Phone: (269) 471-6395
Fax: (269) 471-6388
OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENT SERVICES AND PROGRAMS
Room 168, Campus Center,
Andrews University
Berrien Springs, MI
49104-0300
 

Rules and Regulations

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT Enrollment Requirements

    During the academic year, international students in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status must either be enrolled full-time or receive permission from the International student services and programs office in consultation with your department of study for a reduced course load.
    The deadline for meeting the full-time registration requirement is the end Drop/Add period for each semester (Check Andrews University's academic calendar for these dates).
    If you are not registered full-time by the Drop/Add date for the given semester, your SEVIS record will be terminated and you will lose your F-1/J-1 status. There is no grace period to remain in the U.S. following status termination. YOu will need to depart US immediately.
    For most students, the academic year is fall and spring semesters, while the summer semester is considered the vacation term. During the academic year, in general, the minimum full-time enrollment for international students is as follows:
    Undergraduate students - 12 credit hours
    Graduate students - 8 credit hours
    Master of Divinity students - 9 credit hours
    Note: You must be registered full-time during your first term of admission. If admitted to begin summer, you must be full-time during that semester.
    Courses that you visit or audit do not count towards full-time enrollment for immigration purposes.

 

Exceptions to Full-Time Enrollment Requirements

Reduced course load

If you cannot or will not meet this requirement, you must request a reduced course load. Federal immigration regulations severely limit a student's ability to be less than full time, but it may be allowed in some circumstances explained below. If you drop below full time without authorization after the drop/add deadline, our office is required to report this to SEVIS and you will lose your F-1 or J-1 status.

According to 8 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) § 214.2(f)(6)(iii), the Designated School Official may allow an F-1 student to engage in less than a full course of study as provided below. A student who wishes to drop below full time must obtain the approval from a DSO in advance, regardless what the reason might be. A student who drops below a full course of study (after the drop-add period) without prior approval of a DSO will be considered out of status. Please be advised that a lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce course load according to immigration regulations.

NOTE: If approved for reduced course load, you are still eligible for on-campus employment benefits.

Academic Reason

A student must apply for reduced course load if, due to academic difficulties, he/she is unable to be enrolled full time. He/she must first obtain a letter from his/her academic advisor to verify his/her eligibility to be part time based on academic difficulties.

    Immigration regulations specify four academic difficulty reasons for which a reduced course load may be approved:

    o   Initial difficulties with the English language (usable only in student’s first year)

    o   Initial difficulties with reading requirements (usable only in student’s first year)

    o   Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods

    o   Improper course level placement

    A student may be authorized for a reduced course load on the “academic difficulties” basis only for a single term during any one course of study at a particular program level, and must resume a full course of study at the next available term (excluding summer).
    A reduced course load for academic difficulties must consist of at least 6 credit hours for undergraduate students and at least 4 credit hours for graduate students.

Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(A)]


Medical Conditions

A student must apply for RCL if, due to a temporary illness or medical condition, he/she is unable to be enrolled full time (or, if necessary, no course load).

    The student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist, to the P/DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition.
    The letter from the medical provider cannot be dated more than 30 days before the start of the term for which the RCL is requested.
    The letter from the medical provider must recommend either that the student be part time or not enrolled due to medical circumstances.
    A reduced course load for a medical condition can be granted for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursing a course of study at a particular program level.
    The student must provide current medical documentation and the P/DSO must authorize the drop below full time for each new term.

Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(B)]


Completion of Course of Study

A student must apply for RCL in his/her final term if fewer courses (i.e. less than full time) are needed and required to complete the course of study.

The student must obtain a letter from his/her academic advisor to verify that the current term will be the final term for the student to complete his/her academic program.

Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C)]


How to Apply for a Reduced Course Load

        Set up an appointment with your academic advisor for “academic reason” or licensed medical physician (or doctor of osteopathy or licensed clinical psychologist) for “medical reason” to request a letter. The letter must be printed on an official letterhead and contain contact information of the person who signed the letter.
        Submit the following required documents to the Office of International Student services and programs:
        F-1 Student Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request Form or J-1 Student Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request Form completed and signed by you.
        Legible copies of all your previous and current I-20s (pages 1 & 3) or DS-2019 (all previous copies if applicable).
        A printed electronic copy of your Form I-94.
        An unofficial transcript downloaded from IVue.
        A letter documenting need for RCL.

        Completion of Studies: A letter from your academic advisor confirming that you are expected to complete degree requirements by [date] and specifying the number of credits for which you need to be enrolled in the final term.
        Academic Difficulties: A letter from your academic advisor recommending a Reduced Course Load on the basis of [insert one of four academic difficulty reasons] and elaborating on the circumstances.
        Medical Conditions: A letter from a licensed medical physician, doctor of osteopathy or licensed clinical psychologist recommending a Reduced Course Load on the basis of a medical condition for which you have received care.  The letter need not detail the diagnosis or treatment but must specify whether the recommendation is for part-time study or no study (0 credits). The letter cannot be dated more than 30 days before the start of the term for which the RCL is requested.
    If you are requesting RCL for “Completion of Course of Study” because this is your final semester of required courses, you may drop off your request form to our office.
    If you are requesting RCL for “Academic Difficulties” or “Medical Condition”, you must meet with an International Student Advisor. Call 269-471-3310 or stop by the office to schedule an appointment to meet with one of us.
    We will review the request form and documentation.
    F-1 Students: Our office will determine your eligibility for RCL, report your RCL to SEVIS, and generate a new I-20 for you. The documented RCL authorization will be printed on page 3 of the I-20. We will notify you when your new I-20 is ready.
    J-1 Students: You will be notified to pick up your RCL letter.

Extension of F-1 Student Status

Overview

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that you finish your program of study by the completion date on your I-20. The end date on the I-20 (Item #5) is established by the admissions office to reflect the average length of time it should take a student to complete the degree requirements.  If, during the course of your studies it becomes necessary to extend your I-20, this office can provide I-20 extensions to those who are eligible and apply in a timely fashion.

Eligibility Criteria for extension

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 [8 CFR § 214.2 (f) (7) (iii)].

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 expiration

If your program end date (I-20, section #5) has expired 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. In addition, failure to apply for an extension of stay in a timely manner is a violation of F-1 regulations, which can carry heavy penalties.

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 one’s 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)
    To enroll in course work delayed by participation in non-required CPT

An I-20 which has already passed the program end date cannot be extended.


Documentation Needed for I-20 extension

The request for an extension of an I-20 consists of several required forms which must be completed and submitted to our office.
I-20 Request Form for Extension to Complete Program Requirements,

Academic/Faculty Advisor Recommendation Form for I-20 Extensions,

and Financial Resources Statement for Issuance of Form I-20 with supporting financial documents.


How to Request an Extension

First, meet with your academic advisor to obtain his/her recommendation.  After this you can schedule the an appointment with one of our staff to review and submit your I-20 Request Form. This appointment should be scheduled at least 30 days prior to the expiration date on your current I-20 or DS-2019. Call 269-471 3310 to schedule an appointment.  If you are eligible, this office will transmit your updated information to SEVIS and prepare a new I-20 showing the extended completion date.

Be sure to keep this new I-20 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., for future immigration petitions and applications or to the International Center when applying for any benefits of F-1 status.

NOTE: If you are participating in a dual degree program you will need to submit advisor recommendation forms from each program’s advisor or graduate coordinator.

Change of Status to F-1

Overview

An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific educational or professional objective, at an academic institution in the United States. Once the educational or professional objectives have been achieved, the F-1 student is expected by the U.S. government to return to his or her residence abroad.

A student acquires F-1 status using Form I-20, issued by the U.S. school which the student is attending/ planning to attend. Status is acquired in one of two ways: 1) by entering the United States with the I-20 and an F-1 visa obtained at a U.S. consulate abroad (Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement); or 2) by applying to USCIS for change of nonimmigrant status (if the student is already in the United States and cannot travel). Please note that if you choose the latter form of acquiring F-1 status, you will not receive an F-1 travel visa, only F-1 status. This means that if you later travel outside the U.S. while in F-1 status, you will have to apply for F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate in order to be able to return to the U.S.

