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SEVIS Update

GENERAL

Non-SEVIS I-20AB Forms issued prior to January 30, 2003, will remain valid until August 1, 2003. After August 1, non-SEVIS I-20AB Forms can no longer be used for entry or any other purpose. Schools have been afforded a transition period in order to enter all current students into SEVIS through August 1, 2003. This means that if you are changing your major, getting an extension, changing funding information, adding dependents or traveling at the end of Spring 2003 semester to go home will all be issued a SEVIS I-20AB. Others who plan not to do any of the above will then called to OIA and issued a SEVIS I-20AB prior to August 1, 2003.

The new rule clarifies that a student may not maintain status by simply enrolling "for administrative purposes" after all academic work is completed.

DEPARTURE

The final rule establishes two grace periods for departure preparation: a student who has completed a course of study and any authorized practical training following completion of studies has 60 days in order to depart, transfer, or file for change of status. A student who has been authorized to withdraw from classes has 15 days to depart from the U.S. Students who terminate their course of study without obtaining prior approval are not eligible for any additional grace period.

FULL COURSE OF STUDY

A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval the Director of the OIA will be considered out of status. The OIA must also authorize a reduced course load in advance of the "final semester of study" even if fewer courses of study are needed for completion. If it is your graduating semester and you will be less than full time, you need to write a letter to the OIA and Graduate School (if applicable) which includes your name, major, student number, reason why you're less than full-time, and your signature.

EXTENSION OF STAY

The OIA may not grant an extension if the student applied for an extension after the program end date noted on the SEVIS I-20AB. An F-1 student who is unable to complete the educational program within the time listed on their SEVIS I-20AB and who is ineligible for program extension is considered out of status. If eligible, the student may apply for reinstatement. An F-1 student who is unable to meet the program completion date on the SEVIS Form I-20AB may be granted an extension if the student has continually maintained status and that the delays are caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major of research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension is not acceptable reasons for program extensions.

TRANSFER

Students must resume classes within five months of transferring out of their current school or within five months of the program completion date as indicated on the SEVIS Form I-20AB issued by the current school, whichever date is earlier. For transfer students authorized to engage in OPT, the student must be able to resume classes within five months of transferring out of the school that recommended OPT or the date the OPT authorization ends, whichever is earlier. Students ineligible for a transfer may depart the country and return as an initial entry in F-1 status. A student is not otherwise permitted to remain in the U.S. when transferring between schools.

In a transfer from a SEVIS school to another SEVIS school, the final rule introduces the concept of a "release date" for transfer procedures. The student first notifies the current school of his or her intent to transfer. The current school updates the student's SEVIS record as a "transfer out," indicating the school the student intends to transfer to and a "release date." The "release date" will be the current semester completion date, or the date of the expected transfer, if different than established academic cycle. The current school retains control of the student's SEVIS record until the release date is reached. The student may cancel the transfer request at any time prior to the release date. After the release date the current school will no longer have access to the SEVIS record, and thus will be unable to cancel the request after the release date. The student is required to contact the transfer school within 15 days of the program start date.

Beginning classes at another educational level or transferring to another school is grounds for automatic termination of OPT.

CURRICULUM PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT)

A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to OIA. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving his or her SEVIS I-20AB with the Director's endorsement. To grant authorization for a student to engage in curricular practical training the Director will update the student's record in SEVIS as being authorized for curricular practical training that is directly related to the student's major area of study. The student will provide a letter from the faculty member stating the class that will be used to apply for curriculum training and a letter from the employer. The Director will indicate whether the training is full-time or part-time, the employer and location, and the employment start and end date. Then print a copy of the student's SEVIS Form I-20AB indicating that curricular practical training has been approved. The Director must sign, date and return the SEVIS Form I-20AB to the student prior to the student's commencement of employment.

OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT)

Under the new rule, 12 months of OPT are available to F-1's at each program level. OPT is for 12 months.

