Academic Program Completion

After a student graduates, there is a 60-day grace period. A student must depart the U.S. within 60 days of graduation unless the student has been admitted to a new academic program and arranged for a new I-20 OR if the student has applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT). During the 60-day Grace Period, a student may freely travel within the U.S., wrap up personal business, etc. The student may not leave the U.S. and return to F-1 status during the 60-day period on the original I-20. Any departure from the US during the grace period is considered final. A tourist (i.e., B-1/B-2) visa or another valid status will be required to reenter the US.

Change of Education Level

When a student completes one degree at Tarleton State University and then chooses to pursue an additional degree at the next level (ex. Bachelor’s degree to Master’s Degree), he or she will be required to get a new I-20 for the new degree. The student must be admitted to the next degree program and submit new financial documents applicable to the new degree. The student must initiate the process BEFORE the end of his or her current status. Additionally, the new degree program must begin either in the next available term or within 5 months of the first program’s end date, whichever comes first. Note: This same process applies if a student is choosing to get a second degree at the same level (ex. Master’s Degree to another Master’s Degree).

Change of Status

I-539

B-2 to F-1

Eligibility: A change of nonimmigrant status from B-2 to F-1 may be requested when the applicant

  • Has been admitted to an academic degree program at Tarleton State (Note: Students are not allowed to enroll in an academic program at Tarleton State while in B-2 status.),
  • Is in possession of a valid Form I-94, and
  • Has been present in the U.S. for more than 90 days. (Note: Change of status from B-2 to F-1 is possible before 90 days only if your visa indicates “Prospective Student.”)

B-2 to F-2

Eligibility: A change of nonimmigrant status from B-2 to F-2 may be requested when the applicant

  • No longer wishes or has the ability to maintain B-2 status, or
  • Has a spouse or parent in valid F-1 status.

E or L to F-1

Eligibility: A change of nonimmigrant status from E or L to F-1 may be requested when the applicant

  • Has been admitted to an academic degree program at Tarleton State and intends to be a full-time student, and
  • Either can no longer maintain their current status because the primary visa holder has discontinued employment or
  • Is the child of an E or L-1 and is about to reach his/her 21st birthday.  (Note: USCIS must receive change-of-status applications for E and L-2 children before the applicant’s 21st birthday.)

F-2 to F-1

Eligibility: A change of nonimmigrant status from F-2 to F-1 may be requested when the applicant

  • Has been admitted to an academic degree program at Tarleton State (Note: Students may enroll part time recreationally while in F-2 status.) and
  • Is the dependent of a student in valid F-1 status.

H-1B to F-1

Eligibility: A change of nonimmigrant status from H-1B to F-1 may be requested when the applicant

  • Has been admitted to an academic degree program at Tarleton State and intends to be a full-time student, and
  • Is either maintaining H-1B status or
  • Terminated employment fewer than 10 days before filing their I-539 with USCIS.

H-4 to F-1

  • Has been admitted to an academic degree program at Tarleton State and intends to be a full-time student, and
  • Either can no longer maintain H-4 status because the primary visa holder has discontinued employment or
  • Is the child of an H-1B and is about to reach his/her 21st birthday.  (Note: USCIS must receive change-of-status applications for H-4 children before the applicant’s 21st birthday.)

Change-of-Status Guides

Change of Status to F-1: I-539

Change of Status B-2 to F-2: I-539

Concurrent Enrollment

Students are allowed to enroll concurrently at another SEVP-certified institution if they meet certain criteria. These criteria include

  • requesting and receiving permission from the International Programs – Immigration Office before registering for classes at the other school;
  • submitting proof of enrollment before, during, and at the end of the semester; and
  • maintaining a full course of study and meeting both face-to-face and Tarleton enrollment requirements as defined below.

Fall and Spring Semester Credit Hour Requirements

 UndergraduateGraduate
Full-Course of Study129
Face-to-Face96
Enrollment at Tarleton65

 Summer Semester Credit Hour Requirements

 UndergraduateGraduate
Full-Course of Study126
Face-to-Face93
Enrollment at Tarleton63

 Students who are eligible for their annual vacation (i.e., those for whom the summer will not be their first or final semester at Tarleton) do not have to maintain a full course of study, meet face-to-face requirements, or register for classes at Tarleton in the summer. However, they must still request and receive permission from the International Programs – Immigration Office before enrolling and submit proof of enrollment. Students for whom the summer will be their first semester at Tarleton must meet all the above requirements.

Immigration rules require graduating students to enroll in a full course of study (as defined above) and meet face-to-face requirements in their final semester – including summer graduates.  Those who do not have enough hours remaining to enroll in a full course of study must also submit the “Request for Reduced Course Load – Final Semester” form to request permission to enroll less than full time in their final semester. Graduating students with only one class remaining must enroll in a face-to-face class at Tarleton. Those with two or more classes remaining may only enroll in one online class in their final semester and at least half of their total remaining credit hours must be taken at Tarleton.

Students who do not meet one or more of these requirements will receive a registration hold on their accounts and/or be terminated in SEVIS for either failure to enroll or failure to maintain status.

Dependents

A dependent is an individual (a spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21) who accompanies the primary student to the U.S. The student’s designation is an F-1, and any dependents are F-2s. Dependents are only allowed to remain in the U.S. as long as the primary (F-1) is in status. A dependent has his or her own I-20 that will be valid as long as the F-1 student’s I-20 is valid. Before issuing an I-20 to a dependent, the F-1 student will need to document additional funding to demonstrate that resources are available to cover all costs of the dependents living in the U.S.