A person of any non-immigrant status except C, D, K, or M (and in some cases J), and except those who entered the United States under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program, can apply for a change to F-1 status if he/she has maintained lawful non-immigrant status up to the time of application. Those with J status who are subject to 212(e) two-year home country physical requirement may not change status in the U.S. unless a waiver has been granted.  Non-immigrants in A, G, or NATO status must first complete Form I-566, and have it properly endorsed by the foreign mission to the U.S. and the Department of State.


Documentation Needed to Apply for Change of Status to F-1

  •     G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  •     A cover letter (one page) requesting the change of status from your current status to F-1. This letter should include a brief explanation as why you wish to change to F-1 status. You should also provide a checklist of the documentation you are including in your application.
  •     USCIS Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, including application fee.
  •     Evidence of financial support (i.e., bank statement, assistantship letter, etc.). If you have been offered an assistantship from the department and therefore will need to start your on-campus job under F-1 employment authorization, you may want to request USCIS to expedite your change of status application. There is no guarantee that your application will be expedited, but there is no harm in asking. Please note that after your change of status to F-1 is approved, the earliest date you may start working on campus is 30 days before the first day of classes of your first term as F-1 student.
  •     Copy of the admission letter from the University
  •     Copy of your entire F-1 I-20 (sign Item #11 on the form before making a copy).
  •     Copy of the receipt indicating payment of the SEVIS fee . Please note that the SEVIS fee is separate from the application fee; both fees must be paid, if you are applying for the change of status within the U.S.
  •     Copies of all of the immigration documents (e.g. DS-2019, F-2 I-20, I-797, electronic or paper Form I-94, valid passport, visa stamp, EAD card, etc.) showing that you are currently in lawful non-immigrant status.
  •     Copy of the waiver of the 212(e) Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement (if you were previously in J status and subject to the requirement), if applicable.

We recommend that you make a copy of this application for your own record.


Mailing Address and Where to File

It may take USCIS several months to adjudicate an I-539 request, and therefore you are advised to use an address that you know will continue to be valid for at least the next few months. It is not recommended to try to change your I-539 mailing address once your application has been submitted to USCIS.

If you know that you will be moving soon, we recommend that instead of using your own current residential address, you instead consider using a friend or relative’s address in the U.S., if that friend or relative will not be leaving that address in the near future. If you select this strategy, make sure to include the name of your friend or relative on the line of the I-539 form that says “In care of.” Be sure to verify that their name is on their mail box.

The address that you use on your I-539 will dictate to which USCIS Service Center you should mail your application. If the address you use is in Michigan, you should mail your application to one of the following:

For U.S. Postal Service (including US Postal Service Express mail):
USCIS
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266

The U.S. Postal Service is the only service that delivers to a P.O. Box address. We recommend that you use a trackable mailing method so that you have delivery confirmation of your application. If you send your application with a method that requires a signature upon delivery, use the express mail and courier deliveries address below.

For express mail and courier deliveries (e.g., UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc):
USCIS
ATTN: I-539
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

If you are using a non-Michigan address on the I-539 form, please refer to the USCIS Form I-539 instructions for the correct USCIS mailing address.

In addition to the paper-based I-539 application, you may choose to apply for a change of status to F-1 electronically using ELIS (USCIS Electronic Immigration System). To read more about ELIS, and/or to register and begin using ELIS, please go to www.uscis.gov. Change of status applicants who use ELIS submit all documentation to USCIS electronically, including scanning and uploading each of your supporting documents. However, once your case is approved, USCIS will mail your official approval paper notice to you by regular mail. Therefore it is very important that you provide a valid mailing address on Form I-539, whether you file your application via ELIS or by regular mail.

If your change of status is pending with USCIS and you later decide to leave the U.S., your change of status is considered to have been abandoned.


