F-1 Visa Advising
International Student Programs serves as a special support system for international students at Messiah College who are here as students on an F-1 visa. Each student in this category will meet periodically with the Director of International Students who is also a Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) designated school official (DSO). Your DSO is the best source for helping you understand the particulars of your visa status as well as the expectations of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services relative to maintaining your ability to remain in legally in the United States.
While it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to know the rules that affect his or her immigration status, International Student Programs can help by providing valuable guidance and assistance. The U.S. government holds students accountable to know the rules, to understand them, and to follow them, but we can help you. If at any time you are unsure about the rules, ask questions and keep asking until you understand your rights and responsibilities.
If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining F-1 visa status, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT), e-mail the Director of International Student Programs, Kevin Villegas, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, to maintain your F-1 status you must …
- Enroll as a full-time student every semester (minimum 12 credits)
- Check in with your DSO at the beginning of every semester and within 10 days of returning from travel abroad
- Make sure that your DSO always has photocopies of your current passport (must be valid within six months at all times), visa, and I-94 card
- *Note: As of April 27, 2013, the I-94 card will no longer be issued when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea. The I-94 process is now automated.
- Notify your DSO within 10 days if you move (even if it’s just across campus) or change your address or contact information
- Obtain proper work authorization for any off-campus employment before you start working
- Read all DSO communication sent to your Messiah College e-mail account
- Ensure that all the information on your I-20 is correct; submit requests for changes in program completion date before your I-20 expiration date, and changes in major and education level before the start of the next semester
- Inform your DSO if you plan to take any leave of absence
- Obtain a valid travel signature from your DSO every academic year (Fall and Spring)
- Obey all U.S. laws
- File taxes each spring (by April 15) during your stay in the U.S.
- Complete the official transfer process if you intend to transfer to another school
- Leave the U.S., apply for OPT, or change to a different immigration status by the end of your 60-day grace period after you complete your studies
You must have official permission from your DSO to …
- Drop below full-time course load
- Withdraw from your program of study
- Take any leave of absence
- Work off-campus (including internships)
- Extend your program of study
The Most Common Immigration Violations
Any of the below mistakes will cause an international student to be in violation of their non-immigrant status. Please take care not to make any of these errors.
- Enrolling less than full time
- Accepting unauthorized employment
- Allowing your I-20 to become outdated
- Allowing your passport to become outdated
- Changing your program without updating your I-20