Immigration Status

In the US, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for implementing immigration regulations. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), a division of DHS, requires that international students abide by specific rules and regulations during their period of study in the United States. If you do not maintain your status and are considered unlawfully present in the U.S. you could face serious consequences.

In order to maintain status F-1 students must:

  • Report to the Designated School Official (DSO) in the International Programs Office for Registration in SEVIS. This must occur within 30 days of the start of each semester.
  • Carry a valid passport with you at all times. Passports can be renewed at your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. Be sure to plan ahead. Renewing a passport can take several months.
  • Maintain a full course of study during the academic year (August-May). In order to be a full-time student you must take a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. If at any time, for any reason, you suspect that you may be in danger of falling below 12 credit hours, you must contact an International Student Adviser prior to dropping below the 12 credit hour minimum. Students in their final semester may enroll in fewer than 12 hours if they can still meet all of their graduation requirements.
  • Make normal progress towards completing the course of study. At Earlham, normal progress is defined as successfully taking an average of 15 credit hours per semester.
  • Never work without authorization. On-campus work for students who receive a “work award” is authorized for a limited number of hours. Immigration regulations limit the number of hours that students can work to 20 (twenty) hours per week while school is in session and 40 (forty) hours per week during annual vacations. The College further limits employment to 10 (ten) hours per week during the academic year. Never work more than 20 hours a week while school is in session or more than 40 hours per week during break times. Working off-campus without prior official permission from the USCIS is prohibited.
  • Maintain a valid I-20. The validity date is under #5 on the I-20, “complete studies no later than”. If you cannot complete graduation requirements (for valid reasons) by the date noted on your I-20, you may apply for an extension of stay. You must apply for the extension 30-45 days prior to the expiration date. See an International Student Adviser for details. As an F-1 student you are required to make normal progress toward your degree. Failure to complete the program by the validity date due to lack of normal progress is not a valid reason for an extension of stay.
  • Notify IPO of change of address in writing within 10 days of change.
  • Notify IPO of any changes in your biographical, academic (major/minor), and residential data.
  • Notify USCIS of transfer to another school or a change in educational program. See an International Student Adviser if you plan to transfer to another school.
  • File all required U.S. tax forms with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Carry the appropriate documents when you travel outside of the U.S: Form I-20 endorsed for travel, valid passport, valid U.S. visa, and proof of financial support. It is also a good idea to have a copy of your academic transcript with you upon re-entry into the U.S.

J-1 exchange visitors must:

  • Report to the Responsible Officer (RO) for Registration in SEVIS. This must occur within 30 days of the Program Start Date on your DS-2019.
  • Carry a valid passport with you at all times. Passports can be renewed at your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. Be sure to plan ahead. Renewing a passport can take several months.
  • Engage in appropriate activities.
    • Degree seeking students: Maintain a full course of study during the academic year (August-May). You must take a minimum of 12 semester hours of credit per semester, with a normal load of 15 semester hours. If at any time, for any reason, you suspect that you may be in danger of falling below 12 semester hours, you must contact an International Student Adviser prior to dropping below the 12 semester hour minimum. Students in their final semester may enroll in fewer than 12 hours if they can still meet all of their graduation requirements.
    • Language Assistants in Student category: Must maintain a full course of study, including enrolling in a specified number of academic courses and teaching in the Department of Languages and Literatures as outlined in their contract.
    • Language Assistants in Professor category: Work only at Earlham College in the field for which you were hired and, if applicable, in other teaching positions for which you have permission and which are listed on your DS-2019.
  • Never work without authorization. Do not accept employment that is not outlined on your DS-2019 without receiving official permission from an International Student Adviser prior to beginning any such work.
  • Maintain a valid DS-2019. The validity date is under #3 on the DS-2019, “valid to”. If you cannot complete the requirements of your exchange visitor status (for valid reasons) by the date noted on your DS-2019 you may apply for an extension of stay, transfer of program or change of category. You must apply for these changes 30-45 days prior to the expiration date. See an International Student Adviser for details.
  • Notify IPO of change of address within the U.S. in writing within 10 days of change.
  • Notify IPO of any changes in your biographical, academic (major/minor), and residential data.
  • Maintain health insurance at the required levels.
  • Carry the appropriate documents when you travel outside of the U.S: Form DS-2019 endorsed for travel, valid passport, valid U.S. visa, and proof of financial support. It is also a good idea to have a copy of your academic transcript with you upon re-entry into the U.S.

Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019)

This is proof that you are entering the U.S. as a student or exchange visitor. Please keep this in your passport. You are required to keep all original copies of form I-20/DS-2019 throughout your stay as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor and possibly longer if you return to the U.S. in any capacity other than as a tourist.

You must have page 3 of your I-20 or the lower-right section on page 1 of your DS-2019 signed by an international student adviser before you travel outside of the U.S. Travel signatures are vaild for one year.

It is a good idea to keep all of your documentation together in a centralized and safe place. This location should be a place where you can locate your documents at all times. In addition, you must carry a photocopy of your I-20/DS-2019 with you at all times while in the U.S.

I-94

(Arrival and Departure Record) - The I-94 used to be a small white card that is given to you at the airport when you arrive in the U.S. You will not receive a paper copy, but you can view and print the digital copy online. The I-94 shows that you have been legally admitted to the U.S. If you need to apply for an extension, change of status, practical training or other regulatory changes, you must submit your I-94 to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The BICE uses the admission number to keep track of your U.S. arrivals and departures.

Duration of Status

F-1 and J-1 students (and most teaching assistants) are admitted to the United States for D/S or Duration of Status. This should have been marked on your I-94 at your port of entry. For F-1 students, duration of status is defined as the length of time necessary to complete your academic program, a maximum of one year of authorized post-completion optional practical training plus 60 days to prepare to depart the U.S. The definition for J-1 visa holders is the time necessary to complete their program plus 30 days to prepare to depart the U.S.

Extension of Status

If you are unable to complete your degree by the validity date in box #5 on your I-20 or the "To" date in box #3 on your DS-2019, you may apply for an extension of stay. You must apply for the extension 30-45 days prior to the expiration date. See an International Student Adviser for details.

Exceptions to Full-time enrollment requirement

  • An F-1 student in the last semester of his/her program is required to enroll in only the number of semester hours required for graduation. (See an International Student Adviser for approval)
  • Other exceptions to full-time course of study that may be approved by an international student adviser, the academic adviser and other appropriate personnel are: demonstrated language difficulties or unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, inappropriate course level placement, or a severe medical condition.

USCIS Change of Address Requirement

Immigration law and regulations require that all foreign nationals, including lawful permanent residents, students, visiting scholars and visitors report each personal change of address within ten (10) days of moving. For students and scholars on F-1 and J-1 visas you may comply with this regulation by submitting address information in writing to an International Student Adviser who will then enter it into the SEVIS database system.

While residing in campus housing, we will use Earlham’s address and your Earlham drawer number. However, if at any point in time you move from campus housing, you must report a change of address in writing to IPO within 10 days of moving. This includes vacation periods or off-campus study in the U.S. IPO is then required to make the changes to your SEVIS record.

Change of Major

Students who change their major must complete a Change of Major Form with their academic adviser and submit it to the Registrar’s office. Students must also submit a copy of this form to IPO to request an updated I-20 or DS-2019 reflecting the change of major. IPO must provide this information to SEVIS within 21 days of the change. This includes initial declaration of a major as well.

Completion of Studies/Termination of Studies

J-1 visitors have a 30-day grace period following the completion of their program and F-1 students have a 60-day grace period following completion of study or completion of optional practical training to 1) depart the US, 2) transfer to another institution, or 3) change status.

However, students who terminate their studies before completion of their academic program do NOT receive a 60-day grace period. These students MUST notify IPO BEFORE terminating studies in order to receive a 15-day grace period to depart the US. Failure to notify IPO prior to terminating studies eliminates the grace period, and the student will need to leave the US immediately.

Tax Matters

All F and J visa holders must file appropriate U.S. tax forms even if they have no income, their income is not connected to the U.S., their only income was from scholarships or grants, or their income was partially or fully exempt from U.S. taxation based on a tax treaty with their home country. The federal government assesses tax on any amount of scholarships and grants that exceed tuition, fees, and required expenses. In accordance with federal law, Earlham withholds 14% of any scholarship amount above tuition, fees, and required expenses in order to pay this tax. Students who receive full scholarships must be prepared to reimburse the College for this tax payment of approximately $1,060 per calendar year.

If you use scholarship funds to purchase books or other required supplies for Earlham courses, keep your receipts as they can be used to reduce the taxes that you have to pay on your scholarship.

The International Programs Office may not provide individual tax advice or assist individuals with filing their forms. However, in the spring of each year IPO organizes tax seminars to provide you with further information on filing U.S. tax returns.

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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
47374-4095
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admissions