Important Things to Remember

If you are currently in F-2 status:

Source: 8 CFR (Code of Federal Register) § 214.2(f)(15)(ii)

    F-2 spouse may not engage in full time study.
    Part-time study for F-2 spouse is permitted only to the extent that it is “avocational or recreational.”
    F-2 children may only engage in full-time study at the K-12 level (kindergarten through twelfth grade).

If you are currently in B1/B2 status:

Source: 8 CFR § 214.2(b)(7) and §248.1(c)

    Individuals in B1/B2 status are prohibited from “enrolling in a course of study” until after USCIS approves their change of status application.

If you are currently in any other status (e.g., H, J, L, E, etc.):

    If your current status allows full-time studies in the U.S., you may start classes before your change of status application is approved. However, you are not allowed any on- or off-campus employment under F-1 status until after your application is approved. For example, if you have an assistantship, you won’t be able to start it until after you receive your F-1 status.

Traveling and Reentering the U.S.

The alternative method of changing to F-1 status is through travel and re-entry, which may be preferred over the in-country change of status in certain situations. In this case, you would depart the U.S. and then apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, preferably the local consulate in your home country. If the F-1 visa application is approved and the F-1 visa is issued, then you can re-enter the U.S. using your F-1 I-20 form and F-1 visa. At the Port of Entry, you will receive an admission stamp with the notation “F-1 D/S” or an I-94 card with the same notation that confirms F-1 status.

Please note that Canadian citizens are exempt from the requirement of a having an F-1 visa to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. But travel and re-entry (with a new I-94 card) are still required for Canadian citizens to obtain F-1 status.

For further information about travel and re-entry and/or visa applications, refer to the U.S. Department of State web site and Travel Outside the U.S. and Reentry.

If you have any other questions regarding this, please contact our office.

Change of Status to F-2 Dependent

Overview

To qualify for F-2 status, one must be a spouse or an unmarried, minor (under age 21) child of an F-1 student. If your spouse/parent is an F-1 student at U-M, he/she should request Form I-20 for you to apply for F-2 status.

A person of any non-immigrant status except C, D, K, or M (and in some cases J), and except those who entered the United States under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program, can apply for a change to F-2 status if he/she has maintained lawful non-immigrant status up to the time of application. Those with J status who are subject to 212(e) two-year home country physical requirement may not change status in the U.S. unless a waiver has been granted. Non-immigrants in A, G, or NATO status must first complete Form I-566, and have it properly endorsed by the foreign mission to the U.S. and the Department of State.

Documentation Needed

  •     G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  •     A cover letter (one page) requesting the change of status from your current status to F-2. This letter should include a brief explanation as why you wish to change to F-2 status. You should also provide a checklist of the documentation you are including in your application.
  •     USCIS Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, including application fee.
  •     Evidence of financial support (i.e., bank statement, F-1's assistantship letter, etc.).
  •     Copy of your entire F-2 I-20 (sign Item #11 on the form before making a copy).
  •     Copies of all of the immigration documents (e.g. DS-2019, I-20, I-797, electronic or paper Form I-94, valid passport, visa stamp, EAD card, etc.) showing that you are currently in lawful non-immigrant status.
  •     Copy of the waiver (if you were previously subject to the 212(e) Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement while in J status), if applicable.
  •     Copies of all of your F-1 spouse's/parent's immigration documents (e.g., I-20, I-797, electronic or paper Form I-94, valid passport, visa stamp, EAD card, etc.) showing that he/she is currently in lawful F-1status.
  •     Proof of your relationship with your F-1 spouse/parent (e.g., copy of marriage certificate, birth certificate, passport information).

We recommend that you make a copy of this application for your own record.

Mailing Address and Where to File

Please be careful to select an appropriate mailing address when completing the I-539 form. It may take USCIS several months to adjudicate an I-539 request, and therefore you are advised to use an address that you know will continue to be valid for at least the next few months. It is not recommended to try to change your I-539 mailing address once your application has been submitted to USCIS.

