Adjusting to life in the United States may have its ups and downs for students coming from other countries. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) provides advice and guidance to help ease their process of adjustment to a new environment.
Fei Tian College is authorized under United States federal law to enroll eligible nonimmigrant students under the F-1 category. The Office of International Services (OIS) is designated to help international students maintain status. This section gives a basic outline of the procedures and requirements to study at the College in F-1 status.
Coming to Fei Tian as an International Student
In addition to the normal admission standards and procedures, the special considerations listed just below are given to international applicants.
Transcripts and pertinent medical records must be translated into English before submission. Other information, such as English as a Second Language (ESL) test score reports, that may be helpful in determining the grade and academic course level placement at the College should also be included.
An audition is normally required of all students who apply, including those applying from abroad. However, with prior approval from the College, international applicants may send samples or videotapes of their performances in lieu of an audition.
The following steps outline the general process for a new international student:
- The College determines whether the student meets admission requirements.
- Upon acceptance, the student must submit an I-20 Application (see below, if the student is transferring from an SEVP-approved school) to the College.
- Upon approval, the College creates an initial SEVIS record for the student and sends him or her a College Form I-20. The student should sign the I-20 immediately.
- The student pays the I-901 SEVIS Fee. Refer to the website ice.gov/sevis for some common questions and answers about the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
- The student must apply for an F-1 student visa if he or she is not currently in the United States and not from a visa-exempt country.
- A US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer at the US Port of Entry will confirm through SEVIS that the student’s enrollment at the College is valid and will create or update his or her I-94 Record to indicate entry into the US in “F-1” status for “D/S” (duration of status).
- After arriving in the US, students must report to OIS within 30 days of the program start date that appears on their Form I-20 to register for courses or to validate their intended participation at the College. Failure to do so may invalidate their legal status in the US.
- All students whose native language is not English are given a placement test to assess their fluency.
- It is important that students keep their passports and all of their I-20s, and any other travel documents in a safe place and be aware of their expiration dates.
Applying for a Student Visa
Nonimmigrant students who are not in the United States and not from a visa-exempt country must apply for an F-1 student visa at their local US consulate abroad. Students should bring several items to their interview:
- Fei Tian College Catalog
- The signed Form I-20 from Fei Tian College
- I-901 SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt, indicating that the fee has been paid
- A signed passport valid for at least six months after the intended date of entry into the United States
- DS-160 online visa application confirmation page
- One passport-style photo taken within the last six months
- Official diplomas and transcripts from institutions previously attended
- Score reports from standardized tests, such as TOEFL, SAT, IB, AP
- Documentation of sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses for at least the first year of study, including any scholarship letters
Students from visa-exempt countries need not apply for visas at their local US consulates, and should instead bring the relevant documents to the US Port of Entry and apply for F-1 nonimmigrant student status upon entering the US.
F-1 Transfer Students
F-1 students currently studying at an SEVP-approved US institution and who intend to begin full-time studies at Fei Tian College must pre-arrange to have their F-1 records transferred to Fei Tian College. In addition to the normal application package, F-1 transfer students must submit a completed F-1 SEVIS Record Transfer Request Form.
Contact the OIS for detailed instructions.
Maintenance of Status
Upon entry to the US in F-1 status, an international student must maintain lawful status. The F-1 regulations begin immediately upon entry and continue until final departure or adjustment of status.
F-1 students must comply with the following requirements in order to maintain lawful status:
- Report to the Office of International Services (OIS) within 30 days of the program start date that appears on the Form I-20.
- Register for full-time studies. Not keeping a full course load at all times could result in severe consequences. If you have questions or a special situation, please contact OIS immediately.
- Obtain a new Form I-20 for a change in educational level of study.
- Abide by the F-1 grace period regulations (see below).
- Report a change in name, address, or contact information to OIS within 10 days of the change.
- Maintain a valid passport.
- Refrain from unauthorized employment.
- Make satisfactory progress in a program of study.
- Apply for a timely extension of stay if applicable.
Depart the US, transfer programs, or adjust status in a timely manner.
After a student has completed a course of study and any authorized practical training following completion of studies, he or she has 60 days in order to depart the US, transfer programs, or file for an adjustment of status.
A student who has been authorized by OIS to withdraw early from classes has 15 days to depart the United States.
Students who withdraw from a course of study without prior approval from OIS are not granted any grace period.
Dropping to Part-Time Enrollment without Prior Approval
Students will not be able to drop below a full course of study without prior authorization from the OIS. If a student drops below a full course load without specific permission from the OIS prior to dropping the course(s), that student will be reported as out of status immediately and may then be subject to reinstatement and/or deportation.
If a student intends to take a leave of absence for more than 15 days during a registered semester, he or she must seek prior approval from OIS. If the leave of absence is for medical reasons, the student has the option to return to his or her home country or remain in the US to receive medical treatment for up to one year; otherwise, the student must leave the US within 15 days of the grant of approval.
If a student intends to depart the US for more than five months during any time of year for non-academic reasons (personal or family leave, non-academic employment), he or she must contact OIS 15 days before departure. The student’s current I-20 will then become invalid. He or she must contact OIS to create a completely new SEVIS record and issue a new I-20 two months prior to returning to the US.
Before leaving on a trip outside the US, a student should check the expiration date of his or her F-1 visa. If the visa is expired or will expire while the student is abroad, he or she may need to renew it while abroad.
Course Work Outside the United States
Students who will be outside of the US for an extended period of time for activities related to their course of study may retain F-1 student status but must maintain full-time registration during all regularly enrolled semesters. Registration during the optional third semester is not required.
There are other matters that may affect students’ F-1 status, such as adjustment of status, withdrawal from a registered program of study, and transfer to another institution. Always consult OIS on such matters.
Failure to Maintain Status
Examples of failure to maintain status include but are not limited to:
- Drop from full-time to part-time enrollment without prior approval from OIS
- Attend a school other than the one a student is authorized to attend
- Failure to apply for a timely I-20 extension or change in educational level
- Unauthorized employment
- Failure to report a change of name, address, or contact information
All students’ records will be updated in SEVIS each semester. Students who fail to maintain status will lose the privileges of their student status and become subject to deportation.
International Student Employment
Employment eligibility and options for F-1 students are limited by US immigration regulations and are available only to students who have maintained lawful status and are in good academic standing.
In all cases, students are required to obtain prior written authorization from OIS and in some cases also the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before beginning employment. Students should not work without the appropriate authorization. Failure to obtain prior authorization constitutes a serious violation of US immigration regulations.