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SEVIS Rules & Regulations

USCIS

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, also referred to as USCIS, is a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 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 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 has 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. Embassy or Consulate abroad. This document is also used for travel purposes during the students’ time at a school or to transfer from one school to another in the United States. Students must maintain this document at all times and apply for a new one, if an extension or change of program/level is needed.

Visa

A Visa is either a multicolored stamp or computerized document affixed to a page in the passport by a U.S. Embassy or a Consulate 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.

Immigration Status

This is an immigration classification given by the USCIS to international visitors when they enter the U.S. (e.g. students studying at Monmouth College are given an F-1 status). The status is written on the I-94 card. Under certain circumstances, individuals can apply for a change of their immigration status within the United States. Students and scholars who wish to change their status should consult with the Office of Intercultural Life.

Travel signature

When traveling outside the Monmouth area, always carry a copy of your passport, I-20/ DS-2019, and the I-94.

You may be asked at any time to prove you are legally in the U.S. If you travel outside of the U.S. take your passport, I-20/ DS-2019, & the I-94, and your I-20 must be signed in the travel section by PDSO/DSO. Please ask a DSO or PDSO (Associate Dean of Students) at least a month to 2 weeks before you plan to travel. Your I-20 or J document needs to be endorsed by the DSO responsible for your documentation before you travel. DS-2019’s are endorsed by the exchange program’s DSO. The Director of International Student Services usually signs the I-20’s for students traveling outside of United States.

Travel Signatures are good for 1 year (12 months). You still need to notify a DSO of your intent to travel and provide a forwarding address for over breaks. Your passport and Visa must not be expired. Travel with both your passport with the Visa in it and any new passports that don’t currently have a visa in them.

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.

To maintain your nonimmigrant legal status, you must always be in possession of a valid passport, your I-20/DS-2019 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.

Passport

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 your embassy or consulate located in Washington, DC or Chicago (at least 6 months prior to the expiration 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 a requirement for employment in the US. If you plan to work, you must have a Social Security Number. The Office of Intercultural Life will assist in obtaining a Social Security Number.


International students who enter the United States agree to follow the regulations governing 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 responsible for maintaining their status by understanding and complying with these regulations. If you are not sure of a particular aspect of your F-1 status, consult with the Director of International Student Services. It is not advisable to rely on information you get through other sources. The regulations change periodically, and the Director of International Student Services is the best resource available on campus to provide you with appropriate advice.

Students are responsible for maintaining their status by understanding and complying with these regulations. If you are not sure of a particular aspect of your F-1 status, consult with the Director of International Student Services. It is not advisable to rely on information you get through other sources. The regulations change periodically, and the Director of International Student Services is the best resource available on campus to provide you with appropriate 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.

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.

EXCEPTIONS:

  • 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).

Usually the receiving Institution has a transfer process and form of their own. You will need to contact the staff handling international students (Admission Officer or DSO) at the new institution about completing their required transfer procedures. After receiving your completed paperwork, Intercultural Life will determine the appropriate ‘release date’, list that date on the transfer forms, and send our form to the new school to which you intend to transfer to. The PDSO/DSO 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

Eligibility

  • Medical
    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.
  • Academic
    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:
    1. Initial difficulties with the English language
    2. Initial difficulties with reading requirements
    3. Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods
    4. 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.

Reduced Course Request Form

Temporary Protective Status

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.

Obtaining a US Driver’s License for Students with Social Security Numbers

To drive in the US, you must have a valid driver's license issued by the state in which you live (or and International Driver’s License). To apply for a license:

  • Visit an Illinois Secretary of State's Office. Make sure it offers driver's license services. Locations and services can be found at Office of the Secretary of State.
  • Bring your Social Security Card, passport, I-94 card, US Citizenship and Immigration documents (including your I-20 or DS-2019), and proof of your local address. This proof may be a piece of mail addressed to your current address (e.g., a bill).
    • To obtain a Social Security Number (SSN), you must either have a job offer or an Employment Authorization Document.
  • Obtaining a driver's license costs a fee, which must be paid at the time of application.
  • You will be required to take vision and written tests and to have your photograph taken. For information on road rules and regulations in the state of Illinois, read Rules of the Road .
  • You will be required to take a driving test if you do not have a driver's license from your home country or if you come from a country where people drive on the left side of the road. You must take the test in your own vehicle or a vehicle that you have coordinated of use.
  • If you fail the driving or written test, you may apply for the license again after further study. You will be given three additional chances to pass. You must pay the fee each time you apply.

For more information, call 309-734-2211 The DMV (Secretary of State) office is within walkable distance in the City of Monmouth Office of Intercultural Life does not drive students to the DMV, however if you receive an on-campus job the office will schedule a trip to drive students to Galesburg to apply for their social security number at the Social Security Office.

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