If you know that you will be moving soon, we recommend that instead of using your own current residential address, you instead consider using a friend or relative’s address in the U.S., if that friend or relative will not be leaving that address in the near future.  If you select this strategy, make sure to include the name of your friend or relative on the line of the I-539 form that says “In care of.”

The address that you use on your I-539 will dictate to which USCIS Service Center you should mail your application. If the address you use is in Michigan, you should mail your application to one of the following:

For U.S. Postal Service (including US Postal Service Express mail):
USCIS
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266

The U.S. Postal Service is the only service that delivers to a P.O. Box address. We recommend that you use a trackable mailing method so that you have delivery confirmation of your application. If you send your application with a method that requires a signature upon delivery, use the express mail and courier deliveries address below.

For express mail and courier deliveries (e.g., UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc):
USCIS
ATTN: I-539
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

If you are using a non-Michigan address on the I-539 form, please refer to the USCIS Form I-539 instructions for the correct USCIS mailing address.

In addition to the paper-based I-539 application, you may choose to apply for a change of status to F-2 electronically using ELIS (USCIS Electronic Immigration System). To read more about ELIS, and/or to register and begin using ELIS, please go to www.uscis.gov. Change of status applicants who use ELIS submit all documentation to USCIS electronically, including scanning and uploading each of your supporting documents. However, once your case is approved, USCIS will mail your official approval paper notice to you by regular mail. Therefore it is very important that you provide a valid mailing address on Form I-539, whether you file your application via ELIS or by regular mail.

If your change of status is pending with USCIS and you later decide to leave the U.S., your change of status is considered to have been abandoned.


Important Things to Remember

Source: 8 CFR (Code of Federal Register) § 214.2(f)(15)(ii)

    F-2 spouse may not engage in full time study.
    Part-time study for F-2 spouse is permitted only to the extent that it is “avocational or recreational.”
    F-2 children may only engage in full-time study at the K-12 level (kindergarten through twelfth grade).

Traveling and Reentering the U.S.

The alternative method of changing to F-2 status is through travel and re-entry, which may be preferred over the in-country change of status in certain situations.  In this case, you would depart the U.S. and then apply for a F-2 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, preferably the local consulate in your home country.  If the F-2 visa application is approved and the F-2 visa is issued, then you can re-enter the U.S. using your F-2 I-20 form and F-2 visa, getting a Form I-94 card at the Port of Entry that confirms F-2 status (“F-2 D/S” is the required notation on the admission stamp and Form I-94).

Please note that Canadian citizens are exempt from the requirement of a having an F-2 visa to re-enter the U.S. in F-2 status. 

For further information refer to the U.S. Department of State web site and Travel Outside the U.S. and Reentry.

If you need any further information or clarification, please contact our office.

 

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students?

Information in this section relates to standard Optional Practical Training (OPT). The following sections describe in detail the requirements for each level of the application process.

Definition

OPT is defined in the Federal Regulations as temporary employment directly related to a student's field of study. During OPT, a student remains in F-1 status. The end result of the OPT request process is an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS).

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for OPT, the student must:

    Be in legal F-1 immigration status
    Be a full-time student for at least one academic year
   


Note: Post-completion OPT applications are typically denied by USCIS if the Level of Education indicated in item #4 on the I-20 is “non-degree.”

How long can OPT be offered for?

    The standard OPT period is a cumulative maximum of 12 months.
    Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12-month limit at 50%.
    An F-1 may become eligible for another 12 months of OPT if he/she advances to a higher educational level. However, you cannot apply for OPT for a previous educational level that you completed and did not take advantage of this opportunity then.

Some students may be eligible for a 17-month STEM extension of OPT.

Exceptions and Problems

If for any reason you decide you do not want OPT, you must take immediate action to prevent your I-765 application from being adjudicated by USCIS (i.e. approved or denied).

