International Student Services

We offer the following services in our office:

Walk-in (no appointment needed) for immigration, visa, and F1 status assistance
Appointments required for personal and cultural adjustment concerns and academic issues that impact your F1 visa status

Please call 217/351.2890 to schedule an appointment.

Maret Matthew 217/351.2293
International Admissions Advisor
mmatthew@parkland.edu

Mary Ann Tiedemann 217/351.2584
International Student Services Advisor
mtiedemann@parkland.edu

Check-In Process for New International Students
All new international students are required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to check-in with the International Admissions Office, U238, within 30 days of arrival in the US:
•    Provide your U.S. residential address and US phone number
•    Submit copies of your signed Form I-20, Visa, and I-94 document

Regulations for International Students in F1 Status

As a service to our international students, we are providing this information to emphasize the importance of compliance with USCIS regulations and how it affects you, your dependent family members and your stay in the U.S. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call International Admissions, 217.351.2890 or stop by the office, U238.

What is SEVIS? SEVIS is an internet-based system that allows schools and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to exchange data on the immigration and academic status of international students and their dependents.

How does this affect you as an international student? You MUST maintain your immigration status at all times in order to remain legally in the United States. Here are some rules you MUST follow:
Check in with the International Admissions office: If you have NEVER reported to the International Admissions office with your immigration documents, you MUST do so immediately.
These documents include: Form I-20, visa, and I-94 document.

Enroll and remain a full time student: All F1 visa students MUST be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours during the entire semester. If for some reason, you don't intend to enroll full time during a semester you MUST talk to an International Student Advisor before you drop below full time enrollment. We must approve this action prior to it happening or you will place your F1 status in jeopardy.

Notify the International Admissions Office if you change your degree program: This information must be updated in the SEVIS system as soon as you know about the change.
 
Update your address: You MUST update your address with the International Admissions office within 10 days whenever you move within the U.S.

F1 Students: Maintaining Legal Status

What does "Failure to Maintain Status" mean?
It means that you have violated, or failed to comply with, the terms of your non-immigrant visa.  Page 3 of your Form I-20 explains your obligations as an F1 student.  Additional information about maintaining F-1 status can be found at the SEVP site.

What are the consequences if a student fails to maintain status?
Students who fail to maintain status lose the privileges of their student visa and become subject to deportation. Specific consequences may include denial of re-entry into the U.S., inability to move from associate degree level to bachelor degree level, denial of request for practical training, denial of requests to change non-immigrant status, and possible denial of future visa applications.

Can a student who is "out of status" regain legal status?
The student may apply to the USCIS for reinstatement if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control. Reinstatement is intended to be a rare benefit for exceptional cases. The student may not apply for reinstatement under any circumstances if he or she is out of status longer than five months. If USCIS does not approve the reinstatement, there is no appeal of that decision.

Dependents
Full-time study: Dependents of F1 students (those holding F2 status) are not allowed to study full time at the college level. If your spouse/child is planning to study full time he/she must be admitted to the college and apply for an F1 student visa.
Immigration documents: Each F2 dependent must have his/her own Form I-20.
Authorized Reduced Course Load
International F1 visa students must NOT drop below a full course of study, after classes have begun, without prior authorization from an advisor in International Admissions. Only the International Student Admissions Advisors have the authority to allow a student to enroll in a reduced course load. This approval must be obtained before dropping below full-time status.

Acceptable reasons for reduced course load include:

A student is allowed to drop below a full-time for academic difficulties (for example: unfamiliarity with American teaching methods or English language difficulties) only once during their degree program. Documentation from the academic advisor is required.

Students in their final semester of study need only to register for the credit hours required to complete the degree. A completed Informal Degree Audit signed by an academic advisor is required.

Students who have a medical problem can reduce their course load or take the semester off. Documentation from a licensed medical doctor or psychologist is required.

Complete a Request to Reduce Course Load and submit it to the International Admissions Advisor.
Change of Status (COS)

From B1/B2 to F1
**These guidelines do not apply to you if your intention is to return to your home country and go through the embassy process prior to the start of your education at Parkland College.

A B1/B2 visitor or prospective student is required to change his/her status in order to study in the U.S. Full-time study and/or study in pursuit of a degree is prohibited by immigration prior to Change Of Status approval. The B1/B2 student must apply for change of status before the date stamped on his/her I-94 document.

A CHANGE IN STATUS IS NOT A CHANGE OF VISA!

