Below is some important information concerning maintaining, extending, reinstating, and changing your international student status in the U.S. Use the links below to go to specific topics.
As an international student in the US you may be asked from time to time about your “visa” or your “status”. While in most situations in the US the two are interchangeable, it is a good idea for you to know the difference.
A visa is a stamp in your passport issued by a US Embassy or Consulate (they cannot be obtained in the US). The purpose of the visa is to allow you to be taken to a US port of entry to determine whether you are eligible for admission to the United States. After you have been admitted to the US, the visa in your passport does not need to remain valid for you to be in the country legally.
Should you travel outside of the US, a valid F-1/J-1 student visa may be required for your re-entry. For more information on travel and visas, please visit the Travel and Visa Section of this page.
As an international student, you are granted status upon clearing inspection at a US Port of Entry (airport). Your status can be found on your I-94 card, the small white card given to you at the airport. This card grants you permission to remain in the US while pursuing your degree as long as you maintain your immigration status. Your I-94 card will have a stamp showing the date of entry into the US, while your status, F-1 or J-1, will be handwritten. You will also notice the abbreviation “D/S” written on your I-94 card. "D/S” stands for “Duration of Status.” This means that your immigration status will remain valid while you pursue your degree as long as you maintain your status (see below).
Please make photocopies of your visa, I-94 card, I-20, and passport and keep them in a safe place. Should your original documents be lost or stolen, they are easier to replace if you can provide copies.
Making the decision to come to Clemson to pursue your academic goals is a big step and we understand that reaching those goes is your top priority. In addition to your books, lectures, and lab work, there is one more subject you will need to “study” to ensure success during your time at Clemson, how to maintain your F-1 or J-1 status. Please review the information below. If you have any questions or concerns about how to maintain your status, please contact our office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at +1 (864) 656-3614.
If you are unable to maintain your status, resulting in its termination, you will be required to apply for reinstatement. See the reinstatement information below.
Individuals holding a status other than F-1 or J-1 may wish to meet with an international student advisor for information on maintaining your legal status. Please note, however, there may be an immigration status for which we cannot provide information based on certain circumstances.
As an F-1 or J-1 student at Clemson University, you are eligible to request an extension of your non-immigrant status if the need for additional time is based on established academic reasons such as a change in level or field of study, research concerns, or documented medical reasons. You can determine if you require an extension of your I-20 or DS-2019 by looking at the expiration date found in Section 5 of the I-20 or Section 3 of the DS-2019. Requests for extensions of status can be made no earlier than 60 days prior to the expiration of your current document and may be requested for one year intervals. Please note, a request for an extension of your status must be made before your current I-20/DS-2019 expires.
To apply for an extension of your F-1/J-1 student status, you will need to submit Form IS-120, Request to Amend I-20, to IS with supporting documentation. Your advisor must complete the section of the form that asks for the reason for the extension. Program extensions can only be granted for because of a valid academic or medical reason. You will also have to provide IS with proof of funding for the duration of the extension. Funding can come from an assistantship, personal funds, family funds, or a combination of these. All funds must be liquid (i.e. available to you) at the time of the extension request.
PLAN AHEAD! Please remember, your request for an extension of your status must be submitted prior to the expiration of your current I-20/DS-2019. If you are unable to extend your status in a timely manner, you will need to request reinstatement of your status through an application to the USCIS.
To re-enter the US, or to apply for a new entry visa, please review the information below to make sure you prepare the necessary documentation:
F-1 on OPT:
* If you are a citizen of Canada and hold a Canadian passport, an entry visa is not required to enter the US from Canada.
Automatic Visa Revalidation (AVR): An expired US entry visa is considered to be automatically extended to the date of re-entry as long as that visa has not been cancelled, and that an application for a new visa has not been submitted. AVR is applicable to travel to Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands (excluding Cuba) for a period of less than 30 days. Be sure to check the entry requirements of your destination country to determine if an entry visa for that country is required.
Obtaining a new visa: A visa to the US may only be obtained at a US Embassy or Consulate outside of the United States. When applying for a new visa, please contact the consulate you will visit to determine if an appointment is required, if you are eligible to apply for a visa at that location, what documentation is required for the application, and if you need an entry visa to visit the country where the US Embassy is located. You may find the websites of all US Embassies and Consulates by visiting: http://usembassy.state.gov.
Obtaining a US Visa in Canada or Mexico: You may be eligible to apply for a US Visa in Canada or Mexico. The locations of US Consulates in Canada include: Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa (embassy), Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver. The locations of US Consulates in Mexico include: Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros, and Tijuana. Special note for Mexican Consulates: you can apply for a new visa of the same type in Mexico, but Mexican embassies no longer allow you to apply for a visa of a new type. For example, an F-2 dependent can no longer go to Mexico to apply for a visa to change status from F-2 to F-1.
You may schedule an appointment by telephone:
1-900-443-3131 (from the US)
1-900-451-2778 (from Canada)
As this is a ‘900’ number, a charge is applied to your phone bill. Calls cannot be made from a cell phone, public phone, or by using a calling card.
You may schedule an appointment by Internet: http://canada.usembassy.gov/visas/visas/scheduling-an-appointment.html (you will need a valid credit card). Each appointment will cost approximately $15.00 (fee subject to change).
Note: The Canadian Consulate in Atlanta does not issue visas.
Travel Signatures for F and J Status:
Domestic Travel: No I-20/DS-2019 signature endorsement is required for domestic travel. However, for domestic travel we always recommend you bring your passport, DS-2019 or I-20 form, and I-94 Departure Record card with you to avoid any unnecessary confusion about your identity and/or reason for being in the U.S. (Also, don’t forget to keep copies of all of your immigration documents in a safe place in case the originals should ever be lost.)
