Staying in Compliance
Compliance with U.S. immigration law is the responsibility of all international students and scholars in F-1 and J-1 visa classifications. Following is a summary of significant immigration-related regulations and procedures:
- Review all of your immigration documents to ensure their consistency and accuracy. Your full name, birth date, and other personal data must be consistent across all of the documents.
- Maintain a valid passport at all times. Keep it valid for at least six months into the future.
- Enroll in and successfully complete a full-time course load during the academic year. F-1 students must enroll in a minimum of three College of Wooster course credits per term. J-1 Language Assistants are required to enroll in a minimum of two College of Wooster course credits per term. Individuals who drop below a full-time course of study without prior authorization will be considered to be out of status. In the final semester of study, F-1 students are permitted to enroll in a reduced course of study if they need fewer than three credits to complete their degree program. Please note: The course load requirements for maintaining legal status are not the same as the College’s requirement for maintaining expected academic progress. Please consult the College Catalogue and speak with your adviser regarding Wooster’s course load requirements.
- Obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 when you declare or change your academic major.
- Report any change of your foreign address, your U.S. address, and/or your official name in writing directly to the OISA within ten days of the change. Email is sufficient for an address change, but a name change requires official documentation.
- Comply with the program dates (start date and completion date) listed on your I-20. If you will not complete your program on the listed completion date, you must formally shorten your stay or apply for an extension of your program of study. Any extension must be made prior to the expiration date on your current I-20 or DS-2019. Requests for extensions, along with all supporting financial and academic documents, should be submitted 30-60 days prior to the expiration date of the I-20 or DS-2019 so that the extension process can be completed prior to the expiration date of the document. Please consult with the Director of International Student Affairs regarding documentation requirements.
- Complete an official transfer if you change educational institutions. Please contact the Director of International Student Affairs regarding timelines and procedures.
- Do NOT accept payment for employment in the United States without authorization. F-1 students are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and 40 hours per week during official school breaks. J-1 Language Assistants may only work in the specific position and for the particular department indicated on their DS-2019. For J-1 holders, requests for permission to engage in any additional employment, such as an occasional lecture, must be directed to IIE prior to beginning any such employment.
- Notify the OISA prior to traveling outside the U.S. and complete the required travel paperwork: F-1 students must secure a travel endorsement on their current Form I-20. A new I-20 will be issued when applicable. Students who need a travel signature or supporting documents for a visa renewal should request these forms from the OISA at least 1 week prior to their anticipated travel date. I-20 endorsements may only be secured from individuals at the College with DSO status. Jill Munro is the primary contact. J-1 Language Assistants must secure a travel endorsement from an IIE representative.
- J-1 students and scholars must maintain at all times the mandatory health insurance that is required as part of their status.
- Keep your Form I-20/DS-2019, I-94 card, passport, and visa in a safe place. Keep these documents on your person when you travel and ALWAYS use registered mail or other services that can track documents (e.g. Federal Express, DHL) if you must send your passport or other immigration documents in the mail.
- Never destroy old immigration documents (e.g., I-20s, receipt notices). Maintain a “file of important documents” and photocopies of documents as a matter of permanent record.
- All non-immigrant visa holders are required to file a U.S. Federal Income Tax Return reporting presence in the U.S. as well as taxable wages. Maintain copies of all tax records.
This information is not exhaustive and is subject to change without notice. You should contact the Director of International Student Affairs (x2262) to arrange an appointment to discuss any questions or concerns regarding your legal status in the United States.
For current information on changes in U.S. immigration law and/or changes in College policy and procedures, please read all email messages from the Office of International Student Affairs, as well as the COSMOS monthly newsletter.