A change of status is not a change of visa. You can only obtain a visa at the American embassy or consulate in your home country. If the USCIS approves your application, you may stay in the U.S. as long as you follow the F1 rules.  When you  leave the US you will need obtain an F1 visa from the embassy in your country in order to re-enter the United States.

Eligibility for Filing Change of Status
USCIS officers must determine eligibility for a change of status. A prospective student could be generally eligible for issuance of a Form I-20, but if he/she is not eligible for a change of status, a change of status application will NOT BE APPROVED.
•    B1/B2 visitor visa holders have a designated amount of time that they are authorized to be in the country which is indicated on their I-94 document. Generally B visa holders are given a stay of either 3 or 6 months.
•    The I-94 document will be stamped B1/B2 until mm/dd/yyyy; the petition to change status cannot be past that date upon arrival to the service center for adjudication.
•    The petitioner cannot have longer than a 30 day gap between statuses.
•    COS for B1/B2 to F1 is difficult to obtain and there is a high incidence of denial.

From F2 to F1

An F2 spouse or F2 child who wishes to engage in full-time study, must apply for and obtain a change of non-immigrant classification to F-1 status. An F2 spouse or an F2 child violates his or her non-immigrant status by engaging in full-time study.

You can file for COS to F-1 from within the US, or leave the US and re-enter in F1 status.  You will then apply for an F1 visa in your home country.  If approved, re-entry to the US will change your status.

The COS Process:

To change to F1 student status you must be accepted to the college for a full-time course of study. After acceptance, make an appointment with the International Student Services Admissions Advisor, 217.351.2584.  This checklist explains the documentation you need to prepare and bring to the appointment.
 
Travel outside the US before you have been granted F1 status will cancel your application for Change of Status. If you choose to leave the US and return in F1 status, please refer to the information to apply to Parkland College.

Employment
USCIS Employment Guidelines for F1 Student

On-Campus Employment:

F1 Students are generally permitted to work part-time on the premises of the school that issued their currently valid FormI-20, while they are attending that school and maintaining F1 status, although some restrictions exist.

On-campus employment:

  • Can be used the entire time the student is pursuing a full course of study
  • Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session; can be full-time during school breaks
  • Once you have obtained an offer of employment, your supervisor will write a letter of employment which the student will use to obtain a social security number.  The letter should include:
    • Employment start date
    • Position title (student aide, tutor)
    • The name of the department of employment
    • Estimated number of hours of work per week
    • Supervisor's name, signature and phone number

**Bring this letter to the International Admissions Office, U238, before to going to the Social Security Office**

Limitations:

  • Initial entry students cannot begin work sooner than 30 days prior to the actual start of classes.

        Please contact the Financial Aid office for a list of on-campus employment opportunities.

Off Campus Employment
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT): Alternate/work study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required practicum; an F1 student needs to obtain authorization for practical training from the DSO.
    • Must be an integral part of an established curriculum, in the student's course of study
    • An F1 student must have completed one full academic year with a full course load to be eligible for CPT.
    • Student must be in lawful F1 status
    • Can engage in CPT before the completion of the educational object.
    • Students may engage in CPT only for the specific employer, location, and period approved and recorded by the DSO in SEVIS.
    • Approved in increments of no more than one year- there is no cumulative maximum.
    • Must have an offer of employment from an employer offering work that qualifies as CPT.
    • Use of full-time CPT for one year or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training.
    • Must continue to maintain a full-time course of study in F1 status during the period of employment.
    • Must receive written authorization from DSO, who records authorization in SEVIS and issues SEVIS I-20 with notation before work begins. USCIS approval is not required.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT): The temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study. This option is available both before and after completion of the educational objective, but different rules apply to pre- and post-completion OPT; has to be authorized by DSO and USCIS.
    • An F1 student must have completed one full academic year with a full course load to be eligible for OPT.
    • Must be directly related to, and commensurate with, the level of the student's course of study.
    • Student may not begin OPT until authorized by the USCIS, and after the date on their employment authorization document (EAD), Form I-766.
    • Total period of authorized OPT may not exceed 12 months.
    • Limited to 20 hrs/week for pre-completion OPT done while school is in session and the student still has coursework to complete.
    • Post-completion OPT must be requested prior to completion of study or the degree requirements!!!
    • 12 months must be used within 14 months of completion of course of study.
    • OPT is automatically terminated when student transfers to another college.

Severe Economic Hardship: This F1 student employment benefit is intended to address situations where financial need beyond the student's control arises, which was unforeseen at the time the student applied to the school he/she is currently attending, and after all other potential employment opportunities have proven to be insufficient.

