How to Maintain Your Immigration Status:
- F-1 visa Students must be enrolled full-time. This means at least 9 credits for graduate Pathway students, and at least 12 credits for undergraduate Pathway students. Academic English student must be enrolled in 21 hours of class time. Do not withdraw from your classes without speaking with the International Student Advisor/DSO. See exceptions below.
- Remain in good academic standing: Attend class sessions, participate in class discussions, and complete all assignments.
- Update a change of address within 10 days of moving. You can do this in RamWeb.
Students who require additional time to complete their academic objectives may be granted an extension. Students may be required to provide additional proof of funding at the time of the extension request, so plan ahead!
Program extensions must be submitted prior to the I-20 program end date. A program extension cannot be granted for students who apply for an extension after the program end date noted on the I-20.
Exceptions to the Full-Time Enrollment Requirement
A student may be authorized to drop below full time status for medical or academic reasons. If you are experiencing a medical restriction to the full study requirement, please meet with the International Student Advisor/DSO to discuss your options for a reduced course load.
If you have an academic objection to the full course requirement, such as difficulty with the language or course placement, you may be able to withdraw from a portion of your courses.
In the case of medical or academic reasons, do not drop below full time status without speaking to the International Student Advisor/DSO first. Doing so may result in the termination of your immigration status. If you are considering dropping below full-time status, please meet with the International Student Advisor/DSO as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Transferring Your SEVIS Record
In order to transfer your SEVIS record to another college or university within the United States, you must notify the International Student Advisor/DSO in advance. By transferring your SEVIS record, you will avoid paying the I-901 SEVIS fee again. Before an advisor can transfer your record, you must complete the following:
- Provide a copy of the admission letter from your new school.
- Contact the International Student Advisor/DSO and complete the INTO CSU Transfer Out Form.
- Your new school may also require a transfer form to be completed by the INTO CSU International Student Advisor/DSO. Please consult with your new school’s admissions contact.
Please meet with the International Student Advisor/DSO to discuss your transfer options.
Passport and Visa Renewal:
Before you enter the United States, ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the date you enter.
Keep your passport current at all times. You must determine your home country’s requirements and timelines for renewing passports. Some countries will allow you to renew your passport while in the United States, while others require you to renew your passport in person in your home country.
You are not able to re-enter the United States without a valid passport.
If your expired passport has a valid visa, you can still use that visa if you kept the old passport. Present the old passport, along with the new passport when you re-enter the country.
If your F-1 visa expires while you are in the United States, you must obtain a new F-1 visa in order to re-enter the United States in F-1 status.
You can stay in the United States on an expired F-1 visa as long as you maintain your F-1 immigration status. However, if you are returning home or traveling to a country where automatic revalidation does not apply, you must obtain a valid visa in order to return to the United States.
Ensure that you have all the documentation you need for your visa application and allow sufficient time for processing a new visa. The documentation you may need for a new visa includes, but is not limited to the following:
- A valid I-20 with travel authorization signature on page 2. See the International Student Advisor/DSO before you travel.
- Original evidence showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses for the first year of your program.
- Evidence showing your intention to return to your home country upon program completion, including evidence of compelling social and economic ties to your home country.
The Department of State recommends that you apply for a visa in your home country. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website.
There are four primary immigration documents.
- Your passport must be valid at all times while in the USA.
- It should be valid 6 months into the future, at minimum. Know your passport’s expiration date.
- You must renew your passport with your home country’s embassy or consulate a minimum of 6 months PRIOR to the expiration date.
- Report a lost or stolen passport to the police department, and notify the International Student Advisor/DSO.
Your visa is your “key” to successful admission at the port of entry when entering the United States. You can find more information on the Department of State website.
Visa Expiration Date – The visa expiration date is shown on the visa along with the visa issuance date. The time between visa issuance and expiration date is your visa validity. The visa validity is the length of time you are permitted to travel through a port-of-entry into the United States.
Visa length and number of entries permitted vary by country. A visa issued for limited entries, found on the visa under “Entries” with a number, is valid for that number of entries to the USA during the visa validity. A visa issued for multiple entries, indicated by the letter with M for multiple entries, is valid for unlimited entries during the visa validity.
Please be aware: a visa does not guarantee entry to the United States.
Entry and the length of authorized stay within the United States are determined by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the port-of-entry each time you travel. More information can be found at the USA Department of State website: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange/student.html
- Your I-94 is located online at the Customs and Border Protection website: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html
- A valid I-94 admission number is required to enter and remain in the USA
You will need to provide your I-94 number when applying for a driver’s license, state identification card, or a social security number.
I-20 (F-1 Only)
- The I-20 document grants legal status for students studying in the USA and is required for every student with an F visa.
- Your current I-20 was issued to you by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services at CSU.
- You will receive a new I-20 when you:
- change your major
- change a level of education (i.e. from Pathway to Master’s Degree)
- Extend or shorten your academic program
- Add or remove dependents (F-2)
- If you have questions about your I-20, come and speak with the International Student Advisor/DSO during walk in hours.
- A valid I-20 is necessary to enter and remain legally in the USA.
- Always remember to keep all of your I-20 documents. It is important that you maintain a record of your immigration documents for future educational and employment pursuits.
- If your I-20 is lost, stolen, or damaged, please notify the International Student Advisor/DSO immediately.
DS-2019 (J-1 Only)
- The DS-2019 document grants legal status for students and scholars studying in the USA and is required for every student and scholar with a J visa
- Your DS-2019 was issued to you by your program sponsor or the Office of International Student and Scholar Services at CSU.
