F-1 Status


 
          

All non-immigrants in the United States are required to have a valid passport at all times. A valid passport is a legal document issued by the home country of a nonimmigrant that permits travel to U.S. along with a valid visa. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future. Please note that a valid passport does not guarantee entry into the United States; however, a valid passport along with other required immigration documents enables a nonimmigrant to travel to the U.S. point of entry to attempt entry into the United States. As a nonimmigrant, you must adhere to the terms associated with your visa type.

A valid and current passport is required for all F-1 and J-1 students. Failure to have a valid passport could impact your immigration status.

How do I renew my passport?
  • You may renew your passport inside the United States at the local Embassy or consulate of your home country or at an Embassy outside of the United States. You must contact your Embassy or consulate for specific instructions on how to renew your passport.
  • Students with a valid, unexpired visa in their expired passport may still use that visa if they have the old passport. Students must remember to carry and present the old passport along with the new passport when traveling.
  • For a list of foreign consular offices in the United States, visit the website of your home country’s diplomatic mission or the U.S. Department of State website at http://www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/fco/.


What to do after Renewing your Passport
  • You should notify ISS that you have renewed your passport as soon as possible after receiving the renewed passport.
  • To update your passport information with ISS, submit a copy of your renewed passport to iss@tamu.edu. Once received, ISS will update your passport information in your student immigration file. 
  • ISS monitors the passport information of our current students each semester. If it is discovered that your passport is expired—or soon to be expired—ISS will contact you for more information regarding the status of your passport renewal. If the passport of an F-1 or J-1 student has already expired, a registration hold will be placed on that student’s account until ISS receives a copy of the renewed passport. It is best to be proactive and submit a copy of your renewed passport when you receive it to avoid having a hold placed on your account.

Federal regulations allow F-1 students to work on the premises of the school that issued their currently valid I-20 or DS-2019 if they are in good standing at that school and they are maintaining legal non-immigrant status.Click here for more details.
There are two types of practical training available to F-1 students:

Curricular Practical Training : CPT must be an integral part of a student's degree plan and can only be done before graduation.

Optional Practical Training: OPT is not an integral part of a student's degree plan. However, OPT must be related to the student's field of study and commensurate with the education level. OPT can be done before or after graduation.
If you change your degree level, you must get a new I-20 prior to the 15th class day of the semester or before you leave the U.S. Proof of financial resources are required to apply for an Change of Education Level. Refer to the Financial Resources section of our web site for more information and the Change of Education Level Handout.
An F-1 student can co-enroll in two schools. Please read the instructions and fill out the co-enrollment handout.
Students requesting permission to attend classes at another university during a vacation, while remaining an F-1 student at Texas A&M University should complete and submit Other School Enrollment Form .
Students who are unable to graduate by the expiration date of their I-20 will need to submit paperwork for an extension of stay. Proof of financial resources are required to apply for an extension of stay. Refer to the Financial Resources section of our web site for more information and the Extension of Stay Handout.

 
Any F-1 student who wishes to drop below full-time enrollment should complete the form below. The authorized exceptions to the full course of study requirement and the rules for reduced course load are included in this Reduced Course Load Handout.
Current Texas A&M students that would like to be released in SEVIS to transfer to another school or university in the U.S. need to complete the Transfer Release Form.
International students should not withdraw or take a leave of absence from Texas A&M University without first speaking with ISS about the consequences of this action. An Authorized Early Withdrawal form should be completed by all F-1 students who intend to withdraw or take a leave of absence from the University and depart the United States. Please schedule an appointment with an ISS advisor to submit or discuss the Authorized Early Withdrawal Form.

 
Travel

Re-Entry to the United States
There are several steps you should take before leaving the United States in order to be eligible to re-enter the United States with F-1 status.
  1. Be in legal F-1 status.  Make sure that your SEVIS record is Active and has not expired.
  2. Have your I-20 signed for travel by a Designated School Official (DSO)/International Student Advisor.  The signature is valid for one year unless you are on post-completion Optional Practical Training, then the signature is valid for six months.  Be sure the I-20 you travel states “Continued Attendance.”  If your I-20 states “Initial” or “Transfer”, then you need a new I-20 printed before travelling.
  3. All the information on your I-20 is up-to-date including your major and degree level. 
  4. Have a valid F-1 visa (this excludes Canadian citizens).  Please see the visa renewal section for further information.
  5. Your passport will be valid for at least six months in advance from the point of return.
To request a travel signature please refer to the Travel Signature Request Form

Travelling to a Third Country
If you are travelling to a third country, check with that country’s embassy to determine if you need a visa to enter that country.  https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/united-states
If you will be traveling to Mexico and you are not a citizen of Mexico, please also submit a completed Notification for International Students Pursuing Personal Travel to Mexico along with your Travel Signature Request Form.