Some issues for the student to consider

The first semester of an academic program can be challenging for any student. Coming to a new culture and communicating in a language other than his or her primary language can create an even more difficult situation. There are benefits and drawbacks to bringing dependents the first semester and waiting for one semester. Consider:

  • How strong are the student’s English language skills? How strong are the dependent’s English language skills?
  • What previous experience does the student or their dependents have in the United States?
  • What will the dependents do while the student is in classes/studying? (remember that dependents cannot work)
  • Does the student have the financial means to support them while they are here?
  • Will the dependent be able to drive? Will the student or dependent have a car?

To qualify for F-2 status, a spouse or unmarried, minor (under age 21) child must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer and the immigration officer at the port of entry that:

  • He or she is the spouse (as evidenced by a valid marriage certificate) or child (as evidenced by a valid birth certificate) of the F-1 principal;
  • He or she has sufficient funds to cover his/her expenses, or that other arrangements have been made to provide for such expenses once in the United States;
  • He or she intends to leave the United States upon the completion of the status of the principal F-1 student;

Policy

If the dependents are following to join the student, “the F-1 student is, or will be within 30 days, enrolled in a full course of study or engaged in approved practical training following completion of studies.”

F-2 Benefits and Restrictions

  • An F-2 dependent may enroll in less than a full course of study at a college or university. Undergraduate students may enroll in fewer than 12 hours in the fall and spring semesters and fewer than 7 hours in the summer. Graduate students may enroll in fewer than 9 hours in the fall and spring semesters and fewer than 6 hours in the summer.
  • An F-2 dependent may freely travel to and from the US as long as the F-1 student remains in status. The F-2 dependent must show their valid F-2 visa stamp and passport and a travel signature on their I-20 that is less than 12 months old to reenter the US. Travel signatures are valid for 6 months if the F-1 student is on OPT.
  • An F-2 dependent must leave the US if the F-1 student leaves the US for more than 30 days (excluding summer vacation).
  • An F-2 dependent is not eligible to engage in employment (even if unpaid).
  • An F-2 dependent is not eligible for a social security number.
  • An F-2 child may engage in full-time study, including any full course of study, in any public elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).
  • An F-2 dependent who has submitted Form I-539 to change their status from F-2 to F-1 may not enroll full-time in a college or university until USCIS has approved their change of status.
  • If an F-2 dependent has returned home and will not return to the US before the F-1 student completes their program and/or any approved OPT, the F-1 student must notify the International Programs – Immigration Office to have their F-2 dependent removed from their I-20.

Dropping a Course

Do not drop a course without first speaking with International Programs – Immigration. If you drop below full-time enrollment without permission, your SEVIS record will be terminated in accordance with federal immigration regulations. This termination also applies to retroactive withdrawals that are completed after the semester end date.

Students must obtain a reduced course load authorization from International Programs – Immigration before dropping below full-time enrollment to avoid termination. Please note that there are very few instances in which International Programs – Immigration may authorize a reduced course load. Refer to Reduced Course Loads within this section for information on when reduced course loads may be granted.

For retroactive withdrawals, keep in mind that reduced course load authorizations cannot be backdated or retroactively approved. If you retroactively withdraw and fall below full-time enrollment, your SEVIS record will be terminated.

Full-Time Enrollment Requirements

Federal immigration rules require that international students meet full-time enrollment requirements in the fall and spring semesters, as defined below. Students must only meet summer full-time enrollment requirements if summer will be their first or final semester at Tarleton.

Fall and Spring Semester Credit Hour Requirements

 UndergraduateGraduateDoctoral
Full Course of Study1296
Face-to-Face963

Summer Semester Credit Hour Requirements

 UndergraduateGraduateDoctoral
Full Course of Study1266
Face-to-Face933

Graduation Invitation Letter Requests

The International Programs – Immigration Office does not issue graduation invitation letters. It is the student’s responsibility to write a letter for each invitee. Please use the template below as a general guide.

H-1B Cap-Gap Extensions

*Disclaimer: International Programs – Immigration cannot provide legal advice. You should consult a reputable immigration attorney when undergoing the cap-gap process. Oftentimes, this will be your sponsoring employer’s lawyer. We can direct you to resources or advise you on maintaining F-1 status during the cap-gap period. However, we cannot advise you concerning the change-of-status process. **

Cap-Gap extensions become necessary for an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition with an employment start date of October 1 and an accompanying change-of-status request, but whose current F-1 status ends between April 1 and September 30. “Cap gap” refers to the gap in status and work authorization between an F-1 student’s post-completion OPT authorization end date and the start of the student’s new H-1B status.

The following information only applies to H-1B beneficiaries of cap-subject employers with a requested employment start date of October 1. Cap-gap extensions do not apply to beneficiaries of cap-exempt employers, such as nonprofit institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations, and US Government research organizations. These employers can file H-1B petitions at any time – even if the H-1B cap for the next fiscal year has already been reached.

Eligibility for a Cap-Gap Extension

Cap-subject H-1B petitions that are timely filed for an eligible F-1 student and that request a change of status to H-1B starting October 1 of the following fiscal year qualify for a cap-gap extension.

Timely Filed means that the H-1B petition (indicating a change of status rather than consular processing) was filed during the applicable H-1B filing period and while your authorized F-1 duration of status (D/S) admission was still in effect (including any period of time during the academic course of study, any authorized period of post-completion OPT, and the 60-day grace period). It also means that the petition was based on a valid, selected preregistration for the same beneficiary and the appropriate fiscal year unless USCIS suspends the registration requirement. For more information about filing an H-1B cap-subject petition, click here.

Eligible means that the beneficiary of the timely filed petition (i.e., you) meets the criteria for holding the H-1B Specialty Occupations visa. You can find a list of eligibility criteria. At a minimum, you must hold a bachelor’s degree in the professional field in which you will be employed.

