|Approved by:||The President|
|History:||Issued -- June 2003|
|Revised -- June 2006|
|Last Reviewed -- August 2, 2019|
|Additional References:||8 C.F.R. 214.2(f); ISSS Webpage|
|Responsible Official:||Director, International Student & Scholar Services tel. (202) 319-5618|
I. Policy Statement
International students in F or J status must abide by federal regulations governing their status. Failure to comply with these regulations may invalidate their legal status in the U.S. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 places the responsibility of maintaining lawful status squarely on the shoulders of the individual international student.
The Catholic University of America is required to report certain information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for each student and Exchange Visitor whom the University has sponsored for F or J nonimmigrant status. This reporting must occur within 30 days of the start of each term.
A. SEVIS means the Student Exchange Visitor Information System, a government designed and controlled information and tracking system that monitors compliance of foreign students and exchange visitors in the U.S.
B. F1 student means an international student whose immigration status has been sponsored by the University through the issuance of a Form I-20 for the purpose of study.
C. J1 exchange visitor means an international student, professor, researcher, short-term scholar or specialist whose immigration status has been sponsored by the University through the issuance of a Form DS-2019 for the purpose of participation in an academic course of study, teaching or research.
III. Federal Reporting Requirements
Within 30 days of the start of each term, federal law requires the University to report the following information for each F or J student sponsored by the University:
- Any legal changes in name for the student and any accompanying dependents.
- Current physical address in the United States for the student and any accompanying dependents. Students are required to report changes of address to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) within 10 days of the change.
- Enrollment status including notification to the government within 21 days of any failure to carry a full course load or failure to enroll. Enrollment status must be reported each semester.
- Any changes in level of study or course of study or changes in source(s) of financial support for studies.
- Failure to maintain F or J status or to complete program.
- Graduation prior to date listed on immigration documents.
- Any disciplinary action taken as a result of a conviction of a crime.
Students are urged to consult with ISSS prior to taking any action that could inadvertently invalidate their immigration status.
IV. Institutional Reporting of Student Enrollment
International students who hold F or J status are legally required to maintain full-time status as a student at the University. Failure to do so could jeopardize their immigration status. Full-time status varies among the different types of students:
- Undergraduate students: 12 credit hours, as defined by federal law.
- Graduate students: Refer to the Graduate Announcements for standards of full-time status.
- Law Students: Refer to the Law School Announcements for standards of full-time status.
- English language training students: 18-22 clock hours per week.
Audited classes do not count towards the determination of full-time enrollment for immigration purposes.
Using enrollment data in Cardinal Station, ISSS staff will report each student's enrollment status via SEVIS by the 30th day following the start of each term. Prior to reporting any failure to enroll, every effort will be made to contact students whose enrollment does not appear to meet federal requirements. ISSS will attempt to contact students using their University email account.
V. Authorization for Reduced Course Loads
There are legally permissible reasons that would allow an international student to fall below full-time status. To take advantage of one of these, a student must obtain prior approval from ISSS before dropping below the required course load. The following are the only possible reasons for not being a full-time student:
- Academic difficulties in the first semester: Students experiencing difficulty in their first semester of study at a given educational level may be authorized by ISSS legally to reduce their course load. The student and his/her academic advisor must complete a Full-time Enrollment Certification Form and return it to ISSS before dropping classes.
- Medical conditions necessitate dropping or withdrawing from classes: A student who experiences a medical condition that prevents him/her from carrying a full course load, may be authorized by ISSS to carry a reduced load without jeopardizing his/her legal status in the U.S. Medical conditions need to be documented by a medical doctor, a doctor of osteopathy or a licensed clinical psychologist. Immigration regulations allow up to 12 months of reduced course load for medical conditions. Each semester, however, must be approved individually with updated information from the appropriate health-care provider. If the medical condition is serious enough, a student may be exempt from having to take any classes at all during the semester.
- Completing coursework required for degree: If the student is in his/her final semester of coursework and is taking only the courses needed for degree requirements, he/she is not required to take additional classes. This option is available only in the last semester of coursework.
It is important to note that students are expected to make reasonable progress towards their academic objectives. Students and their academic advisors must complete a "Request for Reduced Course Load" form to inform ISSS of reduced course loads before the end of registration for each term. A student in their final semester of coursework must complete a "Notification of Final Semester of Coursework" form.
VI. Reporting of Student Name Changes
Students whose names are legally changed during the course of their enrollment at the University must notify ISSS of the change within 21 days. ISSS will update SEVIS to reflect the new information and fulfill the student's legal responsibility to report such changes to the government.
VII. Reporting of Student's U.S. Address
Students are legally required to keep the DHS informed of the address where they live. Any changes to the address must be reported within 10 days of the address change. Students accomplish this by updating their address with ISSS. ISSS will update SEVIS to reflect the new information and fulfill the student's legal responsibility to report such changes to the government.
VIII. Reporting Changes in Major, School or Funding
Students who change their major or change their school must follow all applicable University policies and procedures to affect this change. Students who move from one degree level to another must coordinate this change through the Admissions Office. International students in University-sponsored F or J status must inform ISSS of any change in curriculum, school or level of study within 10 days so that the federal government can be duly notified and updated immigration documents can be issued in compliance with federal regulations.
Additionally, international students in F or J status are required to notify ISSS within 10 days of any significant changes in their source of financial support. In compliance with federal regulations, ISSS is required to notify the government of such changes and to issue updated immigration documents.
IX. Withdrawal from the University
International students who hold F or J status are urged to consult with ISSS prior to withdrawing from the University. Official University withdrawal procedures must be followed. However, international students must be aware that failure to consult with ISSS in advance of their withdrawal from the University could invalidate their legal status in the United States effective the day following withdrawal. Students would then begin to accrue periods of unauthorized presence in the U.S. that could potentially bar them from returning in the future.
- With prior approval from ISSS: A student may remain in the United States for an additional 15 days after the effective date of withdrawal from the University.
- Without prior approval from ISSS: A student loses his/her legal status in the country the day following his/her withdrawal from the University.
X. Other Legal Obligations
International students in F or J status are required to:
- Obtain timely extensions of their stay
- Maintain a valid passport at all times
- Comply with all other federal, state, and local laws. Arrests and or convictions for failure to obey laws and regulations could result in difficulties in re-entering the United States or even removal from the country, with potential barriers to re-entering. In the event that an international student is arrested or convicted of a crime, he/she should seek appropriate legal counsel from both a qualified immigration attorney and a criminal attorney.