Maintaining Your F-1 Status
It’s critical that as an F-1 student you understand the responsibilities and requirements of your visa status. Please ensure that you read this F-1 Responsibilities document carefully as well as the Study in the States website on Maintaining Status.
The Study in the States website is an important reference website that is run by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program and is a reliable source of information for F-1 rules and regulations.
SEVIS Registration, Full Course Load, and Eligibility for Reduced Course Load
To maintain your status as an F-1 student, you must enroll in a full course load and participate in SEVIS registration every semester. The SEVIS Registration process confirms that you are enrolled in a full course load. At Haverford, a full course load is a minimum of 3 credits. Students should consider the requirement that they must complete 32 credits within 8 semesters during course planning. Students may be eligible for a reduced course load under very specific circumstances, these include:
- Illness or Medical Condition
- Completing their program in the current semester
- Academic Difficulties, including:
- Improper course level placement
- Initial difficulty with reading requirements
- Initial difficulty with the English language
- Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods
Change of Address
A student’s SEVIS record must always reflect their current contact details. Students must complete the Change of Contact Details form with their updated details within 10 days of a change in their residential or mailing address, email address or phone number.
Declaring or Changing Your Major
Students at Haverford College typically declare a major in the spring semester of their sophomore year. New students at Haverford are assigned to “Liberal Arts” as their major on the Form I-20 until they formally declare their major. When students have completed the major declaration or change of major process administered by the Registrar’s Office, they should complete this Change of Major form so that their SEVIS record will reflect their updated major.
I-20 and the Anticipated Graduation Date
Make certain your I-20 accurately reflects your anticipated program completion date (graduation date). This is the date at which a student is expected to complete the degree. The program end date can be found in the “Program of Study” section of the I-20. If you will not be able to complete all degree requirements by your program end date, you should complete the Request for Extension of I-20 form at least one month prior to the program end date. It is very important that your I-20 does not “expire” as that could have negative consequences to immigration status. Alternatively, if you will be graduating early, please contact your Designated School Official when you have received approval from the Committee of Student Standing and Programs (CSSP). It’s very important that the program end date on your I-20 accurately reflects when you will complete graduation requirements.
Transferring your SEVIS Record
If you would like to study at another school, you must request to transfer your SEVIS record to your new school before you can begin full-time studies there. There are benefits to transferring your SEVIS record:
- You do not pay the SEVIS fee again.
- You can remain in the United States in between programs.
- You maintain the same current SEVIS ID number (which may make you eligible for certain benefits at your new school earlier, such as CPT or OPT eligibility).
To be eligible for a SEVIS Record Transfer
- You must currently be maintaining F-1 status.
- You must have an offer of admission from a new school.
- If you have graduated or completed OPT, you must still be within your 60-day grace period.
- The start of classes at your new school must be within 5 months of one of the following:
- Program end date on your I-20 (if you’re graduating).
- The last day of enrollment at Haverford (if you’re not graduating).
- OPT authorization end date.
- For students not completing OPT period, the requested SEVIS I-20 transfer release date.
The Transfer Process
- Contact your dean and discuss your decision to transfer. They will need to process your request.
- Complete the SEVIS Transfer Request Form. This form requires that the student set a Transfer Release Date. The transfer release date is the date on which responsibility for the student’s SEVIS record shifts from the transfer-out school (Haverford) to the transfer-in school (your new school). On this date, the student’s SEVIS record is made available to the transfer-in school. Please read the considerations section below to better understand the implications of the transfer and what you should consider when deciding on your transfer release date.
- After the Transfer Request Date has been Reached Haverford will not be able to make any further changes to the student’s SEVIS record once the transfer date has arrived. Haverford’s version of your SEVIS record will be deactivated, and we are note able view or edit your SEVIS record at your transfer-in school.
- I-20 Issued by new school Once the transfer release date has been reached your record can access your SEVIS record, and use it to create an “Initial” transfer I-20 Form.
Considerations for Transferring Students
A few considerations that students should be aware of when they are transferring are:
If a student plans to travel outside the United States, the timing of the transfer needs to take this into account. The student must return to the United States with a Form I-20 for the school that holds his or her Active or Initial SEVIS record. So travel must be either:
- Started and completed before the transfer release date with an Active Form I-20 from the transfer-out school
- Started and completed after the transfer release date with a Transfer Pending Form I-20 from the transfer-in school
Optional Practical Training
Authorization for optional practical training (OPT) is not transferable. OPT authorization is cancelled automatically at the SEVIS record transfer. You should choose a transfer release date that minimally disrupts your OPT employment. A student can transfer during the 60-day grace period following OPT completion, as long as the transfer release date is set within the grace period.
Transfer of Students Employed on Campus
A student can work on campus only at the school that holds his or her Active SEVIS record. With the DSO’s permission, a student can work on campus at the transfer-out school until the transfer release date. To work on campus at the transfer-in school, the student must get permission from the DSO at the transfer-in school. Work can begin after the transfer release date.
Transfers by New Initial Students
A new initial student may transfer if the student first reports to Haverford College by the program start date listed on the Form I-20 and can begin classes at the transfer-in school within 30 (thirty) days of his or her date of entry into the United States of America. A new initial student does not have to report in person to Haverford College. The DSO can transfer the record based upon an electronic request from the student.