After Petitioner Files H-1B Petition and Change-of-Status Request

Once the petitioner (i.e., your employer) timely files a request to change your status to H-1B on October 1, the automatic cap-gap extension will begin.

While Petition is Pending

Students who are granted the cap-gap extension do not receive a new EAD card showing the extended work authorization. If you need proof of work authorization, you can get a cap-gap I-20 from International Programs – Immigration. In such situations, you can continue working while the update to your Form I-20 is being processed. Because the cap-gap extension is automatic, the updated Form I-20 is not required for you to continue working. It merely serves as proof of your extended OPT employment authorization.

To request an updated I-20, you must provide International Programs – Immigration with evidence of a timely-filed H-1B petition (indicating a request for change of status rather than consular processing), such as a copy of the petition and a FedEx, UPS, or USPS Express/certified mail receipt.

If your employer timely files an H-1B cap-subject petition after you have entered your 60-day grace period, you will receive the automatic extension of your F-1 status. However, you will not be authorized to work since you were not authorized to work at the time the H-1B petition was filed.

You are strongly encouraged to stay in close communication with your petitioning employer during the cap-gap extension period for status updates on the H-1B petition processing.

If Petition is Approved

If your H-1B petition is approved (or selected and approved if USCIS suspends the registration requirement), your cap-gap extension of status will continue through September 30. To request an I-20 showing your extension of F-1 status (and work authorization if applicable), you must submit a copy of your employer’s Form I-797 Notice of Action, indicating that the petition was filed and accepted, to International Programs – Immigration. The Form I-797 must have a valid receipt number.

If Petition and/or Change-of-Status Request is Denied

The cap-gap extension of status will automatically terminate if your H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn, revoked, rejected, or not selected, or if the change-of-status request is denied or withdrawn – even if the H-1B petition is approved for consular processing. You will have 60 days from the date the extension of status was terminated or your program end date, whichever is later, to depart the United States.

However, the 60-day grace period does not apply to an F-1 student whose accompanying change-of-status request is denied or revoked due to a status violation, misrepresentation, or fraud. In such cases, you are ineligible for a cap-gap extension of status and the 60-day grace period. Similarly, the 60-day grace period and cap-gap extension of status do not apply to an F-1 student whose H-1B petition was revoked based on a finding of a status violation, fraud, or misrepresentation discovered following approval. In both of these instances, you must immediately leave the United States.

F-1 students who do not qualify for a cap-gap extension and whose periods of authorized stay expire before October 1 are required to leave the United States. You then need to apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad, if applicable, and seek to be readmitted into the United States in H-1B status for the dates reflected on the approved H-1B petition.

During the Cap-Gap Period

STEM OPT AND CAP-GAP EXTENSIONS

A cap-gap eligible student who is also eligible for STEM OPT may apply for the STEM 24-month extension during the cap-gap extension period. You might choose to do this in case your petition is not granted due to the cap.

STEM OPT may still be an option for students with eligible STEM degrees if your registration is not selected during the preregistration period and you have not yet entered your 60-day grace period following the end of your post-completion OPT.

Similarly, if your cap-gap extension period is terminated due to a rejected, denied, revoked, or withdrawn H-1B petition, you may apply for the STEM OPT 24-month extension if you have not yet entered your 60-day grace period.

Travel During the Cap-Gap Period

According to USCIS, you generally may travel during the cap-gap period if:

  • your H-1B petition and change-of-status request have been APPROVED,
  • you seek readmission into the U.S. BEFORE H-1B employment begins (typically October 1), AND
  • you are otherwise admissible. Admissibility is determined at your port of entry.

A student with a pending change-of-status request to H-1B should NOT travel. If you travel while your change of status request to H-1B is pending, USCIS will consider your petition to be abandoned and deny it.

Timing is crucial when it comes to travel during the cap-gap period. Because of this, you should speak with an experienced, board-certified immigration attorney concerning your travel plans, especially if your F-1 visa is expired.

Even if you meet all the requirements listed above, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer always makes the final determination on whether to admit an applicant for admission after inspection at a port of entry. You may refer to the DHS Study in the States page for a list of the documents needed to confirm eligibility for F-1 status.

Days of Accrued Unemployment

No additional unemployment time is granted during the cap-gap period. The limit on unemployment during the cap-gap extension period is the same as the limit for your OPT period.

Type of OPTTotal Unemployment Days Permitted
Initial Post-Completion OPT90 Days
STEM 24-Month Extension150 Days

Petition Pending After October 1

You should speak with legal counsel if your H-1B petition is still pending after October 1.

H-1B Employment Start Date Issue

If your OPT end date is shortened to September 30 even though your H-1B employment will not begin until a later date, please contact International Programs – Immigration.

Employment Changes

BEFORE H-1B STATUS EFFECTIVE DATE

If your change-of-status request to H-1B is approved, but you are laid off or terminated by the H-1B employer before your H-1B start date, you can retrieve any unused OPT IF you have an unexpired EAD issued for post-completion OPT. You will remain in F-1 status and can continue your OPT using the unexpired EAD.

 You also need to ensure that USCIS receives a withdrawal request from your petitioner before your H-1B change of status goes into effect. This request will prevent USCIS from changing your status to H-1B. Once the petition has been revoked or withdrawn, you must provide Undergraduate Admissions – Immigration with a copy of the USCIS acknowledgment of withdrawal (the notice of revocation). We may then contact the SEVIS Help Desk and request a data fix to prevent your SEVIS record from being terminated.

You may continue working past October 1 while the data fix remains pending so long as:

  • Your petitioner withdraws their H-1B petition before October 1
  • You find employment appropriate to your OPT,
  • Your period of OPT is unexpired, and
  • You have not otherwise violated your F-1 status.

