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Visa Regulation Information
The Department of Homeland Security is divided into three bureaus: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) acts to regulate international students and their dependents who attend educational institutions in the United States. SEVP is guided by the regulations and policies set forth by USCIS, and students and their dependents are maintained through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must abide by the requirements of the system.
The following is a list of data collected by the SEVIS system:
- Student's full name (as listed in the passport)
- Date of birth
- Country of birth
- Country of citizenship
- Issue reason (initial/initial — change of status requested)
- Foreign physical address (may not be a post office box)
- U.S. address (upon availability)
- Education level (associate's, bachelor's, master's, etc.)
- Program(s) of study
- Length of study
- Program start date and end date
- English proficiency
- Number of months per term
- Dependent Information
Additionally, the following must also be updated in the SEVIS system as changes occur:
- Change of name
- Program of study
- Program end date (extensions or early completion)
- Transfer of schools
- Financial changes
- Change of address
- Employment and training information
- Dependent information
Please make two copies of the following documents in case your originals are lost. Keep copies in a separate place from your originals:
- Passport (ID page(s) only)
- I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (no longer issued in passport, may be found online)
- Form I-20 (F-1 students and dependents)
- Form DS-2019 (J-1 students, scholars and dependents)
- Social Security card (If eligible)
- Sponsorship letters
- Financial documents
- Health insurance records
- Immunization records
- Driver's License
We also recommend that you make copies of any forms/applications before submitting to USCIS.
This section is designed to provide general answers to questions you might have about visa matters. If you have problems or questions, please visit or call the international student advisor at 912.344.3237.
The I-20 (F visa) and DS-2019 (J visa) are the documents used to obtain the visa. Your dependents should be/ have been issued an F-2 visa or J-2 visa.
Your passport must be kept valid at all times. Passport renewals may be obtained by contacting your country's consulate or embassy.
The visa is the document issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy that allows foreign nationals to enter the United States for a specific purpose and period of time. For F visa holders, the visa does not indicate the length of time which the student is allowed to remain in the U.S. If your visa expires while in the U.S., it is not necessary to renew it as long as you remain in the U.S. However, if you leave the country with an expired visa, you must renew your visa before you will be permitted re-entry. If you need to leave the U.S. temporarily, the international student advisor will counsel you on how to obtain a new visa.
Visas for Spouse and Children
The spouse and children of an F-1 visa holder are issued F-2 visas. An F-2 visa holder is not eligible to apply for work permission. J-2 visas are issued to the spouse and children of a J-1 visa holder. Under certain circumstances, a J-2 visa holder may apply for work permission with USCIS.
I-94: Arrival/Departure Record
The Form I-94, also called Arrival/Departure Record, the small white card attached to your passport at the port of entry to the United States is no longer issued. You may now find your I-92 information online at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html. This form officially determines how long an international student can remain in the U.S. Your I-94 information shows your visa status and the date until which your visa status is valid in the U.S.
All international students are required to have health insurance. The fee for the mandatory health insurance plan will be posted to your PORT account. If you already have a policy, you have the option of submitting your policy information to be reviewed for a waiver of the mandatory policy.
Staying in Compliance
Each time you make a change of information, please contact the Office of International Education or the international student advisor immediately. Additionally, each semester your record must be updated in SEVIS. Please inform us if you are not returning, planning a vacation leave or taking a leave of absence. Help us to help you be compliant with immigration regulations.
Address & Name Changes
Students have 10 days to notify the international advisor of a change of address. Additionally, you should update your address and phone number on S.H.I.P. Updating your address in S.H.I.P. does not mean that the international advisor will be notified. You must provide the information.
Dropping Below Full-time Enrollment
A full course of study is 12 credit hours per semester for undergraduates and nine hours per semester for graduate students. We recommend that you enroll for more than 12 hours each semester in case you do have a problem and need to drop a class. This should help to prevent you from dropping below full-time enrollment and being considered out of status. Armstrong is obligated to report out of status students in SEVIS. You may only be granted permission to drop below full-time enrollment under certain approved circumstances. If you are a senior and need to drop below a full course load during your last semester at Armstrong, you must request permission before the registration fee deadline. * You must be granted permission to drop below 12 hours a semester before you drop any course(s) and before the semester begins.
Change of Major
Each time you change your major in PORT and the change has been approved and finalized, you must notify the international advisor immediately. Your new major will be entered into SEVIS and you will be issued a new I-20. Your I-20 must reflect your current major.
Duration of Status
Duration of status expires if you take longer than expected to complete a given academic level (e.g., bachelor's, master's, doctorate). The amount of time permitted to complete studies at a given level is determined by the date listed on the I-20 issued by Armstrong. You must pay close attention to the expected completion date noted in item 5 on the I-20 Form. If you do not complete your degree within the time period listed in the I-20 Form, you must request a program extension BEFORE your I-20 expires or you will be considered out of status.
Travel Outside the U.S.
Each time you plan to travel outside the country, you must notify the international advisor at least two weeks prior to your departure. You MUST have the last page of your I-20 signed in order to be permitted re-entry into the country. Travel signatures are valid for one year and a travel letter will be prepared for you.
Each semester, Armstrong must report your information to SEVIS—the number of credit hours you are taking, graduation/completion of studies, address changes, work authorization, change of major, dependents accompanying you, EVERYTHING!!! Keep us informed so your information is correct.
School Transfers — in or out
To transfer between schools, you must gain acceptance to another school and inform the current school your intent to transfer. Students will be "released" by their current school and "picked up" by their new school in SEVIS. If you plan to transfer from Armstrong to another U.S. institution, please notify the international advisor immediately for instructions.
Change of Level/Program at Armstrong
If you continue at Armstrong from one educational level to another (e.g., from a bachelor's to a master's) you must notify the international advisor. Armstrong will issue you a new I-20 reflecting your level/program change pending acceptance and financial documentation received, depending on the situation.
F-1 students need permission for an extension of stay in the United States to continue their program of study beyond the date stated on the original I-20. Legitimate reasons for an extension of stay include: change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems or documented illness. If you need an extension of stay, you should make an appointment with the international advisor at least 60 days in advance of the expiration date of your I-20.
Falling Out of Compliance
If you fall out of status and/or do not notify Armstrong of all changes, you may be subject to the following consequences:
- Denial of re-entry to the U.S.
- Inability to move from undergraduate to graduate status
- Denial of request for Practical Training work authorization
- Denial of request to change visa status
- Possible denial of all future visa applications
- Limit of five months to apply for reinstatement
- Deportation or accrued unlawful presence
You must see the international student advisor for information on filing for reinstatement.
J-1 Info (Exchange Visitor)
After completion of their program of study in the U.S., persons on J-1 visas who have received support from the United States government or whose field of study appears on the 212 E country skills list are required to reside at least two years in their home country before re-entering the United States as a permanent resident or on some other nonimmigrant visa. The DS-2019 form is renewable annually by the sponsor. Persons wishing to temporarily leave the U.S. will need to obtain the designated school official's signature. Practical training is available to J-1 students. All J-1 visa holders should visit the Office of International Education with questions.
**NOTE** DO NOT LISTEN TO YOUR FRIENDS about immigration/status issues. Always check with the international student advisor or the Office of International Education. Please stay in contact with us to ensure your information is correct and up to date.
**Remember: As a nonimmigrant student, you have been granted temporary permission to live and study in the United States. It is your responsibility to follow the regulations outlined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in regard to maintaining your nonimmigrant status. Should changes occur in your immigration status or if you have questions, please notify:
Office of International Education
912.344.3128 or 344.3042