Know your Immigration Documents Print
Maintaining F-1 Status Print
Reinstatement to F-1 Student Status
Program Extension Print
International Student Health Insurance
Types of Employment For F-1 Students Print
Curricular Practical Training Print
Severe Economic Hardship Print
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Print
17 Month Extension of OPT for F-1 students with a STEM Degree Print
How to Obtain a Social Security Card
Driver’s License for Non U.S. Citizens Print
You should keep your passport valid at all times. Your passport is your own government’s permit for you to leave and re-enter your country. Most passports contain an expiration date.
Renewing your passport:
Contact your own consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. The officials there will tell you what forms and fees are required.
The visa stamp put in your passport by the U.S. Consulate is to enter the U.S. It does not show how long you can stay here. It can expire while you are in the U.S., but must be valid to enter the U.S.
Renewing your U.S. visa for re-entry:
If your visa has expired, and you plan on traveling outside the United States, it must be renewed in order for you to re-enter. You can do this at the U.S. embassy in your home country. F-1/ J-1 visas cannot be renewed in the United States. The following documents are usually requested to renew your visa:
If your F-1/J-1 visa expires while you are in the U.S., you do not need to leave the country to renew it. As long as you are here attending school you are here legally.
Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)
The I-94 shows that you have been admitted to the U.S. The I-94 is usually stapled across from the U.S. visa page of your passport. It has an eleven-digit identification number (departure number) the USCIS uses to keep track of your arrival and departure from the U.S. The USCIS sometimes refers to the “departure” number as the “admission” number.
There should be a date stamped on the I-94 indicating the date that you arrived in the U.S. You should also see the “D/S” is written below the date stamp. This “D/S” indicates “duration of status” which means that you are admitted for the length of your program plus any period of Optional Practical Training, plus 60 days.
The form I-20 is issued for the program and level of study you are presently pursuing. If you graduate before the completion date indicated on your I-20 you are considered to have completed your program of study and your I-20 is no longer valid. The third page of the I-20 contains spaces for information about your employment authorization and travel signatures by a Designated School Official (DSO) as well as notations by a USCIS official.
The Form DS-2019 or “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” is the basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. This form permits a prospective exchange visitor to seek an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in order to obtain a J visa to enter the United States.
The Form DS-2019 identifies the exchange visitor and their designated sponsor and provides a brief description of the exchange visitor’s program, including the start and end date, category of exchange, and an estimate of the cost of the exchange program.
Maintaining F-1 Status
When you enter the United States on an F-1 visa, your primary purpose for being here is to study. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) establish regulations that F-1 visa holders must follow to maintain their status. If you lose your F-1 status, you lose benefits like on-campus employment and Optional Practical Training (OPT). To make the most of your F-1 visa status, take the time to learn the immigration rules and regulations.
To maintain your F-1 status you must adhere to the following regulations:
Failure to comply with these regulations is a violation of your F-1 status. If you have questions or concerns about your F-1 status, please contact The Coordinator of International Student Services for clarification.
Medical insurance: SPSU requires international students on F-1 visas to purchase the endorsed SPSU International Student Insurance policy. Payment of this fee is mandatory and should be paid directly to the Office of Business and Finance along with payment of tuition and miscellaneous fees. Purchase of this insurance policy is mandatory each semester.CHANGE OF STATUS
An applicant for change of nonimmigrant status to F-1 status must provide the following documents:
*You may pay the SEVIS fee online at www.FMJfee.com with a credit card or you may pay it at any Western Union Quick Pay Center. You will need your SEVIS ID# to make the payment. You will also the SEVIS School Code: ATL241F00208000.
Mail the entire package (certified or registered) to the following address:USCIS VSC
If you have changed your status while in the U.S. and are traveling outside of the U.S., you must obtain a new F-1 visa from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country before reentry.
Please note: You may not be employed on campus until the status has been changed. An applicant for change of nonimmigrant status to F-1 may start attending school even before the applicant has been submitted or approved, except: Nonimmigrants changing to F-1 from B-2 and nonimmigrants changing to F-1 from F-2 dependent.Reinstatement to F-1 Student Status
Being out of status means that a student will no longer be eligible for benefits such as practical training, on-campus employment, or transferring to another school. It also means that once the student travels out of the country they will be unable to re-enter the U.S. on their current I-20. Under USCIS regulations, International Student Services must report your failure to maintain status in SEVIS.
