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Immigration

Documents

Visa

A visa is issued by the US government allowing a non-immigrant to enter the USA. Most international students at Fontbonne University enter the USA on an F-1 student visa. You can reside in the USA while on an expired F-1 visa, however, if you leave the USA you cannot re-enter unless you have a valid F-1 visa.

Passport

You are required to have a valid passport while you are in the U.S. If your passport has an expiration date in six months, you should contact your embassy to follow the procedures for an extension.  Make sure to make a COPY of your passport.

I-20

When you came into the U.S. or transferred to Fontbonne University you received a SEVIS I-20.  This SEVIS I-20 is essentially your contract with the U.S.  Your paper SEVIS I-20 is connected to an electronic record in SEVIS.  

  • SEVIS is an internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on our international students and their dependents.  
  • Fontbonne University sends electronic information to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.  The information that is sent includes: personal information; program information; addresses in home country and U.S.; registration of classes; and changes in any program information.  You should think of your SEVIS record as live information.  
  • Every semester, Fontbonne University must report to SEVIS your registration and current address information. 
  • DO NOT LET YOUR I-20 EXPIRE.

I-94

When you enter the US, you are given a small, white card at the airport. This is your Arrival/ Departure Record, or I-94 Card, on which the Immigration Officer usually has written D/S, meaning "Duration of Status". D/S means you are allowed to stay in the U.S. until the completion of your school program (for example, English Language Program, B.A., or M.A.). 

  • Do not lose your I-94 card. There is a fee associated with a replacement I-94 card.

Student Reporting Requirements

First-time entry into the USA

 You must report to the Office of International Affairs upon entry into the USA.   

Leaving and returning to USA on Fontbonne University I-20

You need to obtain a travel signature from someone in the International Center (Linda, Ryan or Rebecca) on your I-20 before you leave the U.S. In order to request a signature, come to the International Center at least 2 weeks prior to your departure with:

  • Your current class and/or next semester schedule.
  • Your valid I-20

When you return to the USA, you MUST report to the International Center.  Bring the following documents with you in order for us to make copies:

  • Your passport/I-94 card
  • Newly stamped I-20

Change of Name

 You must notify the International Center if you change your name. Please schedule an appointment.

Change of Address 

You must notify the International Center within 10 days when you change your address. You may complete a Change of Address form *here* (Link to COA form)

Change in Visa Status

You must schedule an appointment at the Office of International Affairs if you apply for a change in visa status. If you are granted a change of visa status, you must make an appointment at the Office of International Affairs and bring your evidence of your new status with you to the appointment.


Academic Responsibilities

Maintaining Full Course of Study

  • UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS: F-1 undergraduate students must enroll in and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester (except summer which is optional) to maintain active student status. Failure to do so is a violation of F-1 student status. 
  • GRADUATE STUDENTS: F-1 graduate students must enroll in and complete a minimum of 9 credit hours each semester (except summer which is optional) to maintain active student status. Failure to do so is a violation of F-1 student status. 
  • INTENSIVE ENGLISH PROGRAM: F-1 IEP students must enroll in 18 hours (5 IEP courses) of Intensive English Program courses each semester (except summer which is optional) to maintain active student status. IEP students are not allowed to enroll in any academic degree courses. 

Attendance

International students are required to attend classes on a regular basis. If you are going to be absent, you must contact your instructor(s). Failure to attend classes regularly may result in the termination of your immigration record for failure to attend courses. 

Change of Major

If you change your major you must:

  • Complete the Change of Major request form from the Registrar's Office and get appropriate signatures.
  • Submit the Change of Major request form to the Registrar.
  • Request a new form I-20 from the Office of International Affairs indicating the new change of major (by appointment only, please contact lvenegoni@fontbonne.edu to schedule an appointment). 
  • SACM students: you cannot change your major without approval from your SACM advisor. Once you receive SACM approval to change your major please schedule an appointment with the Office of International Affairs.

Transfer to Another University

If you intend to transfer to another school you must notify the Office of International Affairs with the following information:

Program Extension

If you are unable to complete your degree program by the "Program End Date" listed on your form I-20, you must schedule an appointment with the Office of International Affairs. Please be advised to not let your I-20 expire. 

Reduced Course Load

International students may enroll in less than the required full-time course of study for the following reasons:

  • Initial difficulty with the academic/English level.
  • Medical conditions.
  • To complete course of study in current term.

To apply for a Reduced Course Load, please complete the Reduced Course Load (RCL) Application form and schedule an appointment with the Office of International Affairs to process the RCL for approval. 

Change Education Level

If you plan to change your education level (example: Intensive English Program to undergraduate, or undergraduate to graduate), you must schedule an appointment with the Office of International Affairs. 

End of Program

Following the end of your program you have a 60 day grace period to:

  • Depart the United States.
  • Transfer to another institution.
  • Change your visa status. 

Early Departure from Fontbonne University

If you plan to leave the U.S. before the end date on the I-20 and not return please contact the Office of International Affairs. Fontbonne University will need to report your early departure to SEVIS if you do not inform the university of your departure, the university will terminate your SEVIS I-20 for failure to enroll and maintain status. 


Maintaining "Status"

From the time the F-1 student visa is granted, international students are required to follow a set of requirements in order to maintain status and the student visa. By doing so, students "maintain status" and ensure their ability to remain in the United States to complete their course of study. Students who do not adhere to the student visa requirements may be in violation of their status and are considered "out of status". If you do not maintain your visa status, you could be arrested, required to depart the United States and possibly not be readmitted to the United States in the future. If you fall out of status for reasons beyond your control, you may be eligible to apply for a reinstatement of status. Contact the Office of International Affairs to learn if this is an option for you.


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