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Current International Students

Office of International Relations
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
5210 Grand Ave.
Fort Smith, AR 72903
Phone: 479-788-7137
Email: International@uafs.edu
Office: Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center 205
 
View the International Student Handbook
UAFS Student Handbook
 
 

Under U.S. immigration law, it is your responsibility to maintain F-1 lawful student status. 
Begin by reading the Instructions to Students on page 3 of your Form I-20, then carefully follow them and the information below:
  • Maintain a valid passport at all times.
  • Check-in with and attend the school listed on your current Form I-20 (that should be UAFS).
  • Enroll in and complete a full course of study (12 credit hours) during each semester or term that is not your annual vacation period. You must always be making normal progress toward completing your program of study before the expiration date specified on item #5 of your Form I-20.
  • Keep your Form I-20 valid and accurate by following the proper procedures when you:
    • Apply for an extension of the program, which must be done prior to its expiration date,
    • Transfer from one program to another (e.g., ESL to regular school) or from one level to another (e.g., bachelor's to master's), or
    • Transfer to different schools.
  • Follow the grace period rules governing admittance to the U.S. no more than 30 days before your program start date and those pertaining to your remaining in the U.S. for up to 60 days beyond your program completion date or any authorized practical training.
  • Maintain your permanent home country address and update your local address and/or phone number with the Office of International Relations (OIR) within 10 days of any change. 
  • Abide by rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition on criminal activity. 
  • Engage in employment only after receiving proper authorization.
  • Limit employment to no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.
You will be terminated in SEVIS during any semester or term of required enrollment when any of the following occurs:
  • You fail to enroll within 30 days of the first day of classes
  • You enroll in less than a full course of study without the proper authorization from OIR 
  • You fail to pay tuition prior to the add/drop deadline, thus making you ineligible to attend UAFS
  • You are caught working off campus without proper approval

 

All international students and visiting scholars engaged in educational activities are required to purchase UAFS international student accident and illness insurance plan unless they can provide written verification that their government accepts full responsibility for any medical claims that might occur. The only exception to this regulation is proof that the student is from a country that has national health insurance. (A letter from the embassy is required.) This insurance requirement can be waived when a student provides a better insurance policy than UAFS’s insurance coverage.
 
The federal government and UAFS require all international students (both F-1 and J-1) to have adequate medical/health insurance. Adequate is defined as meeting the minimum federal insurance requirements as outlined below.
 
Because of the recent changes in federal insurance policies, students must purchase insurance through UAFS' insurance provider, GeoBlue Student Health Insurance. This ensures that all international students have adequate medical/health insurance.
 
Federal minimum insurance requirements (22CFR 514.14) include:
  • A deductible of no more than $500 per accident or illness.
  • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness.
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500.
  • Medical evacuation to home country in the amount of $10,000.
  • Possibly a reasonable waiting period for pre-existing conditions.
  • Possible a 25 percent co-insurance per accident or illness.
  • Shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which you participate.
Why must I have insurance?
  • The costs of medical care and hospitalization are at an all-time high. An accident, unexpected illness, or hospitalization can result in a significant financial burden to you, your family, and the community.
  • A medical health plan provides a way to help defray some of these costs as they arise. Although in many countries the government bears the expenses of health care for its citizens and sometimes even for visitors, individuals and families in the United States are responsible for these costs themselves.
  • A single day of hospitalization and medical treatment could cost thousands of dollars, and many hospitals and doctors refuse to treat uninsured patients except in life-threatening emergencies.
How does medical insurance work?
  • When you purchase health coverage, the money you pay (premium) is combined with the premiums of others to form a pool of money. That money is then used to pay the medical bills of those participants who need medical care. Your coverage remains valid only as long as you continue to pay the insurance premiums.
  • Once you purchase insurance, your insurer provides you with an insurance identification card for use as proof of coverage should you seek medical help at a hospital or doctor's office. The company also provides written instructions for reporting and documenting medical expenses (filing a claim). The company will evaluate any claim that is filed and make the appropriate payment based upon the coverage of your policy. In some cases the company pays the hospital or doctor directly while in others the company reimburses you after you have paid the bills.

Employment is defined as providing any type of work or services on either a part-time or full-time basis in exchange for money, tuition, books, supplies, housing, food, or any other benefit. You may only be employed and begin working after you have received the appropriate written authorization. Failure to observe this requirement will place you out of status. Also, employers may be cited, fined, and/or imprisoned for hiring or maintaining employment for persons who are ineligible.
 

