Maintenance of Status
Under U.S. law, you are
fully responsible for abiding by the rules governing your F-1 status. International Student and Scholar Services will do its best to help you understand these rules, but you are required to follow the conditions and responsibilities of student status explained below. Conditions Of Status International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is required to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in SEVIS when an F-1 student does not fulfill the following conditions of status: Always be full-time. Enroll for and complete a full course of study (12 credits for undergraduates, 9 credits for graduates, with a maximum of three credits online) every fall and spring term. Obtain permission to be less than full-time before you drop, withdraw from, or stop attending a class. If you do not believe you will be able to fulfill the full-time requirement for any reason, contact the ISSS before you withdraw from or stop attending class. There are a few limited exceptions to this requirement for which you might qualify if you obtain permission in advance. Please see our Reduced Course Load Request Form, and contact us for more information. Only work as authorized. Individuals with F-1 status may work on-campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and full-time during official school breaks. These 20 hours include the sum of all hours you work on campus, even the work you do for an assistantship, if you have one. In order to work in a paid or unpaid off-campus job, you must get permission from the ISSS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Any remuneration (free room & board, etc.) you receive for work is considered payment. Never work without authorization. Make sure your program end date on your Form I-20 is accurate. Your program completion date on your I-20 must always reflect (to the best of your knowledge) the date you will finish your studies. If you do not think you will be able to complete your program by the completion date on your I-20, even if there is just a slight chance of this occurring, you must apply for a program extension and get an updated I-20; it is not possible to extend your F-1 program after your I-20 end date. If you expect to complete your program before the completion date expires earlier than the program completion date, you must get an updated I-20 . To apply for a program extension, you will need the before you complete your program Program Extension: Information and Checklist, Program Extension Request Form, I-20 Application Form, and if applicable, the Financial Information and Affidavit of Support. Obtain a SEVIS transfer to attend another U.S. school. If you plan to transfer to another U.S. school, college, or university (besides Stevens), you must notify the ISSS and be “transferred out” in SEVIS before your status ends. Please see the Transfer-Out Request, and contact ISSS for more information. Obtain a change of education level to begin a new program of study. If you have been admitted to a new program of study at Stevens (for instance, you are completing a master’s and beginning a Ph.D. or just starting a new program at the same level, like a second master’s), you must obtain a Form I-20 for your new program before you complete your current program of study. Please contact our office for more information. Depart the U.S. within 60 days of your program completion date or Optional Practical Training end date. If you have completed your program of study, you must depart the U.S. within 60 days if you are in F-1 status. Likewise, if you have completed your post-completion Optional Practical Training and have no further plans to study or change your immigration status, you must depart the U.S. within 60 days of your Employment Authorization Document’s (EAD’s) end date. If you are an F-1 student and plan to leave the U.S. early (before the program completion date on your I-20), you must apply for Authorized Early Withdrawal. An Authorized Early Withdrawal will result in a non-violation termination of your record, and you will have only 15 days to leave the United States. If you plan to take a leave of absence, ISSS will assist you in preparing the documents you’ll need to return to the U.S., which may include a new I-20 and visa, depending on how long you’ll be gone. Please see the Request to Depart the U.S. Early, and contact ISSS for more information. Other Responsibilities Keep your passport valid at all times. You must always have a valid passport. If your passport is going to expire, contact your country’s embassy or consulate in the United States to renew it. If you are leaving the U.S. and returning (for instance, during summer vacation), make sure your passport will be valid for at least six months into the future when you return. Report any address or name change to the ISSS within 10 days of making the change. Get an updated Form I-20 when any of its information changes. Notify ISSS if there are any changes in the information on your Form I-20, such as name, citizenship, degree level, major, or funding, and get an updated Form I-20. If you would like to have your dependent(s) (spouse or child) join you in the U.S., you will need to apply for an F-2 dependent I-20 so that your dependent(s) can apply for an F-2 visa. The F-2 visa and I-20 allow dependent(s) to travel to the U.S. and reside with an F-1 student while s/he is completing his or her studies, post-completion OPT, or OPT STEM extension. To apply for a dependent I-20, you will need the F-2 Dependent I-20 Application- Information and Checklist, I-20 Application Form, and if applicable, the Financial Information and Affidavit of Support. Employment On-Campus Employment You may work up to twenty hours per week during “required terms” (at Stevens, fall and spring semesters). Full-time work during breaks included in the program (winter holiday, spring break, and summer break) is permissible. Employment with organizations that operate within the university, such as the cafeteria, are counted as “on-campus.” You may not engage in employment during the 60-day grace period. F-1 students can only work from their program start dates to their program end dates (not before and not after) On-campus job information is located here: http://www.stevens.edu/sit/student-employment. You may also contact the Student Employment Coordinator for more information about on-campus jobs and how to apply for them: Off-Campus Employment (Please note: You may not start working off-campus without applying for and receiving authorization from a Designated School Official [DSO] in the ISSS office and, for most cases, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS].) Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