    If your check has not been cashed, contact your bank to cancel it. USCIS is expected to reject any application without the appropriate fee, so this should prevent your I-765 from being approved.
    Sign up for email updates using the case status search feature of the USCIS web site.
    Email iss@andrews.edu with your full name, AUID, and case number (if you have already received a Receipt Notice). Indicate that you mailed your I-765 and want to withdraw your OPT application in the email subject line.
    Mail a letter to USCIS requesting your I-765 application be withdrawn. Mail your letter directly to the USCIS Service Center which is processing your OPT application.  Do NOT send your request to the lockbox office (in Phoenix, AZ or Dallas, TX) where you originally mailed your OPT application.  You can find the address for the Service Center at the bottom of your OPT receipt notice. Note “Re: I-765 Withdrawal” on the letter.
        Include biographical information to identify yourself, including name, date of birth, and SEVIS ID number
        Request that the Form I-765 application for Optional Practical Training be withdrawn and include a short statement of why you are withdrawing your request, date and sign this letter.
        If you have received the Form I-797 Receipt Notice, include the receipt number in your letter and attach a copy of the Receipt Notice
    USCIS will send a confirmation letter to the address you listed on the I-765 indicating your application has been withdrawn. Keep this original and a photocopy in your records.

While You Are On Optional Practical Training (F-1 Students)

General Information

Once your application is approved, USCIS will issue you an EAD (employment authorization card). Make a copy of your EAD and write your AUID somewhere on the page. Scan and email to iss@andrews.edu with a note indicating you applied for OPT and have received your EAD.

Your F-1 status continues through the OPT period.

You must stop your employment when the end date on the EAD card is reached, but may remain in the U.S. for the 60-day grace period.

You may begin working once you have obtained the EAD card (you may not begin employment if your OPT has been approved but you have not yet received the EAD in the mail)and the begin date on the card has been reached.

The EAD is not employer specific, so you may change employers at will. However, employment must be directly related to the field of studies. Any employment outside your field of study is unauthorized and is a substantive violation of your status.

Social Security Number

If you do not yet have a Social Security Number (SSN), you will be required to have one for tax reporting purposes. You may apply for a SSN after you have received the EAD card and the begin date on the card has been reached.

If you already have a SSN, do not apply for a new one. Social Security Numbers are for life.

You do not need your SSN to begin working. On your first day of employment, you will be asked to complete employment paperwork. If you do not yet have your SSN, you may write “applied for” in the space where the SSN is to be provided. Once you receive the Social Security Card in the mail, provide the number to your employer.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Address Notification Requirement

Travel Outside the U.S. and Reentry

For important information on travel while you're applying for OPT, refer to the Travel Advisory “Travel while on post-completion OPT”. This section includes important information on documents required to reenter the U.S. while on OPT, plus information about applying for a new visa stamp.

If your F-2 dependents travel outside the U.S. and reenter without you during your OPT period, they should carry their own original documents along with photocopies of all the documents you are required to carry for reentry. The list of required documents is provided in the Travel Advisory.

OPT Employment Requirements and Reporting

You are expected to be employed in your field of study during OPT, and you are required to submit employer information to SEVIS. The maximum period of unemployment is 90 days.

Paid employment
    Students authorized for post-completion OPT may work part time (at least 20 hours per week) or full time.

Multiple employers
    Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student's degree program. Employment during pre-completion OPT cannot exceed the allowed per week cumulative hours.

Short-term multiple employers (performing artists)
    Students who are musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short term employers. The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.

Unpaid employment
    Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.

Reporting Employment

Students are required to report changes in employment to us as soon as possible. We recommend that you report changes within 10 business days of the change to avoid situations where a DHS official may determine you to be out of status.

Periods of Unemployment

Students on post-completion OPT are only allowed a total of 90 days of unemployment.

What counts as “unemployment time”

        Unemployment time is counted each day during the OPT dates indicated on the EAD.
        Students who have OPT extended due to the cap gap provisions continue to accrue unemployment time and are subject to the 90-day limitation on unemployment.
        If you have a job offer that begins more than 90 days after your OPT begins, you will exceed your allowable unemployment time. Receiving a job offer within the 90 days is not sufficient, you must be employed in one of the employment types listed above.
        If you travel outside of the United States while unemployed, the time spent outside the United States will count as unemployment against the 90 day limit.
        Permanently leaving the U.S. without notifying us will result in the accidental accrual of unemployment. For this reason, you must contact us if you decide to abandon your OPT.