If USCIS receives the withdrawal request before the date that you officially change status to H-1B, you generally will remain in F-1 status while the data fix is pending. You will have the standard 60-day grace period to depart the United States unless USCIS revokes the H-1B petition because of fraud or violation of status.

After H-1B Status Effective Date

However, if USCIS does not receive the withdrawal request before the date that you officially change your status to H-1B, you must stop working. You then need to file Form I-539 to change your status back to F-1 and wait until USCIS approves your Form I-539 before resuming OPT employment (provided that your EAD card is still valid).

Health Insurance

Medical services in the United States are privatized. That means the government does not provide medical treatment and the patient is responsible for all costs. Medical treatment can be very expensive the in the U.S. so many Americans carry medical insurance to subsidize medical costs.

Insurance Requirements

All international students in F-1 status at Tarleton State University are required to have the Texas A&M University System’s Student Health Insurance Plan during all periods of enrollment. The premium is automatically charged to an international student’s tuition and fee statement.

International students are covered by the Academic Blue Student Health Plan through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. Please take a moment to review the health insurance information, coverage, and benefits at Tarleton My AHP Care.

System Health Insurance Regulation

Enrollment in the Academic Blue Student Health Plan is mandated by the Texas A&M System Benefits Administration and applies to all universities of the Texas A&M University System. Tarleton State University does not determine the cost of this insurance. The plan is reviewed annually by the System Benefits Administration. You can find the System Student Health Insurance Regulation here.

TAMUS AHP Student Dental

Additionally, you may be interested in dental insurance. Dental insurance information can be found here.

Insurance Cards

As of fall 2022, student health insurance cards are digital. Go to https://tarleton.myahpcare.com/, click on “Additional Information,” then “Account & ID Card Information,” and follow these steps:

  1. Look up your group and member ID numbers.
  2. Create an account with Academic Health Plans.
  3. Create an account with Blue Cross Blue Shield.
  4. Access your digital ID card through your Blue Access for Members (BAM) account.

You can also refer to the Academic Blue Quick Start Guide for step-by-step directions on how to set up your accounts and access your digital ID card.

Insurance Rates (2022 – 2023)

For a detailed list of insurance rates for the 2022- 2023 academic year, please refer to the following chart:

AHP Insurance Rates 2022-2023

 Students attending their first semester at Tarleton for fall will be subject to additional insurance for the month of August.

Waiver Guidelines

We understand if you wish to use your own insurance. The Texas A&M University System has established four circumstances in which an international student can request a waiver to the student health insurance plan by providing evidence of alternative health insurance coverage. Please review the circumstances under which you may submit a waiver request:

  1. The student is sponsored by the United States government
  2. The student is sponsored by a foreign government recognized by the United States or certain international, government-sponsored, or non-governmental organizations, and covered under a health plan that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the health plan does not include medical evacuation and repatriation, a rider must be purchased providing coverage at equal limits to the SSHIP.
  3. The student is enrolled in an employer-provided group health group that is compliant with the ACA. If the health plan does not include medical evacuation and repatriation, a ride must be purchased providing coverage at equal limits to the SSHIP.
  4. The student is enrolled in only distance learning programs

In order to be approved for a waiver, your alternate health coverage must meet the following requirements as set in the System Regulation:

  1. The policy provides the Essential Minimum Benefits required by the PPACA with no annual limits.
  2. Policies annual deduction of no more than $500 USD (except for employer plans).
  3. The policy contains no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
  4. Proof of Repatriation expenses in the amount of no less than $25,000 USD.
  5. Proof of expenses associated with the medical evacuation to the insured’s home country of no less than $50,000 USD.

Submit your waiver with proof of documentation using the following link:

TARLETON MY AHP CARE – WAIVER

 For assistance with your waiver request, please contact Academic Health Plans at [email protected] or read their Waiver Submission Quick Reference Flyer.

Graduate Assistantships

If you are a new graduate student assistant and your position is benefits eligible, you must opt-in to the Graduate Student Employee Health Plan through Workday to receive a student health insurance fee waiver on your Texan Bill Pay. You are not required to apply for a waiver of the student health insurance fee. However, to receive the waiver, your employee insurance must be effective either January 31 for spring enrollees or September 1 for fall enrollees.

To ensure that your insurance takes effect in time for you to receive the fee waiver, you must complete your insurance onboarding task in Workday within the time frame given to you by Employee Services during your Benefits Orientation.

Not completing your insurance onboarding task in Workday in a timely manner could result in your being “double covered” and having to pay the student health insurance fee for the first semester of your assistantship.

If you want to opt-out of the Graduate Student Employee Health Insurance Plan, you must decline the insurance in Workday. If you do not decline the insurance, you will be enrolled by default.

Please contact [email protected] if you have additional questions.

Hybrid Course Substitution

Hybrid Course Substitution is to be used when there are no face-to-face or hybrid sections available in which an international student can enroll for a required class. If this is the case, the student or their advisor first needs to contact International Programs – Immigration, explain their enrollment situation and request to use the hybrid course substitution option. If approved, the student will arrange to meet in person with the online class professor up to five times during the semester. During their meetings, the student will complete mutually agreed upon assignments to fulfill the in-person component of a hybrid class. The student next completes the Hybrid Course Substitution Form and signs it and then gives it to their professor to sign. Do not complete the chart at the bottom of the form at this time. Upon completing the form, the student returns it to International Programs – Immigration for a DSO signature. As the semester progresses, the student meets with their professor and records their meeting times using the chart on the form. Finally, the student submits the completed form to International Programs – Immigration at the end of the semester to document their in-person meetings with their professor.

