F-1 Student Status
An F-1 student is a non-immigrant who is admitted to the United States to pursue a full course of study. F-1 students' educational expenses are typically funded by their family, personal- or institutional funds. F-1 student status will allow you to remain in the U.S. as long as you are properly enrolled full-time each semester.
All F-1 students must keep safe their current I-20 form. I-20 A-B- is a certificate of eligibility, an important government document that should be retained by the F-1 student. The I-20 must also be carried and retained by the F-2 (spouse/ dependents). Your I-20 indicates your program start and end date.
J-1 Student Status
A J-1 student is a non-immigrant who has been selected to participate in an exchange student program. Most J-1 students are financially sponsored by an educational institution in the United States or abroad, or by an international government/or a private agency. Undergraduate J-1 Exchange students should be enrolled in 12 units, in order to maintain status.
DS-2019 is a certificate of eligibility issued by and authorized by the Exchange Visitor Program. The certificate allows eligible persons to obtain a J-1 Visa to study, conduct research or teach in the U.S. The DS-2019 is an important government document that should be retained at all times as a part of the visitor's permanent records.
Once a non-immigrant enters the United States, they are classified by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, according to the purpose of their visit. Students are in either F-1 or J-1 status, and their dependents are in F-2 or J-2 status. A person's status also determines how long they can stay in the U.S. A visitor must maintain their status to retain the legal right to remain in the U.S. during their stay.
Full Course of Study (Maintaining Status)
A CSULB student who drops below 12 units as an undergraduate or 9 units as a graduate without prior approval from a CIE Counselor will be considered Out of Status. CIE Counselors must authorize a reduced course load in advance for a student to retain status. Authorization is not automatic and students must meet with an advisor to complete the process for each term they are authorized be enrolled less than full-time.
Students may request permission for a reduce course load for the 'final semester of study,' enrollment in GS-700 (graduate students only) and a few other situations.
Program Extension (Extension of Stay)
An F-1/J-1 student must apply for an extension in order to remain in the U.S. The procedures must be completed prior the ending date of your I-20 or DS-2019.
An F-1 student who is unable to meet the program completion date on the SEVIS Form
I-20 AB may be granted an extension if the student applies before the ending date on his/her I-20. However, if the student does not apply in a timely manner within the time listed on SEVIS I-20 AB, the student will be considered out of status and will need to file for reinstatement.
Failure to complete this procedure could result in unlawful status. If you are transferring from another school in the U.S., you will need to see an international student advisor. If you are transferring from CSULB, you must meet with your advisor and complete a transfer form.
Departure and Re-Entry
Students planning to leave the U.S. and re-enter in their current student status will need a signature from the DSO. Students are required to verify their finances. If your visa stamp has expired, you must renew your visa before returning to the U.S.
The Department of State announced that U.S. embassies and consulates must interview applicants for non-immigrant visas, unless they meet one of the limited exceptions. This new requirement will result in significant delays. Therefore, if you need to renew your visa, you are advised to plan accordingly.
Designated School Official (DSO)
A DSO works for CSULB, and has been authorized by the government to verify information about and certify documents for F-1 students. Your DSO is located in the Center for International Education.
Change of Address
F and J non-immigrants should report change of address and/or educational transfer to the CIE-office, and are also required to report changes on 'My CSULB' (http://my.csulb.edu). Students are no longer required to report those changes using the Form AR-11SR.
Passports must be valid at all times during your stay in the U.S. Passports can be renewed at your home country consulate in the U.S. Consulates are located in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
Duration of Status (D/S)
D/S is based on the completion date noted on your I-20 or DS-2019, plus 60 days grace period for F-1 students and 30 days grace period for J-1 students. It is possible to extend D/S by applying for a program extension prior to the expiration of the current I-20 and DS-2019.
The visa is a computer-generated printed label, attached inside the passport, granted by the Department of State. The visa allows an individual to enter into a particular country. The visa expiration date reflects the final date that the document can be used to reenter a country. Many students will have multiple-entry visas.
I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)
The I-94 is a small white card issued to all F-1/J-1visa holders by a U.S. immigration officer at the port of entry. It is evidence of legal entry to the U.S. and you must retain this document at all times. If the I-94 is lost, a student must apply for a new one to retain F or J status.