The united States Citizenship and Immigration Service also referred to as Immigration or USCIS is a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice. Formally known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS, the USCIS, approves the applications for the students and other visitors to enter the country, maintains records on all non-immigrants, and has a jurisdiction over the cases, such as change as status, employment, etc.
I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigration (F-1) Student Status
I-20 forms certify that the student whose name appears on the form has applied and been accepted to the U.S. school named on the form After receiving this document, students may use it to apply for F-1 student visa U.S. Consulate abroad. This document is also used for travel purposes or to transfer form one school to another. Students must maintain this document at all times and apply for a new one, if an extension or change of program/level is needed.
DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status
This document is used to apply for a J-1 exchange visitor visa at a US consulate abroad, to leave and return to the US, to transfer from one school to another and to extend the period of stay in the US. This form is used by both students and visiting scholars who are sponsored either by U.S. government, home country government or Monmouth College, or another agency or institution. Students are required to keep this document valid at all times and apply for a new one, if an extension is required.
A Visa is either a multicolored stamp or computerized document affixed to a page in the passport by a U.S. Consular office abroad. It allows international visitors to travel to the U.S. as long as the visa has not expired. Once visitors are admitted into the US, visas are no longer the most important documents governing their status. A visa is used only for travel to the US, but it is not used to determine how long individuals may stay in the US.
This is the immigration classification USCIS gives international visitors when they enter the US (such as F-1/J-1 status). The status is written on the I-94 card (see below). Under certain circumstances, individuals can apply for a change of immigration status within the United States. Students and scholars who wish to change their status should consult with the International Office.
The certification signatures on I-20/DS-2019 forms are valid for 6-12 months. The signature is required for travel purposes and can be obtained at the Intercultural Life Office only.
Your passport is issued by the government of the country of which you are citizen. It can be used as a primary identification document. Replacement or extension of passport has to be valid for 6 months into the future. Check the expiration date frequently and apply well in advance (at least 6 months prior to ending date).
I-94 Arrival Document Record
The I-94 is a small card (usually white) that international visitors receive upon arrival to the US. It contains an eleven-digit arrival/departure number, the person’s name, birth date, citizenship, the date of entry into the US, and the immigration status given. This important document is used to establish the duration of the legal status while in the United States. Individuals in F-1/J-1 student status should have “D/S” written on their I-94 cards. This refers to the legal ending date of their stay in the US. (See D/S – Duration of Status below). Visitors will be asked to submit the I-94 card to the airline when leaving the country.
D/S – Duration of Status
Individuals in F-1/J-1 status are allowed to stay in the country for the duration of their program of study as long as they maintain their student status at all times. Duration of Status (D/S) refers to the period during which the student is pursuing full-time studies or post-completion training. J-1 students are permitted 30 days (grace period) after end of their academic program before they must leave the U.S. F-1 students have a grace period of 60 days.
Social Security Number (SS #)
Social Security Number is needed for employment. If you plan to work you must have a Social Security number. You can obtain a support letter for the application at the Intercultural Life Office and apply at the office in Galesburg. At the office you would need to fill out the necessary paper work needed to obtain the SS #.
International students who enter the United States have agreed to follow the regulations of their immigration status. It is important to pay close attention to these regulations because they affect your academic study, travel and employment in the U.S.
Students are legally responsible for maintaining their status by understanding and complying with these regulations. If you are not sure of a particular aspect of maintaining your status, consult with the Intercultural Office. It is not advisable to rely on information given to you by other sources. The regulations change periodically, and only the Intercultural Office can provide you with proper advice.
To maintain your status with U.S. Immigration, you must:
Keep your passport and I-20/DS-2019 form valid at all times
· Attend the school you were authorized to attend as a student as per your I-20/DS-2019
· Carry a full course study (3 units/quarter or 12 credits/semester). Students who become ill or are graduating may drop below a full load but they should fill out the Reduced Course Load Form and receive permission from the International Office
· Apply for an extension of program at least 45 days prior to the expiration date of your I-20/DS-2019 form, if more time needed to complete your studies
· Request a new I-20/DS-2019 if changing from one level of study to another (or if changing major) at least 30 days before beginning classes at new level of study
· Complete transfer to another school no later than 15 days after beginning classes at new school. For students on F-1 status, school transfer must be initiated within 60 days period after the completion of the program or the ending date of the OPT. J-1 students need to transfer by the end date on the DS-2019
· Obtain a work authorization prior to the beginning date of your off-campus employment. Students must refrain from off-campus employment unless legally authorized by the INS or the Director of Intercultural Life
· Not commit any felonies (serious crimes)
Please realize that although this office is committed to doing its best to assist you, it is your responsibility to maintain your nonimmigrant status at all times and to comply with the College academic policies/procedures.
v Before traveling out of the US, Your I-20 or J document has be endorsed by the DSO for you to travel. The endorsement is valid for a one year period from the date that it has been signed or until the expiration date of the I-20 or J document, whichever comes first. The expiration date is given on item #3 of the J document and on item #5 of the I-20.
To maintain your nonimmigrant legal status, you must always be in possession of a valid passport, your I-20/J document must correctly reflect your degree objective, educational level and funding, you must be a full time student* and you must follow CIS guidelines concerning any employment, both on and off campus. (*Full-time means that you must take and complete: 12 credit hours for undergraduate students, 9credit hours for graduate students and 6 credit hours for a graduate student with an assistantship.)
· J-1 scholars, staff and faculty maintain status by pursuing their original objective and goals, maintaining correct funding information and engaging in activities as described in #4 on the J document.
