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Maintaining Status

Documents

Keep your documents in a safe place.  You should make copies of all of your documents and keep them separate from the originals.

Important documents include:

  • Passport. Do not allow your passport to expire. In general, your passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future.  If you are traveling outside the U.S., make sure that your passport will be valid for at least six months after you return to the U.S.

  • Visa Stamp. The visa stamp that was placed in your passport at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy when you applied for your visa is for entry purposes only.  It does not govern your stay in the U.S.  It indicates only the time period during which you may apply for entry to the U.S.

  • I-94 Form (Arrival/Departure card or electronic record). This is the white card which is placed in your passport at a land port-of-entry or the electronic version obtained by visiting www.cbp.gov/I94 after arriving through an air or sea port-of-entry. This form should indicate your arrival date, your visa status, and the length of your stay, usually marked D/S (duration of status) for both F-1 and J-1 students. It will also include an Admission Number.  This number is your I-94 number and is a Department of Homeland Security identification number.

  • I-20 or DS-2019 Form. This is the document that proves your eligibility for F-1 or J-1 status.  You must make sure that it is accurate and up-to-date at all times.

  • SU ID Card.  This is your official University identification and should be carried at all times

  • Health Insurance Card.  This provides proof of your enrollment in a health insurance plan and should be carried at all times.

Updating Your Information

F-1 and J-1 students must report address and academic program changes to the Slutzker Center within 10 days of the change so that SEVIS records can be updated. 

Updating your address

Update Myslice whenever your U.S. address changes by following these guidelines:

  • Your MySlice record must always have active addresses for the following address types:
    • CURRENT address:  must be a U.S. address
    • SEVIS FOREIGN address: must be a non-U.S. address
    • PERMANENT address: can be either a U.S. or non-U.S. address
  • When you live on campus, your on-campus address is automatically added to MySlice, but if you live off campus, you need to add your off-campus address to MySlice.
  • Your MySlice record must always include an active CURRENT U.S. address, even when you are outside the U.S.     If you will be studying outside the U.S. with SU Abroad or spending a semester or two conducting research abroad and will not have a U.S. address, ask a Slutzker Center advisor to help you update your CURRENT MySlice address.

Follow these steps to update your address in MySlice:

  • Log in to MySlice and click on View/Update Address under Personal Services
  • Click on Add a New Address
  • Enter the new address and click OK
  • Select the Address Type for the new address and click SAVE
  • If you are an F-1 student, the address change you make in MySlice will result in an update of your SEVIS record.
  • If you are a J-1 student, you must also notify your J-1 program sponsor of any address changes.  Your J-1 program sponsor is the office or agency who prepares and signs your DS-2019 form.

F-1 students on OPT: Update your address and employment information by submitting a OPT Student Information Update form

F-1 students on STEM Extension OPT: Update your address and employment information by submitting a STEM OPT Information Update form

Request Updated I-20 or DS-2019 forms when there is an academic program change

I-20 Request

If you need an updated I-20 form for the reasons listed below, please submit an I-20 Request Form to the Slutzker Center:

  • Replace a lost I-20 form
  • Update financial information (change in source of funding, applying for a new visa, etc.)
  • Change degree level from Master’s to Doctorate or from Doctorate to Master’s at Syracuse University (see below if you are moving from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s program)
  • Add or change a program of study
  • Change your immigration status to F-1

Do not use the I-20 Request Form if any of the following apply to you:

  • If you are changing from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s program at Syracuse University, you do not need to submit the Request Form. The Slutzker Center will issue a new I-20 upon your admission to your new program of study.
  • If you want to add your dependents to your SEVIS record and receive I-20 forms for them, please file a Dependent Request.
  • If you need to apply for an extension of your program end date, please file an I-20 Extension Request.

DS-2019 Request

If you need a DS-2019 form for the reasons listed below, please submit a DS-2019 Request Form to the Slutzker Center:

  • Replace a lost DS-2019 form
  • Update financial information (change in source of funding, applying for a new visa, etc.)
  • Change your immigration status to J-1*

Do not use the DS-2019 Request Form if any of the following apply to you:

  • If you are interested in adding a program or changing your level of study, please make an appointment to see a Slutzker Center advisor. J-1 students are generally not allowed to change their program of study, but may be eligible to change the level of study.
  • If you want to add your dependents to your SEVIS record and receive DS-2019 forms for them, please file a Dependent Request Form.
  • If you need to apply for an extension of your program (item 3 on your DS-2019), please file a DS-2019 Extension Request.

*Please consult with a Slutzker Center Advisor if you would like to change your status to J-1 before completing the DS-2019 Request Form.

Full Time Status

Immigration regulations require that F-1 and J-1 be registered as full-time students at Syracuse University in fall and spring semesters or be otherwise considered to be maintaining valid F-1 and J-1 status.

