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International Students Resource Center

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Maintaining Student Status

Maintaining F-1 Visa International Student Status

1. Your passport must remain valid at all times.  Your home country’s consulate/embassy should be contacted at least 6 months before the expiration date regarding renewal procedures.

2. Visa for entry and travel
The visa is the stamp that the U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. The visa allowed you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1 student, and does not need to 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.
 
3. All new international students must check in with the International Student Advisor during their first month at Woodbury
Students who do not check in to submit their required documents (e.g., I-94, I-20, passport, visa/CBP stamp) during the first month of their studies at Woodbury will get a HOLD on their record and will not be permitted to register for courses until they attend their initial meeting with the International Student Advisor.

4. Pay your I-901 (Sevis) Fee
International students who do not pay their I-901 fee will risk going out of status and eventually have their I-20s terminated. Please visit fmjfee.com​ to pay your I-901 fee if you have not done so already. 

5. You must remain enrolled in a full course of study during the entire academic year (Fall and Spring semester).
At Woodbury, this is defined as 6 units for graduate students and 12 units for undergraduate students!!  This requirement may be waived in the last semester of study where less than a full load is required for completion of the program or under other extreme circumstances as authorized by the University.  Should the required courses not be available, this requirement may be met by substitution of another course after approval by your academic advisor or by concurrent enrollment at another institution. Concurrent enrollment is permissible providing:
· Credit from that institution is transferable to Woodbury;
· Combined enrollment equals full time study at Woodbury;
· The other institution is authorized to enroll international students, and;
· Attendance at the second school is approved by your academic advisor and the Registrar prior to attending another institution.
· You must obtain permission from the Registrar and the International Student Advisor, and complete a Concurrent Enrollment Form.
 
6. You must complete your degree within the length of time stated on your I-20 or apply for an extension of stay. 
You must also apply for an extension if you need to remain in student status for more than 8 years (e.g. are completing more than one course of study).
 
7. Traveling outside the U.S. 
Your I-20 must be endorsed for travel when you leave the U.S., even to Mexico or Canada. Please note that your passport and visa should be current. Please plan ahead and seek the travel endorsement from the International Student Advisor at least two weeks prior to your travel. The signature endorsement for travel is valid for six months; however, it is highly recommended that you meet with the international student advisor before every trip outside the U.S.  You must be pre-registered for the following semester if you are traveling in between semesters.​
 
 
8. Your transfer from the school which last issued you an I-20 must be facilitated in a timely manner.
To do this, you must submit your Woodbury I-20 to the International Student Advisor for processing within the first two weeks of classes. Also, please submit the International Student Transfer Form completed by the international student advisor at your previous school.
 
9. You must limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during the school year. There are no residency requirements for on-campus employment.
 
10. You may not work off-campus unless authorized to do so.  Work authorization applies only under the following conditions:
You have been in legal status as a student in the U.S. for the past 9 months
You have been enrolled on a full-time basis at approved school for one full academic year. 
Graduate students may be authorized to work off campus (internship) only after having completed two full semesters at Woodbury University.
Students in English language training/transition programs are not eligible for off campus work.  
You can maintain full-time student status while working
You have been authorized for curricular or pre-completion optional practical training; and
You have consulted with the Office of Student Development’s International Student Advisor.
 
11. You may apply for two types of practical training during the course of your study at Woodbury: OPT & CPT.
Both must be within your field of study, and be approved by your faculty advisor and the International Student Advisor.
Curricular practical training (CPT) is allowable if you are required to do an internship as part of your graduation requirements.  
​•The time spent in part-time curricular practical training (CPT) will not be subtracted from your optional practical training. You may apply for this only after you have maintained lawful status for at least 9 months. If you use CPT during the academic year, you must still be enrolled at the full-time rate.
A total of 12 months of full-time optional practical training (OPT) is available to all students who have maintained proper academic and legal status as a student for one academic year, and continue to do so. 
The 24-month STEM extension ONLY applies to Media Technology and Animation majors!

You will need to see the International Student Advisor if...
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 the international student advisor 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. It is your responsibility to keep your I-20s in case you need them to apply for future immigration benefits.

Program Extension
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. 

Changing Schools
You must register full-time at the Woodbury, since Woodbury issued your I-20 and oversees your SEVIS record. If you decide to transfer to another school, contact the international student advisor prior to completing your final semester. 

Change of Level
If you will complete your current program of study and plan to continue at the Woodbury University in another program (for example, change from a Bachelor’s degree program to a Master’s program), your I-20 must be updated.

Change of Major
If you are accepted into a major or if you change your major you must request a new I-20. 

Change of Funding
If there is a substantial change in the source or amount of your funding, report this change to the international student advisor 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.  

Concurrent Enrollment
If you would like to take courses at another university at the same time that you are taking courses at Woodbury.

Name Change
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, the international student advisor will wait for you to change your passport first, before updating the I-20. Note that SEVIS is a separate database from the WU database. 

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 semester for undergraduate students
6 credits each semester for graduate students

Exceptions to the full-time rule:
1. Last semester of study
2. Medical condition
3. Lack of English proficiency
4. Misunderstanding of American teaching methods
  • Only one online class may count towards the minimum credit amount each semester.
​According to the F-1 regulations, an online class is one that "does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class.” Therefore any course that has some sort of physical attendance requirement, such as for a lecture, exam, or faculty meeting is not considered fully online for visa status purposes. 
  • Do not register for fewer than the required number of credits or withdraw from a course without first receiving permission from the international student advisor! Part-time studies could jeopardize your stay in the U.S. and make you ineligible for F-1 benefits.