Insufficient Funds

At any time after arriving on campus, when a student has indicated that he or she does not have sufficient funds to cover tuition/fees, personal expenses, or any other required expenses, the student must find alternative funding, transfer to another institution that is more affordable, or withdraw and return home. The student should discuss his or her financial situation with someone from his or her department such as a faculty member or advisor. If the student is unable to secure the necessary funding and cannot continue in his or her course of study, the student’s classes will be canceled, the student’s SEVIS record will be terminated and the student must return home immediately.

Please note that the International Programs – Immigration Office does not have funding for such needs. Also, if the student wants to transfer, he or she must be able to transfer in a timely manner. If a student cannot transfer to a school within 2 weeks of withdrawing (unless it is the summer or between semesters), then his or her SEVIS record will be terminated and the student must leave the U.S. immediately. Termination means the student’s F-1 status is no longer valid, and he or she cannot remain in the U.S. Remaining in the U.S. would mean that the student is accruing days of unlawful presence which could eventually hurt the student’s chances of ever returning to the U.S.

Leave of Absence

If a student must take a temporary leave of absence from studies due to unforeseen circumstances, the student’s SEVIS record must be terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal. A student whose record is terminated for authorized early withdrawal must depart the United States within 15 days of the record termination. With a terminated SEVIS record, the student must spend their temporary absence outside the United States. If the student will be able to resume his or her studies in less than 5 months (which is considered a “temporary absence”), a Tarleton State University DSO may request to reactivate the student’s record, so that the student may return to the United States on a new I-20 (provided his or her F-1 visa is still valid). This request can be made up to 60 days before the student’s next session start date.

Note: If the student does not return before 5 months, then the student’s status may not be changed and the student must start the process of getting a new initial I-20 including all necessary documents.

Maintaining Status

Maintaining status is the responsibility of the student. You must take care during your stay in the U.S. to maintain lawful F-1 status as failure to do so can have serious short-term and long-term consequences.

When you sign your immigration documents and enter the United States, you are indicating:

  • You agree to comply with the terms and conditions of your admission and any extensions of stay.
  • All information provided on your immigration documents is true and correct to the best of your knowledge.
  • You seek to enter or remain in the United States temporarily solely for the purpose of completing the program at the institution indicated on your immigration documents.

Important Things to Remember

  • Maintain a valid passport at all times. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months in the future.
  • Keep Form I-20 current. Do not let it expire. Make sure all the information on your I-20 is accurate and valid. Obtain a new I-20 whenever any information has changed.
  • Apply for an extension if you cannot complete your program before the completion date on your I-20. No extension is allowed past the expiration date of the I-20. You will have to apply for reinstatement with the Department of Homeland Security if you stay beyond the expiration date without an extension granted on time.
  • Obtain a travel endorsement on your I-20 from the International Programs – Immigration Office before traveling. The endorsement for travel must be obtained during the current semester. It is not necessary if you are returning home permanently.
  • Report a change of address within 10 days of the change by updating your address in your SEVP Portal and notifying a DSO in the International Programs – Immigration Office.
  • Make sure your I-94 card is always marked “F-1” and “D/S”. It is much harder to correct errors once you leave the immigration inspection site (airport). If your I-94 card contains errors, immediately contact Undergraduate Admissions – Immigration Office.
  • Report any life event that may affect your immigration status such as the birth of a child, marriage, change of legal name, or divorce.
  • NEVER work off-campus unless you have current work authorization from an International Programs – Immigration Office DSO and/or DHS (Department of Homeland Security).
  • Report your program completion so that International Programs – Immigration Office may close your SEVIS record.
  • Do not engage in criminal activity.

New I-20 Request

A student may request a new I-20 at any time by emailing their DSO.  Students must allow for at least 3 business days for the request to be processed.  Some reasons why a student might request a new I-20 include:

  • Lost/Stolen I-20
  • Damaged I-20
  • Change of Major
  • Change in Funding
  • Correction of information
  • Endorsement Lines are full
  • Visa Renewal

Program Extension

An F-1 student is admitted to the United States for “duration of status” (D/S) to complete an educational program. However, the student must actually complete his or her program on or before the program end date listed on the I-20. If the student is not able to complete his or her academic program by that date, he or she must request an extension from a DSO before the program’s end date. If the student failed to apply to the DSO for an extension before the I-20 program end date, then the student is considered out of status. The student is not eligible for an extension or to have their SEVIS record corrected by the PDSO. The student is also not eligible for OPT and cannot work on campus. To regain F-1 status in this case, the student would have to either apply for reinstatement or exit the United States and apply for admission with a new SEVIS ID and I-20 issued for initial attendance.

Eligibility

DSOs have the discretion to interpret the term “compelling academic or medical reasons.” The regulations go on to state that “delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension.”

Program Shorten

An F-1 student is admitted to the United States for “duration of status” (D/S) to complete an educational program; however, the student must actually complete his or her program on or before the program end date listed on the I-20. If the student plans to graduate early, he or she should inform the International Programs – Immigration Office so that a Designated School Official can shorten his or her program in the SEVIS database. This should be done before the student graduates. E

Eligibility:

  • There are no specific eligibility requirements except that the student makes the request with the Designated School Official.

Reduced Course Loads

Students must pursue a “full course of study at all times” (except for summer breaks, which USCIS considers an official break). A full course load is 12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 credit hours for graduate students. Do not drop below full-time without authorization from a Tarleton State University Designated School Official (DSO). A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the DSO will be considered out of status.

The U.S. Government stipulates the reasons for which a Reduced Course Load (RCL) can be granted. The reasons include:

  • Academic Difficulties (only allowed for one semester at each program level):
    • Initial Difficulty with English Language
    • Initial Difficulty with Reading Requirements
    • Unfamiliarity with American Teaching Methods
    • Improper Course Level Placement
  • To complete a course of study in current term
  • Illness or Medical Condition: A student may be authorized to reduce course load for a reason of illness or medical condition on more than one occasion while pursuing a course of study, so long as the aggregate period of that authorization does not exceed 12 months. Evidence must be demonstrated with medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist. Each new term must be reauthorized.