Ending OPT Early

If you decide to abandon your OPT before the end date of your EAD and leave the U.S., you must notify us so we can end your SEVIS record. Please submit a departure form or send an email to iss@andrews.edu telling us that you have decided to abandon your OPT and the date you plan to depart the United States. We will end your SEVIS record effective the date you indicate you plan to leave the U.S. or the date you notify us, whichever is later. If you do not notify us, you may continue to be billed for health insurance.

Starting a New degree program at Andrews University or another Institution

During the period you are authorized for OPT, you may decide to apply to another academic program. Once you are admitted to another degree program, it is important to notify our office as the issuance of a new I-20 will effect/terminate your OPT. Please call this office to request an appointment to meet with one of us. If you are admitted to a degree program at another University, our office must transfer your I-20 to that institution so they may issue a new I-20 for you.  The issuance of this new I-20 does not end your OPT immediately. Your EAD is terminated as soon as you enter the U.S. with the new I-20 or you check-in for the new program, whichever is earlier. Either one of these events will activate your SEVIS record for the new degree and deactivate your OPT SEVIS record. This means you must immediately stop employment regardless of the card's appearance of validity if you reenter with your new I-20.

    Transfer to another school in the U.S. in order to begin a new degree program. Authorization for OPT is not transferable. Your authorization for OPT ends on the transfer release date. If you wish to complete OPT, set the release date for a date after the OPT ends. You can set the transfer release date to occur during the 60-day grace period following post-completion OPT (see the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transfer for F-1 Students (refer to section 6.7)). On your transfer release date, you must stop employment regardless of your EAD card's appearance of validity.

In order to maintain your F-1 status, a new I-20 for change of academic level, new degree program, or transfer must be issued before the end of your 60 day grace period.

Change of Status During OPT

If you change your immigration status (e.g. from F-1 to H-1B, F-2, or J-1) during the period of your OPT your OPT ends on the effective date of the USCIS action notice and any unused OPT time is lost (you cannot have both F-1 OPT status and another status at the same time, nor can you return to OPT if your new status is terminated for any reason).

Andrews University is required to notify SEVIS of your new status and requests that you notify our office immediately. To officially record your new status, we will need a copy of the approval notice you received from USCIS. You can get this information to the Registrar's Office in one of two ways:

“Cap Gap” Relief for OPT — H-1B Transitions

Some students may be eligible for an extension of OPT and F-1 status due to the new Cap Gap Relief rules.
F-1 OPT Special 17-month STEM Extension

Changes in federal regulations from April 2008 have created an opportunity for extension of OPT for F-1 students in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Information about the STEM extension can be found at F-1 OPT Special 17-month STEM Extension.

**NOTE: The Office of International student services and program will conduct OPT orientation in the middle of each semester and you will be required to attend it in order to process your OPT application. If you are in your final semester of study, you are most likely eligible to apply for OPT so please pay close attention to an email that will be send with the OPT orientation date. We plan to hold 3 OPT session and one for each of the following semesters- fall, spring and summer semesters.

 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 Students

Overview

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including: “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” Source: [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]. CPT is available only prior to the completion of your degree program and you must have a job offer at the time of application. CPT employment may not delay completion of the academic program.

Types of CPT

There are two types of CPT: required for the academic program and non-required. For CPT that is required, the academic program mandates practical work experience in the field of study to graduate. For CPT that is a non-required part of the program, the practical work experience is for credit and directly related to your field of study.

Requirements for Non-Required CPT

    You must be enrolled in a CPT course.
    The designated CPT course must have been set up and approved by the university.
    If you wish to engage in CPT during Fall or spring semester, you must be registered for the CPT course during that term.
    Non-required CPT will not be allowed in the student's final term unless you need to register for other courses which are required for the completion of your academic program.
    Failure to complete the CPT course will result in your falling out of legal F-1 status.
    Be aware that adding a CPT course may have an impact on your tuition and fees.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT

Part-time CPT: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. Though there is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT, you must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.

