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.
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.
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.
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.
Limited work permission is available for on-campus employment and certain off-campus placements related to your major field of study.
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:
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 contact 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:
You are required to inform the DSO of important changes within 10 days, including changes to the following:
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. DSOs will 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.
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 enrollment each semester is a foundational requirement for maintaining your legal immigration status.
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 these purposes, full-time enrollment is defined as:
Please note that additional credit requirements vary depending on the major/program to which you were admitted. In some cases, the required credit hours for your degree program may exceed the required 12 credit hours.
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.
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 Studies programs do not have summer terms.
Immigration regulations permit exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement in very limited circumstances. If you are experiencing those circumstances, you must first 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:
The 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 is established by the admissions office to reflect the average length of time it should take a student to complete the degree requirements for your selected program/major. If, during the course of your studies, it becomes necessary to extend your I-20, the ENC DSO can approve it for those who are eligible and apply in a timely fashion.
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 (for example, 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:
The following are not valid reasons for I-20 extensions:
An I-20 that has already passed the program end date cannot be extended.
If your program end date (I-20, section #5) has already expired or if 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.
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.
US immigration law requires F-1 students to notify the ENC DSO immediately about any changes to their academic program. These changes must be reported in SEVIS. Failure to report academic program changes, including a change of major, can put a student's immigration status at risk.
If you are planning to transfer to another college, you will need to request that your SEVIS record be transferred to the new college.
Please Note: Once ENC releases your SEVIS record, we are no longer able to review or make changes to your record. If you experience any immigration or I-20 issues after your record is transferred, you will need to work with the DSO at your new college.
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(at)enc.edu.
You will also need to complete ENC's institutional withdrawal process. Email registrar(at)enc.edu for instructions.
Following your withdrawal date, you will have 15 days to return to your home country.
There are four options after completing your program at ENC:
Approximately 90 days before your program completion date, meet with a DSO to start the application process for OPT (optional practical training). Refer to the Employment & Taxes tab above for more information. Note: You may not begin any off-campus employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document from USCIS.
Coordinate your admission into the program with an ENC DSO to update your degree level and issue a new I-20.
Complete ENC’s SEVIS Transfer Out Request form (above) and submit it along with a copy of your acceptance letter to the new school to DSO(at)enc.edu. You will need to communicate with the DSO at your new school to obtain some of the necessary information.
Following completion of your program, you may remain in the U.S. for no longer than 60 days before you must return home.