International Services can assist an international student in F-1 or J-1 status in inviting their dependents to US in F-2 or J-2 status. Please note: a dependent is defined as a spouse or an unmarried child under the age of 21.
Dependents entering the US in F-2 status are permitted to pursue degree-seeking courses only part-time, but are not eligible to obtain employment authorization while in the US. Children in F-2 status may attend primary, middle, or high school in the US as long as the F-1 maintains their status. If you are in F-1 status and wish to invite your dependent, please make sure that they are aware of these stipulations.
Dependents entering the US in J-2 status may pursue part- or full-time degree-seeking coursework and may apply for employment authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
To invite your dependent to the US, please submit Form IS-190, Request for Dependent I-20, with supporting documentation. The current monthly living expense for a spouse is $500 and $365 per child. If you are in F-1 status, you are required to demonstrate funding for one academic year. If you hold J-1 status, you will need to demonstrate funding for you and your dependents for the entire period of your DS-2019.
When the I-20/DS-2019 for your dependent has been processed, you will then send it to them with original financial documents to show complete financial support so they may apply for their F-2/J-2 visa. Please note, the financial documents submitted to IS will not be returned to you.
(Please note, the information below is for F-1 students only. Students in J-1 status who need to be reinstated must see an international student advisor.)
Should you accidentally violate your status in a manner that results in the termination of that status, submission of an application for reinstatement must take place. Common actions that require reinstatement include, but are not limited to:
Unfortunately, violations that occurred more than five months in the past cannot be reinstated in the US.
Unauthorized employment does not qualify for reinstatement. In cases such as these, you will need to obtain a new I-20 for “Initial Attendance”, depart the US, obtain a new visa, and return.
During the period of time you are out of status, you are not eligible for immigration benefits, such as employment, until your status has been reinstated. Please remember, full-time enrollment is required during the reinstatement process.
You will need to prepare the following documents to apply for reinstatement:
Please make copies of all documentation prior to sending the request to the USCIS, IS will not keep copies of your reinstatement application. Please send your documents to:
USCIS Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT 05479
IS will receive notification via SEVIS when the reinstatement has been approved and your record will be activated in SEVIS. When you receive the reinstated I-20, please visit IS so we may make a copy for our records.
A change of non-immigrant status to an F-1/J-1 student is possible in the US if you have been maintaining your current status and that status permits a change while in the US. Please understand that the application for a change of status to F-1/J-1 is a decision made by you and is not a University-sponsored application. The Clemson University International Services (IS) will provide you with information on the steps and can make suggestions for a successful application. The ultimate decision as to whether the application is approved is solely at the discretion of the USCIS. As a change of status application is submitted to the federal government, please allow sufficient time for the approval process. It is not uncommon for the request to take up to six (6) months to be approved. If you are in a status that does not permit enrollment in classes or on-campus employment, you will not be able to begin your studies until the approval notice has been received. You may also obtain F-1/J-1 status through departure and re-entry into the US with a Form I-20/DS-2019 issued by IS and a new F-1/DS-2019 visa. If you wish to exercise this option, please meet with an IS international student advisor for assistance.
To apply for a change of status to F-1/DS-2019, the following materials will need to be submitted to the USCIS:
In addition to the information listed above, your current non-immigrant status may require the submission of additional materials. Please see the chart below to determine what else you must include with your application.
Additional Documents Needed
a. photocopy of spouse’s I-20
a. if subject to 212(e), copy of the “no objection” of waiver from USCIS
a. photocopy of spouse’s DS-2019
a. photocopy of the front and back of your I-797 Approval Notice
a. photocopy of the front and back of your I-797 Approval Notice for your H-4 status
Not eligible for a change of status to F-1/J-1 unless your visa and I-94 card specifically state that you entered the US as a “potential student”
Once you have prepared your application, please make a copy for your records. The original application should be sent using an express service or certified mail to:
Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Weldon Street
St. Albans, VT 05479
Please note, while your waiting for your change of status to F-1/J-1 to be approved, your current immigration status may have some restrictions in terms of study/on-campus employment. Please meet with an international student advisor to have a better understanding of these issues.
International students in F-1 and J-1 status may request that their SEVIS record be transferred to another institution in the US if they meet the eligibility requirements set by the USCIS. To request a transfer of your status, you must submit a copy of your admission letter from the new school and an IS-101 Request to Transfer Out form. Please contact the international student office at your new school for any forms they may need from our office.
Graduate students with assistantships must be cleared for transfer by the Graduate School prior to IS releasing your immigration record in SEVIS. This clearing is obtained through the completed IS-101 Form.
Once your status has been released to the new school, you are no longer eligible for immigration-related benefits at Clemson University, including employment.
Transfer requests can be submitted during normal business hours and take 7-10 business days to process.
As an international student, you may apply for a special South Carolina Drivers License through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Office in Seneca: 13009 S. Radio Station Road, Seneca, SC 29678. Information on the documentation needed to apply for a South Carolina Drivers License can be found at: http://www.scdmvonline.com/DMVNew/forms/mv-94.doc. You should review this information carefully and be sure to bring all the required documentation. Additional Frequently asked questions about the driver license process in SC are available here: https://sites.google.com/a/g.clemson.edu/2015-summer-fall-orientation/transportation/acquiring-a-driver-license
Students who are eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) will need to provide the number on their drivers license application and bring the card with them when they apply. Those who are not eligible for a SSN will need to request a Form L-676 from the Social Security Administration in Anderson, SC stating that they are not allowed to work in the U.S.
You may prepare for your drivers license exam by obtaining a copy of the Driver License Manual at http://www.scdmvonline.com/DMVNew/forms.aspx (scroll down to the Drivers License Manual section).
Please also refer to the drivers license information here.