Undergraduate Student Registration Requirements

Undergraduate students are required to register for 12 or more credits every semester.  Students who begin their programs of study in the summer, must register for a minimum of 6 credits in the first session of study and must attend at least one course that meets on campus for the entire session.

Graduate Student Registration Requirements

Graduate students are required to register for 9 or more credits every semester, with some exceptions:

  • Students who have graduate assistantships are considered to be full-time students as long as they are registered for the semester. 
  • Students who are registered for less than 9 credits but are considered to be full-time students based criteria specified on the Certification of Full-Time Status are considered to be full-time students on as long as they are registered for the semester and have filed the Certification of Full-Time Status with the Registrar’s Office.

Graduate students who begin their programs of study in the summer, must register for a minimum of 6 credits in the first session of study and must attend at least one course that meets on campus for the entire session.

Last Semester Exception to Full-Time Registration

  • Students who are in their last semester are allowed to register for less than a full course of study, but must enroll in classes that meet on campus for the entire semester and must file a Last Semester Memo with the Slutzker Center.

  • Undergraduate students who will complete their programs of study in the summer, must be registered as full-time students in the spring and must attend at least one course that meets on campus during their last summer session.

  • Graduate students who will complete their programs of study in the summer, must be considered to be full-time students in the spring and must attend at least one course that meets on campus during their last summer session or be registered and for the summer and have filed a Certification of Full-Time Status with the Registrar’s Office for the summer.

Online Courses and Full-Time Status
  • Immigration regulations place restrictions on the number of online courses students can register for each semester. F-1 students cannot register for more than 3 online credits per semester towards the "full course of study" requirement.  Undergraduate students who are required to register for at least 12 credits, must register for at least 9 credits of classes that meet in the classroom and graduate students who are required to register for 9 credits per semester, must register for at least 6 credits of courses that meet in the classroom.

  • Students who are in their last semester and who do not need to be registered as full-time students cannot register for only online courses in their last semester. They must be enrolled in a course that meets on campus for the entire semester.

Taking Courses at Another SEVIS School

After F-1 students are enrolled for at least one academic semester at Syracuse University, the following summer is considered to be their vacation time if they intend to enroll at SU in the following fall semester.   During the summer vacation, students are allowed to take courses at other SEVIS-authorized schools without approval from the Slutzker Center.  However, some schools may require a letter of authorization from Syracuse University before allowing F-1 students to enroll in summer classes.  If a letter is required, please contact the Slutzker Center and request the letter.

Students who plan to take courses at another SEVIS-authorized school during a fall or spring semester should contact the Slutzker Center before enrolling in courses at another school to ensure that they will be able to meet full-time registration requirements and online course restrictions. 

The Slutzker Center will need to receive the following items within the first 2 weeks of the beginning of the semester:

  • a letter from your academic department which includes:
    • the names of the courses you will enroll in
    • the name of the institution where you will be taking classes
    • a statement that the courses you take will be approved toward your degree at Syracuse University.
  • proof of your enrollment in these courses from the Registrar’s Office at the institution where you will be enrolled
  • proof of your enrollment in courses that you will take at Syracuse University.

Students whose plan to take courses at another SEVIS-authorized school during fall or spring semesters is approved by the Slutzker Center will be considered full-time students for SEVIS registration purposes.   Students whose plans are not approved, will need to register as full-time students at Syracuse University before they will be considered full-time students for SEVIS registration.

Absence from the U.S.

Absence from the United States (F-1 students)

If you travel outside the U.S. and return within five months, you may use your current I-20 form to re-enter the U.S. and resume your studies at Syracuse University.  Your I-20 must have a valid travel signature on page 2.  Please review the travel instructions before leaving the U.S.


Exception:  If you are resuming your studies after taking a Leave of Absence of less than five months, please follow the  returning from a leave of absence instructions. Do not use your current I-20 to re-enter the U.S.

Five-month rule:

If you will be outside the U.S. for more than five months, you must obtain a new I-20 from the Slutzker Center for International Services before returning to the U.S.
  • If you are resuming your studies after taking a Leave of Absence or after a suspension, please follow the returning from a leave of absence instructions

  • If you are participating in an SU Abroad program, you are exempt from the five-month rule. In the middle of the semester that you are studying abroad (fall or spring), you will receive an updated I-20 with a special remark about the five-month rule exemption.

  • If you are a graduate student and are conducting research abroad for your degree program, you are exempt from the five-month rule as long as you are registered as a full-time student during the academic year. Prior to your departure from the U.S., please submit to the Slutzker Center a letter of explanation from your academic department which states that you will be conducting research outside the U.S. for your degree program and that you are expected to return to Syracuse University to complete the program.  When you are ready to return, please contact the Slutzker Center and request an updated I-20 with a special remark about the five-month rule exemption.

