It's imperative that students follow specific guidelines to maintain their status while studying in the U.S. Select a heading below for additional information.




arrival and Sevis reporting
Course Enrollment
Record Keeping
employment
Program completion and departure


ARRIVAL AND REPORTING

Students may enter the United States no more than 30 days before the program of study begins.

SEVIS requires students to contact their Designated School Official (DSO) to meet reporting requirements within 10 days of arrival into the country. At Sewanee, we use an online form, and you are emailed a link at the beginning of every semester. To complete the online form, you must log into Gmail using your Sewanee ID. You must provide your current phone number and physical address in the U.S., as well as upload images of your immigration documents to the online form. The uploaded images can be scans or high quality digital photos from your camera, smart phone, computer's internal webcam, or tablet. If you don't have a way to create scans of your documents, the Office of Global Citizenship has a computer/scanner in our office that you can use during office hours.

In addition to reporting at the beginning of every semester, international students are required to notify the DSO if they want to make any of the following changes:

  • Extend or shorten their Program End Date
  • Change their Program of Study (Major/Minor)
  • Drop below full-time enrollment
  • Change their level of education (undergraduate, graduate, doctoral)
  • Change their local address
  • Secure on-campus employment
  • Enroll in a course at another SEVP-approved university
  • Apply for Curricular Practical Training
  • Transfer to new university or take a leave of absence
  • Change your major, program, or degree level.

course enrollment

International students must maintain full-time enrollment during the fall and spring semesters.

  • Undergraduate students must enroll in at least 12 credit hours each semester during the fall and spring.
  • Graduate students must enroll in at least 9 credit hours during the fall and spring.
  • Summer registration is optional, unless you begin or end your studies during the summer.
  • Students must enroll in courses that meet on-campus. If students wish to enroll in online or hybrid courses, they can only enroll in one of these courses each semester.

Students must maintain a sufficient GPA and forward progress toward program completion in order to remain in good standing at Sewanee. If students are placed on academic or disciplinary suspension, their I-20 will be terminated; they will fall out of status; and they will be required to return to their home country immediately.

Record Keeping

Do not let your I-20 or passport expire. If you cannot complete your studies by the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019, you must request an extension of your document before it expires. Similarly, students should ensure that their passports are valid for six months in the future at all times. Contact your home country consulate or embassy for information on extending the validity of your passport.

International students should place their original documents (passport, visa, I-20/DS-2019) in a safe, secure place, and they should have copies of their documents readily available. If you receive a new I-20, you must keep the original copy of any I-20s you were issued in the past.

If you plan to travel outside of the United States, you need to ensure that the travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 is less than one year old. It is your responsibility to request a new signature once the older one is expired.

Employment

"Employment" is any type of work performed, or services provided, in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, lodging, or for any other benefit. The U.S. government has a wide definition of 'employment', so it is very important to understand the work authorization options for your visa and have any necessary approvals/documentation before you begin work. If international students work without authorization, they can fall out of status and risk deportation from the United States.

on-campus employment

Students who are maintaining F-1/J-1 status are eligible to work on campus while they remain students at the University. International students are permitted to work on campus no more than 20 hours/week during the fall and spring semesters. Students may work 40 hours/week during university breaks (e.g. summer, winter, fall, and spring). International students are not permitted to work off-campus.

'On campus employment' is work that is paid for directly by Sewanee or an approved, close educational affiliate, and it does not usually need Office of Global Citizenship approval. For immigration purposes, 'on campus employment' is quite narrowly defined. 'On campus employment' includes:

  • Work done on campus and paid for by the University directly
  • Work done at an off campus location that is paid for by the University directly (such as research at Sewanee facility in a different city)
  • Work done on school premises that provides direct service to students (such as working in the bookstore or McClurg)
  • Work performed on or off campus at an approved, close educational affiliate of the University may also be accepted. You must meet with the Office of Global Citizenship before accepting this kind of employment.

Before beginning work of any kind, international students must have a social security card. Visit our Social Security Page for more information about applying for a Social Security Card.

unpaid internships and volunteering

Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns without additional authorization, where this practice does not violate U.S. labor law. Refusing or delaying payment to make a position "unpaid" is considered a violation of your F-1 or J-1 student status.

Unpaid internships are a very specific type of opportunity in labor law that is of benefit to the intern and not necessarily the company. With bona fide unpaid internships, neither an international or domestic student would get paid. If you are changing anything about the opportunity to “make” it an unpaid internship, or if you will eventually get paid for doing the same job, then it is most likely not a bona fide unpaid internship and you would need approved work authorization to do it. If it is truly an unpaid internship, you do not need work authorization for it. It is recommended that you keep thorough documentation, such as a copy of the original position posting and/or a letter from the organization, showing that the position is a true unpaid internship or volunteer opportunity. See the Department of Labor Unpaid Internship Factsheet for more information.

Any potential unpaid work for a Sewanee faculty member or department must also meet the unpaid work criteria stipulated on the Department of Labor fact sheet listed above. If you are offered an unpaid research opportunity at Sewanee, you must check with the Department Chair to confirm: 1) Whether or not it is a bona fide unpaid internship opportunity, and 2) Whether or not the proposed unpaid employment would violate labor law.

A student who receives a grant, stipend or scholarship is not considered to be employed under that award, even if service, research, or other requirements are a condition of the award being made.

off-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT

F-1 international students are only able to work off-campus with USCIS approval. After they have been enrolled for one academic year, students may apply for Curricular Practical Training or Severe Economic Hardship Employment.

Curricular Practical Training allows students to work off-campus through internships related to their course of study. Students must complete the Curricular Practical Training packet and submit it to the DSO or PDSO.

Severe Economic Hardship Employment is only available to students in extreme situations which have caused severe economic hardship. These may include:

  • A loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student
  • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
  • Inordinate increases in tuition and /or living costs
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
    Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]

You are eligible to apply for employment based on severe economic hardship if:

  • You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year
  • You are in good academic standing and are taking a full course load
  • Employment will not interfere with your studies
  • Other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient
  • You can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control

If you believe you are eligible to apply, please contact the Office of Global Citizenship.

finding a job

On-campus jobs, internships, and research fellowships can be found through your department, by networking with professors and friends, and through HandShake. Review the jobs closely to see which opportunities are considered 'on campus' for immigration purposes, and which are off campus and will require CPT authorization.

To further assist international students with their job search, the University also works with Interstride, a career search platform for international students and students who are interested in working internationally. Some of the features of Interstride include:

  • Jobs - A job and internship aggregator to search opportunities at H1-B sponsoring employers in the U.S. or at companies and organizations abroad.
  • Country Insights - Guides to numerous countries overseas with links to health and safety information, job postings, and more.
  • Resources and Webinars - Information and advice on interviewing, navigating cross-cultural differences, interpersonal communication and networking, assimilating into professional culture in another country, etc.

To set up an account with Interstride, please do the following:

  1. Go to web.interstride.com and enter your university email. The system will trigger a verification email.
  2. Go to your inbox and click on the verification link.

Before applying for any job, we highly recommend utilizing the resources at the Career Center. The staff there can help students with job searching, creating resumes and cover letters, interviewing skills, applying to graduate school, and much more!

Program completion

F-1 students generally have 60 days to depart the US after the completion of their program or any Optional Practical Training. The end date is listed on the student's I-20. If they wish to extend their stay in the United States, students should talk with their DSO to learn more about doing one of the following:

  • Transferring to another school
  • Changing education level (e.g. bachelor’s to master’s)
  • Applying to change status to another visa status (e.g. H-1B-temporary worker; O-extraordinary ability in science, art or business; P-athlete).