F-1 Visa Category
UAF Departments may host Students in the F-1 Visa Category
International student information for students in F-1 status:
The information provided is for the benefit of Academic Advisors and other staff members at UAF to help them understand some of the regulations surrounding an F-1 student's legal status in the United States. If you have any questions about the requirements outlined here, please contact either Sue Wolfe or Carol Holz. Click on any of the topics below to expand text on the subject.
Under U.S. immigration regulations, before U.S. schools can issue I-20 forms to international students to enter and begin their academic programs, the students must show English proficiency and proof of financial ability to pay for all expenses while in the U.S. These requirements are in addition to any institutional admission requirements.
Students are required to notify the International Advisor if there is a significant change in their funding situation. Students losing funding sources are considered out of status if they are unable to locate and provide documentation of new funding in order to continue their programs. If they are unable to locate new funding, they are required to leave the U.S. as they are out of status.
Graduate Student Funding
Departments awarding assistantships are assumed to be continuing the funding for the duration of the academic program unless otherwise noted on the Admission Recommendation for International Graduate Applicant Form. Funding information requested on the form is “No funding provided” or “Funding will be provided in the amount of _____________ per year.” The department should be reasonably certain that they have funding or anticipated funding in place for the duration of the student’s program. If department funding is lost, student must provideUAF International Programs & Initiatives with proof of other funding source(s).
Students are required to show proof of English proficiency before the I-20 can be issued. The UAF standard is the TOEFL exam. Students experiencing academic difficulty during their first semester of attendance due to English proficiency may be authorized to enroll in English skills class(es) during that semester.
Students are required to check in with the International Student Advisors as soon as possible after their arrival in Fairbanks . Additionally, they are required, by immigration regulations, to provide changes of residence address to the International Student Advisors within 10 days of a move. The IPI is required to update the information in the national immigration database within 20 days.
To maintain appropriate immigration status, students must be enrolled full-time and making satisfactory progress towards the completion of the degree every semester they are in the U.S.
Full Time Status
Undergraduate students: 12 credits mininum of which no more than 3 credis may be distance education independent study credits. At least 9 credits must be tradition in-class course credits.
Graduate students: 9 credits of which no more than 3 credits may be distance education or independent study credits. At least 6 credits must be traditional in-class courses and/or required thesis or research credits.
Reduced Course Load (RCL): During the student’s final semester of attendance, they may be authorized to be less than full-time, with prior approval of an International Student Advisor, should they not need the minimum required number of full-time credits to complete their degree program. He or she must be enrolled in at least one required in-class course during the final semester. Additionally, students may be authorized less than full-time status due to unforeseen medical conditions. However, approval must be received before the student drops below full-time status.
Distance Education/Independent Study: a maximum of 3 credits of distance education or independent study may apply towards the full-time requirement per semester.
Exceptions to full-time requirement (see also "Reduced Course Load"): Must be approvedbefore the student drops below full-time status.
Documented illness or medical condition. Request/recommendation from medical caregiver required.
Academic difficulty (can only be used one semester) based on one of the following: (1) Initial difficulties with the English language; (2) Initial difficulties with reading requirements; (3) Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods; or (4) Improper course placement. Request/recommendation from academic advisor required.
Change of major or program
Students wishing to change academic majors and/or degree programs must notify the International Advisor before they begin the new program. They must obtain a new I-20 reflecting that program before they begin.
Students may request an extension of their academic programs if they have continually maintained status and the extension is needed due to compelling academic or medical reasons such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems or documented illness. Extensions due to a lack of English proficiency are not allowable as English proficiency is required for a student to be admitted. Extensions must be fully processed before the program completion date shown on the I-20.
Students must request a written, signed letter from their faculty advisor and/or chair of graduate committee addressed to the International Advisor that includes the student’s name, that the student has maintained satisfactory progress towards degree completion, the compelling reason that the extension is needed and the anticipated completion date.
Students placed on probation are not considered to be making satisfactory progress towards their degree. Should students be placed on probation, if their notification letter does not address this as a “warning”, they are considered out of status by U.S. immigration authorities. There is no grace period for people in an “out of status” situation and they are required to leave the U.S. at midnight of the day they receive notification.
Students being dismissed from their program are considered out of status and are required to leave the country at midnight of the day they receive notification. Since UAF has an appeals process for this, a dismissal letter should have an effective date that incorporates the 30-day appeals process time. This enables the student to make arrangements to leave the U.S. in a timely manner.
Generally, the date of program completion is the last day of final exams during the semester students will graduate.
NOTE: Employment authorization ends on the date of program completion. Graduate students with thesis or project defense requirements, see "Special Notes for Graduate Students" - "Program Completion."
Grace period following program completion
Students in F-1 status have a 60-day grace period following program completion during which they may travel and sightsee within the U.S. as a tourist, make arrangements to leave the U.S. and ship personal belongings home. If they wish to enroll in a subsequent academic program, the admission must be finalized prior to the end of the 60-day grace period. Employment authorization ends on the date of program completion and cannot continue through the grace period.
Students in F-1 status are authorized to work on-campus without additional immigration authorization. Employment is restricted to no more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session. There is no immigration restriction on number of hours worked during vacation periods.
Students in J-1 (exchange students) must have a letter of employment authorization from one of the UAF Department of State Responsible Officers (International Student or Study Abroad Advisors).
NOTE: Employment authorization ends on the date of program completion.
Special Note - Social Security Numbers
All students who wish to work, to include graduate assistantships, are required to obtain a SSN. The students need to obtain a letter from the International Advisor indicating their eligibility for employment. They must also have a copy of their employment letter. The letter and social security application form must be submitted in person at the SSA Office in Fairbanks . Additionally, they will be given a release of information form authorizing SSA to release the number to Statewide Human Resources as soon as the number is assigned. Should the student agree to the authorization, that form needs to be submitted with the SSN application. Students are advised to wait until they have been in the U.S. at least 10 days, and their SEVIS (immigration) record activated by the International Advisor before attempting to submit a SSN application. The OIP will provide complete information to students along with the necessary letter.
Special Notes for Graduate Students -
To document satisfactory progress, it would be helpful for UAF International Programs & Initiatives to receive notification of the students’ committee, committee chair and research topic when they are decided, copies of annual reports, Graduate Study Plan and Advancement to Candidacy.
Program completion for immigration purposes is deemed to be the final day of the semester for students enrolled in a semester-long course which meets on regularly scheduled, specified days and times for the duration of the semester. Students enrolled in condensed courses are deemed to have completed their programs on the last day of required attendance during their final semester.
GRADUATE STUDENTS WITH THESIS/PROJECT REQUIREMENTS
For those students who are enrolled only in graduate thesis or research credits and who have met all other course requirements in a previous semester, program completion is calculated from the date of thesis or project defense not the last day of the semester date. The official program completion date for these students is either (1) two months from the defense date or (2) the approval date on the Report of Thesis/Dissertation Defense form or the Report of Project Defense form when signed by the academic department chair, whichever is earlier.
You can read the official policy memo here.
Immigration regulations restrict employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Also see Graduate Student Funding on page 1. Employment authorization ends on official date of completion noted above for programs with thesis and research defense requirements.