Maintaining Your Status
Maintaining Your Status
International students must abide by the limits of their immigration status set by federal immigration regulations. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in a loss of valid F-1 or J-1 status and the termination of the program at Millersville University.
Keep your Information Up to Date
- Provide the Office of International Programs & Services with an updated local address within 10 days of any change.
- Keep your "certificate of eligibility" (I-20 or DS-2019 form) correct and valid at all times and apply for extensions of stay at least one month before the document expires.
- See an international advisor if program information, such as level and major changes.
- Maintain a valid passport throughout your stay in the U.S. Your passport must be valid for six months into the future to re-enter the U.S., and you must give a copy of new passports to the Office of International Programs & Services immediately so that we can report the new information to USCIS, if required.
Failure to comply with these requirements is a violation of your F-1 status, which may result in serious consequences, including your termination in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitors Information System), inability to re-enter the U.S., and detention and deportation from the U.S.
Please direct all questions regarding your F-1/ J-1 status to the Office of International Programs & Services
International students MUST attend the school they are authorized to attend by the Department of Homeland Security. Students are authorized to attend the school whose name appears on their I-20 or DS-2019 - in some cases, the DS-2019 may be from a different sponsor.
FULL-TIME COURSE OF STUDY
International students MUST maintain registration as a full-time student throughout every fall and spring term (undergraduate students: 12 credit hours, graduate students: 6 credit hours, ELI 20 hours/week). Students MAY NOT drop below the required number of credits in fall and spring term except under extremely limited circumstances that must be authorized in advance by the international student advisor. Getting a grade of W is considered a drop even if you completed all course requirements!
For more information, please visit the following website.
F-1 and J-1 student visa holders have restrictions regarding the number of online (or distance learning) credits that can be taken during the semester as it relates to fulfilling the full-time enrollment requirement.
Only 3 credit hours of on-line courses can be counted toward the minimum full-time requirement during a fall or spring term. While students are permitted to take more online courses, only 3 credits can be counted toward full-time.
PROGRAM CHANGE & EXTENSION
During your time at Millersville you may wish to alter your academic plans. Reasons for this might include change of major, change of level from undergrad to graduate, or extending your stay due to graduating later than originally expected. When considering making any of these changes it is important to discuss these plans with the Office of International Programs & Services (IPS) ahead of time.
If any changes occur regarding your degree level, or major/program of study, you must update your I-20 or DS-2019 form.
Change of Major
- If you change your major, visit the Registrars Office, located in Lyle Hall to update the university database.
- Once your change of major is complete, visit IPS to update your SEVIS record and obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019.
Change of Level
- You MUST be admitted to the new program or level (Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate) to be approved for a change of level in SEVIS. You will need to show new proof of funding and an acceptance letter to IPS.
EXTENSION OF STAY
If you will not complete your academic program by the expected completion date on your current I-20/ DS-2019 document, you must file for a Program Extension and receive a new document with a new completion date. This must be done before your current I-20/DS-2019 expires.
Who is eligible for an Extension of Stay?
To be eligible for an extension of stay, you must show that:
- You are currently in valid student status AND
- You have maintained status and continually been a full-time student AND
- You are making normal progress toward completing your course of study AND
- The delay in completion was caused by compelling academic or medical reasons
- Change of major or research topic
- Unexpected research problems
- Loss of credits upon transfer to the Millersville University
- Documented illness
Note: Delays due to academic probation or suspension do not qualify for an extension.
Note: If you are extending due to delays caused by a medical issue, you must submit medical documentation.
Failure to comply with this requirement is a violation of your F-1 status, which may result in serious consequences, including your termination in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitors Information System), inability to re-enter the U.S., and detention and deportation from the U.S.
REINSTATEMENT & CHANGE OF STATUS
It is your responsibility to maintain your immigration status. Students who take a long leave of absence or fail to maintain their immigration status will need to be reinstated. If at any time you decided to alter your purpose for being in the U.S., you will have to change your immigration status. In all of these cases it is important to discuss your plans with the Office of International Programs & Services, so we are able to assist you moving forward.
F-1 and J-1 students who have failed to maintain their immigration status may request reinstatement from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS has the discretion to reinstate students to lawful immigration status. Alternatively, students may decide to return home, pay the SEVIS Fee, apply for a new visa (if needed) and reinstate their status by re-entering the U.S. using a new initial I-20/DS-2019.
The reinstatement is often complex and will require you to work with IPS to prepare your application. YOU SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO APPLY FOR REINSTATEMENT ON YOUR OWN.
The estimated processing time is 3-8 months. After your application has been reviewed by the USCIS, they will inform you of their decision.
You must attend school as a full-time student while your application is pending, but you may not begin an assistantship or engage in any on- or off-campus employment until you are reinstated. You also may not travel outside the U.S. while your application is pending. If you do, your application will be considered abandoned by the USCIS.