In making a recommendation for optional practical training under SEVIS, the DSO will update the student's record in SEVIS as having been recommended for optional practical training. The DSO will indicate in SEVIS whether the employment is to be full-time or part-time, and note in SEVIS the start and end date of employment. The DSO will then print the employment page of the student's SEVIS Form I- 20AB, and sign and date the form to indicate that optional practical training has been recommended. The F-1 student will then file with the service center for an Employment Authorization Document, on Form I-765, with a fee (a check for $380.00 payable to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and the SEVIS Form I-20AB employment page indicating that optional practical training has been recommended by the Director. An F-1 student seeking practical training (excluding curricular practical training) may not accept employment until he or she has been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by the USCIS.

F-2 VISA

At the time they seek admission, the eligible spouse and minor children of an F-1 student may be admitted in F-2 status if they present an original SEVIS Form I-20AB issued in the name of each F-2 dependent issued by a school authorized by the Service for attendance by F-1 foreign students.

F-2 dependents are permitted to attend elementary, middle and high school on a full-time basis. F-2's are also permitted to engage in part-time post-secondary study that is "a vocational or recreational in nature that is if a student engages in study to pursue a hobby or if the study is that of an occasional, casual, or recreational nature, such study may be considered as a vocational or recreational.". This means that the F-2 spouse of an F1 student may not engage in full-time study. An F-2 spouse or F-2 child desiring to engage in full time-study must apply for and obtain a change of nonimmigrant classification to F-1 prior to beginning as a full time student. F-2's cannot go to school as a degree-seeking student.

REINSTATEMENT

The district director may consider reinstatement of a student who has not been out of status for more than five months at the time of filing for reinstatement. In other words, if the student fails to become aware of the status violation after five months, he or she is generally ineligible for reinstatement. However, a student may demonstrate "exceptional circumstances" for seeking reinstatement after five months and that the request was filed as "promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances." In addition, just as under the old rule, the student must also be pursuing a full course of study, have not engaged in unauthorized employment and cannot be deportable on any grounds.

In order to be reinstated, the student must present a "detailed showing" that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond his control, such as "serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, or a natural disaster, but does not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or where a willful failure on the part of the student resulted in the need for reinstatement."

REPORTING

The OIA must update SEVIS prior to the student's reducing his or her course load with the date and reason for the authorization, as well as the start date of the next semester. The OIA must also notify SEVIS within 21 days of the resumption of the full course load.

Schools must report to SEVIS within 21 days of their occurrence the following events:

  • a student's failure to maintain status or complete a course of study;
  • a change in a student or dependent's name or address;
  • a student who has graduated early or before the completion date on SEVIS Form I-20AB;
  • a disciplinary action against the student as a result of a conviction for a crime; and any other notification request made by SEVIS with respect to current student status.

Registration information for each term or session must be reported "no later than 30 days after the deadline for registering for classes" whether the enrolled student dropped below a full course of study without prior authorization; and start date of the student's next term or session, the student has enrolled at the school, or failed to enroll, the current address of each enrolled student, the start date of the student's next session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter.

The rule requires students to notify the DSO within 10 days of any change of address using Form AR-11. You can download the form from the OIA web site or get a copy from the OIA Office. We want to stress that notifying The University of Louisiana at Lafayette does not satisfy the notification requirement. Before you mail the AR-11 to the USCIS, we recommend that you keep a photocopy of the form for your records, as with any other application you submit to USCIS.

There are possible consequences to aliens who willfully refuse to report their address. INA Section 266(b) states:

"Any alien or any parent or legal guardian in the United States of any alien who fails to give written notice to the Attorney General, as required by section 265 of this title, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not to exceed $200 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both. Irrespective of whether an alien is convicted and punished as herein provided, any alien who fails to give written notice to the Attorney General, as required by section 265, shall be taken into custody and removed in the manner provided by chapter 4 of this title, unless such alien establishes to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that such failure was reasonably excusable or was not willful."

