International Students

Important Policies and Immigration Regulations

As a student in F-1 status, it is very important you understand you are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with U.S. federal laws and regulations governing your visa. Failure to do so will violate your legal status in the United States and will have serious consequences. The following information is provided to assist with common questions and issues we have seen over the years, but is certainly not inclusive of all the regulations.

Maintaining Your Legal Immigration StatusGroup of International Students
When to Notify the Office of International Education
Registering and Paying for Classes
Requesting Leave Authorization
Requesting Reinstatement of Status
Maintaining a Full-Time Course Load
Reporting Program Changes
Reporting Address Changes
I-94 Card
Maintain Health Insurance
Employment Regulations
Deposit and Payment
Traveling Outside the USA
Ending Your Studies Sooner than Expected
Program End Date Extension
Transferring to Another School
Concurrent Enrollment
60 Day Grace Period
Visiting Home
Grades of Incomplete (I), or Failure (F) and Your Immigration Status
On-line and Distance Learning Courses

Maintaining Your Legal Immigration Status

Every international student is responsible for maintaining his or her immigration status. Remember, when you signed your I-20, you certified that, "I have read and agreed to comply with the terms and conditions of my admission and those of any extension of stay as specified on page 2. I certify that all information provided on this form refers specifically to me and is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I certify that I seek to enter or remain in the United States temporarily, and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study at the school named on page 1 of this form."

If you fail to maintain your legal immigration status, you are considered "out of status." If you are reported as out-of-status, you could be arrested, required to leave the United States, and possibly not be allowed to be readmitted to the U.S.

To maintain your status, MAKE SURE YOU:

NOTE: Immigration regulations change. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your legal status come to the OIE.

When to notify the Office of International Education

Registering and Paying for Classes

Students must register for classes before the beginning of each semester and must pay all tuition and fees by the end of the second week of each semester. Failure to register and pay all costs of attendance by the deadline will be reported as out-of-status.

Requesting Leave Authorization

International students are allowed three types of leave: annual vacation, temporary absence, and medical leave.

If you fail to request leave and do not report for classes, you will be reported as out-of-status.

Requesting Reinstatement of Status

If you fall out of status for reasons beyond your control, you may be eligible to apply for a reinstatement of status. If you are reported out-of-status, you can request reinstatement with USCIS. The OIE can assist with this reinstatement request. The reinstatement fee is currently U.S. $290. Your case will be reviewed by USCIS to determine if any mitigating circumstances warrant reinstatement. If your request is denied, you will be required to leave the country.

Maintaining a Full-Time Course Load

All F-1 students must maintain a full course of study each Fall and Spring semester until graduation (8CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i). Not registering for a full time load will result in a violation of your status and will result in the loss of your F-1 status. At Chadron State College, undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits per semester. Graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credits per semester.

There are only three circumstances in which you may be approved for a reduced course load. Each case requires extensive official documentation and permission from the DSO in OIE. The circumstances are as follows:

  1. Academic Difficulties (Student may be approved only ONCE per program level)
    • Improper course level placement
    • Initial difficulties with the English language
    • Initial difficulties with reading requirements
    • Unfamiliarity with US teaching methods
  2. Medical Conditions
    • The illness must be temporary
    • Medical documentation is required from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or clinical psychologist
    • Approval for medical reasons must be secured each semester
    • Approval cannot exceed an aggregate of 12 months per program level
  3. Final Semester
    • If you are in your final semester before graduation and you do not need a full load to complete your degree requirements to graduate, the DSO can authorize a reduced course load.

Each of these reasons must be substantiated and approved by the DSO. Please visit with OIE to learn more.

Reporting Program Changes

If you make a change in your academic program, program dates or level of study, you MUST notify OIE immediately. We are required to submit this change electronically to the federal government.

Reporting Address Changes

If you have a change in address, MUST report this to OIE within 10 days of your move. OIE is required to provide this and other student data to the federal government electronically.

I-94 Card

When you enter the US, you are given a small, white I-94 card at the airport. This is your Arrival/ Departure Record on which the Immigration Officer usually has written D/S, meaning "Duration of Status". D/S means you are allowed to stay in the U.S. until the completion of your school program. Do not lose your I-94 card. It is one of your most important documents.