Authorization typically expires upon completion of the program of studies or when the period of lawful stay ends, whichever is sooner, or expiration of employment authorizations as noted by USCIS or International Services.

 

On-Campus Employment

USCIS allows F-1 students to work up to 20 hours per week on campus during the fall and spring semesters without special permission. You are to still report to the Office of International Relations if you are considering applying to or have applied to an on-campus job. F-1 students are eligible to work on campus as soon as you are enrolled in school full time.

Eligibility 
  • Must be in good lawful status (see F-1 Status Requirements)

  • Must have registered as a continuing UAFS student

Requirements
  • "... employment ... must not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session. An F-1 student may, however, work on campus full time while school is not in session or during the annual vacation." Code of Federal Regulations (8CFR214,2(f)(9)(i)

Authorization Procedure
  • Hourly Employment

    • If you are applying for employment for the first time or if you have had a change in your circumstances since your previous application, you must complete and submit a Work Study Application Form to Financial Aid.

    • Begin looking and asking for a job on campus to different departments.

    • Obtain a job offer letter.

      • If you do not have a social security number, you may make application at this time. Application Process Details 

  • Obtain a Social Security Number 

Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is:

  • A unique nine-digit U.S. government- issued number used for taxpayer identification, income reporting, and record-keeping purposes

  • Required before you may begin employment

  • Valid for a lifetime — keep your SSN card in a safe place

Application Procedure
  • Obtain a written offer of employment from your employer.

  • Bring the written offer to International Relations to request a letter to the Social Security Administration (SSA) certifying that you:

    • Are in good legal status

    • Are eligible to work 

    • Have secured or have a promise of employment

    • More information

  • Complete a Social Security number application.

  • Take your International Relations certification letter, employer offer letter, valid passport, visa, Form I-94, Form I-20, and completed application form to the local SSA office located at:

U.S. Social Security Administration 
6801 S. Dallas St.,
Fort Smith, AR 72903
Phone: 1-866-931-8374

Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. You will be given a receipt that acts as a temporary card until your permanent card arrives.
 

Off-Campus Employment

F-1 students may not work off campus. You must receive permission from the USCIS and the Office of International Relations to be LEGALLY employed off campus. You cannot apply for off-campus work authorization until you have been in full-time student status for one academic year.

After the first academic year, F-1 students may engage in three types of off-campus employment:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)
  • Science, Eechnology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)

F-1 students may also be eligible to work off campus on a case-by-case basis as a result of special situations such as severe economic hardship or special student relief. If this is the case, please speak to the Office of International Relations, and we will help you.

M-1 and J-1 Students
M-1 students may engage in practical training only after they have completed their studies.
J-1 students are not allowed to work but can definitely do an internship.

Tax Information

What is Form 8843? 
  • Form 8843 is not an income tax return. Form 8843 is merely an informational statement required by the U.S. government for certain nonresident aliens (including the spouses or dependents of nonresident aliens). 
Who must file Form 8843? 
  • All nonresident aliens present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status must file Form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition”—even if they received NO income during the previous year. Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:
  • present in the U.S. during the previous year 
  • a nonresident alien 
  • present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status 
Do I need a social security number or individual taxpayer identification number to file Form 8843? 
  • If you already have an SSN or ITIN, the number must be included on Form 8843, regardless of your age and even if you are not required to file a U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ). 
  • For more information go to Arkansas State Income Tax Information. 

If you worked on campus:

  • UAFS files Form 8233 with the IRS and keeps a copy for audit purposes.
  • UAFS sends W-2 Forms to you if you are from a country not covered by a tax treaty. Some tax treaties have limits. If you wish to exercise your treaty, it is your responsibility to update in Glacier, print the forms, and submit them to Business Office 109.
  • If you are from Mexico, Japan, South Korea, or Canada, you have the option of claiming the tax treaty or filing an income tax return according to the information on your W-4.

Income Tax Information for International Students & Scholars

International students and scholars who received U.S. sources of income during any part of the previous year must file U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) income tax forms and State of Arkansas Department of Revenue forms by the tax deadline of the current year. Income could include on-campus employment, UAFS scholarships or fellowships, or off-campus practical training. 

Any nonresident for U.S. tax purposes, even if they do not receive income from U.S. sources, must file IRS informational form 8843 each year for as long as they are a nonresident for tax purposes.

*Typical deadline for filing is April 15 of each year.