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International Alum - Marco Franco

International Alum - Marco Franco

UL Lafayette Intensive English Program (2010), B.S. Biology (2014), M.S. Biology (2017)

Current: Doctoral student in Environmental Science at Baylor University

Home Country: Guatemala

It is quite difficult to find the words to describe seven years of my life at UL. I was thrilled to find quite a diverse group of people when I arrived to not only the University but to Lafayette as well. This is something that, as an international student, is very valuable as the opportunity to learn from others is never-ending. Faculty, staff and classmates were fundamental for me to grow both as a student and as a person. During both my Bachelor and Master degrees, UL gave me the tools to be academically successful; I learned from remarkable mentors not only in my major field of study, but across many other disciplines. I was introduced to new ways of thinking, new perspectives and opportunities that brought me where I am today. Even though school kept me busy most of the time, I enjoyed many events at UL. I hardly missed the Ragin' Cajuns football games, the tailgates, International Week, and all the social activities where I met people that I now call friends. UL is a school like no other; I assure any student from any part of the world would have the best college experience. Even though my time in Lafayette and at UL came to an end, I feel extremely pleased to call both places my home, because home is not where you are born but where you are well received and where you make memories that last a lifetime.

 

International Alum - Elisabeth Kolb

International Alum - Elisabeth Kolb

B.S. Hospitality Management (2017)

Current: Lodging Management Internship, The Walt Disney Company

Home Country: Germany

"I chose to study at UL because I wanted to experience a new culture and travel. I could not have chosen a better university for my college experience. UL Lafayette and everyone here has helped me tremendously to grow professionally and as a person throughout my college career. My biggest influence during college was my academic advisor who was also my hospitality instructor for some classes. He has always encouraged me to achieve more than I ever though I could and has taught me what hospitality management is all about. Being a huge fan of Disney’s exceptional guest service himself, he has inspired me to participate in the Disney College program on CPT employment during my junior year and has guided me through the process. This internship with Disney has forever changed my life and I am beyond excited that I got accepted for a management internship with the Disney Company so that I can use my OPT in the best possible way after graduation. The University has been a huge part of the past four years of my life. Not only did I attend school here, I have also been a student worker for the Office of University Housing for 6 semesters. Everyone in the department has always been extremely encouraging and my supervisors are important mentors in my life. Starting off as a front desk worker, the department has offered me the opportunity to intern as a front desk supervisor my senior year which has been a huge learning experience for me. I have also been involved in several organizations and events on campus such as the University Program Council, which is a great way to learn about everything happening on campus, or several intramural sports teams where I made some great friends. UL offers so many different opportunities that I found it easy to connect to fellow students and get involved. I have also been active within the Department of Hospitality Management as a member and officer of the Ragin’ Hospitality Association, an organization that has helped me develop my leadership skills and that has also been a great networking opportunity. By being so involved within the college and university, I have been selected as the Outstanding Graduate of the College of Business, an honor of which I am extremely proud of. I believe that UL Lafayette is a great place to study for international students and I am a proud Ragin’ Cajun Alumni. The university offers great education with very diverse options of developing yourself socially and professionally through organizations, events, and networking opportunities and seminars. However, what I value the most about UL are the people; with the southern hospitality and Cajun spirit, I immediately felt welcome and I would not be where I am today without the support and help of the students, faculty, and staff of UL."

International Alum - Matilda Mostrom

International Alum - Matilda Mostrom

B.S. Microbiology (2017)

Current: Doctoral student in Biomedical Sciences at Tulane University

Home Country: Sweden

"I joined UL to combine studying microbiology and to waterski for the Ragin Cajun Waterski Team.  I never regretted my decision to join UL due to the friendly campus and invested professors. I think international students should join UL because they would receive a warm welcome by both students and by the professors. Personally, the food in Lafayette is enough to make you want to stay. My biochemistry teacher, Dr. Wu Xu, inspired me to never settle for less when it came to furthering my education because he believed in my abilities. For this, I will always be thankful when I look back at my time at UL. I would advise future students to not be shy and talk to your professors if you have an interest in working in their lab. I participated in both the Ragin Cajun Waterski Team, as well as, the Biology Society. What I loved the most about UL was the engaged professors and the number of times I got to take classes with the same friendly students. Geaux Cajuns!"

