As an international student at Kutztown University, you are required to:
- Attend the institution listed on your I-20/DS-2019.
- Make normal academic progress towards completing your degree or program before your I-20/DS-2019 program end date.
- Maintain enrollment requirements for your visa and student level.
- Maintain good academic standing (no academic probation).
- Maintain good conduct standing (Review The Key – KU Student Handbook - at kutztown.edu/thekey.)
- File tax forms every year.
- Follow regulations for employment.
- Maintain required level of health insurance coverage.
Report to International Student Services every semester. We must physically see you every semester you are enrolled at KU to report your status in the SEVIS system. To complete your registration, you must report to Boxwood House no later than the first week of class and complete the SEVIS registration form in the presence of one of the staff and get our signature on the SEVIS registration form.
When to contact Designated School Official:
- Change address or phone number. SEVIS must be updated within 10 days of an address change.
- Find out funding source has changed. SEVIS must be updated within 10 days of this change. You must pay your bill in full every semester or you will not be able to register for classes in future semesters or request official transcripts from the Registrar.
- Change major. Your SEVIS record and I-20 must be updated to match MyKU.
- Find out academic program will take longer to complete than the expiration date listed on your I-20. Extensions can be granted for valid academic or health reasons; the Program Extension Request Form must be submitted at least 30 days before the expiration date on the I-20.
- Need fewer classes during your last semester than required for full-time enrollment. For the last semester you are enrolled, you may take a reduced course load, which must be approved by the Designated School Official. If you need only one class, it cannot be an online class.
- Initiate transfer to another university in the U.S. Your SEVIS record must be transferred and grace periods for departure apply.
- Want to drop a class that will cause you to drop below full-time enrollment. The Reduced Course Load (RCL) Authorization form must be completed and approved prior to dropping a class.
Length of Stay in the US
Your I-20 and passport should be stamped with D/S, which means Duration of Status. This means that you may stay in the U.S. until your program end date (or post-completion OPT/STEM Extension end date), even if your visa expires. The program end date on the I-20 determines the length of time you will be in status as long as you follow the regulations.
You must continue to enroll in classes every fall and spring semester until you complete your degree to remain in status. You do not have to enroll in classes during the summer break, generally May-August, to maintain status. Any breaks in enrollment could cause you to fall out of status and be terminated. You are permitted to remain in the U.S. during official university breaks and holidays and up to five months when transferring between institutions. You must abide by the grace periods for departure outlined below when you complete your course of study or end your attendance at KU.
Grace Periods for Departure
Program completion/Graduation: 60 days
- Prepare for departure
- Transfer to another school or degree program
- Apply for OPT
- Apply for Change of Status
- Travel within U.S. and continuous countries (Canada, Mexico, and U.S. territories)
- No travel outside of U.S.
- Restricted employment
Withdraws authorized and approved by Designated School Official: 15 days
- Prepare for departure
- No transfers to other college/university
- No travel outside of U.S.
- No employment
Unauthorized withdraw/Failure to maintain status: No grace period, immediate departure from U.S.
Extension of Academic Program
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that you finish your program of study by the program end date on your I-20. The end date on the I-20 is established by International Student Services to reflect the average length of time it should take you to complete your degree requirements. If, during the course of your studies it becomes necessary to extend your I-20, International Student Services can provide an I-20 extension if you 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, such as 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 delay was caused by documented academic or medical circumstances,
- You have sufficient financial resources to fund your studies and living expenses, and
- The extension is requested in a timely manner, with sufficient time for processing before the current I-20 program end date
If your program end date has passed or 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 or to travel and regain your F-1 status with a new initial I-20. In the case of traveling with a new initial I-20, you will lose any time accumulated towards meeting the one-year eligibility requirement for CPT and OPT. In addition, failure to apply for an extension of stay in a timely manner is a violation of F-1 regulations.
The following are NOT valid reasons for I-20 extensions:
- To enroll in extra courses or repeat the same course for personal interest or to improve your GPA
- To engage in research on or off-campus
- To finish pending coursework for an incomplete grade
- To engage in non-required Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
An I-20 which has already passed the program end date cannot be extended.
How to Request an Extension
Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your need for additional time to complete your degree program. You are required to submit the Program Extension Request Form signed by your academic advisor with any supporting documents, such as academic or medical records. Make an appointment with a Designated School Official to discuss your request for program extension.
We strongly recommend that you submit the extension request at least 1-2 months prior to the expiration of your current I-20 form. If approved, keep the new I-20 with the new program end date and all previous I-20 forms that you have been issued. They must be submitted upon request to an immigration officer when you travel outside the U.S. or for future immigration petitions.
