International Student Immigration
The Office of International Records is located in Enterprise Square and is here to assist you with matters related to immigration. You can contact us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule an appointment on this calendar.
Glossary of Immigration Offices
DHS: Department of Homeland Security is responsible for the immigration office listed below.
USCIS: United States Citizenship & Immigration Services is responsible for the Service Centers and District Offices. (Also known as CIS)
USICE: United States Immigration & Customs Enforcement is responsible for immigration investigations, detention, removal, intelligence and SEVIS.
USCBP: United States Customs & Border Protection is responsible for immigration inspections, Border Patrol and Customs Service.
SEVP: Student Exchange Visitor Program is an organization that tracks and monitors schools and programs in the US. Educational system http://www.ice.gov/sevis/
SEVIS: Student Exchange Visitor Information System that maintains accurate current information on nonimmigrant students (F & J status) http://www.ice.gov/sevis/
GLOSSARY of Immigration Definitions
Visa: Stamp, or computer label in passport obtained from a United States Embassy or Consulate giving you permission to come to the United States. These are only issued outside of the United States and may expire, without penalty so long as you remain in the U.S. and maintain your status.
F-1: Visa classification for a student in an academic degree or a full-time intensive English language program.
F-2: Spouse, child or dependent of an F-1 student.
H-1: Visa classification for a temporary worker of distinguished merit or ability.
H-4: Spouse, child or dependent of an H-1B worker.
B-2: Visitors Visa -short term status. Not appropriate for a student pursuing a degree program.
B-1: Business Visa - short term status. Not appropriate for a student pursuing a degree program.
WT: Visitor’s Visa — 90 day visits no extension or change of status.
GLOSSARY of Forms
I-20: Certificate of Eligibility issued via SEVIS and used to obtain an F-1 visa to enter the United States.
I-94: Arrival/departure form issued electronically to all non-immigrants upon arrival in the United States. Can be printed at www.cbp.gov/I94
I-539: Immigration form used by a non-immigrant to apply for a change to another immigrant status and for an F-1 student to apply for reinstatement.
I-515: immigration form used to notify a student or exchange visitor admitted without I-20 or a DS-2019 that he or she must submit an I-20 or DS-2019 to SEVP: Student Exchange and Visitor Program within 30 days after entry to the U.S. Contact the International Records office if you have been issued an I-515.
I-765: Immigration form used when applying for optional practical training and off campus employment.
EAD: Employment Authorization Document: A card issued by USCIS containing a photograph and dates of employment.
Note: Immigration forms usually have identification numbers (eg: I-765) in the upper right corner of the page. Do not destroy or discard immigration forms that have been issued to you.
SEVIS: SEVIS is the Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F & M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, & J-2). SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit electronic information and event notifications via the Internet, to the USCIS, USICE and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student or exchange visitor’s stay in the United States. The system will reflect international student or exchange visitor status changes, such as admission at Port of Entry (POE), change of address, change in program of study, and other details.
United States Immigration requires that you keep your passport valid at all times. To extend or renew your passport, contact your country’s consulate or embassy for directions.
Maintaining Immigration Status
Permission to study in the U.S. has been granted at the port of entry by the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP). In order to remain in the U.S., USCIS requires that you maintain your immigration status. This means that you must be a full-time student, abide by the immigration regulations and submit immigration documents correctly according to those regulations.
If you abide by USCIS regulations, it is said that you are “in status.” Significant penalties for being “out of status” can prevent you from taking advantage of a number of opportunities while you are in the U.S., can cause you to leave the U.S. before you complete your education, or can prevent you from re-entering the U.S. once you have left. Each student must sign page 1 of the I-20 or DS-2019 certifying that they have read and agreed to the requirements of their status.
It is your responsibility to know immigration regulations that apply to you, and to adhere to them during your stay in the U.S. The staff members of International Records do not work for immigration. However, they know immigration regulations and are able to assist you in knowing how to stay in status. Please consult International Records if you have questions about the immigration regulations or before you carry out plans to change schools, degree programs, travel out of the U.S., drop courses, accept employment, etc.
Both F-1 students must successfully complete a full-time course of study during fall and spring semesters. This is defined by USCIS and this university as receiving a passing grade for a minimum of:
- 12 semester hours for undergraduate students
- 9 semester hours for graduate students
Grades of “W” or “I” do not qualify as “successful completion”. Students must obtain a grade of A, B, C, D, or F in all courses. Students are not required to enroll in classes during the summer session, unless summer is the first semester in the U.S. If a student needs to drop a course, come to the International Records office BEFORE you drop the course. Under the SEVIS requirements schools must report the reduced course load prior to dropping the class. This decision could create a very difficult situation.
