International Student and Scholar Services

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Maintaining Status

An international student's ability to maintain status is key to remaining in the United States and completing a degree.

It is important to request status changes in a timely manner, complete required paperwork and follow instructions.

The Center for International Studies requires seven business days to process most applications and requests. 

Some common requests:

Program extension

An extension of student status is available for international students who are unable to meet the program completion date on their I-20. 

Failure to apply before completion date will result in the loss of on-campus work, eligibility for the Academic & Cultural Sharing Scholarship and other benefits.

Allow seven business days to process extension requests.

Types

  • Academic
    • Change of major.
    • Change in research topic.
    • Unexpected research problems.
    • Inadequate time granted on initial I-20.
  • Medical
    • Documented illness

Eligibility

  • The student has valid F-1 student status.
  • The student has continually maintained status.
  • The student has submitted the request before the program completion date on their I-20. 
  • The student has a valid passport.
  • The student has not been on academic probation or suspension at St. Cloud State.
  • The student’s program has not passed the completion date.
  • The student has not applied for a program extension to extend curricular practical training.

Application

Complete the request packet:

  • Program extension for F-1 (PDF) students or Program extension for F-1 Intensive English Center (PDF) students
  • Documentation that proves sufficientfunds to cover remaining credits. Documents must:
    • Be originals, photocopies, scanned copies or faxed documents printed on bank letterhead and certified with the bank’s stamp or seal; we reserve the right to verify authenticity.
    • Be dated within six months of today’s date.
    • Include a letter in English from a sponsor indicating their willingness to provide financial support if support is being provided by anyone other than the student.
    • Be written in English; if English is not the language in which the bank documents are issued, the bank documents must be accompanied by a certified, literal English translation.
  • Program completion form. Supporting evidence for request:
    • Academic
      • A written statement from the student's academic advisor describing the circumstances.
      • A Major Program Plan from their advisor detailing the remaining course enrollment plan.
    • Medical
      • A written statement from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or clinical psychologist that describes the circumstances.

For review, drop off or mail the packet to:

Center for International Studies
Lawrence Hall 101
720 Fourth Ave. S.
St. Cloud, MN 56301

An adviser will respond by email. 

Ineligibility

Students who are ineligible for an extension may:

  • Apply for reinstatement of student status
  • Exit the U.S. and apply for admission with a new SEVIS ID and I-20 issued for initial attendance

Authorized early withdrawal

An international student may seek an authorized withdrawal during their program for family or personal reasons in which they need to stop their studies and leave the U.S.

Approval for the leave of absence results in the termination of the international student’s SEVIS record.

Types

  • Temporary absence, returning within 5 months of their SEVIS termination date.
  • Absence/withdrawal of more than 5 months. Student will not return or will return more than 5 months after termination.

Eligibility

  • The student has valid F-1 student status.
  • The student will leave the U.S. during the authorized early withdrawal.
  • Students who do not plan to leave the U.S. are not eligible.

Application

  • Complete the request packet:
  • Schedule an appointment with an advisor at the Center for International Studies to drop off the packet and review eligibility.
  • An advisor will review the packet and email the student that the packet has been processed, needs more documentation or has been denied.
  • Pick up the packet at the Center for International Studies.

Key points

  • Students must allow the Center for International Studies 7 full business days after submitting a complete application to process the request.
  • International students must depart the U.S. within 15 calendar days from their SEVIS termination.
  • Students have 5 months from the date their SEVIS record is terminated or the next session start date, whichever is earlier, to return to the U.S. to resume studies on their current SEVIS record.
  • Students must provide the Center for International Studies with a current personal email address as your HuskyNet email account may be deactivated.
  • Any on-campus employment ends the day SEVIS termination occurs.
  • Any CPT authorization ends the day that SEVIS termination occurs.
  • All dependents in F-2 status will be terminated when the F-1 SEVIS record is terminated and must leave the U.S. with the F-1 student visa holder.
  • Students must meet with the Business Services Office and pay any remaining balances before their departure.
  • Students employed as graduate assistants are responsible for discussing the impact of their withdrawal with their supervisor.
  • Students are responsible for filing a Health Insurance Refund if they would like a refund. Students are not required to maintain St. Cloud State University health insurance if they are out of the country while their SEVIS record is inactive. However, if they do not maintain insurance and a break in coverage occurs, they must wait one year or longer to receive benefits for any pre-existing condition.