Please visit following link to get your most recent I-94: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home

Visa Renewal
If you need to renew your visa while outside the United States, please the following into consideration. 
  1. Plan ahead.  It could take a considerable amount of time to renew the visa.  You can check the processing times at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html
  2. Know what documentation to take with you.  ISS recommends taking at least a transcript, a letter of academic status from your academic department if possible, proof of financial support, standardized test scores, passport and I-20.  For more information regarding the required documentation, go to https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/student.html.  Also check the embassy or consulate web page to determine if additional information or documentation is needed.
  3. If you are a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major, then you may want to have information about your research available.  A letter from your academic advisor explaining your program or research subject in plain English at the time of your interview may be helpful.
  4. Schedule your appointment at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate, https://www.usembassy.gov/
Arrival at the U.S. port of entry
  1. Be sure to have your documentation with you and readily available.  Do not put your I-20 in your suitcase. 
  2. Be aware of the U.S. rules and restrictions regarding immigration, customs and agriculture. 
    1. Monetary - https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/kbyg/money
    2. Prohibited and Restricted Items - https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go/prohibited-and-restricted-items
    3. Bringing food to the United States - https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/agricultural-items
    4. Watch this video regarding the port of entry process, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/video-gallery/2015/01/youve-arrived.
  3. Make sure that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer processed you in as a student on the F-1 visa and gave you F-1 status on your I-94 form, https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.  Your passport and I-94 should be marked “F-1” and “D/S” (duration of status).
  4. It is possible that if the CBP officer cannot determine your status immediately, you may be sent to secondary inspection.  https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/what-is-secondary-inspection
  5. If you do not have your paperwork in order, the CBP officer could allow you to enter the United States with a form I-515A.  If you receive this form, you need to bring it to ISS as soon as possible.  It must be processed and received by the Department of Homeland Security within 30 days.  https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/what-is-a-form-i-515a
Visa Delay
If your visa is delayed in being issued, please inform ISS, your on-campus employer and your academic department.  If the reason for the delay is because of administrative processing, please note that ISS and Texas A&M University cannot speed the process up.  

Delays in visa issuance could be caused the situation in the country, status issues, country of citizenship or major.  If you are a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major, then you may want to have information about your research available.  A letter from your academic advisor explaining your program or research subject in plain English at the time of your interview may be helpful.

If the delay is caused by administrative processing, please be aware that there is little that University can do to find out what is causing the delay.  The Department of State will not release information to the school or to anyone besides the applicant.  The National Visa Center (NVC) is available to answer questions concerning nonimmigrant visas.  You can contact the NVC at 603-334-0888 from 7 am to 12 am EST, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays).  The Department of State recommends you wait at least 60 days from the visa interview before inquiring about delays caused by administrative processing.

According to the Department of State, “Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case.” https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/administrative-processing-information.html

Visa Denial
If your visa is denied, do not panic.  Calmly ask the reason for the denial.  You should also receive written notification of the denial reason.  Several of the reasons for denials are listed at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/denials.html.  Good advice is also available at this web page.
Send an email to iss@tamu.edu and include the facts of your interview, such as what questions were you asked, what were your answers, what documentation did you bring to the interview, and what did the consulate officer tell you.  Be sure to include the letter you were given explaining the visa denial.  ISS will then advise you on your options.

Resources
F-1 students are eligible to invite their spouse or children to come to the United States as an F-2 dependent.

If the dependent is currently outside the United States please refer to the F-1 Invitation of Dependents Handout for a list of the documents to be submitted to the ISS office. Please refer to the Financial Resources page since Finances are required.

If the dependent is currently inside the United States in another visa category, the F-1 will need to schedule an appointment with an ISS adivsor to discuss the options regarding a change of status to F-2. For information regarding a change of status application please refer to the Change of Status to F-2 Handout.
If you believe that you have fallen out of F-1 immigration status please schedule an appointment to speak with an ISS advisor by calling our office at 979-845-1824. We recommend that you refer to the F-1 Reinstatement Handout for further information.

For information regarding maintaining your F-1 immigration status we recommend that you refer to the following:

Individuals that would like to change their status to F-1 have the options to complete this by travel or by application in the United States. If you plan to change your status to F-1 you must schedule an appointment to speak with an ISS advisor. For additional information regarding this process please refer to the Change of Status to F-1 handout

Following are the mailing options available to receive your I-20/ Documents.
  • I will personally pick it from ISS. (You must bring proof of identification to ISS.)

  • You may authorize a friend to pick up the document(s) on your behalf.
    You may authorize a friend to pick up the document(s) on your behalf. To do so, send an e-mail to both your friend and to iss@tamu.edu from your Texas A&M e-mail account to grant them permission to pick up your document(s). Your friend should print the e-mail you send them and bring it with them to ISS in order to pick up the document(s). Remind your friend to bring some form of photo identification with them to ISS.

  • Send it by regular U.S Postal Service mail within the U.S. to the student local mailing address/ outside the U.S. to the student permanent address mentioned in the Howdy Portal
    You may ask ISS to mail the document(s) to you by regular mail (domestic or international), but keep in mind that this could take quite a while to reach you. To do so, send an e-mail request to iss@tamu.edu with the correct mailing address.

  • Send it by express mail at my expense.
    You may use the eShipGlobal service to have your document(s) express mailed to you through either DHL or FedEx at your own expense. To do so, visit https://study.eshipglobal.com (do not visit DHL or FedEx directly). You will be required to create a user name and password to set up an account. To request shipment, you will need your Texas A&M UIN, mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, and credit card information. If you have questions about how to use this service, review the Help section of the eShipGlobal website or e-mail support@eshipglobal.com. Once you have requested the shipment, send an email to iss@tamu.edu to notify our office that you have requested an eShipGlobal shipment.