Full-time CPT: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time. Please be aware that 12 months or more of full-time CPT will invalidate your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). During the academic year (fall and winter semesters), you must be simultaneously enrolled full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for CPT, you must:

    Have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (i.e. two full consecutive terms). If you are a graduate student and the program requires immediate participation, this requirement is waived.
    Be in lawful F-1 status
    Have an approved health insurance
    Have a job offer
    Not be enrolled in an intensive English language training program

NOTE: CPT is processed and authorized term by term. Contact your academic department regarding your department's specific guidelines and follow those guidelines for CPT applications. Please note that your department has discretion in recommending CPT.

Documentation Needed to Apply

    Academic/Faculty Advisor Recommendation Form for CPT, completed and signed
    Your unofficial transcript from IVue

    A copy of the job offer letter from the employer. The letter must:
        Be written on the company's letterhead
        Be addressed to you
        Include job title
        Provide job description
        Specify the employment address (street, city, state, and zip code)
        Specify if the employment is full- or part-time (if part-time, the number of hours per week you will work)
        Specify the exact dates of CPT employment (keep in mind that CPT can only be authorized one term at a time).

    Please note: the job offer letter must have ALL of the information listed above, or your CPT application cannot be processed. We recommend that your employer uses this sample job offer letter pdf icon
    A legible copy of your current I-20
    A copy of your form I-94

How to Apply for CPT

    Gather the required documentation and bring your complete CPT request to the International Center during walk-in advising hours, or schedule an appointment with an advisor to submit your request.
    * Incomplete requests will not be accepted.
    Our office will send your CPT recommendation to SEVIS electronically to generate a new I-20. The CPT work authorization will be printed on page 3 of the new SEVIS I-20.
    We will notify you when your new I-20 is available.
    Bring your AUID to this office to pick up your new I-20.
    Sign your name on the new I-20. Be sure to keep a record of all I-20s issued to you.

NOTE: You are authorized to be employed only for the employer, location, and time period specified on the new I-20. Documents that will help you to establish your work eligibility are, for example, your valid passport, Form I-94 and the SEVIS I-20 with CPT work authorization.

You are required to update your address in IVue within 10 days of any change while you are in F-1 status.


CPT for Unpaid Work

CPT authorization is recommended even for unpaid positions (such as unpaid internships), even if the student does not need to provide employment authorization documents to the company. The F-1 regulations are written in such a way that CPT is an authorization to do practical training as part of the curriculum for the academic program, and as such is significant in more ways than simply for the employer to verify employment eligibility.

A position such as an internship may involve employment authorization even when the person is not paid. According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there are multiple reasons for officially authorizing CPT:

    CPT authorization by the university serves to demonstrate that this practical experience is part of the curriculum.
    CPT authorization is a way of reporting in SEVIS the student's activity, employment, and location where they are working and therefore maintaining their status.
    If ever a student is doing a job on an unpaid basis that someone would be hired and paid for, employment authorization in the form of CPT, OPT, etc. is advised.

Finally, if the unpaid internship at some point changes into a paid one (or if your employer decides to compensate you for your work in any way – for example, give you a monetary gift), you won't be able to accept the payment if your internship was not authorized as CPT.

Based on the above, we would advise that if you will have an internship that meets CPT eligibility criteria that you should apply for CPT authorization, even for an unpaid position. If it is not possible for you to obtain CPT authorization, we recommend that at the end of your internship you ask your employer to provide you with a letter confirming that you received no compensation of any kind for your work. Please keep such a letter for your permanent records.

**NOTE: Please meet with us if you have any questions regarding CPT.

 

 

 

 
Andrews University is a Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher education
Phone: 1-800-253-2874   E-mail: enroll@andrews.edu
Copyright © 2014 Andrews University
Berrien Springs, Michigan 49104