School transfer

An international student’s SEVIS record can be transferred from one SEVP-certified school to another SEVP-certified school.

Types

  • Active (in-status) SEVIS record
    • The student applies for a transfer
  • Terminated (out-of-status) SEVIS record
    • Transfer then reinstate
      • The student intends to pursue a full course of study at the next available term or within five months, whichever is earlier, at the transfer-in school.
    • Transfer and re-enter. The student must:
      • Obtain an Initial I-20 from the new school.
      • Exit the United States and return as an initial entry in a new F-1 nonimmigrant status (initial admission).
      • Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and apply for a new visa.

Eligibility

The student:

  • Has an active (in-status) SEVIS record.
  • Has a terminated (out-of-status) SEVIS record.
  • Is pursuing a full course of study or is engaged in post-completion optional practical training or a STEM extension.
  • Is within their 60-day grace period of the program end date of their optional practical training or STEM extension authorization.

Application

  • Complete all sections of the request packet including:
    • School transfer request
    • Proof of acceptance
      • The student must provide proof of acceptance into the new institution in the form of a letter/email/fax that includes details of the student’s upcoming acceptance (i.e. starting date, name of institution, program).
    • Transfer survey 
    • Health insurance refund petition, if applicable
  • Drop off or mail the packet to the Center for International Studies for review
  • An adviser will notify the student by email that the packet has been processed, needs more documentation or has been denied.

Key points

  • Students must allow the Center for International Studies 7 full business days after submitting a complete application to process the request.
  • Students must check-in with their new institution and register for classes within 15 days of their new program start date.
  • Students must obtain a new visa issued for the new SEVP-certified school if the student will travel before re-entering the U.S.
  • Students must start attending classes within five months of the last day he or she attended classes or the next available session, whichever comes sooner.
  • Students must start attending classes within five months of the student’s program end date of their optional practical training or STEM extension authorization.
  • A student's SEVIS record will be terminated if they do not report to the new school and enroll full-time within 30 days of the program start date.
  • The student’s employment ends on the transfer release date (this includes optional practical training, curricular practical training and on-campus employment).
  • St. Cloud State University cannot access the student's SEVIS record once it has been transferred.
  • If the international student decides not to transfer their SEVIS record, they must notify the Center for International Studies immediately.

I-20 request for dependent/F-2 visas

Students who want to bring their dependents to join them in the United States must file an I-20 request for an F-1 student's dependent. The U.S. issues an I-20 for the dependent to request an F-2 visa.

Students must allow the Center for International Studies 7 full business days after submission of a complete application to process the request.

Types

All documents must be translated into the English language.

  • Spouse
    • The couple must produce a valid marriage certificate.
    • Same-sex couples must have the marriage recognized where the marriage took place.
  • Child
    • Unmarried children under the age of 21. The F-1 student must provide a valid birth certificate.

Eligibility

F-1 students can apply if:

  • They are in valid F-1 status.
  • They show sufficient funds (see application information)
  • The dependent has a valid passport.

Application

Complete all sections of the packet, including:

  • I-20 request for dependent of F-1 student.
  • Health insurance release
  • Financial documentation.
    • The student must prove sufficient funding is available to cover the current academic year's expenses.
    • The student must prove sufficient funding is available to cover:
        • $5,000 for the first dependent.
        • $3,000 for each additional dependent.
        • $950 monthly for living expenses if the student is in an approved optional practical training program.
    • Documents must:
        • Be originals, photocopies, scanned copies or faxed documents printed on bank letterhead and certified with the bank’s stamp or seal; we reserve the right to verify authenticity.
        • Be dated within six months of today’s date.
        • Include a letter in English from a sponsor indicating their willingness to provide financial support if support is being provided by anyone other than the student.
        • Be written in English; if English is not the language in which the bank documents are issued, the bank documents must be accompanied by a certified, literal English translation.
    • Provide supporting evidence.
        • A copy of the dependent's passport information page that includes their picture, biographical information and expiration date.

Drop off or mail the packet for review to:

Center for International Studies
Lawrence Hall 101
720 Fourth Ave S
St. Cloud, MN 56301

An advisor will:

  • Review the packet and email the student to pick up the packet, provide further documentation or that the request has been denied.
  • Provide a letter of invitation for each dependent issued an I-20 to be used during their visa interview.

The student should pick up the packet and letter at the center, Lawrence Hall 101.

