Like all countries in the world, the United States has laws and regulations governing foreigners who are temporarily within its boundaries. It is always a good idea to consult with the ISS about questions regarding your immigration status. Below is a summary of the essential things for which a foreign student or scholar is responsible:
It is your responsibility to keep your passport valid. Your passport is renewed through your embassy or consulate in the U.S. The UFIC has the address and phone number of the nearest consulate or embassy. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your passport in a place separate from your passport in case the passport becomes lost or stolen. Your embassy or consulate will be able to issue a replacement passport more promptly if you can provide them with a copy of the original. If you passport is lost or stolen, file a report with the Campus Police and the Gainesville Police, and send your copy of the police reports when you file for a replacement passport. For passport renewal, your embassy/consulate may need a letter verifying that you are a full-time student. You may request such a letter from the UFIC. It takes 3 working days for letters to be prepared. Scholars should get a letter from their department verifying that they are associated with that department pursuing the stated program objective from their IAP-66.
The visa is permission granted by the U.S. to request entry into the U.S. It is the multi-colored stamp or label affixed into your passport that you obtained in the American Embassy or Consulate abroad. It may have been issued for single or multiple entries into the U.S., and may be used prior to the date that it expires. An American visa has a visa number, the visa type, the visa issuance date, the number of entries, and the visa expiration date. The visa in your passport does not have to remain valid while you are in the U.S. Please see the sections on the I-94 and I-20 or IAP-66 regarding your valid stay in the U.S. Please see the section on travel. It is your I-20 or IAP 66 and I 94, which must remain valid while you, are in the U.S. American visas cannot be renewed inside the U.S. The I-20 or IAP-66 and I-94 can be renewed in the U.S. The I-20 or IAP-66 and I-94 are not the visa; they are your visa papers.
I-94 Form (Departure Record)
The I-94 shows that you have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. This is given to every foreign person who enters the U.S. It contains an 11-digit number called the Arrival/Departure Number, or Admission Number. A new I-94 number is issued at the port of entry into the U.S.; your specific I-94 information may be found online. The I-94 should reflect the same information as that which was stamped into your passport when you entered the U.S., showing the port of entry by which you enter the U.S., the date you entered, the visa status with which you entered and the expiration date of your stay. The Port of Entry officer should indicate F-1 and D/S (Duration of Status/Stay) if you are an F-1 Student or J-1 and D/S (Duration of Status/Stay) if you are a J-1 Student. If it indicates something else, please ask the officer to correct it immediately.
Expiration Date of the I-94
If you are a F-1 student, and you entered the U.S. with an I-20 form, it is very probable that you were given an I-94 at the port of entry with the expiration date of "D/S". D/S is an abbreviation that INS uses to indicate "duration of status." This means that you are admitted until the completion date indicated on your I-20 in item #5. Because the actual date an F-1 student will complete his or her degree may vary, or the student may continue on for a higher degree, the INS does not give an actual expiration date on the I-94. Whenever you are asked to fill in forms and list the expiration date of your I-94 and you are an F-1 student, the correct answer would be "D/S." You may want to add in parentheses the completion date from your I-20. That is the date within which the University has determined you should be able to complete your studies for the current degree you are pursuing. If you have not completed your studies by that date, you should contact the UFIC office for advice. If you are a J-1 student or research scholar, your I-94 will have an expiration date written on it. That is the date by which you must make your departure from the U.S. However, the IAP-66 contains the actual ending date of your J-1 program. This is the date in item #3 of the IAP-66. If you have not completed the degree for which you are currently studying by this date, consult with the ISS office. Note: The INS gives you a 30-day grace period from the ending date of the IAP-66 in which to make your departure from the U.S. You may not work or receive compensation during this grace period.
