U.S. laws make it your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms of your immigration status during your stay in the U.S. A violation of the immigration regulations outlined below (for example, failure to maintain a full-time credit load) could endanger your student status. Please review this carefully. For more information, contact the International Programs & Services Office.
Your passport must be valid at all times. Keep your passport and other important documents in a safe place. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police, as your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country's consulate in the U.S. The U.S. State Department's web site lists all foreign consulates in the U.S. http://www.state.gov/www/travel/consular_offices/fco_index.html
A visa is the stamp that a U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. The visa permitted you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor. The expiration date of the visa is not the same as the authorized length of time you can stay in the U.S. After your visa expires, you may not enter the U.S. at the border, but it may still be okay for you to already be here and continue studying.
Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 for F visas, DS-2019 for J visas)
Issued by your school or sponsoring agency, this document allows you to apply for a visa, enter or re-enter the U.S., and make certain other requests of Immigration. Your Certificate of Eligibility must remain valid at all times. Request a new form prior to its expiration date. And remember to keep every I-20 or DS-2019 for your permanent record - don't discard the old ones!
Arrival and Departure Record, or I-94
When you entered the U.S., you were issued Form I-94, a small white card usually stapled to the passport opposite the visa stamp. You must return this card to the Immigration Service when you leave the U.S. (except for a brief visit to Canada or Mexico or adjacent islands) to notify Immigration of your departure. Note your "admission number" at the top of the card. Whenever you are issued a new I-94, cross out the pre-printed number and write in the number that appeared on your original I-94.
Regulations, Procedures, and Benefits
Period of Authorized Stay
Your admission to the U.S. is for "duration of status," marked "D/S" on your I-94. That is, for the time during which you are pursuing a full course of study and making normal progress toward your degree, or engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies. "Duration of status" includes 60 days for F-1 students, or 30 days for J-1 students, to depart the U.S.
If you are unable to complete your course of study before the completion date noted on your I-20 or DS-2019, ask the International Student Adviser to issue you a new form. Note that the new form must be issued and you must sign it before your current I-20 or DS-2019 expires.
You must begin your study at the school that issued the I-20 or DS-2019 you presented upon entry into the U.S. If you later decide to transfer to another school, contact the International Services Office for information about "school transfer procedures."
Change of Level
If you complete your current program of study and continue at Evergreen in another program (for example, changing from bachelor's to master's), this change must be reported to Immigration. Contact the International Services Office for instructions.
A "full course of study" means 12 or more credits per quarter for undergraduate and fifth year students, and 8 or more credits per quarter for graduate students. There are a few, but important, exceptions to the full-time requirement. In the following situations, you are considered to be maintaining status even if you are not registered for a full course of study:
You may take fewer credits if so advised by the International Student Adviser for valid reasons.
Graduate students registered for thesis or dissertation (or equivalent) may register for fewer than 8 credits and be considered full-time for immigration purposes.
You may reduce or interrupt a full course of study because of a documented medical condition.
Your final quarter, you may take as few credits as required to complete your degree.
Do not register for fewer than the required number of credits or withdraw from a course without first consulting the International Student Advisor. Part-time studies could jeopardize your stay in the U.S. and make you ineligible for travel authorizations, practical training and other opportunities for employment, school transfer or change of level, and program extensions.
Annual Vacation Quarter
You may take a "vacation" quarter and remain in the U.S. if you have completed 3 full-time consecutive quarters. A student who arrives in the U.S. for the first time and begins study winter or spring quarter may take the summer as a vacation quarter.
"Employment" is any work performed or services provided (including self-employment) in exchange for money, or other benefit or compensation. Note that F-2 dependents may not accept employment under any circumstances. Dependents in J-2 status may apply to Immigration for permission to work.
If your I-20 or DS-2019 was issued by Evergreen, you may work on-campus up to 19 hours per week while school is in session, and full-time during a vacation quarter and between quarters, provided you continue as a student the following quarter.
Employment off-campus must be authorized in advance according to specific procedures outlined in the federal regulations. Permission to work in your field of study for practical training may be authorized both before (Curricular Practical Training) and after your degree (Optional Practical Training) if qualifications are met. Consult with the International Student Advisor for application procedures. NOTE: You must be enrolled for three quarters prior to your graduation date in order to qualify for OPT application.
Returning to the U.S. After a Temporary Absence
Upon re-entering the U.S., you must present an unexpired EVERGREEN I-20 or DS-2019 that has been endorsed for travel within the last six months by the International Student Advisor, a valid F-1 or J-1 visa, a valid passport, and officials may ask for financial documents that show your support. Students outside the U.S. for more than one quarter, and those on "practical training," may have additional requirements.
F-1 Students: You may enter the US up to 30 days before your program start date, and remain in the US up to 60 days after your program end date.
You must apply for an extension of your end date at least 15 days before that date.
J-1 students: You may enter the US up to 30 days before your program start date, and remain in the US up to 30 days after your program end date.