F-2 Dependent Academic Study

  • Kindergarten — 12th grade (elementary or secondary) study is allowed.
  • Intensive English Center
    • Maximum of 17 hours a week.
    • Apply directly to the Intensive English Center.
    • The study may count toward a certificate.
  • Undergraduate
    • Maximum of 11 credits a semester.
    • Apply as a non-degree seeking student where a maximum of 24 credits are allowed if the student wants to apply for an undergraduate program.
    • Apply as an undergraduate student if the student wants credits to count toward a degree.
  • Graduate
    • Maximum of 7 credits a semester.
    • Apply as a non-degree seeking student where a maximum of six credits are allowed if the student wants to apply for a graduate program.
    • Apply as a graduate student if the student wants credits to count toward a degree.
  • Avocational or recreational
    • No maximum.

Key points

  • An F-2 child may only engage in full-time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade).
  • F-2 dependents may not accept or engage in any type of employment.
  • F-2 dependents may enroll in online classes.
  • F-2 dependents are not eligible for curricular practical training or optional practical training.
  • F-2 dependents are not eligible for the Academic and Cultural Sharing Scholarship; they must pay non-resident tuition.
  • F-2 dependents may remain in the U.S. as long as the F-1 international student maintains status.
  • F-2 dependents must leave the U.S. when the F-1 international student’s student status or program ends.
  • An F-2 spouse may not engage in full-time study.
  • An F-2 spouse or child may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature (to pursue a hobby, occasional, casual, or recreational).
  • An F-2 spouse or child who wishes to engage in full-time study or to pursue an educational objective must apply for a change to F-1 status to begin that study.
  • If an F-2 dependent enrolls in a full-time course load, there will be consequences to the dependent’s status at the time of future status changes.

Change to F-1 status

Applicants may apply to change to another nonimmigrant status through USCIS while in the United States.

Types

  • F-2 visa holders
    • I-20 program start date requested should be no later than the end of the applicant’s 60-day grace period.
  • B-1/B-2 visa holders
    • Visa status must be valid until 30 days before the I-20 program start date requested.
  • H-1B/H-4 visa holders
    • Visa status must be valid until 30 days before the I-20 program start date requested.
  • J-1/J-2 visa holders
    • I-20 program start date requested should be no later than the end of the applicant’s 30-day grace period.

Eligibility

  • The applicant must be in a valid visa status for at least three months before submitting an application for change.
  • The applicant must be admitted to St. Cloud State University.
  • The applicant cannot be an M-1 student, C, D, K or S nonimmigrant, J-1 nonimmigrant subject to the 212(e) two-year foreign residence requirement or a WT/WB visitor. Applicants with one of those statuses must leave the U.S. and apply for an F-1 visa from outside the country.

Application

Complete the application packet that includes:

  • Request for a change of visa status.
  • Program completion plan or acceptance letter.
  • Cover letter explaining why you need a change of status.
  • I-539.
    • We require that you download the form, type in the required information and print the form because USCIS scanners often misread handwritten forms, which could delay processing. The scanners do not read information that is grayed out, highlighted or corrected with correction fluid or tape.
  • G-1145.
    • We require that you download the form, type in the required information and print the form because USCIS scanners often misread handwritten forms, which could delay processing. The scanners do not read information that is grayed out, highlighted or corrected with correction fluid or tape.
  • Copy of financial support documents that prove sufficient funding is available to cover one year of costs. Documents must:
    • Be originals, photocopies, scanned copies or faxed documents printed on bank letterhead and certified with the bank’s stamp or seal; we reserve the right to verify authenticity.
    • Be dated within six months of today’s date.
    • Include a letter in English from a sponsor indicating their willingness to provide financial support if support is being provided by anyone other than the student.
    • Be written in English; if English is not the language in which the bank documents are issued, the bank documents must be accompanied by a certified, literal English translation.
  • New I-20 for initial attendance — change of status requested (signed in blue ink).
  • $200 SEVIS fee (payable online at FMJfee.com).
  • Copies of current I-94 card (front and back or print-out).
    • If you hold an F-2, H-4, J-2 visa, also include the copies of your principle visa holder’s I-94 card or a print-out.
  • Color copy of valid passport with biographical and extension pages).
    • If you hold an F-2, H-4, J-2 visa, include a color copy of your principle visa holder’s passport pages.
  • Color copy of most recent immigration status documents (visa stamp, I-20, DS-2019, I-797, etc.).
    • If you hold an F-2, H-4, J-2 visa please include a color copy of your principle visa holder’s immigration status documents (visa stamp, I-20, DS-2019, I-797, etc.)
  • $370 filing fee as a money order or personal check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Waiver of foreign residence requirement, if the change of status is from J-1/J-2 visa status.