· Students are expected to return to campus by the first day of class each semester. Travel authorization to return after that date is not to be understood to mean that permission has been granted to miss any classes. Students who return to campus after classes have begun are responsible for missed coursework as determined by their professors. Professors may impose penalties for missing classes. Therefore, students must speak with individual professors prior to the start of a semester, whenever possible, to make necessary arrangements. Likewise, students who plan to travel during a given semester must make arrangements, prior to departure, with professors from each class he/she is enrolled in at that time.
ATTENTION ALL VISA APPLICANTS:
The Department of State (DOS) has indicated, without giving precise details that certain visa applications will receive greater scrutiny. This may include males between the ages of 16 and 45 from the following countries. These countries are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Please note that others may be subject to this procedure at the discretion of the DOS. This procedure may take 1 month or more, so plan accordingly.
Before traveling, you may wish to review the specific instructions and procedures of the U.S. consulate or embassy where you will be applying for your visa. See the following website for links to all U.S. consulates and embassies worldwide, http://travel.state.gov
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM OIL:
- Keep copies of all documents issued to you (I-20, J document, I-94(s) (front and back), visas and passport) in a safe place
- Give up your current I-94 upon departure from the U.S. (unless you are traveling on auto revalidation to Canada or Mexico, See Information below).
- Give copies of all new documents to OIL (including new U.S. visas and new I-94’s obtained upon re-entry to the U.S.).
- Carry original proof of financial support documents when re-entering the U.S. This may be required for entry.
TRAVELING TO CANADA, MEXICO, or the CARIBBEAN:
(If you are not a citizen of one of these countries then follow the procedures below)
Auto revalidation of visa: if you travel less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or certain Caribbean Islands you may re-enter the U.S. with your present expired or a valid Non-immigrant F or J visa in your passport. In order to re-enter the U.S. you not only need the expired or valid visa but also a valid passport, an endorsed I-20/J document, a valid I-94 and a letter from OIL to ensure that you retain your I-94 card(s). See the exceptions below.
- Auto revalidation is cancelled if you choose to apply for a U.S. visa at the U.S. consulate/embassy in one of these countries and are denied.
- Citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba are not eligible for automatic revalidation when traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands. Citizens from these countries must have a valid visa before they may re-enter the U.S.
- If you remain in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands for 30 days or longer, you must obtain a re-entry visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Your application for a re-entry visa may be the lowest priority and may be denied.
GENERAL TRAVEL INFORMATION: (please note check marks below)
____Obtaining a re-entry visa: Your I-20/J document has been endorsed for traveling outside the U.S. You must obtain a valid re-entry visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate before returning to the U.S.
Transferring From Monmouth College
To transfer out of Monmouth College to another U.S. educational institution which is activated in SEVIS (Student & Exchange Visitor System), you must first get admission from the institution you want to transfer to, and then notify the Director of Intercultural Life of your intent to transfer by completing the transfer form.
(Please complete this form Transfer Form if you intend to transfer out of Monmouth College to another U.S. educational institution which is activated in SEVIS, to notify the Office of Intercultural Life of your intent).
After receiving your completed form, the Director of Intercultural Life will determine the appropriate ‘release date’, list that date in section B below, and fax this form to the new school to which you intend to transfer to. The PDSO will also update your SEVIS record as a transfer out and indicate in the system the release date and the institute to which you will transfer. The release date for students will normally be the end of the current semester.
Students wishing to cancel a transfer request must notify the Director of Intercultural Life of such change prior to the release date indicated on this form.
Once the release date is reached, the new institute to which you intend to transfer to will gain full access to your SEVIS record and is then responsible for administering your program. They will then be able to issue you a new transfer I-20/DS-2019. You will need to contact the staff handling international student issues at the new institute about completing the required transfer procedures. Simply receiving the new school’s I-20/DS-2019 form does not complete the transfer process
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Form
CPT is an F-1 student benefit. It is authorization for employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum and is related to a student’s major area of study. This can be defined as: alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education (CO-OP) or other type of required internship or practicum. Click here for detailed information regarding CPT. The following downloadable form is needed to apply for CPT: CPT Certification Form
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is an F-1 student benefit. It is authorization for employment directly related to a student’s major of study. The following downloadable forms are needed to apply for OPT:
In order to apply for optional practical training, you must be able to respond, “Yes”, to the following questions:
1. Is your I-20 current? Does it reflect your current field of study and educational level?
2. Do you have a valid, unexpired passport?
3. Have you had less than 12 months of full-time curricular practical training (CPT)?
4. Have you been a full-time student for one full academic year?
5. Have you been full-time as an F-1 student every semester you attended Monmouth (12 credit hour minimum)?
If you have answered “no” to any of these questions you will need to speak with an immigration counselor in OIL by phone (309-457-2241) or during walk-in hours.
If you answered “yes” to all of the questions, you will need to complete the OPT forms. All of the OPT forms are available online and may be downloaded from the web.
After completing the OPT Certification form, you must make an appointment for an OPT follow-up session. During the OPT follow-up session you may turn in your completed paperwork and ask individual questions of the Director of Intercultural Life. Please allow 5 workings days for the Director to process your OPT paperwork. You will be given a pick-up slip for your OPT paperwork when you turn it in. Mailing instructions will be given to you at the time you pick up your OPT application.
Off-Campus Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship:
Employment authorization due to severe economic hardship is difficult to obtain. It is a very limited option for students who can prove extreme foreseen economic conditions. The application must be submitted to and approved by the CIS. Students interested in this option should see the Director of Intercultural.