To regain F-1 status, one option would be to file for reinstatement with USCIS. An application is sent into the district office of USCIS where an officer will decide whether or not to reinstate the student based on the information provided in the application. The officer is looking for circumstances beyond the student’s control and that the student was not working illegally. Students who are not granted reinstatement are required to return home immediately. Please understand that there is some risk involved in the reinstatement process.
You will only be considered for reinstatement as an F-1 student if you establish:
The application for reinstatement must contain the following items:
Mail application to:
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT 05479
*An alternative to the reinstatement process is to exit the United States and return on a new, initial attendance I-20 from Southern Polytechnic State University. This “closes the book” on the student’s previous status and the student will “start over” with a new record in the US.
Although the USVISIT system is still new, in the future all I-20 records for a student will be tracked and border officials will have a clear picture of the violations that caused a student to violate their status and require reinstatement by travel. Another drawback to this process, besides the costly plane ticket, is that students will have to wait two academic terms before they are eligible for many F-1 benefits.PROGRAM EXTENSION
An F-1 student who is unable to complete his or her program of study by the date of completion listed in item #5 on the form I-20 must apply for a program extension. Program extensions can be given to students who have continually maintained status.
Acceptable delays that cause the student to require an extension include: changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension.
The student must apply for the extension before the date of completion indicated in item #5 on the form I-20.
TO APPLY FOR A PROGRAM EXTENSION, THE STUDENT MUST DO THE FOLLOWING:
The International Student Services Coordinator will prepare a new I-20 for the student with an extension for an appropriate period of time.
Please note: If a student’s date of completion on the form I-20 has expired and a program extension has not been requested, the student is considered “out of status” and must apply for reinstatement.
International Student Health Insurance
All International Students are required to have health insurance. Your student account will reflect a charge for student health insurance. The provider of the student health insurance is Pearce & Pearce Inc. Brochures are available in both The ATTIC and The Business Office.
You must enroll for the insurance at www.studentinsurance.com/.
If you have your own insurance, you must apply for a waiver before the wavier period ends.
Instructions on how to apply for an insurance waiver
After your waiver submission is completed you are given a confirmation number. You will receive three emails during this process. The first email will let you know that your waiver is in pending status. The second email will let you know that your information has been verified. The third email will state if your wavier has been approved or denied. If a waiver is denied, a reason and instructions about submitting additional information will be given.
For Questions or Customer Service: call 1-888-722-1668 or email email@example.com
Note: A student may not begin to work without a social security card. Please inform employer to allow time to obtain this information before issuing start date. (See Coordinator of International Student Services for details).
Curricular Practical Training
Optional Practical Training
Severe Economic Hardship
CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING
An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in a curricular practical training (CPT) program which is an integral part of an established curriculum.
Students must have been F-1 status for at least nine months before they are eligible for curricular practical training. If the studenthas left the country after "falling out of status", and has returned to the program as an "initial entry", the student must fulfill the nine months in lawful status requirement. The one exception to this rule is if the student is enrolled in a graduate program that requires immediate participation in a practical training experience. Students who have one year of full-time CPT are ineligible for OPT.
For Additional Information please click "CPT Explanation".
NOTE: Please keep in mind if a student is deemed “out of status” all employment must cease.
To qualify for Severe Economic Hardship, an F-1 student must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year. The student must be in good academic standing and registered full-time. The student must also prove to USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status.
Employment based on severe economic hardship is granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time, or until the program end-date, whichever is shorter. USCIS issues an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card evidencing the employment authorization. A student cannot begin the off-campus employment until he or she receives the EAD card. Employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session; can be full-time during official school breaks. The employment under severe economic hardship can be any job. It does not have to be related to course of study.
To apply for Severe Economic Hardship, the following documents must be submitted to the Coordinator of International Student Services:
Mail documents (by certified or registered return receipt requested) to:USCIS
Write on the front of the envelope “I-765 for Economic Hardship.” Bring a copy of the card to the Coordinator of International Student Services to be placed in your file.OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT)
An F-1 academic student who has attended an SEVP-certified college, university,conservatory or seminary on a full-time basis for at least one academic year may be authorized up to 12 months of OPT per program level. However, F-1 students who have one year or more of full-time curricular practical training are not eligible for OPT. It is not necessary to have an offer of employment before applying for OPT.
F-1 students may apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before their program end date and up to 60 days after their program end date. The application must be properly filed within 30 days of the date the student’s International Student Officer recommends OPT in SEVIS.
