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International Student Resources: Maintaining Status

This is a libguide with resources for international students at Eastern Nazarene College

Maintaining F-1 Student Status

As an F-1 Student ENC, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are maintaining your F-1 student status. This impacts your ability to continue to study at ENC. Please make sure you are familiar with the regulations related to your F-1 status and that you are meeting those regulations each semester. 

Please click on the tabs below for more information related to each area related to your students status. 

Maintaining Status as an F-1 Student

Maintaining Your F-1 Status

Your immigration classification is based on your primary purpose in the U.S. There are things you need to be aware of and steps you need to take to maintain your lawful immigration status throughout your stay at ENC.

It is important for you to understand the requirements that govern your specific immigration classification and to communicate with the DSO prior to taking part in activities that may negatively impact your legal status in the U.S. If you violate the terms of your status, you may need to take steps to regain legal status through an application for reinstatement or through making a new entry to the U.S.

As an F-1 student, YOU are responsible for ensuring that you are maintaining your F-1 status and are following all regulations and rules. 

In this section we will cover the basic elements of maintaining your F-1 status which include keeping your immigration documents valid, keeping your SEVIS record up to date, completing semester SEVIS Check Ins, maintaining full-time academic registration, Travel requirements, and employment limits. 

F-1 Student Classification

All international students at ENC are in this classification, as it is designed to facilitate study toward a specific educational objective.

F-1 students will receive a Form I-20 from ENC once we receive the required admission, biographical, and financial documentation.

Eligibility

To be eligible for F-1 status, you must be admitted to or enrolled in a full-time degree program and demonstrate sufficient financial support for your program of study.

Length of Permitted Stay

As a student in F-1 status, you are admitted to the US for “D/S” (duration of status)—this allows you to stay until the program end date reflected on your Form I-20, as long as you maintain full-time registration, legal status, and a SEVIS record in good standing. At the end of your program of study, F-1 status permits a 60-day grace period for you to prepare for departure from the US.

Considerations

Limited work permission is available for on-campus employment and certain off-campus placements related to your major field of study.

Your SEVIS Record

SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS is an online system used to maintain the records for F-1 students at ENC. Every F-1 student at ENC has a unique SEVIS record that was created prior to you receiving your I-20. You can find your SEVIS number on the top right corner of the I-20. 

SEVIS allows ENC DSOs to provide up-to-date information to government agencies regarding your program at ENC as required by government regulations. Any time we submit updates about your program of study or issue you a new I-20 it is done through SEVIS.

Immigration regulations pertaining to SEVIS records require:

  • New F-1 students to report to the DSO with their immigration documents upon arrival in the US.
  • All continuing F-1 students to complete Semester SEVIS Check-In within 15 days of each required semester so that the DSO can report the student’s continued attendance at ENC.
  • The DSO to keep updated records on each student and exchange visitor within the SEVIS database (see list of reportable events below).

What we Report in SEVIS

You might be wondering what does the ENC DSO report to the government?

We only provide information that is required by federal law. This includes all information on your I-20, including personal information, information about your program of study at ENC, and financial information. 

ENC DSOs are also required to report any information on academic, disciplinary, or other events that affect the nonimmigrant status of a student visitor. 

For F-1 Students, these reportable events include, but are not limited to:

  • Registration and Check-In each semester
  • Leaves of Absence, Withdrawals, or Suspensions
  • Authorized or unauthorized drops below "full course of study" as defined by USCIS regulations
  • Employment off campus
  • US residential address changes
  • Changes in major, program of study, or expected completion date
  • Transfer to a new college
  • Periods of authorized or unauthorized employment
  • Termination of F-1 Status due to degree completion, change of status, failure to maintain status, or other reason. 

You are required to inform the DSO of important changes within 10 days, including:

  • Address
  • Major and/or Minor
  • Degree level
  • Phone number
  • Email Address

Semester SEVIS Check-In

All F-1 students at ENC are required to complete a SEVIS Check In with the DSO within 15 days of the start of the semester. DSO's are required to register you for the semester in SEVIS showing you are on-campus and registered for classes. This is done via an online form that is sent out to students at the beginning of the semester and then requires the student to stop by the DSO's office to verify they are on campus. This must be done every semester while at ENC.

  • Required every semester!
  • Lets us know any changes to your personal or academic information
  • Allows you to talk to an ENC DSO about your academic plan (course load, graduation, work permission)
  • ENC DSO updates SEVIS to indicate whether student is:
    • Full-time
    • Part-time with authorization
    • Part-time without authorization… a violation of status – results in termination of SEVIS record

Full-Time Registration Requirement

Your F-1 status was granted to you for the purpose of engaging in full-time study in the U.S. For this reason, full-time academic registration each semester is a foundational requirement of maintaining your legal immigration status.