International Alum - Gustavo Venegas

International Alum - Gustavo Venegas

B.S. Hospitality Management (2016)

Current: Student at HRC Culinary Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria

Home Country: Honduras

"I decided to attend UL after I came visit for spring break. After spending a week in Lafayette and having witnessed the hospitality and having met some great people I knew I had to transfer and finish college there. UL is a very diverse university and very welcoming for international students. There are a lot of activities that unite the students, faculty and community. I acquired many professional skills by working with the Housing Department where I started at the front desk my first semester and then moved to the office, where I finally ended up doing my internship. Throughout my college years, three of my college professors from the Hospitality Program were my biggest influences and inspired me to achieve all my goals. Every time I had a concern, question or was in doubt, I came to them and they knew exactly what to say to get me back on track to achieving my goals. After graduation, I started working in a local restaurant where I was the General Manager. I am currently working towards finalizing my paperwork to be able to pursue my final educational goal, which is going to culinary school. I will be attending a school in a different country, but one thing I am taking with me is the southern hospitality that I was lucky enough to have felt while living in Lafayette. It has been so far one of my greatest experiences, where I got try some of the best food, and meet people from all over the world as well as locals who have in some way or another helped me grow professionally and intellectually. For me, it is a great honor to be a part of the Ragin' Cajun family."

International Alum - Qusay Al-Riyami

International Alum - Qusay Al-Riyami

B.S. Petroleum Engineering (2011)

Current: MLWD Senior Field Engineer at Schlumberger (Oman)

Home Country: Oman

"My experience in college did not only prepare me for my career, but it also prepared me for how to work/deal with my colleagues at work, "soft skills" as my father calls them. I gained skills that cannot be taught in courses. Through interactions with fellow students, professors, on campus co-workers, organizations (profit & non-profit), and neighbors, I earned a "degree" in people and social skills. I recall being involved as a chairperson in 8 different official organizations (off/on campus) at once! Through it I learned that virtually nothing is impossible, all I needed was to put my mind to it and maintain positive attitude."

International Alum - Xiangbo Li

International Alum - Xiangbo Li

Ph.D. Computer Science (2016)

Current: Software Engineering for Brightcove (Scottsdale, AZ)

Home Country: China

"People always ask, 'Why Louisiana? Why UL Lafayette?' Well, to be honest, I came to UL because of my advisor- Dr. Magdy Bayoumi, I liked his research areas, and of course also because he offered me a scholarship. I am so glad and even feel lucky that I came to Lafayette and UL because it totally changed my life. As my advisor told us at the first group meeting, 'If you just come to the U.S. for a degree, and then go back to your country, you will learn nothing. You come here also to learn the culture and spirit, and that will change your whole life.'  I couldn't agree more after staying in the U.S. for almost 7 years. Lafayette and UL is the kind of community that always welcome outsiders. If your English is not that good like me when I first got here, don't worry, people here are always willing to talk to you and make friends with you if you are open and brave enough to get out of your comfort zone. It's called southern hospitality and you will end up with a bunch of great friends here. Before I came to UL, I focused only on my studies and trying to get a good job after graduation. Thanks to UL, I begin to  realize that I can be more responsible, do something meaningful for this community and create some good memories here, and I did. My Ph.D. degree seemed less important to me once I graduated because I found something more important here, which will influence me for my whole life. Of course, Lafayette has became my second hometown, and I will always be a Ragin' Cajun no matter where I go.