The new OPT rule establishes a limit on the number of days students in a period of post-completion OPT can be unemployed and still maintain F-1 status. For students on regular post-completion OPT, the limit is 90 days.
OPT APPLICATION PROCEDURES
In addition to the I-765 form bring the following documents to your appointment:
You will receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card approximately 2-3 months after you submit the OPT application. If you do not receive the EAD card 91 days after the date on your Notice of Action, you can request the Coordinator of International Student Services to contact immigration on your behalf. Once the EAD card is received, a copy must be given to the Coordinator of International Student Services.
Changing or Cancelling OPT
If you apply for OPT, but have to delay your graduation, you cannot change your OPT application once you apply. Also, USCIS does not give REFUNDS.
Traveling while on OPT
If you plan to travel while on OPT (after you graduate) you will need the following:
Student Responsibilities while on OPT
Report to the Coordinator of International Student Services within 10 days of: (1) Legal name change (2) address change (3) change in employer (4) loss of employment.
***Please note: *** Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.
17 Month Extension of OPT for F-1 students with a STEM Degree
F-1 students who completed a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a STEM field and are currently engaged in post-completion OPT may apply for the STEM extension if they have a job or job offer from an E-Verify Employer.
The STEM Designated Degree Program List is on the SEVP web site. The student must ensure the Form I-765, the supporting evidence, and the fee payment reaches the proper USCIS Service Center before his or her current OPT expires. USCIS recommends that a student file for the 17-month STEM extension up to 120 days prior to the end of his or her post-completion OPT.
Student pursuing a period of STEM extension OPT must not:
STEM EXTENSION PROCEDURES
In addition to the I-765 form bring the following documents to your appointment:
Mail the documents to:
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
Documents needed to apply for a Social Security Card:
1. Job letter
2. SSN referral letter
4. I-94 card
WHERE TO GO:
For Cobb County, you must go to:Social Security Administration
You should receive your card within 8-10 business days after the date of filing. If you have not received your card within this time frame, you should contact the Social Security office where you filed your application. Your SSN card will be mailed to your home address.
If you work on campus, a copy of your Social Security Card must be given to the Coordinator of International Student Services and Human Resources.
For more information, please visit www.ssa.gov or See the Coordinator of International Student Services.Driver’s License for Non U.S. Citizens
Previous Licenses or Instructional Permits: You should present your Out of Country/International License or Identification card to receive a Georgia license or Identification card. Out of country licenses/permits/ID cards are returned to non US citizens with the following exceptions: Commercial licenses and permits.
Social Security Number Requirements: An applicant must provide either a Social Security number or a letter of ineligibility for a Social Security number (Form SSAL 676).
Federal law requires that states collect social security numbers (SSN) from driver’s license applicants under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.
Legal Presence Requirements: Present one of the following immigration documents in person at a Customer Service Center to prove legal presence in the US (only originals or certified copies accepted):
Note: Original immigration documentation must be submitted each time service is requested pertaining to a driver's license or identification card.
Proof of Residency: Must provide one document from Proof of Residency document list. Click here for standard list of residency documents.
Refugees only: May present Form DS-20, Refugee Address Verification Affidavit in place of standard Proof of Residency document.
Effective January 1, 2008, Georgia law requires DDS to verify all immigration documents presented by non-citizens through the United States Custom and Immigration Service (USCIS) via a program known as SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement.) In most cases, the verification can be completed immediately during the customer’s driver’s license or identification card transaction. In some cases verification may take several days or several weeks. Until the documentation is verified by USCIS, DDS is unable to issue a driver’s license or identification card. If the verification is unsuccessful, the customer will be given a form with instructions and time frames to contact USCIS or return to the Customer Service Center at a later date.
Once immigration documentation is verified with USCIS, a Georgia driver's license or identification card may be issued with an expiration date that matches the immigration documentation expiration date, but no longer than 3 years. If there is no expiration date on the immigration documentation, a license/identification card can only be issued for a period of 1 year. The cost of the license/ID is $20.Name and Address Change on License or ID:
The nearest office to the school is the
Marietta Customer Service Center #56
Address: 1605 County Services Pkwy, Marietta GA 30008
Office Hours: Tuesday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday 7:30 a.m.-12 noon
This information was taken from the Georgia Department of Driver Services. For more
information please visit: www.dds.ga.gov