F-1 Visa and Immigration Information
As an F-1 student, you will often hear the phrase “maintaining status” because it is very important! Maintaining status means that you are doing everything you are supposed to do to keep your records up-to-date in the SEVIS database. The document below explains how the process works, as well as your responsibilities as a student:
- If you are on OPT, you are required to report to ISS if you have moved and/or changed employers within 10 days of the change.
Fill out this form
- If you are not travelling outside the U.S., you are allowed to stay on an expired F-1 visa in the U.S.
- However, once you leave the country on an expired F-1 visa, you will not be allowed to return unless you have obtained a new valid F-1 visa.
- Visas can be obtained ONLY at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate OUTSIDE the U.S.
- I-20 signed for travel endorsement by a DSO; make sure the major, financial support documents, dependent information, etc. on your current I-20 are accurate.
- Valid Passport.
- Proof of Financial Support (bank letter from home country or U.S. and/or graduate assistantship contract, etc.).
- Copies of transcripts from ALL U.S. schools attended (official transcripts are preferred).
- If needed, get copies of letters from academic advisors to explain any audits, withdrawals, transfers, or “reduced” courses.
- All of your “old” I-20’s.
- Completed visa application forms.
- Paid visa application fee.
- Receipt notice of SEVIS fee payment, if applicable.
- Submit all other required documents, such as pictures that have certain requirements.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you will be applying to verify if other documents are needed and to ask if you need an appointment.
- Check the U.S. Embassy/Consulate’s website for additional requirements.
- When you obtain a new F-1 visa, please send a copy of it to ISS.
- Your passport must ALWAYS be valid during your stay in the U.S.
- To know the requirements to renew your passport, either check your home country’s government website or, if you are in the U.S., contact your local consulate.
- When you receive the new passport, please send a copy of the identification page with new expiration date to ISS.
- ISS will NOT be able to process any requests if we don’t have a valid passport on record.
- I-94 is a white card stapled into your passport when you entered the U.S.
- When a student leaves the U.S., the I-94 card is surrendered, and a new one (with a new I-94 number) is given when you re-enter.
- When you receive a new I-94, please send a copy of it (front and back side) to ISS.
- If your I-20 is close to expiring but you are NOT able to complete your program of study on time, you will need to extend your I-20. Complete and submit to ISS the I-20 Extension Verification form.
- This request must be submitted at least one month before your current I-20 expires, so that there is enough time to process your extension. Failure to complete the I-20 extension before the expiration date is considered to be out of lawful F-1 status.
- All F-1 international students are REQUIRED to purchase UNLV student health insurance. International students are automatically charged health insurance fees when they register for classes. Optional dental coverage and vision insurance may also be purchased. For additional benefits, please contact Wells Fargo directly.
- Only students in certain circumstances can request a waiver. If you wish to do so, please complete the Waiver Form, International Student Health Insurance Fee. Please note requests will ONLY be processed when all supporting documents are submitted. Processing takes seven days.
- Get information regarding Aetna health insurance, such as benefits, finding a doctor, claims, etc. You can contact Aetna at 1-800-853-5899.
- If you wish to transfer from UNLV to study full-time at another U.S. SEVP-certified school, you must fill out this form and submit it to ISS with a copy of the admissions letter from the new institution.
- If you are currently taking classes, your SEVIS record will NOT be released until the end of the semester.
- All international students are required to file taxes every year, whether or not you have worked.
- For more information, tax workshops, and contact information, visit the Nonresident Alien Services website or call 1-702-895-0872.
It is very important for an F-1 student to know his/her program completion date or OPT completion date for the following reasons:
- If a student is graduating early, the student must report to a DSO to shorten the program end date in SEVIS.
- If a student is applying for Optional Practical Training, a DSO must make the OPT recommendation in SEVIS and USCIS must receive a properly filed Form I-765 no later than 60 days following the program end date.
- USCIS must receive an application for change of status to another non-immigrant category no later than the end of the 60-day grace period following completion of studies or OPT.
- A student who wants to transfer to a different school or change an academic level must initiate an update in SEVIS no later than the end of the 60-day grace period following completion of studies or OPT.
- If a student does not plan to remain in the United States following completion of his or her course of study or OPT, he or she must depart the United States no later than 60 days following the completion of studies or OPT.
If an F-1 student does not choose one of these options after completing a course of study, he or she will be considered to be "out of status."
Unless an F-1 student follows the procedures listed in options 1–4 above, the student's "duration of status" will end 60 days after completing the full course of study or, for students on authorized Optional Practical Training, 60 days after the end of the OPT period.
The 60-day grace period begins when the student completes the full course of study, so it is important to identify the exact day on which the full course of study is considered complete. For a student whose course of study ends with the end of a regular semester or term, the actual date of graduation ceremonies might be used. Since the student must actually graduate, using the graduation date, rather than the last day of classes or of the final exam period, will ensure successful completion of the term.
For thesis option graduate students, a letter from the thesis adviser or relevant graduate department establishing the date of completion could suffice. The 60-day grace period begins on the day the student completes all degree requirements, including acceptance of the final thesis.
Students who complete their studies mid-year, but whose participation in graduation ceremonies are delayed until the spring, must be advised that their completion of studies date is the date of actual completion of all requirements for graduation, unless they are registered and "pursuing a full course of study" during the term or semester immediately preceding the graduation ceremony. Regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C) do not permit a student who has completed all requirements for the course of study to enroll "for administrative purposes only."
Failure to depart without taking the steps necessary to continue or change status is considered a violation of status, making the student removable (deportable).