Renewal of IAP-66 for Exchange Visitors (J-1 Students and Scholars)
You are responsible for keeping track of the expiration date of your IAP-66 if you have J-1 visa status. The expiration date of the IAP-66 is in item #3, where it reads." This form covers the period from dd/mm/yy to dd/mm/yy." That ending date is the expiration of the IAP-66 form, not the expiration date on the I-94, which reflects a 30-day grace period which has been added to your stay. If you plan to extend your stay, you must file in advance of the IAP-66 expiration date, not the I-94 expiration date. If you need to file for an extension of your IAP-66, consult immediately with the UFIC office for further instructions. If your IAP-66 was issued by a program sponsor other than the University of Florida, you will have to contact your sponsor to issue you a new IAP-66 form. You may then bring the new IAP-66 form to the UFIC for assistance in filling your extension. Filing an extension of the IAP-66 and I-94 does not renew your J-1 visa in your passport. The J-1 visa stamp in your passport does not have to be kept valid while you are in the U.S., as long as you maintain the validity of your IAP-66. If you travel outside of the U.S. with an expired J-1 visa, you must renew it in your home country prior to re-entry to the U.S. The UFIC will be able to give you more information regarding this, or see the section on traveling abroad.
This visa permits an individual to enter the U.S. for full-time study at an authorized institution in the U.S. To obtain an F-1 visa, it is necessary to present an I-20 Form (Certificate of Eligibility) to an American Embassy or Consulate abroad.
This visa is held by spouses and dependents of F-1 students. To obtain an F-2 visa, the spouse presents an I-20 form in the name of the F-1 student to an American Embassy or Consulate abroad, along with evidence of financial support. F-2 dependents are NEVER allowed to be employed or receive assistantships.
J-1 Exchange Visitor (Student or Scholar)
An exchange visa permits an individual to enter the U.S. for study, teaching, research or training. The individual presents an IAP-66 form to an American Embassy or Consulate abroad to obtain a J-1 visa. S/he is obligated to engage in the activities specified on the IAP-66 form while in the U.S.
This visa is held by spouses and dependents of J-1 visa holders. To obtain a J-2 visa, the spouse presents a Form IAP-66 in the name of the J-1 student to an American Embassy or Consulate abroad, along with evidence of financial support.
Full-Time Student Status
You must pursue a full-time course of study during the academic year. The academic year at UF is based on the trimester system, Fall, Winter and Summer terms. With few exceptions, F-1 students must be full-time students each semester except the summer semester until they receive their degrees. "Full-time study" for undergraduate students means a minimum of twelve credit hours each semester. For graduate students, full-time study may be less than 12 hours per term depending upon the departmental requirements (check with your department). The University is required to report to the INS when an F-1 student is enrolled less than full-time. It is, therefore, extremely important for F-1 students to maintain full-time enrollment. If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from meeting the above requirements, please see one of the advisors at the ISS office before dropping below the prescribed number of credits.
No student can take a vacation semester unless it is during the Summer vacation. You can take the summer vacation off if you were a full time student the previous semester and will be full time student during the semester that follows the Summer semester
Extension of F-1 Stay
If you have not completed your degree by the date on your I-20 ID (page 3/4), but have otherwise been in status, you must file for an extension of your I-20. This procedure is called a "Notification Extension". To apply for this, you must have been maintaining your full-time F-1 status. If you are not sure if you need to have your I-20 extended or not, bring your I-20 with you to the ISS office. If you know you need to extend your I-20, you must follow these steps: Complete an I-538 form (section A, items #1-6, and your signature and date). Obtain a letter from your faculty advisor (or department coordinator), on department letterhead stationery, addressed to the University of Florida International Center, International Studies Services and including: your new completion date, how many years your program takes, a statement that you have been making satisfactory academic progress towards your degree, the amount and source of your funding during the extension period, any pertinent information explaining any delays in your graduation or other compelling circumstances (such as change of major). Apply at the ISS office for a new I-20 to be issued. This takes at least 3 working days. If you have been making normal academic progress towards your degree, and you are in valid F-1 status, you are eligible to apply for the Notification Extension. Please bring the above-mentioned documents to the front desk and they will prepare your new I-20. If you have not been in valid F-1 status, you will need to apply for F-1 Reinstatement: Check at the ISS information regarding the Reinstatement procedures.