Drop off or mail the application packet to:

Center for International Studies,
Lawrence Hall 101
720 Fourth Ave. S
St. Cloud, MN 56301

A center advisor will review the packet. The advisor will:

  • Request the change of status in SEVIS
  • Notify the student by email that the application is processed.

If possible, go to the center to sign two sets of the new I-20 in blue ink. (Keep one copy.) The center will mail the packet.

  • If the student cannot return to the center, the center will mail the packet to the student.
  • Sign two sets of the of the new I-20 in blue ink. (Keep one copy.)

Mail the other I-20 and the remainder of the packet to:

  • For U.S. Postal Service:
    USCIS
    P.O. Box 660166
    Dallas, TX 75266
  • For Express mail and courier services:
    USCIS
    ATTN: I-539
    2501 S. State Highway 121
    Business Suite 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067

Key points

  • Applicants must allow 7 business days for the Center for International Studies to process their request.
  • Applicants are not eligible for any employment authorization before approval of the change of visa status.
  • Applicants must remain in the United States while their application is being adjudicated by USCIS.  If the applicant leaves before adjudication, the application will be considered abandoned and will be denied.
  • If the change of status is denied, the applicant may be required to leave the United States on short notice.
  • Processing a change of visa status through USCIS may take up to 9 months depending on current processing times.
  • If eligible, applicants will receive the Academic & Cultural Sharing Scholarship upon receiving an approval notice via I-797A, Notice of Action.
  • Applicants who have been approved for a change to F-1 visa status will be charged for the mandatory international health insurance upon receiving an approval notice via I-797A, Notice of Action.
  • Upon receiving an approval notice via I-797A, Notice of Action, applicants will be required to review the online D2L Brightspace International Student Orientation.

Reinstatement of F-1 status

A student who has failed to maintain status may be reinstated as F-1 at the discretion of the USCIS under limited conditions.

Eligibility

  • The student has not been out of status for more than 5 months before filing for reinstatement (unless they can show there were exceptional circumstances that prevented the filing within the period).
  • The student does not have a record of repeated violations.
  • The student is pursuing, or will be in the next term, a full course of study.
  • The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment (if done so, advised to leave U.S.).
  • The student is not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation for which the reinstatement is being requested.
  • The status violation resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control.
  • Failure to apply an immigration benefit that the Center for International Studies would have authorized. 
  • The student would experience extreme hardship if the application were denied.

Application

Bring the following to a meeting with a Center for International Studies advisor.

  • Letter written by the student addressed "To Whom It May Concern" stating:
    • The reason for violating F-1 status.
    • The effect on the student of failure to receive reinstatement.
    • A statement that the student is pursuing or is intending to pursue a full course of study.
    • The specific request USCIS to reinstate the student to F-1 status.
  • I-539.
    • We require that you download the form, type in the required information and print the form because USCIS scanners often misread handwritten forms, which could delay processing. The scanners do not read information that is grayed out, highlighted or corrected with correction fluid or tape.
  • $370 check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Original I-94 card or print-out.
  • Copies of your passport with biographical and expiration pages.
  • Visa
  • New original financial documents recommended or copies required.
  • Original transcripts from all U.S. schools attended.
  • Any other evidence that might help explain the nature of the violation.
  • Copy of I-20 for reinstatement (available from the Center for International Studies).
  • Copy of receipt for $200 SEVIS fee paid, if the student has been out of status for more than five months.

After meeting with an advisor, the student should send the application packet to:

  • U.S. Postal Service (including U.S. Postal Service Express Mail)
    USCIS
    P.O. Box 660166
    Dallas, TX 75266

OR

  • Express mail and courier deliveries (UPS, Fed Ex, DHL)
    USCIS
    ATTN: I-539
    2501 South State Highway 121
    Business Suite 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067

Key points

  • While you are out of status or your reinstatement application is pending, you are not eligible for employment or ACSS.
  • Once you receive a response from USCIS, bring those documents to Center for International Studies to update the system.
  • There is no guarantee of approval of change of status. Denial means you must leave the U.S.