- You will receive a new DS-2019 when you:
- Change your major
- Change a level of education (if you are changing to a degree program at CSU, you will also need to travel outside the USA and obtain a new visa)
- Extend your academic program
- Add or remove dependents (J-2)
- If you have questions about your DS-2019, come and speak with the International Student Advisor/DSO during walk in hours.
- A valid DS-2019 is necessary to enter and remain legally in the USA
- Keep all of your DS-2019 documents. It is important you maintain a record of your immigration documents for future educational and employment pursuits.
- If your DS-2019 is lost, stolen, or damaged, please notify the International Student Advisor/DSO immediately.
If you have questions or concerns related to your immigration status and would like to speak with someone, you can go to open advising hours on campus at the Office of International Programs every weekday morning and afternoon. A different advisor is on duty each day. You will sign-in on an ipad and can view hours here: http://isss.colostate.edu/isss-advising-hours
Additionally, you can complete the “Ask an Advisor” form, which provides a quick response time: http://isss.colostate.edu/ask-an-advisor
You can also email general questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Traveling and Re-Entry:
Vacation or Leave of Absence
Students who wish to leave the USA temporarily and return to continue studies at INTO CSU must notify the International Student Advisor/DSO of travel plans to ensure your valid status upon re-entry to the USA.
If previously enrolled, students may use the summer term as an annual vacation. However, F-1 students must be enrolled during the fall and spring semesters full-time.
Traveling Outside the United States
Before traveling to a third country, check to see that you have the appropriate visa required.
Traveling to Mexico or Canada
Since Mexico and Canada share land borders with the United States, many students may not think of inquiring about entry requirements. Mexico and Canada have distinct entry requirements, which must be investigated by F-1 students and their families, just like any other country. You may return to the U.S. with an expired visa after travel to Mexico or Canada if you meet the automatic revalidation requirements. More information can be found at the respective embassy websites. See the International Student Advisor/DSO if you have questions about travel.
Re-Entry to the USA After School Breaks
Students should have the following to re-enter the USA:
- I-20 endorsed for travel on page 2 by your International Student Advisor/DSO
- Travel signatures are valid for 6 months – check with the International Student Advisor/DSO to determine whether you need a new signature on your I-20
- A current passport valid 6 months after the date you re-enter
- A valid, current visa
- Financial information showing proof of funding to cover tuition and living expenses
If you remain outside the USA for more than 5 months, you must obtain a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID, and pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again. If you have any concerns or questions regarding your travel, please plan ahead and see your International Student Advisor/DSO. The advisor will be able to verify that your SEVIS record is accurate and up-to-date.
Questions to Ask Before Traveling
If you plan on traveling outside of the United States and are re-entering on your F-1 student visa, there are several questions you should ask before you travel:
- Is my passport expiring soon?
- You should not travel outside of the USA if your passport is set to expire within 6 months. Please check with your embassy on how to renew your passport.
- Do I have a valid visa with sufficient remaining entries to re-enter the United States?
- You must have a valid visa to re-enter the United States. Check to see how many entries you are permitted.
- Do I need a travel signature?
- F-1 students who are planning to travel outside of the USA will need to have their International Student Advisor/DSO sign their I-20 on page 2 before travel. This signature is valid for 6 months. Please bring your I-20 to Spruce Hall at least 1 week before your travel date in order to obtain a signature.
- Am I returning to CSU after my travels?
- If you are not returning to the United States after your travels, you do not need a travel signature. If you are transferring to another school after your travels, please work with the International Student Advisor/DSO and your new school to coordinate your travel with your I-20.
- Is my program end date approaching?
- If you need additional time to complete your program, complete and submit an extension request form before the end date on your I-20.
- Do I need a tourist visa to enter the country I am traveling to?
- It is your responsibility to check which countries will require a visa and to obtain the proper documentation to travel to that country.
Social Security Number (SSN):
Why You May Need a Social Security Number (SSN)
F-1 visa holders may work on campus for 20 hours/week during school sessions, and up to 40 hours/week during breaks. You must have a SSN to get paid and to complete the required income tax return. You may begin working immediately after you apply.
In the past, a social security number was used in a variety of ways listed below. Non-residents are no longer able to receive a SSN for these purposes:
- Credit card applications
- Opening bank accounts
- Phone or utility services and contracts
- Housing rentals
- Applying for a driver’s license or state ID card
- Credit reports
- As a secondary form of ID for a wide variety of uses
Students without a job are not eligible for a social security number.
How to Get a Social Security Number
Bring the following documents to the Social Security office to apply for a Social Security card (photocopies will not be accepted):
- Completed application for Social Security Number (Form SS-5)
- Original I-20 or DS-2019
- Valid passport with F-1 visa
- Current I-94 Arrival / Departure Form
- Letter from INTO CSU International Student Advisor/DSO
- Job offer letter from the department
Applicants for a Social Security card should be in the United States a minimum of ten (10) days before going to the Social Security office to apply.
More information about obtaining your Social Security Number is available at the Office of International Programs office at CSU.
It is recommended you get a Colorado driver’s license if you plan to drive while living in Colorado.
International students in Colorado receive a driver’s license that states “not valid for federal identification, voting, or public benefit purposes.”
- If you plan to travel on a plane or enter a federal building, you should take your passport.
- You can use a driver’s license or Colorado State ID to enter a bar.
Applicants for a driver’s license or Colorado State ID should be in the United States a minimum of ten (10) days before going to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to apply.