SEVIS Rules & Regulations
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 students and other visitors to enter the country, maintains records on all non-immigrants, and has jurisdiction over cases, such as change of status, employment, and 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 an F-1 student visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad. This document is also used for travel purposes or to transfer from 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 U.S. consulate abroad, to leave and return to the U.S., to transfer from one school to another and to extend the period of stay in the U.S.. 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 U.S., visas are no longer the most important documents governing their status. A visa is used only for travel to the U.S., but it is not used to determine how long individuals may stay in the U.S..
This is the immigration classification USCIS gives international visitors when they enter the U.S. (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 Office of Intercultural Life.
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 a citizen. It can be used as a primary identification document. Replacement or extension of your passport must be completed so that the passport is always valid for at least 6 months into the future. Check the expiration date frequently and apply for a replacement or extension well in advance of expiration (at least 6 months prior to the ending date).
I-94 Arrival Document Record
The I-94 used to be a small card (usually white) that international visitors received upon arrival to the U.S. which contained an eleven-digit arrival/departure number, the person’s name, birth date, citizenship, the date of entry into the U.S., and the immigration status given. This important document has now gone electronic and it is still 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 forms. This refers to the legal ending date of their stay in the U.S.. (See D/S – Duration of Status below). Visitors will be asked to submit the I-94 card to the airline when leaving the country. Retrieve your electronic copy of the I-94.
D/S – Duration of Status
Individuals in F-1/J-1 status are allowed to stay in the U.S. 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 the end of their academic program before they must leave the U.S. F-1 students have a grace period of 60 days.
Any student wishing to extend their program end date must fill out a Program Extension Request Form before the program end date.
Social Security Number (SSN)
A Social Security Number (SSN) is needed for employment. If you plan to work you must have an SSN. You can obtain a support letter for the application at the Intercultural Life Office on campus and apply for the SSN at the U.S. government Social Security office in nearby Galesburg, Illinois. At that office you would need to fill out the necessary paper work needed to obtain the SSN.
International students who enter the United States agree 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 forms I-20/DS-2019 valid at all times.
- Passports must be valid at all times. Students should make plans to renew passports six months prior to their expiration.
- Carry a full course study (3.25 course 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 Office of Intercultural Life.
- 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 USCIS 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.
Before traveling out of the U.S., Your I-20 or J document needs to 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 USCIS guidelines concerning any employment, both on and off campus. *Full-time means that you must take and complete: 3.25 course credits/semester.
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 OFFICE OF INTERCULTURAL LIFE:
- Keep copies of all documents issued to you (I-20, J document, I-94, 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 the Office of Intercultural Life (including new U.S. visas and new I-94’s obtained upon re-entry to the U.S.) for your SEVIS files.
- 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 the Office of Intercultural Life 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:
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 Office of Intercultural Life of your intent to transfer by completing the transfer paperwork.
(Please bring in an Acceptance Letter from the institution you are transferring to and complete the 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 paperwork, 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 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 students (Admission Officer or DSO) 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.
Departing (Leaving) Monmouth College
To leave Monmouth College, which is activated in SEVIS (Student & Exchange Visitor System), before the completion of your program, you must first notify the Office of Intercultural Life, the Dean of Student Success, and the Registrar of your intent to depart by completing the Departure Form paperwork. We must remove you from the SEVIS System or Notify your Exchange program.
Reduced Course Load
In some cases, a student will need an RCL due to a temporary medical condition. Students will need to submit a letter on letterhead signed by an appropriate licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist recommending the RCL for the specific semester. The following wording is suggested:
As a “licensed medical doctor” (or doctor of osteopathy or licensed clinical psychologist), I recommend “Student’s full name and DOB” reduce his/her course load (or withdraw from all classes) due to a temporary illness or medical condition for the “appropriate semester.”
Approval for medical reasons must be obtained each semester requested. Approval cannot exceed an aggregate of 12 months per program level.
An RCL may also be granted in a situation where a student is experiencing academic difficulties. Approval of an academic RCL can be granted only once per program level (Undergraduate students must be in the first semester of their studies.
Permissible academic RCL reasons include:
- Initial difficulties with the English language
- Initial difficulties with reading requirements
- Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods
- Improper Course Level Placement (can apply if student is unprepared or in jeopardy of failing a course).
- Final Semester
Undergraduate students who need less than a full course load to complete degree requirements and take coursework only (no thesis, dissertation, or final project) in their final semester may qualify for a final semester RCL. A final semester RCL is available even if a student has previously been authorized for a medical or academic RCL at the same degree level.
What is TPS
“The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.
The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:
- Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
- An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
- Other extraordinary and temporary conditions
During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their cases (prima facie eligible):
- Are not removable from the United States
- Can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD)
- May be granted travel authorization
Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.”
The Office of Intercultural Life does not process TPS for students!
Students must hire a lawyer or work with a community organization that supports immigrants to attain TPS. Once a student receives TPS, they must inform the DSO in the Office of Intercultural Life.
Do I lose my F-1 Status?
No! Once granted TPS, you can keep your F-1 status & TPS simultaneously. It is actually recommended that you keep both.
Employment for F-1 Students
For more information regarding employment, including:
- On-Campus Employment
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Off-Campus Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship
Please see International Student Services Employment.