Transfer students are those students transferring from another university within the U.S. F-1 or J-1 visa holders require a University of Florida I-20 or IAP-66 to attend this school. You must report to the ISS to do the transfer process during the first 15 days of classes. The ISS submits the documents to INS, to let them know that you are now attending the University of Florida. [If you are an student who previously attended a U.S. institution and intend to transfer to another U.S. institution after a temporary absence from the U.S, you must have an I-20 or IAP-66 from the University of Florida to attend this school.] You must have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa in your passport (if the visa is valid, but it is for the previous school you attended, you are not required to change it for the University of Florida). Do not re-enter the U.S. on the I-20 or IAP-66 issued by your old school. Do not re-enter the U.S. on a tourist visa! J-1 transfer students may not receive UF assistantships or work on campus until INS completes the transfer procedure.
Vacation Travel Outside the United States for F-1 and J-1 Holders
If you plan to travel outside the U.S., you should always consult with the ISS first. Always bring your passport and page 3/4 of your I-20 (student carbon copy), or page 3 of your IAP-66 (pink copy) with you when making inquiries at the ISS office about traveling outside the U.S. Your passport and your visa must be valid beyond the date on which you plan to re-enter the U.S. If your visa has expired, and you plan to travel outside the U.S., or, if you have changed your visa status while in the U.S., you will need to obtain a new visa at an American Embassy or Consulate abroad or in your home country before you may re-enter the U.S. It is not possible to revalidate your visa while you are in the U.S. The exception is travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands for 30 days or less. For such trips you will need only your valid passport, your I-94, and your I-20 or IAP-66 endorsed by the UFIC designated school official or responsible officer. If going to Canada, you must contact the Canadian consulate in New York, NY, to determine whether you need a visa to enter to Canada. (1251 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020-1175, (212) 768-2400) Please give the ISS at least a week to review documents before any trip abroad. A minimum of 3 working days is required for the ISS to prepare your documents. During vacation periods, it is especially important to apply for travel documents very early, since most other students are planning to travel also. You should allow enough time to renew your visa in the American Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Never leave your passport, I-20 or IAP-66 form, or I-94 (or any immigration-related documents) in your luggage! Always carry these items on your person when departing the U.S., and upon re-entry. Immigration inspectors have been known to refuse entry into the country if you are not in possession of any one of these documents. Luggage can be lost, sometimes for days, sometimes forever, and you may be severely inconvenienced if you have to miss your plane because you are held up by immigration.
Students or research scholars who hold Canadian citizenship do not require passports to enter the U.S. from Canada, although it is strongly recommended. Canadian citizens who enter the U.S. to attend the University of Florida must have either an I-20 or IAP-66 issued by the University of Florida, and must present either document at the point of entry into the U.S. The inspecting officer will issue you an I-94 as an F-1 or J-1. Please, do not come into the U.S. as a visitor if you are planning to be a student. If you travel to Canada for a vacation during your studies, you must come to the ISS at least 3 days in advance of your trip, and have your I-20 or IAP-66 signed on the back for re-entry. If you travel to a country other than Canada, you will have to follow the general procedures outlined in the preceding section on vacation travel.
F-1 students may work at the University without having to obtain permission from INS. You may work on campus up to 20 hours per week as long as the job does not interfere with your ability to continue as a full-time student. You must go to S107 Criser Hall to the Student Employment Office, to obtain an on-campus work permit. You may work up to 40 hours per week on campus during the Summer semester if you are not registered. When you are a registered student you are limited to 20 hours per week on-campus employment.
In order to work off-campus F-1 students must obtain permission from both the ISS and INS. Off-campus part-time employment is VERY RARELY granted. Off-campus employment, if approved, is limited to 20 hours per week while you are registered, and during the vacation semester you may work up to 40 hours per week if you are not registered. Permission will not be granted during a student's first year in the U.S. For further information please consult with the ISS.
