Maintaining Your Status
All international students who are in F-1 status must follow a set of immigration regulations as outlined by the U.S. government in order to maintain their international student status. The following information and forms are supportive of the rules and regulations to follow to properly maintain international student status at CSU.
Reduced Courseload - Federal immigration regulations severely limit a student's ability to be less than full time, but it may be allowed in some circumstances. If you drop below full time without authorization after the drop/add deadline, the ISSP office is required to report this to SEVIS. A student who drops below a full course of study (after the drop-add period) without prior approval of a DSO will be considered out of status.
According to 8 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) § 214.2(f)(6)(iii), the Designated School Official may allow an F-1 student to engage in less than a full course of study. A student who wishes to drop below full time must obtain the approval from a DSO in advance, regardless of what the reason might be. Please be advised that a lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce course load according to immigration regulations.
Withdrawal, Cancellation, or Dismissal - Students who choose to cancel enrollment or withdraw from Coppin State University must complete the Cancellation/Withdrawal Notification Statement and return it to the Office of International Student Services. Cancellations must be made in writing and submitted in person to be accepted and processed. No phone call or emailed cancellations will be accepted. Cancellations are effective the same an advisor receives written notification from the enrolled student. Reporting withdrawal to a faculty program director does not replace the student’s responsibility of notifying the Designated School Official (DSO). Students failing to officially cancel/withdraw from the University by submitting this form will be given a terminated status in SEVIS.
Program Extension - A program extension is the process of obtaining a new I-20 (for F-1 students) to extend a student's authorized period of stay in the United States. A program extension is appropriate when a student is unable to complete the original study objective before the expiration date on the current I-20. Be sure to review your program expiration date by referring to section 5 of your I-20.
Program Completion - During the last semester of your studies (or even earlier), you should be thinking about your future plans. If you are interested in remaining in the U.S., then there are steps you need to take to maintain your status. If you choose to return to your home country, or if you choose to continue on to other academic programs, your SEVIS / I-20 records will be automatically completed by the SEVIS database. This will show the US government that you have completed your degree program.
Transfer to / from - Our office is required by the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services to begin the process for your transfer from Coppin State University. Please complete the form and give it to your International Student Advisor.
Leave of Absence - A leave of absence is an approved period of time during which you are not enrolled in any courses. A student may be granted leave of absence for personal, compassionate or other compelling circumstances for up to one year, during which they are not expected to be engaged in any study related activities. If you are granted leave of absence, the University must notify the Department of Homeland Security’s, USCIS office of the changes in your enrollment. Taking leave will affect your student visa. Discuss your circumstances with the International Student Adviser.
Separation Process - This form must be filled out by F-1 visa international students prior to leaving the University to complete your immigration file and to notify appropriate offices of your impending departure from the campus.
Some instances where you must apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for reinstatement to F-1 student status:
- Failure to attend the school you were authorized by the USCIS to attend;
- Taking a reduced course load without permission from the Designated School Official (DSO);
- Failure to enroll for any given academic term (excluding summer sessions);
- Failure to obtain a program extension prior to the program end date on your I-20;or
- Violation of any other immigration regulations.
Conditions for Approval of Reinstatement:
- The student has not been out of status for more than 5 months prior to filing for reinstatement (unless s/he can show that there were exceptional circumstances that prevented the student from filing during the 5-month period.)
- The student does not have a record of repeated violations.
- The student is pursuing, or will in the next available term be pursuing, a full course of study.
- The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment.
- The student is not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation for which reinstatement is being Requested.
- The status violation resulted from either:
- Circumstances beyond the student’s control; or
- Failure to apply in a timely fashion for a reduced course load authorization from the DSO, but only if the violation relates to something that would have been within the DSO’s authority to have approved, if it had been timely done, and that the student would experience extreme hardship if the application were not approved.
What will I need to do if I have failed to maintain status?
See the DSO with your passport and I-20. Discuss your situation with the DSO and get her advice about applying for reinstatement. Currently a denial will have the effect of subjecting the student to two penalty provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act: INA 222(g) over-stay and visa cancellation and INA 212(a)(9)(B) unlawful presence. Additionally, whether an application is approved or denied, the student should realize that there is an official record of a violation of status on the student's immigration record. Status violations can have future impact on eligibility for immigration benefits such as adjustment of status for permanent residency.
What do I need to submit to the DSO?
- Completed Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Immigration Status with completed mailing label;
- Check or money order made payable to "Department of Homeland Security" (see website for current fee information);
- Original I-94 card or I-797 showing F-1 status;
- Copies of all I-20 forms issued to you;
- Copies of all transcripts from schools student has attended in the United States;
- Copy of entire passport;
- Copy of new financial documentation;
- A letter to USCIS requesting reinstatement (see sample letter)
- Any other documentation that might help establish the nature of the violation, and documentation that the violation occurred less than 5 months ago, and that you are pursuing a full course of study.
Then what happens?
The DSO will generate a new SEVIS I-20 with DSO's recommendation for reinstatement and a letter recommending reinstatement. She/he will compile all the documents into a packet and you will mail it.
Please keep in mind that while your application for reinstatement is being processed, you are not eligible for any of the privileges afforded to F-1 visa holders (e.g. curricular practical training or on-campus employment).