The F regulations are immediately effective upon your entry to the US until your final departure. To maintain lawful status, an F-1 student must comply with the following requirements:
Biola University has issued you a Form I-20. Keep this copy of the I-20 with you at all times during foreign travel. You must have your copy signed on page 2 by SIS each time before departing from the United States. Students will be given a new I-20 on different occasions depending on the need, and each I-20 is considered as an important document and nothing should be thrown away as “old” or “not needed.”
Upon your entry to the United States, the Immigration officer at the airport will scan your passport, generating an electronic arrival record with data elements found on the current paper Form I-94. Thus you are assigned an Electronic Admission (I-94) number, which you can retrieve at www.cbp.gov/i94 by providing the required personal and entry information as it appears on your travel document. Students are required to print their electronic I-94 to give a copy to SIS while giving their immigration documents during the initial visit. You may also need it to obtain a driver’s license or a Social Security number for employment purposes.
You must maintain a valid passport at all times. Your passport must always be valid for at least six months after the date you enter or re-enter. If your passport is about to expire, contact the consulate or embassy of your country in the United States immediately and inquire about application procedures for extension or to obtain a new passport. The alternative is to renew your passport during your visit to your home country. If your country’s consulate requires proof that you are a registered student at Biola, the Registrar’s Office can provide documentation of your status at the university.
The visa is a multi-colored stamp on a page inside your passport issued by the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country allowing entry to the United States. It is a permit for single or multiple entries into the United States according to the terms and expiration date indicated on the individual visa.
An F-1 student is permitted to stay within the United States with an expired visa stamp in his/her passport, as long as the passport, I-94, and I-20 are still valid and he/she is maintaining legal status. If the visa stamp is expired, a student must apply for a new visa stamp while outside the United States if he/she leaves and wishes to re-enter the country. There is no problem staying in the United States with an expired visa as long as you are maintaining your F-1 status.
If a valid visa is in your old expired passport, you can use it if you have kept the old passport. Present the old passport along with the new passport when you reenter the country.
You are expected to carefully retain all your original I-20s. All I-20s are needed for any inspection or adjudication purposes of USCIS. If you have lost your I-20, contact SIS to have a replacement Form I-20 issued.
Contact your home country’s embassy immediately to apply for a new passport. Details about your embassy and application procedures for a new passport may be available on the Internet.
Meet with Student Immigration Services if your Social Security Card gets lost or stolen. You may have to go to the Social Security Administration Office in Whittier to get a replacement card.
During the following situations, F-1 students are considered to be maintaining status even if they are not registered for a full course of study.
A student may fail to maintain status for reasons such as dropping below full-time enrollment without prior approval from SIS, failure to make normal progress in the program, failure to apply for a timely transfer, not extending the I-20 before expiration, engaging in unauthorized employment and so on.
Students who fail to maintain status lose the privileges of their student visa. Their SEVIS record will be terminated, causing extreme hardship to them. They cannot continue their study in the US unless they apply for reinstatement with the USCIS for approval to regain status.
A student who has failed to maintain status may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but only under the limited conditions specified in 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(16).
The student has not been out of status for more than 5 months prior to filing for reinstatement (unless he/she can show that there were exceptional circumstances that prevented the student from filing during the 5-month period).
F-1 students who have lost their legal status can apply for reinstatement at the USCIS by mailing the applications for reinstatement. Contact SIS for details.
The student should establish convincingly to the USCIS that the violation of status has resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control.
If the reinstatement application is approved, the adjudicating officer updates the student’s SEVIS record to indicate that reinstatement is approved. The student should then meet with SIS to have his/her registration dates updated in SEVIS.
If the reinstatement application is denied, the denial cannot be appealed and the student must leave the US at once with no grace period.
Concurrent enrollment refers to attendance at another institution other than Biola University. You may enroll in courses at other schools during the academic year, but you must be enrolled in a full-time course load at Biola concurrently, unless Biola is not in session at that time, i.e., during summer. The student needs a letter of approval from SIS stating that the student holds full-time status with Biola and is only interested in enrolling at the other institution for a particular course or summer school, and intends to continue his/her full-time studies at Biola. The student must also receive approval to enroll in a class at the other institution and verify that the intended course(s) is considered as a transferable course to Biola and will be applied towards the student’s program.
A student is required to apply for an extension of program of study if he/she does not complete an educational program within the time specified on his/her initial Form I-20. Acceptable academic delays include:
For academic delays, it is advisable to have documentation from the academic adviser confirming the reason and the expected date of completion. Delays caused by medical reasons require documentation from a physician. Delays caused by academic probation or suspensions are not acceptable reasons for program extensions. If the student changes degree levels within Biola University, a new I-20 is issued by the Admissions and a length of period needed to complete the new program are given. Students must apply for a program extension well before the completion date on the I-20. Otherwise, the student will be considered out of status and will need to apply for reinstatement. For further details regarding program extension, contact SIS.
Any change in major must be reported to within the first two weeks of the semester to the Registrar’s Office, as well as SIS. This is a requirement of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
F-2 spouses may not engage in full-time study, but only in part time study that is any number of
credits less than full-time study. The department of Homeland Security had amended its regulations in May 2015 to include this part time provision of study to F-2 dependents. If they want to study full-time, then they need to apply and get approval for change of status to F-1. They may also choose to do avocational or recreational, which means a study undertaken for a hobby or if the study is that of an occasional, casual or recreational nature.
If you have lawfully transferred schools while in the US, your visa will still specify the school for which it was initially issued. In this instance, you may travel and re-enter with an unexpired F-1 visa and Form I-20 from the new school without having the new school’s name annotated on the visa. For re-entry, a student must have a Form I-20 endorsed for travel by SIS within the preceding 5 months.
If a student fails to maintain status, withdraws from school, or otherwise terminates or interrupts his/her course of studies without first obtaining approval from the Registrar, the student is not eligible for any grace period, and will be considered under the regulations to be out of status.