On-line or Distance Learning Education Courses
No more than three credits or one course of on-line or distance education courses can be counted as a full course of study.
Non-Immigrant Status Violations
Some non-immigrant violations could accrue three and ten year bars. Under the current USCIS interpretations a student who has violated his/her status and has been denied reinstatement could be subject to the INA 222g and begin the clock on unlawful presence under INA 212(a)(9)(B). The effects could include:
- A visa cancellation with a specific date to depart the U.S.
- Student will begin accruing days of unlawful presence if he/she remains in the U.S. beyond the specified date on the I-94 given by USCIS. If the student remains in the U.S over 180 days after the denial, he/she is subject to the 3 year bar; if the student remains more than one year after the denial he/she is subject to the ten year bar.
- If a student remains in the U.S. “out of status” and USCIS has placed the student in deportation, the immigration judge could determine the three or ten year bar based on unlawful presence.
- Due to these regulations, (222g) and (212(a)(9)(B), it is important that non-immigrant students take their immigration status very seriously.
Students in F-1 Status
- Students arriving for the first time from overseas will be required to register via SEVIS. The International Records office will assist with the registration. Copies of your I-20, passport, and I-94 will be placed in the student’s file.
- Students beginning a new degree or program at Oklahoma Christian University (OC) must file a level change via SEVIS if you plan to stay at OC for an additional degree at the same level of study (e.g. second bachelors or masters) or if you are moving from one level of study to another (e.g. bachelors to masters) International Records will update the student’s SEVIS record and provide a new I-20.
- Students transferring from another U.S. university to OC will require a release of the SEVIS record from the previous school. Once the transfer date has arrived, OC will issue a transfer I-20 via SEVIS. The student will need to present all previous I-20’s, passport, I-94, and previous school transcripts to their Admission Counselor.
- Students transferring OUT of OC will need to provide evidence of acceptance to the new school and decide on an appropriate “release date” of the SEVIS record. Contact International Records if you are planning to transfer to obtain the appropriate forms.
- Students needing additional time to complete a degree will be required to file for a program extension. If you are not able to complete your current degree by the end date indicated on the original I-20, you must apply for the program extension prior to the expiration. Contact International Records for further information.
- Students changing their major must contact International Records to update the SEVIS record and obtain a new I-20.
- The USCIS regulations require that all students report their change of address within 10 days of the change. International Records is required to report the change of address via SEVIS within 21 days. Changes in phone number and email address must also be reported.
- All spouses and children must obtain their own Form I-20 via SEVIS while residing in the U.S. The F-2 may enroll in part time study but is not authorized to work on or off campus.
- Under the USCIS SEVIS reporting requirements, OC will be required to report any student’s failure to complete a program or withdraw from courses, drop courses below full course of study, address change, major or level change, program completion, optional or curricular practical training, and school transfers within 21 to 30 days depending on the event.
- If a student has failed to maintain the F-1 status he/she will be required to apply for reinstatement to the USCIS. The USCIS regulations have been narrowed and it is important that students contact International Records to seek assistance when in this situation.
- Work Off-campus ONLY if student receives authorization from International Records or USCIS. On-Campus employment requires completion of the On-Campus employment form. PLEASE NOTE: If a student works illegally, the consequences could include voluntary departure from the U.S. or mandatory deportation. The student cannot be reinstated.
Leaving the United States
- Students planning to travel outside the U.S. temporarily should obtain a validation on their I-20 in the International Records office. After receiving appropriate OC clearances, an International Records staff member will sign page three of the I-20, if the student is in good standing at the university. Without a validated I-20, a student may be denied entry into the U.S. even if he/she has a valid visa.
- Students who have completed their study, or completed their practical training have 60 days to leave the United States once they have graduated, or completed practical training. Students who have applied to USCIS for another benefit or status may remain in the U.S. until USCIS makes a decision on their application. Students who have been admitted to another degree program are allowed to remain in the U.S. until the next semester begins or no later than five months. Students however must obtain an I-20 within 60 days of the end date of OPT or completion.
- Students who withdraw from classes must leave the U.S. immediately. The regulations provide no grace period days after the withdrawal from classes. However, students who seek prior approval from the International Records staff (DSO) to withdraw from classes will be given a 15 day grace period to depart the U.S.
As previously stated, It is your responsibility to know immigration regulations that apply to you, and to adhere to them during your stay in the U.S. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you need assistance or have any questions or concerns about your student status.