorized optional practical training (OPT) or Academic Training after you complete your studies, plus
• A grace period of 30 days (J-1) or 60 days (F-1) to transfer schools, change immigration status, or depart the U.S.

The Immigration Service grants “duration of status” to F-1 or J-1 students by entering the notation “D/S” on the Form I-94.


Regulations for J-1 Visa Status

Health Insurance Requirements

If scholars are not provided health insurance as a benefit of their employment at Rollins College, they are required to purchase their own health insurance which must meet the Department of State regulations.  The Office of International Student & Scholar Services will provide you with these regulations and, if necessary, a list of private insurance companies from which a policy may be purchased.  Scholars may use a health insurance policy from their home country if it provides coverage in the U.S., is valid, and meets the regulations.

Immigration Status Violations

To fall “out of status” means that you have violated an immigration regulation pertaining to your particular immigration status (F-1, J-1, etc.). If this occurs, you may lose the benefits of your status in the U.S., including your eligibility to work. You are at risk of violating your status for any of the following reasons:
  1. You allow your passport to expire.
  2. You are not attending the school that issued the Form I-20 or DS-2019 you used to enter the United States most recently.
  3. You do not follow the correct procedures for transferring from one school to another, or for continuing from one educational level to another.
  4. You drop below full-time in any semester without first obtaining permission.
  5. You do not attend school during the fall or spring semester (during the academic year).
  6. You work off campus without proper authorization.
  7. You work on or off campus for more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  8. Your program completion date on your I-20 or DS-2019 has passed and you have not filed for a program extension.

Reinstatement

If you violate your immigration status, you may be eligible for a process called Reinstatement.
F-1 students are required to abide by all immigration regulations relating to F-1 status.  Occasionally, students do not follow these regulations and fall out of status.  Fortunately, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service gives F-1 students the opportunity to regain their status.  There are two ways that you can regain your status.  The first is a process called reinstatement.  The second is through traveling to regain your status.  

Eligibility for Reinstatement: 

A student who has violated status may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of a USCIS Adjudicator, but only under the limited conditions as follow:

(A) The student has not been out of status for more than five months;
(B) The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control or that failure to receive reinstatement to lawful F-1 status would result in extreme hardship to the student;
(C) The student is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study at the school that issued the I-20;
(D) The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment; and 
(E) The student is not deportable on any ground other than failing to maintain status. 

Procedures for applying for reinstatement:

Reinstatement applications are prepared by the student and the International Student Advisor.  After meeting with an advisor, the student will be responsible for mailing the application to:
U.S.C.I.S.
Vermont Service Center
ATTN:  I-539
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT  05479

An adjudicator will review your application and make a decision whether to reinstate your student status.  The USCIS will notify you and the Director of International Student & Scholar Services about the decision on your reinstatement.

Please see the Reinstatement Filing List detailing the documents required for the reinstatement application.


Alternative to reinstatement: Travel to regain status

The alternative to filing for reinstatement is to travel outside the United States and re-enter the country. The student will receive a new I-20 created specifically to travel and regain status prior to leaving and receive a new I-94 upon re-entering the country.  In order to successfully travel and regain status, the student must have a new I-20, as well as a valid passport and F-1 visa.  Students who received a change of status in the U.S. or whose visas have expired would be required to obtain a new visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate.  

Re-entry can put the student back to F-1 status. However, re-entry to the U.S. after a status violation is viewed by USCIS as a new entry in F-1 status. This means that you will be bound by the regulations for students arriving for the first time to the United States.  Most significantly, this will affect your eligibility for practical training.  If you travel to regain status, you will have to wait one full academic year before you will be eligible for practical training (CPT, OPT) or economic hardship employment authorizations.

Reducing Course Load

A student in F-1 or J-1 student status may not reduce his or her course load below full-time without prior permission of the Office of International Student Services (OISSS). In cases where this is allowed, a Deviation Form must be completed and submitted to the OISSS in order to properly document the reduction in the student’s immigration file and reported to the Immigration Service through SEVIS. Reduced course load may be taken only for the following reasons AND only for one semester during each education level:

  • Difficulties with the English language.
  • Improper course level placement.
  • Lack of familiarity with U.S. teaching methods or difficulty with reading requirements.
  • A serious medical condition documented in writing by a licensed doctor. Medical leaves of absence can only be approved for a maximum of 12 months aggregate.
  • During the last semester of study if fewer credits are required for completion of the academic program.
  • During the last semester for a graduate student who is preparing for comprehensive exams or completing a thesis.

Documentation of the reason must be submitted to the OISSS and approved prior to the reduction of the course load. Failure to submit this documentation on time is considered a violation of your immigration status and must be reported to the Immigration Service.

Extending Program of Study

F-1 Students:

If an F-1 student is unable to complete his or her studies at Rollins College by the completion date on the Form I-20, he or she must file for a “program extension.” This must be done prior to the completion date. It is recommended that you allow at least two weeks processing time to complete this procedure. Students must submit new financial documentation available in the Request Form I-20 page and the Program Extension form. All extensions must be completed before the current I-20 expires.

J-1 Students:

Students and scholars with J-1 visa status must apply for an extension of stay if planning to remain in the U.S. beyond the date specified in section 3 of the Form DS-2019. If Rollins College is your J-1 sponsor, as indicated in section 2 of the Form DS-2019, you will need to request a new Form DS-2019 from the Office of International Student & Scholar Services.

In general, extensions can be granted if the J-1 has not exceeded the normal time limits for a particular program. Students must submit new financial documentation and a letter of explanation from the academic advisor for a new DS-2019 to be issued. Program sponsors are permitted to extend a participant's program by updating the Exchange Visitor’s SEVIS record and issuing a new Form DS-2019 with the new ending date.

If your Form DS-2019 was issued by another sponsoring agency (such as Fulbright, Rotary, USAID, AmidEast, Hariri Foundation, LASPAU, or the United Nations), you must contact your program officer for information about an extension of stay. They must issue your new Form DS-2019 and may have additional requirements. You should expect this to take much more time than if Rollins is your sponsor, so plan ahead!