The exceptions to the “full course of study” requirement are limited, but very important. In the situations described above, F-1 students are considered to be maintaining status even if they are not registered for a full course of study, and they continue to be eligible for F-1 benefits if they are otherwise eligible.

Reinstatement of Status

Failure to maintain status requires that the student either return home or apply for reinstatement. Any student who wants to apply for reinstatement must demonstrate that he or she is eligible for reinstatement based on guidelines provided by the U.S. Government. If the student is not eligible, then he or she may not apply. A request for reinstatement will be highly scrutinized and may be denied. Depending on the circumstances, students who are out of status may wish to hire an immigration attorney to assist them.

Eligibility

A student may be eligible for reinstatement depending on whether the student:

  • Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrates that the failure to file within the 5-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that the student filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances);
  • Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of Service regulations;
  • Is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20;
  • Has not engaged in unauthorized employment;
  • Is not deportable on any ground; and
  • Establishes to the satisfaction of the (government) Service, by a detailed showing, either that:
  • The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO, but do 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; OR
  • The violation relates to a reduction in the student’s course load that would have been within a DSO’s power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.

After Applying for Reinstatement

If a student does apply for reinstatement, while they are pending reinstatement the student:

  • Should continue a full-time program of study at the school that issued the I-20
  • Must comply with all the requirements for maintaining student status
  • Should not travel outside the United States. Doing so will be considered an abandonment of the pending reinstatement application. If the student decides to do so, he or she will have to reenter on a new, initial attendance I-20 as well as pay the SEVIS fee.
  • Cannot work on or off campus (includes CPT or OPT)
  • Is not eligible to apply for any student-related benefits while the reinstatement is pending.

Reinstatements Options Flyer

Research Abroad for Graduate Students

International students must inform International Programs – Immigration of their proposed research outside the U.S. for SEVIS reporting purposes.  It is advised that you discuss your intentions to do research abroad with your DSO before departing the U.S.  Approved requests for research abroad, along with maintaining full-time enrollment, will ensure that your SEVIS record remains active while you are abroad.  This means that there will be no breaks in your immigration status even though you are not physically present in the U.S. 

Eligibility

Students must complete one fall or spring semester on campus at Tarleton before they are eligible to do research abroad.

Requesting Authorization

To request research abroad authorization from International Programs – Immigration, please complete our Graduate Research Abroad Request Form and submit it to [email protected] towards the end of the semester BEFORE you plan to be overseas.

Immigration Implications

Please keep in mind the following immigration implications that come with doing research overseas.

Full-Time Enrollment.  You are required to maintain full-time enrollment while abroad.  Please see below for fall and spring full-time enrollment requirements.  Any changes to your enrollment, such as dropping a class without prior approval from your DSO, could affect your ability to return to the U.S.  As long as you maintain full-time enrollment in the fall and spring semesters, your SEVIS record will be registered as an active student at Tarleton.

Fall and Spring Semester Credit Hour Requirements

 GraduateDoctorate
Full-Course of Study96
Face-to-Face63

If the summer semester will be your final semester at Tarleton, you must meet summer full-time enrollment requirements.

Summer Semester Credit Hour Requirements

 GraduateDoctorate
Full-Course of Study66
Face-to-Face33

Reduced Course Load. If you cannot meet full-time enrollment requirements in your final semester, please complete our Request for Reduced Course Load – Final Semester Form and submit it to [email protected] at the beginning of your final semester to request permission to enroll below full time.  If you have been granted a reduced course load and only need to enroll in one class in your final semester, you must enroll in a face-to-face or hybrid class.  If you need more than one class in your final semester, no more than one 3-credit-hour class may be online.

Maintain Valid Immigration Documents.  Make sure that you have a valid passport, I-20 travel signature, and F-1 visa (if applicable) when you return to the U.S.  You must carry these items with you when you go through Customs at your port of entry.  DO NOT put them in your checked bags.

  • Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after you return to the U.S. 
  • I-20: The travel signature on page 2 of your most recent I-20 must be less than 12 months old when you reenter the U.S.  If this will not be the case, then you need to request a new travel signature from your DSO BEFORE you leave.
  • F-1 Visa: You may not reenter the U.S. with an expired visa.  If you have an F-1 visa and it will expire while you are overseas, you need to renew it in your home country before returning to the U.S.  Some, but not all, countries accept visa renewal requests from third-country nationals.  If you must renew your visa in a third country, please check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate you plan to visit to see if they are accepting visa renewal requests from third-country nationals.

Employment.  Because approved research abroad does not interrupt your immigration status, you may be eligible for both CPT and OPT upon your return to campus.

  • CPT: If you are approved for research abroad and you maintain full-time enrollment, your research abroad can count towards your eligibility for CPT.
  • Post-Completion OPT: If you are approved for research abroad and you maintain full-time enrollment, your research abroad can count towards your eligibility for post-completion OPT.  However, you may be ineligible if your research abroad is in your final semester and any of the following situations apply to you:
    • You are currently not in the U.S.  Students must be physically present in the U.S. with a valid I-94 to apply for post-completion OPT.
    • Your F-1 visa status is terminated due to authorized early withdrawal (see below for more information).  You cannot apply for post-completion OPT if you are not in valid F-1 status.
    • You are unable to return to the U.S. before your I-20 program end date to file your Form I-765 with USCIS.  Once your program end date passes, you cannot reenter the U.S. with your current I-20.  Additionally, International Programs – Immigration may not extend your program end date simply because you are participating in research abroad or so you can apply for post-completion OPT.  Please review our Program Extension Form for a list of valid program extension reasons.