Registration and Attendance

You must register for and complete a full-time course load each fall and spring semester at Eastern Nazarene College and during summer semester if it is your first, final or only term.

For immigration purposes, full-time enrollment is defined as:

Undergraduate Students = 12 Credit Hours

Graduate Students = 6 Credit Hours

Please note that additional credit requirements vary depending on the school/program to which you were admitted. In some cases, the required credit hours for your degree program may exceed the 12 credit hours required for immigration purposes

Please bear in mind that your ability to register for classes each term requires timely payment of your tuition bill, as well as compliance with Massachusetts state immunization and health insurance requirements.

Types of Courses and Impact on Enrollment:

  • AUDIT COURSES: Audit courses do not count toward your required full-time registration.
  • WITHDRAWAL FROM COURSE: If you withdraw from a course, you are not considered to have completed the course for the semester and this course will not be counted toward your required full-time registration. You must have authorization from an ENC DSO to withdraw from a course. 
  • INCOMPLETE GRADE: If you receive an incomplete grade, you are considered to have been successfully enrolled for that course for that semester and the incomplete grade will be counted towards your required registration. However, you must then complete all 
    remaining requirements for the incomplete course promptly in addition to enrolling in full-time coursework in the following semester. 
  • ONLINE COURSES: Federal student immigration regulations only allow for one 3-credit class to count towards the minimum full-time enrollment requirement of 12 credits.  Therefore, F-1 students must be careful when registering for online coursework.  If a student enrolls for 12 credits, they are only permitted to enroll in one 3-credit online course per semester. If a student enrolls for 16 credits, they may be eligible to enroll in two online courses per semester.  Blended and hybrid class formats are counted the same as online classes and therefore, the same restrictions apply.
  • CONCURRENT ENROLLMENT: If you are approved to take a course at another school, you must request advanced authorization from your academic department and ENC DSO. Coursework taken concurrently at another school may count toward your full-time registration requirement as long as you maintain active registration in courses at ENC. 
  • PART-TIME REGISTRATION: Registering for a part-time course load or dropping below full-time without prior authorization from an ENC DSO will immediately jeopardize your immigration status. Prior DSO authorization for a Reduced Course Load may be granted due to academic difficulties, medical reasons or in your final semester. (See “Registration Exceptions” below.) 

Summer Registration

Summer registration is not required if it is a “vacation” term, meaning that you are enrolled in the spring before and the fall term after. However, summer registration is required if you will start or finish your program in summer, or if summer is your only term. Summer Terms only apply to traditional undergraduate students. Adult and Graduate Student Programs do not have summer terms. 

Registration Exceptions

Immigration regulations permit exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement in very limited circumstances. You must request and obtain a reduced course load authorization from the DSO prior to dropping below full-time enrollment. The DSO cannot retroactively authorize a drop below full-time enrollment, so please contact the DSO before you drop or withdraw from classes. Students may be considered for an exception for the following reasons: 

  1. INITIAL ACADEMIC DIFFICULTY:
    • Acceptable academic reasons for dropping below full-time enrollment include improper course level placement, initial difficulties with the English language and/or reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with American teaching methods.
    • You must provide a letter of assessment from your academic advisor that verifies the circumstances and recommends that you be allowed to take less than a full-time credit load for the semester.
    • Authorization for reduced enrollment due to initial difficulties with the English language and/or reading requirements or unfamiliarity with American teaching methods may only be authorized during the first semester of study.
  2. ILLNESS OR MEDICAL CONDITION:
    • Students may be authorized to drop below full-time enrollment due to physical or mental health reasons. (Complete withdrawal from courses is also permitted, if necessary.)
    • Students must provide documentation from a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or a licensed clinical psychologist recommending a reduced course load due to illness or medical condition. The letter must also specify the time period recommended for the reduced enrollment.
    • Authorization for reduced enrollment for medical reasons cannot exceed a cumulative period of 12 months during the student’s degree program.
    • Authorization for reduced enrollment for medical reasons can only be given one semester at a time, therefore continuing health issues may require more than one authorization.
  3. FINAL SEMESTER:
    • Degree-seeking students in F-1 status may be authorized to drop below full-time enrollment in their final semester if they will complete all program requirements by the end of that semester.
    • Proof of expected graduation is required in order for DSO to authorize this. Before requesting authorization for reduced enrollment during your final semester, you should register for graduation so that the anticipated graduation is reflected in your student record. Alternatively, you may obtain a letter from the ENC Registrar's Office verifying that you need only a part-time course load to complete your program in the current term.
    • If you wish to request authorization for a reduced course load from the DSO, you must be registered for at least one “in-person” class on campus as you are not permitted to enroll in only online courses in your final semester.

