F-1 Students

F-1 Orientation Handout for F-1 Students

The primary purpose of the F-1 Visa is to allow an individual to pursue a full time academic program at an accredited academic institution inside the U.S.

Maintenance of Status
F-1 students are responsible to maintain legal status while in the U.S. Maintaining status primarily includes:

  • Maintaining full time enrollment each semester
  • Never engaging in employment without USCIS authorization
  • Maintaining a current passport
  • Maintaining a current I-20
  • Reporting any change of address within 10 days of the change

An Internet-based database system, which maintains current information on F-1 students and their dependents. SEVIS requires UNMC to transmit electronic information and event notifications via the Internet, to the USCIS and Department of State (DOS) throughout an F-1 student’s stay in the United States.

Full-time Enrollment
Defined as 9 credit hours per Fall and Spring semesters for graduate students or 12 credit hours for undergraduate students. Professional or post graduate academic programs may measure full time enrollment differently, but the program and its definition of full time enrollment must be approved by the USCIS. This process must be completed before UNMC can sponsor an F-1 Student in the academic program.

Exceptions: ISP can authorize students for only 6 hours of enrollment for one semester under the following conditions:

  • Initial difficulty with English (first year students)
  • Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods (first year students)
  • Improper course level placement
  • Medical Conditions
  • Student’s final semester
  • Dissertation (graduate students)

Authorization for less than full time coursework must be granted from ISP through SEVIS before students are eligible to be less than full time. Failure to first receive authorization will cause F-1 students to be out of compliance with their visa status.

Changing Majors
If F-1 students change their academic major, their record must be updated in SEVIS and a new I-20 must be obtained.

F-1 students are eligible to transfer their F-1 program to a different university if they are currently maintaining legal status at UNMC.

Temporary Departure from the U.S.
Before temporarily departing the U.S., F-1 graduate students must have their I-20 signed on page 3 by Dan Teet, of Graduate Studies. If the visa has expired, a new one must be obtained from a U.S. consulate before re-entering the U.S. unless traveling to Canada for less than 30 days.

Work Authorization
After finishing a degree program, F-1 students may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows the student to remain in the U.S. to be employed for one year in a job that is directly related to their program of study. Before beginning work, a work permit must be approved by the USCIS. Applying for OPT should be initiated at least one month before the completion of academic program.

Completion of F-1 Studies
There are generally four options for F-1 students after completion of degree:

  1. Depart the US within 60 days of degree completion
  2. Continue in F-1 status by pursuing another academic program
  3. Apply for OPT before completing the course of study
  4. Apply to change status to another visa classification within 60 days after completion of academic program

To sponsor your husband/wife or children with F-2 (dependent) Visa status, each dependent is required to have their own Form I-20. F-2 spouses may not engage in full-time study. F-2 children may only engage in full-time study at the K-12 level. F-2 dependents are not eligible for employment in the U.S.  Health insurance is required for all F-2 family members. To begin the process of sponsoring your husband/wife or child for F-2 status, complete a F-2/J-2 request form. Graduate students should send the completed form by email attachment to Dan Teet at dteet@unmc.edu.  Other students should send the completed form as an email attachment to international@unmc.edu.

Inviting Family Members Such as Parents
Many J, H, and F Visa holders wish to invite other family members such as parents to visit them in Omaha. The appropriate type of visa for this purpose is a B-2 Visa. Following are some guidelines for inviting parents or other relatives or friends.

You should write a short letter addressed to “Visa Officer”. In the letter, you should mention the following:

  1. How this person is related to you
  2. The approximate month that this person would arrive in the US
  3. How long the person will stay in the US
  4. The address in the Omaha area where they will stay if they will stay with you
  5. If you have J-1status, a copy of your DS-2019 and either a copy of a recent pay-deposit sheet or a short letter from your sponsoring department stating that your J-1 program is expected to continue while your family members are in the US.
  6. If you have H-1Bstatus, a copy of UNMC’s H-1B approval notice (Form I-797) and either a copy of a recent pay-deposit sheet or a short letter from your sponsoring department stating that your employment is current and expected to continue until the ending date of the H-1B approval notice. Your sponsoring department may also state that they plan to continue H-1B sponsorship if the current H-1B approval notice will expire soon.
  7. If you have F-1 status, a copy of your I-20 and a copy of your current or most recent class schedule.

For questions or to schedule an appointment, Graduate Students should contact Dan Teet of Graduate Studies at dteet@unmc.edu.  Other students should contact this office at international@unmc.edu or by calling 559-6414.