F-1 Practical Training
Practical training permission allows student to obtain employment experience in their field of study to increase their academic experience. You will become eligible for practical training after the first year in F-1 status. F-1 students may be granted permission by INS to undertake full-time employment, "practical training," under 2 sets of circumstances: Optional Practical Training: To be carried out before or after completion of the degree and available for a maximum of 12 months (no extensions allowed.). Full informative packages are available at the ISS front office. Please be advised that you need to submit your request 90-120 days before to the date you intend to start working. Practical Training is only endorsed by ISS with your Academic Advisor's consent. Practical Training is given to F-1 students for twelve months.
Curricular Practical Training
Before completion of the degree requirements and only if it is stated in the student's degree requirements that an internship or practicum is needed to finish the degree (guidelines also available at the ISS front office.) There has to be a course available to register for the internship, co-op or practicum. Curricular Practical training is granted per "semester" and can not exceed twelve months as a total. If it exceeds this time, it counts against Optional Practical Training. Before making CPT or OPT practical training request, you must stop by ISS to pick up a complete information package which will tell you the exact steps to take and will provide you with the right forms to be filled.
F-2's are not allowed to be employed, nor have assistantships. An F-2 dependent who is admitted to the university as a graduate student cannot accept any offer of assistantship until change of visa status is approved by INS from F-2 to F-1 (Please note that change of visa status can take from three to four months in processing at INS). You can, however, attend the university as a student paying for your own classes.
A J-1 student may work at the University on-campus by obtaining permission from the ISS You may work up to 20 hours per week as long as the work does not interfere with your ability to continue as a full-time student. If your IAP-66 was issued by anyone other than the University of Florida, you will need permission from your program sponsor. Please come to the ISS for further information. Under no circumstances will you be allowed to work more than 20 hours per week while you are a registered student. During vacation breaks, like summer semester or holidays you may work up to 40 hours per week on campus if you are not registered. J-1 Exchange Students will not receive work permission from the ISS as funding for the Exchange Programs must be shown in advance.
You must have the permission of your program sponsor for any off-campus employment. If the University of Florida issued your IAP-66, you must come to the ISS to find out if you are eligible. If your program sponsor is not the University of Florida, you must contact your sponsor in regards to permission to work off campus. Off-campus work permission is RARELY GIVEN for J-1 students as proof of funding must be shown in advance.
J-1 Academic Training
A J-1 student who has earned a degree may request permission from his/her sponsor to engage in academic training. J-1 academic training is for up to 18 months, and for PhD graduates up to 36 months of post-doctoral academic training. If the University is your program sponsor, our office may grant you J-1 academic training. You will need a letter from your faculty advisor recommending you for the academic training. Instructions for filing for J-1 academic training are available from the ISS office. If the University is not your sponsor, you will have to contact your program sponsor for instructions for filing for J-1 academic training. Be advised that some sponsors prohibit academic training after completion of your studies because you are expected to return home immediately after completion of your degree requirements. In such cases, you may not be granted academic training.
The holder of a J-2 visa must apply to INS for permission to accept employment. You may get instructions and forms for filing for J-2 employment permission at the ISS office. Approval is conditional, provided employment is not for support of the principal J-1 visa holder. A J-2 dependent with INS work permission may accept an assistantship as a graduate student.
J-1 research scholars or visiting professors are issued IAP-66's expressly to achieve the program objective as stated on the IAP-66 form in item #4. Employment is limited to the University department in which the exchange visitor is doing research or other exchange activities. J-1 scholars are prohibited from engaging in any other employment, whether on or off-campus. You cannot change departments within the university. A J-1 scholar who wishes to engage in a brief consultation or lecture at another university must first consult with the ISS to obtain proper permit. J-2 spouses and J-2 dependents old enough to work (such as high school students) can get at the ISS office the instructions and forms to for J-2 work permission. Questions regarding scholar or scholar dependents employment should be directed to the ISS office.