Authorized Early Withdrawal.  Students who cannot meet full-time enrollment requirements in their research abroad semester may consider applying for an authorized early withdrawal (AEW).  An AEW will terminate your SEVIS record for the remainder of your time overseas.  However, it will NOT prevent you from enrolling in classes at Tarleton.  You can still enroll in online classes with a terminated SEVIS record. 

Please contact International Programs – Immigration as soon as you realize that you cannot maintain full-time enrollment.  If your DSO agrees that AEW is the best option for your current situation, you will need to complete our Authorized Early Withdrawal Request Form and email it to [email protected].  As previously mentioned, dropping classes without permission from your DSO could affect your ability to reenter the U.S., as doing so could result in your SEVIS record being terminated for unauthorized drop below full course load.  In the long run, it is much better to have your SEVIS record terminated for AEW than it is for unauthorized drop below full course load.

Once you are ready to return to campus, please contact International Programs – Immigration at least 90 days before your intended return.  If fewer than 5 months have passed since your departure, then Undergraduate Admissions – Immigration can request that the federal immigration authorities reactivate your SEVIS record.  However, if more than 5 months have passed since your departure, you must apply for a new I-20 and pay a new SEVIS fee.  You will not need to renew your visa unless it will expire before you reenter to the U.S.

Additional Information

As a student traveling overseas under university sponsorship, you must abide by Tarleton’s travel abroad procedures as set forth by the Department of Risk Management and Safety.

Suspension and Expulsion

If a student is suspended or expelled from Tarleton State University for any length of time, he or she may be considered as failing to maintain status, and the student’s SEVIS record may be terminated.  If the student chooses to appeal, no action on his/her SEVIS record will be made until the appeal process is completed.  At the conclusion of the appeal process, if the student is not granted a suspension override, his/her SEVIS record must be terminated for suspension or expulsion, whichever is applicable.

Taxes

As in most countries, the tax laws in the United States are very complex. The Internal Revenue Service is the U.S. government agency that collects taxes. For the official regulations regarding all aspects of U.S. taxes for international students and scholars, please go visit their website. Listed below are some important points to remember. This information is meant to be a general introduction and should not be considered legal tax advice.

  • Taxes are paid on the income from the preceding year. The 2023 forms are used for income that you earned during the 2022 calendar year (not the school year).
  • You may need to file forms each year with the IRS, even if you earned no income. Your specific requirements may depend on many factors including, but not limited to, your visa status, the purpose of your visit, the number of days you were in the United States, the amount of income you earned, and if there is a tax treaty between your country and the U.S.
  • While employers do deduct money from your paycheck throughout the year and send it to the IRS, it may not equal the exact amount owed at the end of the year. If too much was deducted, you may be eligible for a refund. If not enough was deducted, you may owe more to the government.
  • It is your responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If I arrived at Tarleton State University in January 2023, do I have to file documents with the IRS this year? 

A: No, if you were not in the U.S. during the tax reporting year (i.e., the year of 2022), then you do not have to file any documents with the IRS this year.

Q: What is Taxable Income? 

A: Some kinds of income are taxed while others are not. Generally, income from foreign sources is not taxed. Salary from a job is taxed but is not the only kind of earning that is taxed. Other types of income are taxable. Some examples of income include:

  • Wages that appear on form W-2 are taxable.
  • Scholarship or fellowship income that requires services (i.e. teaching assistant, athletic scholarships) will be treated as wages, like employment.
  • Scholarships, fellowships, and grants may be partially taxed.
  • Money used for other expenses, like room, board, and travel, are taxable.

Q: Do I need a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?

A: If you were employed and received wages in 2022, you will need a Social Security Number. If you did not receive wages in 2022, you will need an ITIN.

Q: What is an ITIN? 

A: An ITIN is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. You would only need this if you do not have and do not qualify for a Social Security Number, and you received a scholarship/fellowship in the U.S. in 2022. Tarleton State University’s tax software, Glacier Tax Prep, will help determine if you need an ITIN and automatically generate the paperwork for you if you need one.

Q: Do I need a code to able to use Glacier Tax Prep?

A: Yes, you need to contact the International Programs – Immigration Office to receive a code that will allow you to access Glacier Tax Prep.

Q: What if I only have a Social Security Number but not an ITIN? 

A: You will have one or the other but not both. If you have submitted tax forms previously using an ITIN but now you have a social security number, you need to use your social security number. 

Additionally, you need to notify the IRS that you now have a social security number and that they need to void your ITIN.  You do so by either visiting a local IRS office or writing a letter explaining that you have now been assigned an SSN and want your tax records combined.  If you write a letter, include your complete name, mailing address, and ITIN along with a copy of your social security card and a copy of the CP 565, Notice of ITIN Assignment, if available.  The IRS will void the ITIN so it cannot be used by anyone in the future and associate all prior tax information filed under the ITIN with the SSN.  Send your letter to: Internal Revenue Service, Austin, TX 73301-0057.

Q: How do I know if I’m a non-resident or resident for tax purposes? 

A: Your status for tax purposes depends on the amount of time you have spent in the U.S.  This is known as the “substantial presence test.”  To determine your residence for tax purposes you need to review all stays in the U.S. in whatever status since 1985. This includes any vacations you took as a kid. If you are not sure, use your best judgement and be as comprehensive as possible.  International students can be exempt from counting days for the substantial presence test for 5 tax years.  