Reminders:

  • Full-time registration is required each fall and spring term
  • 12 credits minimum for Undergraduates, 6 credits minimum for Graduate Students
  • Only one online class per semester as part of your 12 credits. 
  • Concurrent enrollment - at least one course at ENC
  • Summer registration optional if you will return in Fall
  • Must be registered in summer to graduate in summer
  • Must be registered by “Add Deadline” or will affect immigration status

Overview:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that you finish your program of study by the completion date on your I-20. The end date on the I-20 (Item #5) is established by the admissions office to reflect the average length of time it should take a student to complete the degree requirements. If, during the course of your studies it becomes necessary to extend your I-20, the ENC DSO can provide I-20 extensions to those who are eligible and apply in a timely fashion.

Eligibility Criteria:

In order to obtain a program extension, you must show that you have continually maintained status and that the extension is needed for compelling academic or medical reasons, such as a change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or a documented illness. Delays in completing your program caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension approval.

Extension of stay can be granted only for documented academic or medical reasons. You may be eligible for an I-20 extension if the following criteria are met:

  1. The delay was caused by documented academic or medical circumstances,
  2. You have sufficient financial resources to fund your studies and living expenses, and
  3. The extension is requested in a timely manner, with sufficient time for processing before the current expiration

If your program end date (I-20, section #5) has expired or you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a program extension, it will be necessary to file for reinstatement to F-1 status with USCIS, for which you will have to pay a substantial fee. In addition, failure to apply for an extension of stay in a timely manner is a violation of F-1 regulations, which can carry heavy penalties.

The following are not valid reasons for I-20 extensions:

  • To enroll in extra courses or repeat the same course for personal interest or to improve one’s GPA
  • To engage in research on or off-campus
  • To finish pending coursework for an incomplete grade
  • To engage in non-required Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • To enroll in course work delayed by participation in non-required CPT
  • An I-20 which has already passed the program end date cannot be extended.

Applying for a Program Extension:

To apply for a program extension you will need to provide proof of eligibility for the extension. This includes providing a valid reason for the extension and providing funding for the remaining time requested. 

  1. Download and complete the Program Extension Application: Section 1 will be filled out by you, Section 2 will be filled out by your advisor or the registrar.
  2. Provide Proof of Funding: In order to be granted a program extension, you need to provide proof of funding for the additional time you request. You will need to get approved by the Financial Aid office for any institutional aid and get a breakdown of all costs minus any aid ENC will provide. You will then need to provide proof of funding for all additional costs. This process is identical to the process you completed when applying to ENC. 
  3. Submit Documentation to DSO: Once everything is complete, you should submit your Program Extension Application and Proof of Funding to the DSO for review. 

Overview:

US Immigration law requires F-1 students to notify the ENC DSO immediately about any changes to their academic program. These changes must reported in SEVIS. Failure to report academic program changes including a change of major can put a student's immigrations status at risk. 

Requesting a Change of Major:

  • In order to change your major, you must complete  a change of major form available through the Registrar's Office: http://www.enc.edu/subpage.aspx?id=6960
  • When the change of major has been approved, submit a copy of the change of major form to the ENC DSO.
  • Pick up your updated I-20 from the ENC DSO with your new program, then date and sign the I-20.

Overview:

US Immigration law requires F-1 students to notify the ENC DSO immediately about any changes to their home address, US address and contact information. This information must be updated in your SEVIS record. The ENC DSO requires all international students to report this information at the semester check-in and is updated each semester as needed. 

Updating Address Information:

  • To update your address and contact information, please contact the ENC DSO (David Restrick) with your new address, phone number, or email address so that it can be updated.
  • Please email dso(at)enc.edu to update your contact information. 

Health Insurance

Massachusetts law requires that all students enrolled in any institution of higher learning must be covered by a comprehensive health insurance plan.  Therefore all students are automatically enrolled in the College-sponsored student health insurance plan. The cost of the student health insurance plan is included in a mandatory health insurance charge. 

International students are required to enroll in the ENC sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan and do not have an option to waive it.

Please visit University Health Plans, Inc. for information about the Eastern Nazarene College Student Health Insurance Plan. This includes the Student Health Insurance, Voluntary DeltaCare Dental Plan, and Voluntary VSP Vision Care Plan.

Withdrawing from ENC

If you are planning to withdraw from ENC and return to your home country, you will need to request an authorized Early Withdrawal. Please complete the Authorized Early Withdrawal form available below and email it to dso@enc.edu

Transferring to another College

If you are planning to transfer to another college, you will need to request your SEVIS record be transferred to the new college. 

Before we can transfer your SEVIS record, you will need to complete the ENC SEVIS Transfer Out Request Form and include a copy of your acceptance letter to the new institution.

Please Note, that once ENC releases your SEVIS record, we are no longer able to review or make changes to your record and you will need to work with the DSO at your new college on any immigration of I-20 issues.

Please email the Transfer Out Request Form and copy of your acceptance letter to dso@enc.edu