Making the decision to come to University of Houston - Victoria to pursue your academic goals is a huge step and we understand that reaching these goals is top priority. In additional to your courses, registration, books, health insurance and lab work, there is one more important subject you will need to "study" to ensure success during your stay at UHV: how to maintain your F-1 or J-1 status. Please take time to review the information below. If you have any questions or concerns about how to maintain your immigration status and employment, please contact International Program Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maintaining International Student Status
All international students who are in F-1 and J-1 visa status must follow a set of immigration regulations as outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to maintain the students international student status. The following rules and regulations is a guide to properly maintain international students status at UHV.
- Change of local address
International students who change their local address or move to a different apartment must report the change to International Programs Office within 10 days of the move. Login in to your UHV account update your address and send IPO an email confirming your change of address.
- Change of Status (to F-1 student)
- Concurrent Enrollment
All international studentsare eligible to work on-campus. As an international student F-1/J-1 student can only work for up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and 40 hours per week when school is not in session. Please make sure that you do not go above the allocated hours. If you fail to maintain the number of hours as listed in the guidelines International Programs Office is required to terminate your F-1/J-1 student status.
In order to work off-campus students must receive prior authorization from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to work off-campus. For more information pertaining to employment please visit our international student employment website.
If you work off-campus without authorization International Programs Office is required to terminate your immigration status.
- Fulltime Course Work
International students must register for a full course of study during Fall and Spring Semesters:
- Undergraduate Students - 12 credits
- Graduate Students - 8 credits
- Post graduate, seeking a second bachelors degree - 12 credits
- Please note:
- Full time course registration is not required for summer semester
- On-line courses must be limited to only 3 credits or one on-line course per semester is applicable to the full-time enrollment total
- Audit course units are not applicable to the full-time enrollment total
- Grace Period
International students have a set of grace period regulations that must be met to their visa status.
- F-1 students who complete an academic program or OPT have a 60-day grace period to depart the U.S., change to a different program, degree level, change institutions or change visa status (H1-B, PR). Immigration status for F-2 is dependent on F-1 student and they cannot remain in the U.S. under the F-2 status after the F-1 student has departed the U.S. during the grace period.
- J-1 students who complete an academic program or academic training have a 30 day grace period to depart the U.S., change to a new program, transfer or change to a different institution or change of visa status (H1-B, PR). Immigration status of J-2 is dependent upon J-1 student and they cannot remain in the U.S. under the J-2 status without the presence of the J-1 student.
- F-1 or J-1 students who have received prior authorization to withdraw from classes have 15 days to depart the U.S. after the withdrawal date. Students who withdraw from classes without prior authorization are not eligible for a grace period
Graduation is the best most of your educational pathway in the United States. If you are a student in junior standing we recommend that you plan your graduation efforts starting your junior year. Which means you will need to look in to the following items:
- Work with your academic advisor of your course completion plan and have an idea of your final semester
- Attend the mandatory sessions for Optional Practical Training (OPT) even though you have time to apply and the session on “Graduation and Life After Graduation” session
- Gather your paperwork
- Visit the Career Services Specialist and work on your resume, CV and cover letter
- If you do not plan to apply for OPT, you have 60-days depart the United States upon graduation. If you plan to apply for OPT, remember to apply for OPT ahead of time and maintain rules and regulations as an OPT student
- If your plans are to enroll at another U.S institution or enroll at a Graduate School, please have the acceptance letter from the U.S. institution or from the Graduate School or if you are continuing your education at UHV an acceptance letter from the program indicating your start date or the program 1st week in May or 1st week in December (the semester you graduate)
- Visit the International Programs Office to discuss your future plans with one of the advisors. You can email at email@example.com
- Leave Absence
F-1 or J-1 international students who want to take a semester off during the academic year (Fall or Spring Semester) and not enroll in courses must receive authorization for a leave of absence from International Programs Office.
- Students must meet the following criteria for leave of absence:
- Student must be in good academic standing when requesting requirements
- Students must be outside the U.S. during the leave of absence period
- It is the student's responsibility to meet with the relevant academic advisers and complete the leave of absence process for the relevant department. Students also need to confirm with their department if they are eligible to return back to the academic department, and must receive written approval from their academic department adviser. Please contact International Programs Office for additional details.
- Students must meet the following criteria for leave of absence:
- Maintaining Immigration Documents
- Passport: Students must have a valid passport at all times. The passport must be at least 6 months to the future. If the passport will expire soon, student must make necessary arrangements to renew the passport. In most cases the passport can be renewed from your home country embassy or consulate in the U.S. Please note: give enough time to renew your passport. Certain countries may have to send your passport to your home country for renewal.
- I-20/DS-2010: International students must be aware of the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019. If it is not possible to complete your academic program by the I-20/DS-2019 expiration date, students must request a program extension a minimum of 2-3 weeks prior to the I-20 expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who fail to complete a Program Extension Form with International Programs Office will be considered out of status
- Out-of-Status/ Reinstatement
Reinstatement is an option for an F-1 student who fails to maintain status and wishes to regain status without leaving the U.S. An F-1 student must be in status to be eligible for any benefits such as work permission as practical training, program extension, school transfer and adjustment of status. Depending on the student's case, reinstatement may or may not be the best option. In certain cases we encourage you to consult an immigration attorney. Please consult International Student Services for more information. A student may be considered out of status if the student:
- Fails to apply for program extension before I-20 expiration date on the I-20 (#5 on your I-20)
- Fails to maintain a full course of study each semester
- Fails to maintain international student F-1 status (see above)
- Unauthorized off-campus employment
To apply for Reinstatement, student:
- Should not be out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing reinstatement
- Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of USCIS regulations
- Is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future
- Has not engaged in unauthorized employment
Read the Reinstatement Handout to obtain information on how to apply for reinstatement
- Program Extension
F-1 and J-1 students are given a specific period of time to complete the academic program requirements. For F-2 students, this period of time is shown on #5 of your I-20 and for J-1 students, this period is shown on #3 of your DS-2019. Please note the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who are unable to meet the academic program requirements by that date must request a program extension from International Student Services before the I-20 expiration date. If the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019 has passed, students must meet with International Programs immediately, as the student is considered to be out of status.
- Eligibility Criteria
- The expiration of your I-20/DS-2019 has not yet passed
- Continuously maintained the F-1 or J-1 student status
- The delay in completion or program must be due to one of the following reasons:
- Compelling academic reasons (change of major, change in research topics, unexpected research problems, unexpected grades, repeat courses)
- Compelling medical reasons (documentation is require from Hendrix Health Center or U.S. licensed medical physician)
- Must have sufficient funds to cover the additional time needed to complete program requirements, check with International Programs Office for the actual dollar amount.
- Eligibility Criteria