Current International Students
F-1 Regulations and Maintaining Status
As a student in F-1 status, you are responsible for learning and understanding all immigration related laws and regulations to maintain valid F-1 student status. Failure to abide by these regulations may result in serious immigration consequences.
Check-In to the Center for Career and Academic Planning at the Start of Each Semester
You must report to the international student advisor in the Center for Career and Academic Planning within the first week of classes at the beginning of each fall and spring semester in order to be registered as an active student in SEVIS. Federal regulations require the Center for Career and Academic Planning to complete this SEVIS registration each semester.
Maintain a Full-Course of Study Each Semester
You must maintain full-time enrollment (12+ credits for undergraduates, 9+ credits for graduates) each fall/spring semester. With few specific, valid and pre-approved circumstances, dropping below full-time status at any point in the semester is prohibited. If you need to drop below full-time status because of academic difficulty, a medical condition or completion of study, you should see the international student advisor to confirm eligibility for part-time status and to receive the required authorization in SEVIS.
Abide by U.S. Federal Employment Regulations
You may not work off-campus (paid or unpaid) without prior authorization. On-campus work (in a student service function - ex. bookstore, library, dining services) is permitted on a part-time basis during the semester (max. 20 hrs/week) and full-time (21+ hrs/week) during college break periods (winter, summer vacation). If you wish to work/intern (paid or unpaid) off-campus, you must see the international student advisor to confirm eligibility and to apply for/receive authorization. See Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training for additional information.
Immediately Report Any Academic or Address Changes
U.S. federal regulations require you to inform your international student advisor within 10 days of a change to a your academic program (major, minor, etc.) or change of address (foreign or U.S.). The Center for Career and Academic Planning is required to provide this information to the federal government through the SEVIS system.
Prior to Traveling Outside of the U.S., Bring Your I-20
Bring your I-20 to the Center for Career and Academic Planning prior to traveling outside of the U.S. to receive an updated travel signature on pg. 3 of your I-20. The travel signature certifies that you are maintaining valid student status and will be returning after a brief travel period to resume studies. Travel signatures are valid for one year from the date signed.
Keep Your Passport Valid at All Times
You must have a valid passport in your possession, and this passport should be valid for at least six months into the future. For information on renewing your passport, visit the website of your country's embassy or consulate in the United States.
Apply for an Extension Prior to the I-20 Program End Date
If you are maintaining regular progress toward degree completion and need additional time to complete your academic program, you may apply for a program extension. You must apply for an extension before the program end date listed on the I-20. Requests made after the program completion date cannot be completed.
Depart the U.S. Within the 60 Day Grace Period Following Program Completion
You must depart the U.S. within 60 days of the program end date listed on your I-20. Exceptions to this rule include students who have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT), are transferring to a new school or degree level, or have applied for a change of status through USCIS. You may use these 60 days to prepare for departure, apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), transfer to a new school or degree level, or apply for a change of status. You are not permitted to leave the U.S. and reenter during your grace period and should take care to submit OPT applications and/or transfer plans prior to departing the U.S., even for a brief travel period.
Obtain Transfer Authorization Prior to Leaving Fisher
If you are planning to transfer to another college or university in the U.S., you must inform the Center for Career and Academic Planning of your transfer intentions prior to leaving Fisher. You must then complete the SEVIS Release Form and provide the Center for Career and Academic Planning with a copy of your acceptance letter to have your SEVIS record transferred to the new institution.
Report Departure Date and Reason to the Center for Career and Academic Planning if Ending Studies Prior to Program Completion Date
You may choose to leave Fisher early or unexpectedly for a variety of reasons such as early graduation, leave of absence, withdrawal, or termination. Federal regulations require you to inform the Center for Career and Academic Planning if you plan to leave Fisher prior to the program completion date on your I-20.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Request Form
This form is to be used by F-1 students to request Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. CPT is a type of off-campus employment authorization that enables students in F-1 status to take part in an academic internship, clinical, field work or practice experience integral to their curriculum. Authorization for such activities is needed, whether or not the experience is paid.
F-1 Policies and Procedures
Online and Hybrid Courses
Online Courses and Full-time Enrollment Requirements
No more than the equivalent of one online class or three credits per semester may count towards the "full course of study" requirement, if an online course "does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class."
The distance education provision does not limit the number of distance education credits that can be used towards degree requirements, but rather the number of such credits that can be used to satisfy the "full course of study" requirement.
These restrictions apply only to the number of credit hours required to meet a student’s full course of study requirements. As long as students meet these requirements, they may enroll in additional online courses, as desired.
For example, an undergraduate that is required to register for 12 credits per semester to maintain a "full course of study" could take three of those credits through an online class each semester. If the student chose to take an overload of 15 credits, six of which were done online, all six credits might be counted towards the student's degree requirements, although only three of those credits are actually serving to maintain the student's F-1 "full course of study." On the other hand, an undergraduate student who is registered only for 12 total credits, six of which are done online, would be considered as being below a "full-course of study," since only nine of the total credits would count towards the full-course of study requirement.
At this point in time, there are no official regulations or restrictions regarding hybrid coursework and full-time study requirements.
Online Study in Final Semester
If a student needs only one course to finish his or her program of study, it cannot be taken through online/distance education. There must be a physical presence requirement for the course. If a student remains in the United States without reporting to any class, it becomes a security issue and cannot be allowed.
All F-1 international students must make normal progress towards degree completion in order to maintain legal F-1 status in the United States. Failure to make normal progress toward degree completion will result in considering a student to be "out of status" 8 C.F.R 214.2(f)(5)(i).
