International Students - Handbook
V. IMMIGRATION INFORMATION
While you are studying in the U.S., you may need to communicate with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly INS) on various occasions. For example, as a student in F-1 status, you may be eligible for benefits such as program extension or practical training, which require further procedures or applications to meet immigration requirements.
You also come in contact with immigration when you re-enter the U.S. after visiting home or traveling out of the country. Whatever the reason, Kevin Morrison, the International Student Advisor, will assist you in the preparation and filing of the required documents. He will also advise you of the options available to you for employment, enrollment, etc.
The USCIS office having jurisdiction over the State of North Carolina is in Charlotte, which is about three hours away by car. The regional USCIS office is in Texas, which processes applications for most F-1 benefits, e.g. work authorization, change of status, etc.
Please see Kevin Morrison before submitting any documents to USCIS for general advice, procedural instructions, and deadlines. He can provide general instructions packets for applying for many F-1 benefits and can advise you through the process. There are often required updates in SEVIS, as well, so he may need additional paperwork from you in order for your apply for such benefits. He has an appointment sheet outside of his office in Joyner 122 and also can schedule appointments via email.
Maintaining Your Status
When you signed your I-20 to come to Meredith, you assumed the responsibility to abide by the laws, which relate specifically to "non-immigrant aliens" in the U.S. Failure to do so may subject a non-immigrant visa holder to penalty, even deportation. To maintain lawful student status as an F-1 visa holder, you are obligated to do the following:
- Keep passport valid at all times. It is recommended to keep passports valid for a minimum period of six months into the future although not required for all countries.
- Carry a full course of study (a minimum of 12 hours per semester for undergraduates and 6 hours for graduates).
- Refrain from working off-campus without legal authorization (Employment Authorization Document).
- Do not work more than a total of 20 hours per week for on-campus positions.
- Report a change of residence to Kevin Morrison within 10 days of the change.
- Follow certain procedures to extend your permission, if needed, to stay in the U.S. to complete studies at least one month before the Duration of Status (shown on I-20) expires.
- Check travel documents before leaving the U.S., even for a brief trip, as well as making sure you have the appropriate documents to re-enter. Remember to have your Form I-20 signed by Kevin Morrison before you leave the country.
- Complete annual tax forms if you have worked on or off campus.
- Notify Kevin Morrison when transferring to or from a school in the U.S. He will have to work with the other school for the release your SEVIS records to them. The same transfer procedure should be followed when changing from one educational level to another.
For passport renewal, your embassy may need a letter stating that you are a full-time student at Meredith. This letter, as well as embassy addresses and telephone numbers in Washington, D. C., may be requested from the International Student Advisor, Kevin Morrison.