We at the Office of International Relations are not tax experts and are not authorized or in a position to answer your tax questions. If you have additional questions regarding your tax obligations, we suggest you utilize the following resources:

GLACIER Procedures

GLACIER is an online tax compliance system designed to allow institutions to efficiently and effectively collect information, make tax residency and income tax treaty determinations, manage paperwork, maintain data, and file reporting statements with the IRS. GLACIER is available 24 hours a day from any computer that has internet access.

GLACIER helps determine your:

  • Tax residency
  • Withholding rates
  • Income tax treaty eligibility

As an international student at UAFS, you will be required to work through GLAICER to report your tax status. U.S. tax laws require that the university collect information from non-U.S. citizens to determine their tax status. GLACIER helps foreign individuals and UCSC collect, store, and print forms required by law.

The Finance, Payroll, and Accounting department will set you up in the GLACIER system. You then will receive an e-mail from support@online-tax.net with your GLACIER password and information on how to log on to the system. This e-mail is not SPAM; please look for it in your e-mail. 

  1. Log in to GLACIER with the password and user ID given to you. You will be prompted to change your login information at that time. 
  2. Complete the GLACIER tax record. You will need your Initial GLACIER Information Form and your U.S. entry documentation.
  3. Print, sign, and date documents.
  4. Submit the required tax forms and supporting documents to Business Center 109. These forms are due within 10 days of receiving the GLACIER e-mail.
  5. Keep in contact with the Business Center for any changes or updates to the forms that need to be made. 

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN). It is a nine-digit number beginning with the number "9", formatted like a SSN (NNN-NN-NNNN).
 

The IRS developed the ITIN program in 1996 so that individuals ineligible for SSNs could provide a tax number when filing a return or otherwise participating in the U.S. tax system. ITINs are intended to be used solely for tax administration purposes. They are not valid identification outside of the tax system and do not authorize work in the United States or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits.
 

The IRS requires that ITINs expire after five years instead of lasting indefinitely. The IRS also posts frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the its rules.
 

To obtain an ITIN, you must complete IRS Form W-7, IRS Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The Form W-7 requires documentation substantiating foreign/alien status and true identity for each individual. You may either mail the documentation, along with the Form W-7, to the address shown in the Form W-7 Instructions, present it at IRS walk-in offices, or process your application through an acceptance agent authorized by the IRS.
 

Acceptance agents are entities (colleges, financial institutions, accounting firms, etc.) who are authorized by the IRS to assist applicants in obtaining ITINs. They review the applicant's documentation and forward the completed Form W-7 to IRS foprocessing.

4905 Old Greenwood Rd.
Fort Smith, AR 72903
479-649-8602
8:30 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m.Monday-Friday (Closed for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
NOTE: You cannot claim the earned income credit using an ITIN.
 

Each ITIN applicant must:

  • Apply using the revised Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number AND
  • Attach a federal income tax return to the Form W-7.

Applicants who meet an exception to the requirement to file a tax return (see the instructions for Form W-7) must provide documentation to support the exception.

For more detailed information on ITINs, refer here.

 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Eligibility

You may apply for curricular practical training (CPT) when:

  • training is related to an integral part of your major or program of study
  • ttraining is emporary in nature
  • you have been lawfully enrolled full time in your program of study for at least one academic year (eight months)
  • you are currently in lawful status
Requirements
  • You must receive a new I-20 showing your authorized CPT before you may begin your training.

  • You may only work up to 20 hours per week during your required periods of enrollment, typically fall and winter semesters. However, you may work more than 20 hours per week during your annual vacation period, whether or not you are taking classes.

  • You must be enrolled for academic credit throughout the duration of the training unless the internship is required for graduation.

  • However, if the required internship is the only class needed for graduation and you are not enrolled in any other classes, then you must  be enrolled for credit in the required internship class. 

Authorization Procedure
  • Attend an International Office CPT info session or meet with an advisor.

  • Obtain a signed letter from your prospective employer (cannot be a temporary, staffing, or recruiting agency employer) on company letterhead that provides:

    • Name of the firm/organization/company

    • Details on the nature of the training specifying what you will be doing for your employer

    • Type of position as part-time (less than 20 hours per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week). Full-time employment is only allowed during your annual vacation period, whether or not you are taking classes.

    • Beginning date of training that must be a future date on or after the first day of the semester or term. The beginning date must be after the day that OIR receives the letter because authorization may not be given retroactively.