Academic Dismissal and Appeals
An F-1 student who is academically dismissed or suspended during or after the semester must make plans to depart the United States as soon as possible following official notification of the dismissal. There is no grace period for a dismissal or suspension.
A student choosing to appeal the dismissal may remain in the country throughout the appeals process and until the final dismissal decision is made. Students are encouraged to appeal, as appealing can allow for additional time to make alternate plans, if needed.
Additionally, students who have been, or are likely to be, academically dismissed or suspended are strongly encouraged to also apply to a new program of study or another school before the dismissal or while appealing in order to have the SEVIS record transferred out in the event that their appeal is denied. A student whose appeal is denied must either have already made transfer arrangements to continue studies or must depart the U.S. as soon as possible following official notification of the appeal outcome.
Graduate students should contact their academic advisor or program director to discuss the dismissal and appeals process.
Undergraduate students appeal directly to the Committee on Academic Standing via the Registrar's Office, Kearney 201, (585) 385-8015.
Instructions for Dismissed F-1 Students
If you are academically dismissed, the international student advisor is required by federal law to terminate your SEVIS record following official notification of the dismissal or, if appealing, following notification of the appeal outcome unless the appeal is approved or you have already been accepted to transfer to another U.S. institution. Once your SEVIS record is terminated, you are considered to be "Out of Status" and you must leave the U.S. immediately or request reinstatement (if eligible) from the Department of Homeland Security.
Required Actions/Options for Dismissed Students
Option 1: Depart the United States.
Option 2: Appeal the dismissal decision right away. Even if you think there is no chance for the appeal to be approved, you are welcome to submit an appeal on your behalf for a chance approval and to give yourself additional time to make alternate plans (see Options 1 and 3).
Option 3: Transfer to another U.S. institution (before or during appeals process).
- Apply to a new program of study or another school to secure admission as soon as possible
- After you secure admission to another school, bring a copy of your new admission letter to the Center for Career and Academic Planning and request a transfer of your SEVIS record to the new school;
- An offer of admission must be secured before the appeals process has concluded, and the new program must begin within 5 months, in order to be eligible for transfer.
The United States has very strict rules regarding the ability of international students to work in the United States. Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of F-1 status and can carry severe immigration consequences, including deportation. The following types of authorized employment are available:
You may work on-campus for up to 20 hrs/week during the academic year and full-time during official vacation periods (winter, summer break), in a role that provides services to students. If you hold more than one position on-campus, the total hours worked per week must not exceed 20 hours.
On-Campus Job Opportunities
As an F-1 student, you are eligible for non-federal work study positions throughout campus. Several offices consistently offer non-work study student employment:
- Campus Bookstore
- Dining Services
- Center for Career and Academic Planning - academic tutoring
Additionally, Handshake provides a current list of on-campus opportunities. You are encouraged to speak with your academic department for additional on-campus employment possibilities.
All off-campus employment must be authorized before employment can begin. This includes all internships, practical experiences, clinical rotations and other types of off-campus work experience. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) defines “employment” as any type of service for which a benefit, including academic credit, is received. Therefore, both paid and unpaid experiences are considered employment.
Curricular Practical Training (Internships, Practical Experiences, Clinical Experiences, etc.)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of off-campus employment authorization that enables you to take part in a paid or unpaid academic internship or practice experience integral to your curriculum.
- Curricular Practical Training Information Packet [pdf]
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Request Form
Optional Practical Training (Work Experience)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to accept paid off-campus employment, directly related to your field of study, for a period up to 12 months.
- Optional Practical Training Information Packet [pdf]
- Optional Practical Training Application and Advisor Recommendation [pdf]
- I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
- Applicant Information for OPT [pdf]
Employment Due to Severe Economic Hardship
This is a more uncommon type of authorized employment, available only to students in need under specific circumstances. When a financial need beyond your control arises, which was unforeseen at the time you applied to the College and after all other potential employment opportunities have proven to be insufficient, you may apply for an Employment Authorization Document through USCIS. If you believe your circumstances may qualify for this authorization, please see the international student advisor to confirm eligibility for this benefit and discuss application procedures.
You are encouraged to meet with the international student advisor in the Center for Career and Academic Planning or attend a CPT or OPT information session for advisement prior to submitting a CPT or OPT application. Please contact the Center for Career and Academic Planning to schedule an appointment.
You must have a valid passport in your possession, and this passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future. For information on renewing your passport, visit the website of your country's embassy or consulate in the United States.
Travel and Reentry Information
Temporary Visits Abroad and Reentry
In order to reenter the United States after a temporary absence of 5 months or less, you should have the following documents:
- A valid passport, valid for at least 6 months into the future;
- A valid F-1 visa (unless exempt from visa requirements);
- A current SEVIS Form I-20 properly endorsed for travel by the international advisor in the previous 12 months, or 6 months for students on OPT;
You are additionally advised to carry the following documents to help facilitate reentry:
- Financial documentation;
- Evidence of student status (ex. transcripts, current schedule, etc.);
- Previous Forms I-20, particularly one with an original admission stamp;
Upon leaving the U.S., you must surrender your Form I-94 Arrival-Departure record, unless visiting Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands other than Cuba for less than 30 days. Failure to do so may delay reentry to the U.S. in the future.
If you are traveling to your home country to renew an expired F-1 visa, you should see the international advisor prior to departing to obtain a letter of support for your visa application.
Travel to Another Foreign Country
If you plan to travel to a country other than your home country, you must check with the embassy of the country you wish to travel to for information about specific visa requirements and entry procedures.