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Maintaining Student Visitor Status

Understanding SEVIS

SEVIS is the acronym for Student & Exchange Visitor Information System. It is an online tracking system for International and Exchange Students and their dependents. Through SEVIS colleges and universities enter and update various data regarding the International and Exchange Students who have been issued a Form I-20 or DS-2019 by their institution.

This means, that the information about you and your F-1 or J-1 student or exchange visitor status will be updated regularly in this SEVIS database. Therefore you must tell the Center for International Education any time you: have a change of address, change of name, change of major, wish to drop below full-time enrollment, or wish to engage in practical training or employment. The CIE must also enter information about illegal employment or any other violation of your F-1 student status.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has complete access to your information via SEVIS. This department works with the college to assist you in properly maintaining your F-1 status. While Nazareth College and the USCIS do our parts, you must also make sure that you are maintaining your F-1 or J-1 student or exchange visitor status properly.

F-1 Students and J-1 exchange visitors are responsible to know and follow all immigration regulations. Failure to maintain your status, or comply with these regulations, may have very severe consequences for your ability to study, seek employment, or even remain in the United States. Please carefully review the list below of requirements and contact the Center for International Education if you have any questions about these regulations. These regulations may vary slightly between F-1 and J-1 status. More in depth regulations can be found by looking at links on our “useful links” page. We suggest that you review this information each semester to refresh your memory, as these regulations are very important to follow.

  • Keep your immigration documents valid and unexpired.
    • The school name on your current I-20 or DS-2019 must be the same as the school you are currently attending. Keep all information on your I-20 or DS-2019 up to date including changes in financial information, name, address and program major. Also, make sure your I-20 or DS-2019 program end date does not expire. You may apply for a Program Extension if you need more time to complete your degree.
    • Keep your passport valid 6 months into the future (passports can be extended while you are in the U.S. by contacting your home country’s embassy or consulate).
    • Make sure you have your I-94 (small white card, usually stapled in your passport) and it is stamped F-1 or J-1 D/S (Duration of Status).
    • If you plan to travel outside the U.S. and re-enter, make sure that your Visa is not expired, otherwise you may need to renew your visa before re-entering the U.S. You do not need a valid visa in order to stay in the United States, only to enter the US. *Some exceptions apply for a brief visit to Canada – please speak with the Center for International Education EVERY time you plan to travel.
  • Register for and complete a full course load of at least 12 credits (undergraduate) or 9 credits (graduate) every semester (fall and spring).
    • All students are required to make normal, full-time progress toward degree completion. If you feel that you cannot handle taking a full course load during the semester consult with the Center for International Education to see if you qualify for a Reduced Course Load. DO NOT drop or withdraw from any classes if you will fall below 12 credits until talking with the CIE about the consequences.
    • Only 3 credits of these 12 may be taken as online courses. If you have at least 9 credits on campus you may take more than 3 credits online. Be careful; online classes may be more difficult!
  • DO NOT accept any on- or off-campus employment without authorization from the Center for International Education and/or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    • Working without proper authorization is considered by the Department of Homeland Security as the most serious violation of its regulations. If you refer to your I-94 card, you will see the statement, "Warning: a nonimmigrant who accepts unauthorized employment is subject to deportation." It is most important, therefore, that you consult with the Center for International Education before you accept an offer of employment or begin to work. We will advise you whether it is possible for you to work and assist you with the appropriate procedures. It is illegal to begin to work while waiting for authorization; you must have the appropriate authorization first. Students in F-1 or J-1 status are allowed to work on-campus for Nazareth College for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the academic year (unlimited during vacation periods) but MUST be authorized by the CIE first.
    • Full-time students in valid F-1 or J-1 Status may accept ON-Campus employment of no more than 20 hours per week (part-time) while school is in session, or may accept full-time employment ON-Campus during vacations. *J-1 students MUST report employer information to the Assistant Director in the Center for International Education BEFORE accepting any job offer!
    • Students must request and have employment authorization approved BEFORE beginning to work off-campus! If a student would like to participate in an internship for credit and/or for payment they should contact the Center for International Education to apply for Curricular Practical Training (for F-1 Students) or Academic Training (for J-1 Students). All other forms of Off-Campus employment require USCIS approval which may take up to 3 months to process. Please review our Employment page to learn more about employment opportunities for F-1 and J-1 Students.
  • Once you have completed your studies and any academic or practical training that is authorized, you must leave the U.S., transfer, enroll in a higher degree level, or change to another immigration status within the appropriate time allowed (called “grace period”).
    • This means that you are allowed to stay for the period of time to complete a program of study plus academic training or optional practical training and a “grace period”. Students in valid J-1 status have a 30 day grace period and students in valid F-1 status have a 60 day grace period. Please contact the Center for International Education with any other questions you might have.
  • Contact the Center for International Education if there are any changes to your personal or academic situation. Notify the CIE, for example, if you...
    • Change your address (within 10 days of moving)
    • Change your name (within 10 days of change)
    • Change your major (Within 10 days of change)
    • Wish to transfer to another college (Before your program ends for J-1 students or before 60 days after your program end date for F-1 students)
    • Change your immigration status or leave the United States (Within 10 days of change)
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