    • Ending date of training that must be before the first day of classes for the next semester/term unless you have been granted approval for multiple consecutive semesters

Note: These dates become the official beginning and ending dates that will be listed on your new Form I-20.

  • Review your employer letter with your academic advisor and obtain a signed letter on department letterhead that provides:

    • Certification the proposed internship (training) is related to your major program of study

    • Name of firm where you will be doing your internship

  • Enroll in the appropriate work study, practicum, field program, internship, or cooperative education class. Check with your academic advisor about the course you should enroll in for academic credit. If the internship coordinator indicates in their letter that this internship is required for graduation, a non-credit internship is permitted. However, if the required internship is the only class needed for graduation and you are not enrolled in any other classes, you must be enrolled for credit in the required internship class. 

Note: If the internship is required for graduation or if it is through a cooperative education agreement, steps 1 and 3 above are not necessary; all of the information may be provided in the letter from the department internship coordinator. HOWEVER, in order to maintain your status, you must register for the required number of hours. 

  • At least five days prior to the beginning date of the training, complete and submit to OIR a CPT request form along with the following:

    • Letter from prospective employer

    • Letter from internship coordinator

    • Documentation of enrollment in the related course

  • International Services will review your request. If it is approved, you must return to pick up your new authorizing Form I-20 before you may  begin your training.

  • You are required to renew authorization every semester.

Note: If you receive one year or more of full-time curricular practical training, you become ineligible for any post-completion optional practical training (OPT).

 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to your F-1 student major. To receive authorization you must submit an application to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Post-completion OPT may only begin after the completion of your course of study (the last day of the last semester attended). 

Possible types of OPT employment situations may include:

  • Short-term multiple employers (musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short-term employers)
  • Work for hire (contract work for another company, this is commonly known as 1099 contract work)

  • Self-employed business owner (start a licensed business as a self-employed, full-time employee)

  • Employment through an agency (work for a staffing/employment agency at other companies as assigned)

  • Regular employment (work for an established business or organization)

How long may I work?
  • Availability extends for one 12-month period directly after each higher educational level and may not be carried over if not used from one level to another.

  • Any authorized pre-completion OPT months are deducted from the available 12 months.

  • If you have a pending H-1B application, you can extend your OPT.

  • If your major field of study and subsequent employment is in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM major), you may be able to extend your training.

  • If you are a citizen of Canada or Mexico, you may also qualify for TN (Trade NAFTA) status.

When does my F-1 status expire?
  • 60 days after completion of your studies, if you do not apply for OPT OR

  • 60 days following completion of your OPT.

However, your OPT is automatically terminated when you transfer your SEVIS record to another school or begin study at another educational level with a new I-20.

May I travel outside the U.S. during my OPT?
  • We advise you not to leave the U.S. between your program end date and when you receive your employment card. Such travel is considered an abandonment of your application, and you may be ineligible to reapply.

  • If your OPT has been approved:

    • If you travel before you get a job, you may not be able to reenter unless you have a written job offer.

    • If you have a job, you may travel and reenter to resume employment. However, this travel time is added to your total of allotted unemployment days unless authorized by your employer. See the explanation of unemployment days under Requirements.

Eligibility

In order to qualify for post-completion OPT, you must:

  • Register for required course credit during the semester or term you complete your program.

  • Accrue less than a total of one year of any full-time curricular practical training.

  • Be in lawful status for at least one academic year.

  • Submit your OPT application so that it is received by USCIS between 90 days before and 60 days after the completion of your program. USCIS must receive your OPT I-20 within 30 days of the designated school official’s signature date.

  • Complete your program by the date specified in the letter from your academic advisor .

  • Receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and wait until your OPT start date.

REQUIREMENTS
  • Your employment must be related to your degree, paid or unpaid, and for at least 20 hours per week or full-time if you are self-employed.

  • You should keep records for each employment experience including the position held, proof of the duration of that position, job title, supervisor's contact information, and description of the work.

  • You may accrue no more than 90 days of unemployment; exceeding this time limit will cause you to lose your status.

    • Each day during the authorized OPT period that you do not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment. The only exception is the period of up to 10 days between the end of one job and the beginning of the next; these will not be included in the total.

    • Travel outside the U.S. while unemployed counts in the calculation.

    • If you travel while employed either during a period of authorized leave or as part of your employment, the time spent outside the U.S. will not count as unemployment if authorized by your employer.