NOTE: If you are enrolled in multiple degree/major programs of study, you will need to have your request for a program extension endorsed by all of your academic advisors.
Reinstatement of Status After Termination
Contact International Student Services to find out what steps you must take if you are out of status and need to be reinstated.
If you fail to maintain your status, you have two options to get your F-1 status back:
- Travel home and return in F-1 status
- Get a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID (will require updated financial documents)
- Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee
- Apply for a new visa
- Return to the U.S. with F-1 status
- Apply to USCIS to be reinstated to lawful F-1 status if you:
- Have not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrate that the failure to file within the 5-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that you filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances);
- Do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of the service regulations;
- Are currently pursuing, or intend to pursue, a full course of study at the school which issued the SEVIS Form I-20;
- Have not engaged in unlawful employment;
- Are not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act; and
- Establish to the satisfaction of the Service, by a detailed showing, either that:
- The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight or neglect on the part of the DSO, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or where a willful failure on your part that resulted in the need for reinstatement; or
- The violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within a DSO's power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you.
- Travel home and return in F-1 status
Part of maintaining your F-1 student status is keeping all of your documents safe and current, including the I-20, I-94, visa, and passport. In addition to keeping the original documents safe, it is a good idea to keep copies of everything, including I-20 forms, to help speed up the process of recovering lost, stolen, or expired documents. Monitor expiration dates of I-20, visa, and passport.
If your documents are stolen, file a police report and contact the embassy or consulate of your home country immediately. Inform International Student Services as soon as possible.
If your I-20 is lost or stolen, International Student Services can easily print a new copy. Email the office for a new I-20.
The I-94 is an arrival record of visitors to the U.S. There are three types of I-94s:
- An original I-94 card issued at the Port of Entry (prior to July 2013)
- On the Change of Status Approval Notice if you changed your status while in the U.S.
- An electronic entry record (after July 2013)
If you did not receive a hardcopy I-94 when you arrived, you can simply print a copy of the electronic I-94 whenever you need it from www.cbp.gov/I94.
If you lost the paper I-94, you will need to follow these steps to get a new one:
- Complete the I-102 Form.
- Obtain a money order for $445 made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The only way this fee is not required is if the I-94 is filled out incorrectly at no fault of your own.
- Copy your passport, visa, and I-20. Provide a copy of the I-94 if you have one. If your I-94 was stolen, you will need a copy of the police report. If you need a name change on your I-94, please write a brief letter explaining what you would like the I-94 to show.
- Mail these items to the USCIS Vermont Service Center.
- You should receive a new I-94 card within sixty to ninety days.
Your passport should always be valid for at least six months into the future. Please contact your local embassy or consulate to replace or renew your passport. If your passport will expire and you plan to return home, renew your passport at home. If you will remain in the U.S., please contact your country's embassy or consulate for more details. You should be able to locate their contact information online at https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/united-states.
If your unexpired visa is in the expired passport, travel with both the expired and the new passports.
A visa is a document issued in your home country by the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit. You need an unexpired and valid visa to enter the U.S. It is only an entry document. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., you do not need to renew it until you travel outside of the U.S. again.
Visas must always be renewed outside of the U.S. Although the Department of State recommends that you apply for a visa in your home country, you may renew it in another country. Before you travel to a country other than your country of citizenship to apply for a new visa, find out the type of visa you will need to enter that country, if any, and contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate there to find out if they will allow you to renew your visa. This could require a long stay or take a long time to process. If you leave the U.S. without a valid visa, you will not be able to return to the U.S. until you receive a new visa. If your visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the U.S. as a student. The exception to the expired visa rule is travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean islands for less than 30 days.
Most visas are issued for multiple entries to the U.S., but some visas are only good for a single entry. You can find this information by checking the "Entries" section of your visa - (M) for multiple and (1) for single entry.
If your visa was lost or stolen, report it via fax to the issuing embassy post abroad. Visas cannot be replaced while in the United States. When you return home or travel outside of the U.S., you can apply for a replacement visa. Find the consulate or embassy contact information at https://www.usembassy.gov/.
Applying for a visa
You will need the following items to apply for a visa:
- Letter of Support from International Student Services
- Visa application, DS-160
- Current I-20 with valid travel signature
- All previously issued I-20s
- Passport valid for at least six months
- Updated financial support documents
- Proof of home country ties, including but not limited to:
- Proof of property ownership
- Bank accounts
- Significant family relationships
- A job offer upon completion of your U.S. studies (may or may not be asked)