Maintaining Status for F-1 International Students
Rules and Regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Failure to follow these rules could result in dismissal and loss of student status. Designated School Officials (DSO’s) in the Office of International Student Services are required to enforce these regulations.
Primary Responsibilities of the Student
Records of International Students at Liberty University are maintained on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and reported to the USCIS. To abide by USCIS regulations and Liberty University policies while an international student, you must do the following:
Keep your Passport valid at all times. To renew an expired passport, you must return to your home country or visit the nearest embassy of your home country.
- Form I-20
You must have a valid, non-expired Form I-20 at all times to maintain your student status with the USCIS. Students are usually admitted for "Duration of Status." ("D\S" is stamped on your I-94 card in your passport.) This status is valid for as long as you are a full-time student until the "Complete Studies" date on Item 5 of your I-20.
*the length of you I-20 is NINE semesters - this is to allow extra time for you to finish your degree. However, your scholarships are only good for EIGHT semesters. If it takes you longer than eight semesters to graduate, you will not receive your scholarships.
Your visa can expire while you are in the Unites States. It is only when you leave the United States that you need to apply for another visa. The visa is only a key to ENTER the United States. Your I-20 and your I-94 card are what keep you here legally, NOT your visa.
- Full-time Enrollment
You must be enrolled full-time each fall and spring semester. You must have permission in advance from the Office of International Student Services to drop below full-time enrollment for any reason. Failure to do so will cause you to fall out of status. You may not drop below full-time even after the Add/Drop Period.
You are not required to be enrolled during the summer term. You may enroll for less than full-time during your final semester in a degree program only after completing a request form and receiving approval from the DSO prior to the beginning your final semester.
Full-time enrollment is:
- Twelve (12) hours per semester for undergraduates
- Nine (9) hours per semester for graduate or divinity students
- Six (6) hours per “term” for D.Min. or PhD program students.
- Online Courses
Only one (1) online class may be counted towards your full-time load during the fall and spring semesters. However, once your full-time load requirement is met for a given semester, you may take as many distance learning courses as you wish.
- Local Address
If you move or live off campus, you must notify the Office of International Student Services anytime your address changes. Liberty must maintain a correct address on SEVIS.
- Travel Outside the US
When you leave the United States for a temporary absence, you should take with you your passport, I-94 card, and I-20 form signed on the 3rd page by a Designated School Official. This signature is valid for one year while you are a student, but only for six months if you are Canadian or are on Optional Practical Training (OPT). It is recommended that you also take along a copy of your transcript and your student ID card. You always need a valid Student (F-1) Visa to re-enter the United States. If your visa has expired, you should include a visit to the U.S. Consulate in your travel plans.
- Off-Campus Employment
Work authorization granted only by USCIS is required to work off campus. You may not apply for off-campus work authorization during your first year at Liberty on F-1 status.
- On-Campus Employment
You may not work more than a total of eighteen (18) hours per week any time school is in session (fall & spring semesters). You may work as many hours as your department allows during the summer months and whenever school is not in session (e.g. Christmas break, fall break).
- Social Security Number
You must apply for a Social Security Number to work on or off campus. To apply for a Social Security Number, you must first have a job offer. The Human Resources Office will help you apply for a Social Security number once you have a job offer.
ALL international students must file with the Internal Revenue Service by APRIL 15th each year. If you work in the United States you must complete all required income tax forms for both federal and state reporting of your income after the end of each year. If you don't work, you still must file Form 8843 with the IRS.
Your dependents (spouse, children) in F-2 Status may not enroll full-time. They must apply for a status change to F-1 to be a full-time student at Liberty. Spouses and children in F-2 status may not be employed unless the spouse has work authorization from USCIS.
- Extension of Stay
If you find that you must extend your stay at Liberty beyond the date specified by Item 5 on your Form I-20, you must submit an Application for Program Extension to the Designated School Official 30 days before the expected completion date. (Extension of stay will only be approved by the DSO for academic or medical reasons that were unforeseen and not under the control of the student.) Failure to do this will put you out of status with USCIS.
- Transfer to Another School
If you desire to transfer to another school, including attending another school, including attending another school following graduation from Liberty University, you must meet with your Foreign Student Advisor to begin the transfer process.
Responsibilities of the University
Liberty University is required by law to notify USCIS when a student has failed to maintain status, violated immigration laws in any way, changed status, or is no longer attending school. Liberty may refuse admission to students who have not met USCIS requirements for F-l status.