  • USCIS has placed responsibility upon you to report any employment events as defined below within 10 days. This is done through a form sent to International Relations. The following table suggests the best way to report the required information.

Initial OPT job Employer name 
Employment start date 
Employer mailing address
Add a second employer to your primary current employer Employer name 
Employment start date 
Employer mailing address
Change to a new job Previous employer name 
Previous employment end date 
New employer name 
Employment start date 
Employer mailing address
Multiple short-term gigs in one period with less than 10 days between gigs Report at the beginning of the first gig and indicate "Multiple short-term gigs"
Work for hire (contract start) Indicate "self-employed work for hire" 
Indicate the start date of the contract
Work for hire (ending more than 10 days between the end of one contract and the beginning of another contract or a new job) Indicate "Self-employed work for hire" 
Indicate you have no current contract 
Ending date of the last contract worked
More than 10 days of unemployment Indicate "unemployed" 
Ending date of last job
Self-employed business owner (start) Indicate "Self-employed business owner" 
Indicate date you went into business
Self-employed business owner (end) Indicate "Self-employed business owner" 
Indicate date your business closed or you no longer worked for the business full time
 

Application Procedure

Because your EAD will only be delivered to the address listed in your application, if you are planning to move, you may elect to list our office address on your I-765.

5210 Grand Ave.,
Fort Smith, AR 72904

However, if you do, you must keep your address, email, and phone updated with the OIR so we can reach you when your EAD arrives.
 

Step 1 — Attend an International Relations OPT info session or meet with an advisor.
 

Step 2 — Submit the following to International Services:

  • Signed letter from your academic advisor on letterhead stating your degree title and expected completion date

  • Completed OPT Request Form which will result in a new Form I-20 recommending your OPT

  • Completed Application for Employment Authorization Form I-765—answer Item #16 on page 10 with ( c ) ( 3 ) ( B )

Step 3 — Five days later return to International Services and do the following:

  • Pick up, sign, and copy your new Form I-20

  • Pick up an envelope addressed to the USCIS Service Center

Step 4 — Mail your application, paying attention to the following:

  • Make a copy of everything you send to USCIS for your personal records.

  • Assemble your application materials in the following order:

    • Completed Form I-765

    • $380 cashier’s check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    • Copy of your new application Form I-20, properly endorsed, showing recommendation of your OPT on the third page and dated within 30 days of USCIS receipt

    • Copy of your Form I-94 Number 

    • Copy of your last EAD (front and back) if you have received one. If no prior EAD has been issued, you must submit a copy of your federal government issued identity document, such as a passport showing your picture, name, and date of birth; a birth certificate with photo ID; a visa issued by a foreign consulate; or a national ID document with photo and/or fingerprint. The identity document photocopy must clearly show your facial features and your biographical information. It is recommended that the photocopy be slightly enlarged and in color.

    • Two identical passport-style color photos of yourself taken within 30 days of filing, preferably in a small plastic bag.

Send these items to the USCIS Dallas lockbox.
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:
USCIS
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
For Express mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
 

Step 5 — After you have sent your application to the USCIS Dallas lockbox:

  • Wait until your EAD arrives before you start working.

  • Make sure that you fax, send, or leave a copy of your EAD with International Relations.

  • Report your employment information as described above as soon as your OPT begins.

  • Report any changes in the above information within 10 days and confirm it again every six months even if there have been no changes.

  • Terminate your employment when your EAD expires or when you transfer your SEVIS record to another school or begin study at another educational level with a new I-20 whichever occurs earliest.

Change of Address During the Application Process for OPT

If you move during the processing of your OPT application to an address not in your application materials, within 10 days of the move, submit the information to both places listed below:

  • USCIS — using Electronic AR-11 to inform those processing your application of your new address.

  • UAFS — by email to update your personal information which also automatically updates your address in the SEVIS database. Submitting #1 does not update #2. Remember: You must update to UAFS within 10 days of any address change.

Following are general guidelines and requirements for travel and reentry for F-1 students. Because individual circumstances vary, consult with your international student advisor, embassy, or legal advisor before traveling.
 