What is it? Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is off-campus employment authorization for employment a student is required to do to successfully complete a course. "Alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school” [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)] Integral part of the established curriculum that is: Published in the college catalogue/bulletin Has a course number, and the student registers for it How can you qualify for it? Be a full-time student in F-1 status for at least one academic year (one fall and one spring semester) Be in lawful F-1 status at the time of the CPT application Get approval from academic advisor Be enrolled in a course necessitating CPT employment Have a job offer Full-Time vs. Part-Time CPT Part-Time (20 hours or less per week)- No limit Full-Time (More than 20 hours per week)- 364 days. Doing full-time CPT for one year or more will cancel one’s eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). For more information and to apply, please see the CPT Request Form and Frequently Asked Questions. Optional Practical Training (OPT)
What is it? Optional Practical Training (OPT) is off-campus employment authorization that allows F-1 students to gain work experience in their major field of study. The amount of work you are permitted is a maximum of 12 months of full-time employment for each higher educational level you pursue in the U.S. You can use it during (pre-completion) or after (post-completion) your studies, and you can work for any employer, anywhere in the U.S. If you work part-time, which is twenty hours or less per week and only permitted before graduation, it accrues at ½ rate (for instance, if you work part-time for six months, you’ve only used three months of your OPT). Certain majors in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields also qualify for a 17-month extension of OPT after completing their post-completion OPT; please contact the ISSS office for more information about the STEM extension and to find out if you qualify. How can it be used? Summer vacation and semester break – either part-time or full-time employment While school is in session – part-time employment only After completion of all course requirements for a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, excluding the thesis or equivalent – part-time or full-time employment After completion of ALL requirements for the course of study – full-time employment only How can you qualify for it? You must have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year. You must be able to describe how the type of work you are seeking directly relates to your major. You do not have to have a job offer to apply for OPT, but if you are applying for pre-completion of studies OPT, it is wise that you be as sure as possible of a job so that you don’t waste any of your 12 months of OPT time. You may apply for Post-Completion of Studies OPT up to three months before completing your program of study, but not later than 60 days after. If you apply within the 60-day period after completion, you are likely not to receive your full 12 month OPT benefit due to USCIS processing times. If you have already used 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training, you are not eligible for any OPT For application materials and more information about applying, please see the OPT section under the Forms portion of this website. What are your reporting requirements on post-completion OPT/the STEM extension? Once you acquire employment, lose employment, or change employers, you are required to contact the ISSS to report your employment information to us and receive an updated I-20. The OPT/STEM Extension Employment Update provides you with instructions on whom to contact and what to send. The OPT Acknowledgement of Responsibilities outlines all of your other reporting requirements on post-completion OPT and the STEM extension. Severe Economic Hardship Employment What is it? Severe Economic Hardship Employment is off-campus employment authorization for students who are experiencing serious financial difficulties caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. It is available to a student for “severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status.” How do you obtain it? Must be applied for and authorized by USCIS Must provide documentation of your former financial support and the “economic hardship” (records of before and after), proving to USCIS that employment is necessary If authorized, you may get any kind of job, anywhere, and work a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during vacation periods. Please see Economic Hardship Employment Authorization under the Forms section of this website for application materials and more information. Internship with an International Organization What is it? This type of employment is for students who receive an internship with “a recognized international organization within the meaning of the International Organization Immunities Act” [8 CFR 214.2 (9) (iii)]. How do you obtain it? Must apply to USCIS Must have written certification from the organization “that the proposed employment is within the scope of the organization’s sponsorship” Please contact ISSS for forms and guidance if you need to apply.