If your reinstatement application is denied, you will be required to leave the U.S. immediately.
Change of Status
A change of status is a change in one’s primary purpose for being in the U.S. There are two ways to change one’s immigration status. One way is to travel home or outside the U.S., apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate, and then re-enter the U.S. in the new status. The other way is to submit a change-of-status application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while remaining in the U.S. You MUST be in lawful immigration status to apply.
USCIS reviews applications for changes of status based on the applicant's ability to document and justify a change in primary purpose for being in the U.S. since having arrived in the U.S. In some cases, the students are able to attend classes while their status is under review.
The change of status process is often complex and will require you to work with the Office of International Programs & Services to prepare your application. YOU SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO APPLY FOR CHANGE OF STATUS ON YOUR OWN.
For more information regarding change of status, please visit the following website.
REPLACING IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS
Be sure to keep your immigration documents in a safe place at all times and report lost or stolen immigration documents immediately to the Office of International Programs & Services. You should always keep a copy of your original documents somewhere safe, in a separate location from the original documents, in the case that one is lost or stolen. Ensure that all documents are valid and up to date before traveling.
The passport is the legal document issued by your country of citizenship; it must be valid for 6 months into the future upon your entry into the U.S. and remain valid at all times during your stay. The passport can usually be renewed through your embassy or one of your consulates in the United States. For information regarding your closest embassy or consulate locations visit the following website.
I-20 & DS-2019 - "Certificate of Eligibility”
The I-20 (for those with F-1 status) or DS-2019 (for those with J-1 status) is the document which you must present to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to obtain a visa and which you present to immigration officials to enter the U.S. each time you travel abroad and return; for most Millersville University students the I-20 is issued by the university through the Office of International Programs & Services. Some J-1 students have documents issued by an outside agency. You should always keep these and any other immigration documents for your records even if you get new ones in the future. If your I-20 is damaged, lost or stolen, visit the Office of International Programs & Services and request a new form.
I-94 Departure Record
The electronic I-94 is the document that authorizes you to be in the U.S. as a student for a specified period of time, for the specified program of study, at the institution specified on the I-20/DS-2019. For F-1 and J-1 visa holders, the expiration date should be D/S (duration of status), which implies the date of program completion (not always the same date as graduation). The I-94, like the passport, must be valid at all times. To retrieve your most recent I-94, visit the following website.
The entry visa is a sticker with photograph on a page of your passport that permits you to enter the U.S. Individuals entering the U.S. as an international student will have either an F-1 or J-1 entry visa. The visa may expire while you are in the U.S.; you cannot and need not renew it while you are here, however a new entry visa will be required if the original expires and you travel outside and then wish to re-enter the U.S. You must present a valid SEVIS form I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) from the school you will attend to the US Consular officer to obtain your entry visa. Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.
Replacing lost or expired immigration documents can be a timely process. You should plan ahead if you know any of your documents are expiring soon, especially if you have upcoming plans to travel internationally.
Many students will travel domestically in the U.S. or internationally during their time at Millersville. Always make sure your documents are up to date and contain the proper signatures before traveling. It is best to update the Office of International Programs & Services of plans to travel internationally, so we can ensure your documents are in order. If you are planning to take a leave of absence from Millersville, you must discuss these plans with the Office of International Programs & Services beforehand.
You should always travel with your passport and I-20, but you will not be required to go through customs when flying within the United States or to U.S. territories. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires a government-issued photo identification to fly.
To re-enter the U.S., you will be required to show:
- An unexpired passport
- Proof of your immigration status:
- If you are in F-1 status: Your I-20 with a DSO signature on page 2 that is less than one year old
- If you are in J-1 status: Your DS-2019 with a travel signature that is less than one year old
- An unexpired U.S. Visa Stamp
If you arrive at the U.S. port of entry without all of your required documents or with unsigned documents, you may be denied entry. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have the right to issue you a form I-515A, which allows you temporary entry into the U.S for 30 days. If you are issued a form I-515A, you must contact the Office of International Programs & Services.
For more information regarding the I-515A, visit the following website.
Under the “automatic revalidation of visa” benefit, individuals on nonimmigrant visas (F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, H-1B, H-4, etc.) may re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa, if after a stay of less than 30 days in Canada or Mexico. (Individuals in F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2 status may also enter the U.S. after a stay of less than 30 days on islands in the Caribbean).
There are two important exceptions to the “automatic revalidation of visa” benefit:
- Individuals from Iran, Sudan and Syria may not re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa. This means that they will have to return to their home country, renew their U.S. visa there and attempt to return to the U.S.
- Individuals whose U.S. visa application is pending or was denied may not re-enter the U.S. They will also have to return to their home country, renew their U.S. visa there and attempt to return to the U.S. Please note that this restriction applies even if the original U.S. visa is still valid.
For more information regarding automatic revalidation, visit the State Department Website.