Inside the U.S.
Special permission is not required for you to travel within the U.S.
  • Whenever you travel outside the Fort Smith area, you are advised to carry your
    • Passport/Visa
    • Form I-94 
    • Form I-20
Outside the U.S.
Documents required for travel, unless otherwise noted, include:
  • Visa — must be valid and allow further entries
  • Passport — Must be valid for at least six months into the future; however, some passports are only required to be valid when you enter the U.S.
  • Form I-20 that:
    • Is issued by UAFS
    • Is current
    • Contains an endorsement signature from International Relations for travel on page 2
    • Current financial documentation issued within the last four months
    • Proof of full-time enrollment — provided by the Registrar's Office upon your request.
  • F-1 Continuing Students
    • You and your dependents are permitted to leave the U.S. and re-enter in your same status providing you have the proper documentation listed above.
    • If you are not traveling to your home country, you should check the requirements of the country you are visiting. Some countries will require a visa. You may also need an in-transit visa for countries where you are making a connecting flight. Most countries have immigration websites that provide visa information.
  • Dependents
    • Entry requirements for any of your dependents are essentially the same as for you.
    • Each dependent must carry their original Form I-20.
    • If traveling separately from you (the principal visa holder) your dependents should also carry a photocopy of your visa, Form I-94, and Form I-20.
  • Extended Stays Outside the U.S.
    • If you will be outside of the U.S. for more than five months, you will be required to get a new Form I-20 from International Relations prior to returning to the U.S. Regulations state that a stay outside the U.S. for five months is considered a break in F-1 status.
  • Third Country Travel
    • When traveling to a third country (a country other than the U.S. or your home country), you are responsible for knowing whether you need an entry visa for that country.
    • Canada — Persons from many countries are required to obtain a Canadian entry visa when entering Canada from the United States. Visas may be obtained from the Canadian Consulate General. Consult the Canadian Consulate General for visa regulations concerning your country before making travel arrangements.
    • Mexico — Tourist cards or visas may be required for travel to Mexico.
  • If you have a pending application for immigration benefits or for a change in non-immigrant status, you will most likely need to contact USCIS directly to determine what documents or proof you need.
Travel while on Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Required Documents
    • Your Form I-20 must be endorsed within the past six months
    • When you have applied for OPT but have not yet received your EAD, travel is not recommended.
    • When you travel after receiving your EAD, take your EAD card and a letter from employer confirming that you are employed or have been offered employment
  • General Guidance
    • If you have both an EAD for OPT and a job or job offer, you should not experience difficulty reentering the United States.
    • If either of these two conditions is missing, then you are assuming risk when you travel.
    • You may not re-enter during the 60-day grace period after completing your program or OPT.
    • If you require a new visa, there is no guarantee that you will be readmitted.
Re-Entry for F-1 Nonimmigrants Traveling Outside the United States (ICE)

Before you travel you must obtain a travel signature from the Office of International Relations two weeks prior to leaving in order to re-enter the United States. Please note that you need a valid visa and must obtain a valid passport, at least six months into the future, to travel out the United States. If your passport has expired, contact your country's embassy in the United States to determine the procedure for obtaining a new passport. We highly recommend to renew your passport six months prior to the expiration date. Make sure that you present your I-20 to be admitted as an F-1 student and not a visitor. See the ICE website travel section for more information.

An F-1 student may transfer between SEVP-certified schools. The transfer process is a way to electronically move Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records, your I-20, and retain the same SEVID identification (ID) number for the student.
 
You must maintain F-1 status at your school by pursuing a full course of study or engaging in post-completion optional practical training (OPT) until the transfer release date.
 

Transfer Out Process

You must be accepted by another SEVP-certified school. You should bring the following information to the Office of International Relations:

  • UAFS Transfer Out Form
  • Copy of your acceptance letter to the new school.
  • Contact information for the new school’s DSO
  • SEVIS school code for the transfer-in school to ensure transfer to the correct school

The Office of International Relations will work with any transferring out students to choose a transfer release date.

Things to consider for selecting SEVIS release date:

  • Academic needs
  • Travel and employment plans
  • Projected start date of your new program

Once your transfer release date arrives, UAFS will not have access to your SEVIS record, and your new DSO can create a new Form I-20. To maintain your status, register for classes, and contact your new DSO within 15 days of the program start date listed on your new Form I-20.

Transfer In Process

You must:

  • Be accepted by UAFS
  • Report to UAFS within 15 days of the program start date.
    • You must enroll in a full course of study and begin classes on the initial start date listed on your I-20 issued by UAFS.
    • You must begin classes at UAFS on the next available term or within five months of your last day of classes at your current school, whichever is sooner, or within five months of the program completion date on your current Form I-20.
  • Complete a Transfer In Formand submit it to the UAFS International Relations. International Relations will then be able to create a new I-20 upon transfer release date.