Maintain Required Health and Accident Insurance

CSC requires all F-1 students to have OIE-approved health and accident insurance for themselves and any F-2 dependents throughout their stay in the United States. OIE will purchase a health insurance policy for you at the beginning of each academic year. The cost for the health insurance is approximately $400 and will be placed on your bill. You can pay this in the Business Office on the 1st floor of Crites Hall.Group of Students

Employment Regulations

When classes are in session, F-1 students may work no more than 20 hours per week on campus [8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)]. Opportunities to work off-campus are very limited and require PRIOR authorization from OIE and the U.S. federal government. This includes credit-bearing internships. To view complete information about employment regulations, please visit the employment page.

Traveling Outside the United States

If you have plans to travel outside the United States, bring your I-20 or DS-2019 form to OIE at least 7 days prior to traveling to see if an updated signature is required. A new form may need to be issued to you. If you will be traveling AND applying for a new visa, you will also want to request a letter of certification from the OIE, to verify that you are a full-time student. To view complete information about employment regulations, please visit the employment page.

Ending Your Studies Sooner than Expected

If you are graduating earlier than expected, taking a leave of absence, or any other reason that causes you to end your studies at CSC before the program end date stated on your I-20 or DS-2019 form, U.S. federal regulations require you to inform the OIE prior to leaving the college.

Program Extension

If you need to extend the Program End Date on your I-20 or DS-2019 because you may not be graduating on time or for any other reason, please inform OIE. Requests for an extension may be submitted at any time up to thirty days prior to the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019. Once received, OIE will provide the update electronically to the federal government. This must be completed prior to the Program End Date on your I-20 or DS-2019.

You do not have to pay a fee for a program extension. The OIE only has to extend your program end date on SEVIS. USCIS will then be informed and you will have maintained your status. To be approved for a program extension, you must have maintained F-1 status and must have a compelling reason, such as academic or medical, which can be substantiated by documentation. Examples can be 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.

Once your program extension application is complete, OIE will prepare a SEVIS I-20 showing your new completion date. Be sure to keep this new I-20 and all previous I-20 forms you have been issued. They must be submitted on request to an immigration officer when you travel outside the U.S. If you are past the Program End Date on your Form I-20, or you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a program extension, you will need to file for reinstatement to F-1 status, for which the USCIS will charge a $290 fee. Keep in mind that failure to apply for a program extension before your Program End Date is a violation of F-1 regulations, which, under recent changes to immigration laws, can carry heavy penalties.

Transferring to Another College/University

Students who plan to transfer to another college or university must inform OIE. We will require a copy of your acceptance letter to the new school, as well as a Transfer Out form the school will provide to you. Once these documents have been received, OIE will transfer your record to the new school.

Concurrent Enrollment

F-1 students can enroll in two different SEVIS approved schools at the same time in order to fulfill full time enrollment requirement. The school from which the student will be earning the degree should issue the I-20 and will be responsible for all SEVIS reporting. Students should enroll as a visiting student at the second school and should not transfer to that school UNLESS they decide to obtain a degree from that school. Please inform OIE if you will be concurrently enrolled.

60 Day Exit Grace Period

F-1 students must depart the United States within 60 days of the I-20 Program End Date. Those that have applied for optional practical training, are transferring to a new school, or have applied for a change of status with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) are exempt from this rule.

Visiting Home

While studying at CSC, you may want to visit home periodically. You also may want to go home after graduation or while on OPT. It is extremely important you read through the following information to ensure you are prepared with all the information you need to have successful travels.

Visiting Home While Enrolled at Chadron State College

  1. I-20 form with a signature from a Designated School Official (DSO) on page 1 and page 3. The signature on the page 3 must not be older than 1 year with respect to the date of reentry. You also must carry all of your previous I-20s, if any.
  2. A valid passport. While you are in the United States, your passport must always be valid for at least six months before it expires.
  3. A valid U.S. visa (unless you are Canadian). The visa should not expire before your date of reentry to the U.S. If you plan to obtain a new visa in your home country, you need to carry your latest transcript in addition to the other items mentioned in this section.
  4. I-94 form, a small white paper (usually stapled into your passport) that was issued to you when you entered the United States.
  5. A latest version of the financial documents covering the expenses stated on your I-20
  6. A letter of good standing from OIE is required while you plan to renew your visa or if your country requires it.