  • This is exempt years, not full years.  
  • Ex. If an F-1 student entered December 2022 for a program starting January 2023, then 2022 counts as year 1 of 5 exempt years, even though they may have only been in the U.S. for a few days.
  • You can use GTP or visit  https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4011.pdf to help you calculate your tax status.

Q: Why can’t I just use TurboTax or H&R Block as a non-resident for tax purposes? 

A: TurboTax and other popular tax preparation services in the U.S. do not understand the unique tax requirements of NRAs.  They may instruct you to file things inaccurately for your tax resident status and cause you to unintentionally commit tax fraud.  GTP employees are experts at non-resident tax compliance.  In addition, you can get a GTP access code through Tarleton at no additional cost to you.  

Q: Can I go to a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location to receive tax assistant?  

A: Most VITA locations do not have volunteers that understand NRA taxes.  If you are considered a non-resident for tax purposes, you should not use VITA services.  Instead, you should request a free access code from a Tarleton DSO. 

Q: GTP said that I am a resident for tax purposes but I’m a nonimmigrant F-1 student.  GTP says I cannot use their product to prepare my tax forms. What do I do? 

A: Tax residence status is different than immigration residence status.  You can be a nonimmigrant in F-1 status with your residence abroad but be considered a resident for tax purposes.  Since you are considered a resident for tax purposes, you can use the tax preparation software of your choice and file as a resident. 

Q: My country has a tax treaty.  Do I have to file taxes?  

A: You must claim the tax treaty for your country to take advantage of the benefits of the treaty. In addition, depending on the terms of the treaty, it might not eliminate your tax liability and you might not be able to claim the treaty multiple years. It is important to use GTP to determine your tax liability while an NRA.  Depending on your country of citizenship, you may still owe taxes in your home country on income earned in the U.S.

Q: I’ve been in the U.S. for a few years and I’ve never filed any tax form because I’ve never had U.S.-based income.  Is this going to cause any troubles for me in the future?  

A: Failure to file necessary tax forms such as the Form 8843 could cause issues if you apply for a change of status or a U.S. visa in the future. For example, failure to file the 8843 can be discovered if you file for an adjustment of status in the future. This could be cited as a reason to deny your adjustment of status application.  Failure to file 8843 may also cause a nonresident alien to be subjected to tax on worldwide income.  If you did not file 8843’s in the past, it is possible to file them late.  Look for the forms for years you missed and complete them.  Write a cover letter to the IRS apologizing for not filing.  File the forms for previous years and keep copies for your records.  You can find 8843’s from previous years here.

Disclaimer

This information is intended only for international students and scholars who are non-resident alien taxpayers with income sources that are typical of students at Tarleton State University. Although the information contained in this site has been reviewed carefully and should be adequate to assist most international students and scholars, it is not a substitute for advice obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a qualified tax accountant. If your visa status has changed in the past year, or you believe you have a complicated tax issue, please consult the IRS or a qualified tax accountant.

Termination of SEVIS Record

Per federal immigration regulations, a DSO must terminate students’ SEVIS records in the following situations:

  • Absent From US for 5 Months or Longer – Student outside the US for 5 months or longer
  • Authorized Below Full Course Time Exceeded – Student did not enroll full time when authorized reduced course load ended
  • Authorized Early Withdrawal – Student requested and was approved to withdraw from academic program
  • Expulsion – Student is expelled
  • Failure to Enroll – Student in continuing status fails to enroll full time 
  • Failure to Report While on OPT – Student fails to submit 6-, 12-, or 18-month validation report to International Programs – Immigration
  • No Show – Student in initial status did not report to International Programs – Immigration by the program start date
  • Otherwise Failing to Maintain Status – Student fails to maintain status, and no other reasons apply
  • Suspension – Student is suspended
  • Transfer Student No Show – Student did not report to International Programs – Immigration as required
  • Unauthorized Drop Below Full Course of Study – Student drops below full time without authorization from International Programs – Immigration
  • Unauthorized Employment – Student did not have authorization to work for any part of the employment
  • Unauthorized Withdrawal – Student withdraws from Tarleton without approval from International Programs – Immigration

Transferring Out of Tarleton State University

If you plan to transfer your SEVIS record from Tarleton to another SEVP-certified institution, please remember that you must be in status at the time of the transfer. Tarleton will not transfer your SEVIS record if it is out of status. You may remain in the US while transferring between schools as long as you begin classes at your new school 

  • in the next available term,
  • within 5 months of your last day of classes at Tarleton,
  • within 5 months of the program end date on your current I-20, or
  • within 5 months of the end date on your EAD card granted for post-completion OPT (whichever is shorter). 

Please follow the steps below to transfer your SEVIS record to another school:

  1. After you are admitted to your new school, you and a DSO in the International Programs – Immigration Office will need to complete your new school’s Transfer-In Form.
  2. You will need to complete our Transfer-Out Form and email it to [email protected] along with a copy of your new school’s acceptance letter.
  3. The International Programs – Immigration Office will email you once your transfer is processed in SEVIS. Please note that if you are currently on OPT, you will no longer be able to work after the date when your SEVIS record is transferred to your new school (known as your “SEVIS release date”). Working beyond your SEVIS release date is a violation of your F-1 status.

Travel Guidelines

Please click on the pdf below for guidance on traveling while in F-1 status.

Travel Guidelines 

Visas

  • A valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
  • Students returning to the United States to resume their studies after an authorized temporary absence will not need to renew their visa if the visa is still valid.
  • Student who have been outside the US for more than 5 months would only need to apply for a new visa if their original visa has expired.
  • Current SEVP regulations do not require an F-1 student to complete a course of study at the school listed on the visa. Therefore, transfer students do not need to get a new visa with their new school’s name on it unless the visa has expired.
  • Please visit this website for information on Automatic Revalidation.

Contact Immigration

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 254-968-9632