Preconditions:

  • Must have been in F1 status for at least one full academic year.
  • Must prove to the USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship.

Conditions:

  • Granted by the USCIS in increments of 1 year at a time.
  • Authorization ends if the student transfers schools.
  • Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  • Can be any job
  • Does not count towards the 20 hour on-campus maximum, nor does it affect eligibility for practical training.
  • Application and associated costs are here
Program Extension
If you are not able to complete your program by the end date on your Form I-20 you must request a program extension from the IAA and provide compelling academic reasons for needing it. The request to extend the program MUST be done prior to the end date on the Form I-20; extensions cannot be processed the day the program expires.

An F1 student is eligible for program extension if:
•    He or she has continually maintained status
•    The delay in completion is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as difficulties with English in the first semester, changes in major, or documented illness.
•    The regulations also state that "delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension"
A student who fails to complete his or her program within the time prescribed in item #5 of his or her Form I-20 and cannot meet the eligibility criteria for program extension is considered out of status and must apply for reinstatement to student status.
To obtain a program extension for your Form I20, provide:
An updated bank statement, with a signed Verification of Financial Support (if required)
A Form I-20 Request
An Informal Degree Audit completed by an academic advisor in Counseling Services, U267
Transfer
To transfer out of Parkland College to another school:  
After you have received a letter of admission to the new school, email or bring a copy of the letter, and any transfer forms required by the new school to the IAA. In consultation with the IAA, you will decide on a "release date" which the Advisor will enter into your record in the SEVIS database. After the release date, the new school will produce a Form I-20 for you. Be sure to inform the International Admissions Advisor of your travel or work plans, as those plans will affect your transfer procedure.
DEADLINE 60 DAYS AFTER GRADUATION: If you are graduating from Parkland College, and plan to go on to another program at another school, you must discuss your transfer with the International Admissions Advisor NO MORE THAN SIXTY (60) DAYS AFTER YOU GRADUATE from Parkland College. Even though your release date can be later than 60 days, the release date must be entered in to the SEVIS database before the end of those 60 days.

To transfer to Parkland College from another school in Active SEVIS status: 
 After you have been admitted to Parkland College, bring your letter of admission to Parkland to an international student advisor at your current school.
In consultation with the advisor at your international office, you will decide on a "release date" which your current school's international advisor will enter in to the SEVIS database. After the release date, the Parkland College International Admissions office will be able to produce a Form I-20 for you, provided you have registered and paid for a full time course load. Discuss travel or work plans you have with your international advisor as that will affect your transfer procedure.

Transfer to Parkland College in terminated SEVIS status:
As a general rule, Parkland College does accept students for transfer who have a terminated SEVIS record.  However, each case is reviewed and considered before accepting the student for transfer to Parkland College.  The reinstatement process is started within two weeks after the beginning of the first semester/term of enrollment.  The student’s account will be blocked from any activity until the reinstatement documents have been filed with USCIS.
Travel

We want to ensure that, upon leaving the U.S., you have all required documents for re-entry. Please contact the International Admissions Office with any questions prior to leaving the country.
F1 students who leave the United States must have the following documents with them to facilitate their re-entry:
•    Valid passport
•    Valid U.S. visa 
•    Valid SEVIS Form I-20 for F1 status, endorsed for travel on page 2 by the International Admissions Advisor.
•    Evidence of financial funding (strongly suggested)

Note: during F1 post-completion practical training (OPT), the Form I-20 must have been signed within the last six months for re-entry. Carry your EAD card with you.

F2 spouses and minor children who are not accompanied by the F-1 must have a valid:
•    passport
•    U.S. visa
•    F2 Form I-20
•    evidence of financial funding

Visa Renewal
It is very important that if you are planning on traveling out of the U.S. AND need a new visa that you speak to the International Admissions Advisor prior to traveling. 

You must have a valid Form I-20 issued from our office prior to applying for a new visa.

Those applying for new visas may wish to contact the U.S. Consulate in their country to determine the documents and procedures required for visa applications, to confirm the hours of operation, and length of time needed to secure the visa. We recommend that you apply for your visa as soon as possible after arriving in your home country to reduce the chances that your return to the U.S. will be delayed.

An Enrollment Verification document is available from the International Admissions Office, U238, if you are a registered student at Parkland College. This form will provide documentation that you are currently and have been a registered student at Parkland College. While this is not required for re-entry, it will ease in your re-entry to the U.S. if you are questioned at the border. 

Travel to Canada Information