Visiting Home After Graduation And/Or During OPT

  1. I-20 form with a signature from a Designated School Official (DSO) on page 1 and page 3. The signature on page 3 must not be older than 1 year with respect to the date of reentry. You also must carry all of your previous I-20s, if any.
  2. A valid passport. While you are in the United States, your passport must always be valid for at least six months before it expires.
  3. A valid U.S. visa (unless you are Canadian). The visa should not expire before your date of reentry to the U.S. If you plan to obtain a new visa in your home country, you need to carry your latest transcript in addition to the other items mentioned in this section.
  4. I-94 form, a small white paper (usually stapled into your passport) that was issued to you when you entered the United States.
  5. A valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).
  6. A letter from the employer stating that you are currently holding a position with them.

If you have any questions regarding visiting your home country, please contact OIE at international@csc.edu or call us at 308-432-6496 at your earliest convenience.

Grades of Incomplete (I), or Failure (F) and Your Immigration Status

If you receive an "incomplete" for a course, it is very important you complete the coursework by the deadline both you and your professor agree to. If you do not complete your coursework by deadline, your Incomplete will be turned into a failing grade.

If you receive a failing grade that results in your cumulative GPA dropping below 2.0, you may be academically suspended or dismissed for poor academic performance. If this situation occurs, you would be considered out of status. You would need to visit the OIE so we can discuss your options.

On-line and Distance Learning Courses

Like many other colleges and universities, Chadron State College has greatly expanded the number and variety of online and distance learning courses offered—both undergraduate and graduate. These courses often provide students with easier access and greater flexibility than campus-based courses. However, U.S. Federal regulations significantly limit the number on-line and distance learning courses/credits that international students studying in the U.S may apply to their “full course of study requirements” during a given term.

Federal Regulation (8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G))

“For F-1 students enrolled for classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted towards the full course of study requirement if the class is taken on-line or through distance education and does not require the student’s physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class. An on-line or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave or satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing. If the F-1 student’s course is in a language study program, no on-line or distance learning education classes may be considered to count toward classroom hours or credit.”

Regulations also require all international students to be degree-seeking and to maintain a full course of study at the institution in which they are enrolled. F-1 students at CSC are required to maintain a full-time course load for fall and spring semesters. At CSC, a full course of study for fall and spring semesters is considered 12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students.

Since there is no requirement that students be enrolled during the summer term, the term is considered optional and the federal regulation does not apply during that time. Within CSC established limits, F-1 students may take as many online or distance learning courses as they wish during the summer term.

CSC Policy

Students enrolled in an academic program that CSC does not offer only as a complete online or distance learning program, are not permitted to enroll in more than one online (3 credit) course per session.

Students enrolled in an academic program that is only offered as an online or distance learning program, may enroll in more than one course (per session) which CSC classifies as online or distance learning, and which counts toward a full course of study at CSC, if they abide to the following requirements:

Compliance with these requirements ensures that courses normally classified by CSC as online or distance learning, no longer conforms to the federal definition of “online” or “distance learning”, and therefore, are not subject to the federal limit.

Failure to comply with these requirements will cause the student to fall out of status and will require application for reinstatement with the Department of Homeland Security.

Example 1:

An undergraduate student is enrolled in 6 credits of on-campus classes and 6 credits of on-line classes that do not require “student’s physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class”. In this case, only 3 credits of on-line classes will be counted towards the full-time course load and in total the student will be considered to be enrolled for only 9 credits toward a full course of study. Since 12 credit hours are required for full course of study, the student is in violation of the federal regulations regarding the full-time course load for F-1 students and will need to apply for re-instatement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Example 2:

A graduate student takes 6 credits of on-campus classes and 6 credits of on-line classes. In this case, the student is in compliance with regulations as s/he is enrolled in 9 credits which can be counted toward his/her full course of study (3 credits out of 6 credits of on-line classes are counted towards the full-time status; 3 credits of on-line plus 6 credits of on-campus classes constitute the full-time course load).