International students who are on F-1 visa are required to enroll as full-time students when school is in session. Full-time enrollment refers to 12 credits for undergraduate students. Graduate students may take less than 12 credits, however, you should always consult with your DSO first.
Dropping classes and, academically, becoming a part-time student may violate your F-1 status. It’s recommended to consult with your international student advisors (designated school official – DSO) before dropping any classes.
If any emergencies occur and you cannot enroll in school full-time, talk to your DSO and request a part-time permission. It is recommended that a part-time permission is asked for at the beginning of the semester. However, there are limited amount of times of part-time permissions for each student. You should seriously consider when you need to make use of your part-time permission requests before using it all out. When you are attending school part-time but still considered full-time immigration wise and you can still maintain your F-1 status.
Transferring to other schools
1. You MUST attend the school listed on your I-20 on your initial entry into the United States for at least one semester or you will violate your F-1 status. After one semester, you may transfer to other schools.
2. Ensure that you inform your DSO when you decide to transfer. They will have to transfer your I-20 to your new school. Please note, SEVIS CANNOT transfer your record automatically.
3. Keep ALL of your I-20s including previous and current ones. Make photocopies of all I-20s and submit them to the school that you are currently attending so they can keep on file.
4. I-94 card is a white card you received when you board to the United Status. At the port of entry, customs stamp on it and write your purpose of staying while stamping your I-20. It is usually stapled to your passport. You should also provide a photocopy of your I-94 to your international student office.
You should always visit the International Students Office before leaving the United State and get a travel signature from your DSO if you are travelling outside of the United States.
If you are planning to travel and your visa is expired, you should visit the International Students Office to get assistance of preparing the necessary documents for your visa renewal.
Whenever your address changes, it’s required to fill out Form AR-11SR and mail to USCIS. You cannot update your address online. You can also notify your DSO regarding to address changes and are not required to submit this form.
Student and Employment
During the first academic year, F-1 students may not work off-campus, but may be allowed to work on-campus under certain conditions and restrictions.
After the first academic year, F-1 students may seek for two types of employment which include:
· CPT - Curricular Practical Training
· OPT - Optional Practical Training (pre-completion or post-completion)
F-1 international students are granted by the government to intern/ work for one year after graduation, which is commonly known as post Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Note: students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) may be eligible for OPT extension. Check with your school advisor.
There are different ways for international students to get a green card. You may get a green card though a job, family, and green card lottery.
Green card through a job includes investment, self petition and special categories of jobs.
Students from certain countries may be also eligible for diversity immigrant visa program which is well known as green card lottery. Check whether your country is on the list!
Visit http://travel.state.gov/pdf/DV_2015_Instructions.pdf and click on “countries whose natives qualify”
F, M, & J exempt for 5 calendar years; after 5 years they need to be insured and maintain minimum essential coverage.
Note: Only J visa holders who involves in education are mandated to have health insurance in the whole time period while they are in the United States.
For more information, visit http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Foreign-Student-Liability-for-Social-Security-and-Medicare-Taxes
How to choose select an affordable health care plan?
In the U.S., in order to be considered a full time international student in school, most universities require their students to enroll in a health insurance plan. Some schools are going even mandating the purchase of the school’s own (and often more expensive) insurance plans.
As a result, ISO aims to create comparative plans that will not only meet the school’s requirements but also help international students to take a huge chunk of financial burden off of their back. For most foreign students, saving a few hundred dollars or more on their health insurance can have a huge impact on their lives and the lives of their family members abroad.
Living thousands of miles away from home can be a scary thing, especially when you don’t have a safety net to fall back on. Therefore, it is essential to choose an insurance that will both meet the requirements from your school and not put a hole in your wallet. There are many comparable plans out there and ISO Student Health Insurance is already ready to assist international students in finding the most affordable plan!