If you will be studying outside the U.S. with SU Abroad or spending a semester or two conducting research abroad, you will need to maintain updated addresses in MySlice in order for your SEVIS record to remain valid.  It is especially important that your MySlice record include a CURRENT U.S. address. Please follow our instructions for updating your address above.

Leave of Absence

Leave of Absence or Withdrawal from SU

If you decide to leave Syracuse University either for a temporary period, leave of absence, or permanently, withdrawal, before completing your degree, you should file a Leave of Absence request so that your MySlice record and your SEVIS record can be updated to reflect an authorized Leave of Absence.


 In order to take an authorized Leave of Absence, you must:

  • Meet with a Slutzker Center advisor before you stop attending classes to discuss your plans and how your F-1 or J-1 status will be affected if you leave Syracuse University.

  • Review the Leave of Absence FAQs

  • File a Leave of Absence request with your school or college, if you are an undergraduate student, or with your academic department, if you are a graduate student.

  • Contact the Office of Student Assistance if you are taking a Medical Leave of Absence.

After the Leave of Absence request is processed and your MySlice record is updated to show that you have taken the Leave of Absence, your SEVIS record will be terminated and your F-1 or J-1 status will end.  Unless you apply for a change of status or transfer to another college or university within the U.S. before your SEVIS record is terminated, you must leave the U.S. within 15-days of filing for the Leave of Absence.

Academic and Conduct Suspension

If you are suspended from Syracuse University, your SEVIS record will be terminated when MySlice shows that you have been suspended and your F-1 or J-1 status will end. Unless you transfer to another college or university in the U.S. before your SEVIS record is terminated, you must leave the U.S. immediately.  Contact the Slutzker Center as soon as you learn that you have been suspended.

Probation

If you are placed on academic probation, there is no action taken on your SEVIS record.

Returning from a Leave of Absence

Returning to SU after a Leave of Absence or Suspension

If you would like to return to Syracuse University and resume full-time studies after a Leave of Absence or a suspension, a Return from Leave of Absence or Readmission will need to be processed in MySlice and you will need to receive a new I-20 or DS-2019 form before returning to Syracuse University in F-1 or J-1 student status.

 In order to be able to resume studies at Syracuse University, you must contact the following offices a few months before you plan to return:

  • Your school or college (undergraduate students) or your academic department (graduate students).  Your school or college or your academic department will tell you what information and documentation they will require from you before the Return from Leave of Absence or Readmission is processed.

  • The Office of Student Assistance, if you were suspended from Syracuse University or if you will be returning to Syracuse University after taking a Medical Leave of Absence,

  • The Slutzker Center for International Services if you are an F-1 or J-1 student.   

After MySlice shows that you will be returning from a Leave of Absence or that you have been readmitted, you will need to send the Slutzker Center copies of your passport validity page and financial support documentation before a new I-20 or DS-2019 form can be issued to you.


If you are an F-1 student and you transferred to another U.S. college or university after leaving Syracuse University, you will also need to send the Slutzker Center a SEVIS Transfer-In Form.


 If you are returning to the U.S. after an absence of more than 5 months, you will need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again and you will need to apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa if your previous visa has expired before you re-enter the U.S. with your new I-20 or DS-2019 form.  

Impact of a Leave of Absence and a Suspension on F-1 Practical Training Eligibility

F-1 students who have been outside the U.S. for more than 5 months and who return to the U.S. on a new, initial attendance I-20 must complete another full academic year in F-1 status to be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).  If you plan to apply for CPT or OPT, you must be enrolled as a full-time student for at least 2 semesters prior to your anticipated CPT/OPT start date.

Extension of Stay

If you will not complete your academic program by the program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019 form, you must apply for an extension of stay before the program end date indicated on page 1 of your I-20 or DS-2019 form.

You may lose your lawful F-1 or J-1 status and all associated benefits if you fail to apply for an extension before your I-20 or DS-2019 expires even if you have a valid reason for extension.

Eligibility for an Extension

Immigration regulations limit the circumstances for which international students may be granted a program extension.  You may be eligible for an extension if you have continually maintained full-time F-1 or J-1 status and if there are compelling reasons which resulted in a delay in your program completion.

Examples of compelling reasons for program extension are:

  • Changes in major or research topics
  • Unexpected research difficulties
  • Lost credits upon transfer to Syracuse University
  • Documented illness

Examples of unacceptable reasons for program extension are:

  • Additional time needed to complete Incomplete course
  • Failure to work closely or consult with academic advisor
  • Delay of coursework to participate in work experience (CPT) not required for degree
  • Delay of graduation to participate in work experience (CPT) not required for degree
  • Delay due to academic probation or suspension.

Procedures for Requesting an Extension

Submit the completed I-20 Extension Request Form or the DS-2019 Extension Request Form to the Slutzker Center with the documents listed in the instructions for requesting the I-20 or DS-2019 extension.