Immigration Issues

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The F-1 visa. This is the most common visa used by individuals who will enroll as full-time students. You must present Form I-20, issued by WSU, at a U.S. embassy or consulate. F-1 students must attend the school named on the I-20 which they submitted at the U.S. port of entry, and they are expected to maintain a full program of study while in the United States.

F-1 students may remain in the United States for the length of time needed to complete the educational objective that is stated on the I-20 ( see item #5 on Form I-20)
On-campus employment that does not interfere with a full course of study is permitted. A student may work a maximum of 20 hours per week when school is in session, and full time when school is not in session.

Part-Time Border students. Do not qualify for on-campus employment.

F-2 visa. This visa is for the spouse and children of an F-1 student. It may be obtained by presenting the U.S. consulate with an I-20 Form issued for a F-2 dependent, and proof of adequate funds to support these family members. Paid employment is not permitted under any circumstances for individuals in this category. Full-time study at WSU would require the F-2 dependent to change their status to F-1 status.

J-1 Exchange Visitor visa. Individuals who are coming to the United States to study, teach, conduct research, or receive training in an approved Exchange Visitor Program may use the J-1 visa. To obtain this visa, individuals must present Form DS-2019 to an U.S. embassy or consulate.

J-1 students, scholars and their J-2 dependents must have health insurance coverage throughout their stay in the United States. In some cases, the J-1 visa carries a two-year home residency requirement that requires exchange visitors to return to their home country for two years after completing their educational program. This requirement applies to individuals who have received financial support from the U.S. government during all or part of their stay in the United States; to individuals whose skills are needed in their home country, as registered on the Exchange Visitor Skills List; and to all medical doctors who enter the United States for internships, residencies, or clinical training programs.

Prospective exchange visitors should ask the U.S. consulate if the two-year residency requirement applies to them. J-1 students may remain in the United States for the amount of time shown on Form DS-2019. This period may be extended as long as the student pursues a full course of study or authorized academic training. Students who wish to make changes to their program as specified on Form DS-2019 must obtain their sponsor's permission. Part-time employment, both on and off campus, during the school year may be authorized by the exchange visitor's sponsor for unforeseen financial hardship that arises after issuance of the visa. However, employment must not interfere with maintaining a full course of study.

Summer employment both on and off campus may be authorized by the exchange visitor's sponsor on the basis of economic necessity, provided the student plans to resume study in the Fall. J-1 scholars who engaged in research or teaching or both may remain in the United States up to three years. Extensions for an good cause must be reviewed by the program sponsor and the Department of State. Paid employment is permitted only if it is an integral part of the program as described on Form DS-2019.

Not all visiting scholars are eligible for the University Health Plan. OISS has information about insurance plans that visiting scholars may purchase.

J-2 visa. This visa is for the spouse and children of an exchange visitor. This visa is issued on the basis of Form DS-2019 from the exchange visitor's sponsor and evidence of adequate funds for the support and health insurance coverage of the dependents. The immigration service may grant permission for an individual to work based on the economic need of the dependents. J-2 visa holders may not work to support the J-1 exchange visitor.

H-1B Temporary Worker visa. This visa is for an individual who is needed to perform services in a specialty occupation on a temporary basis. The university or organization that needs the services of these individuals should request permission from the immigration service to bring them into the United States on the H-1B visa. Individuals in this category may remain in the United States for a maximum of six years. The dependents of an H-1B visa holder enter the United States in H-4 status. No paid employment is permitted with H-4 status.

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SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is an internet database that keeps records of all students and exchange visitors. It is designed to collect, maintain, and track information relative to international students and exchange visitors; improve data collection and reporting; and facilitate compliance with regulations.

Schools are required to report any changes to a student's information within a specified period of time, which means that you must notify us of any of the following changes in your situation: if you change your address, if you change your name, if you want to take less than a full course load (less than 8 credits for graduate students, 12 credits for undergraduates), if you need to extend the end date on your I-20, if you want to take a leave of absence, if you are suspended, if you graduate early, if you change your major, or if you plan to apply for another degree. It is extremely important for the Office of International Students and Scholars to always have accurate information about you. Failing to provide current information may prevent you from taking advantage of some immigration benefits such as OPT and CPT.

You are responsible for maintaining your immigration status. There are several important things you must do to maintain status:

  1. Keep your passport valid at all times.
  2. Maintain full-time enrollment and normal progress toward your degree. Twelve credit hours per semester is considered a full course load for undergraduate students.
  3. Graduate students must take at least 8 credit hours to be considered "full-time" and graduate students with assistantships must enroll for a minimum of 6 credits. Students may choose to not enroll during the summer semester.
  4. Do not work without proper authorization.
  5. Notify USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) of transfer to another school or a change of educational program or level. Visit OISS for assistance with these matters.
  6. Obtain extensions of stay as needed. Be sure to note the expiration date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019 and apply at OISS for an extension, if needed, 30-45 days prior to expiration. Visit OISS for further information about extension procedures.

FORM I-94, COPY I-20/DS-2019

Form I-94 shows your arrival date in the United States and should be stapled to your passport until you leave the country. It also indicates your status F-1, J-1, B-2, etc., and your expected departure date from the U.S. D/S (Duration of Status) means that students may remain in the U.S. until completion of their current program of study as indicated on Form I-20 or DS-2019 (note date on item #5 of your I-20 or item #3 on your DS-2019), plus 60 days for F-1 and 30 days for J-1.

Page 3 of the I-20 is used to record work authorization, practical training, and transfer approval. Keep this important document safe and do not surrender it when leaving the United States. The DS-2019 is to be kept with your passport for travel and re-entry to the U.S., for permission to work, and for waiver application.


BCIS regulations state that F-1 or J-1 students may stay in the U.S. for the duration of an educational program or a series of education programs (for example, from an undergraduate degree through a master's degree) plus a period of practical training and an additional 60 days to leave the United States (30 days for J-1 status).
However, appropriate extension, change of educational program/level, and transfer procedures must be followed. Students who do not complete their educational program within the time indicated on their I-20 AB or DS-2019 must request an extension of stay or possibly reinstatement. Visit OISS concerning these procedures.
J-1 Exchange Visitors must request an extension of stay from the INS at least 45 days before the expiration date noted on their Form DS-2019, (item #3). Wayne State sponsored students and scholars should obtain a new DS-2019 from OISS to send to the INS.


F-1 students need the following documents to re-enter the United States after a temporary absence:
1. Form I-20 ID endorsed by OISS
2. Valid passport
3. Valid U.S. visa
4. Verification of adequate financial support

J-1 Exchange Visitors need the following documents to re-enter the United States after a temporary absence:
1. Valid DS-2019 (pink copy) endorsed by OISS or other appropriate Program sponsor
2. Valid passport
3. Valid U.S. visa
4. Verification of adequate financial support


You may travel to Canada (up to 30 days) and re-enter the United States with an expired U.S. visa, if you have all the other papers necessary for re-entry.
1. Check with OISS to see if you need a visa to enter Canada
2. Carry proper documents to re-enter the United States

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