The topics below are covered during international orientation for F1 and J1 visa students. The resources below are provided for your reference and review. Please become familiar with these items before making decisions on your own in order to maintain status; these are your responsiblity. Please ask ISAP if you have any questions!

  • Status
    • Your Immigration Documents

      Maintain your own copies in a safe secure place even after you graduate. 

      • Your passport, Form I-20 or DS-2019, Form I-94, Drivers License(s), SS Card, other...
      • Keep copies in a safe but accessible location in case of loss.
      • Keep all versions and updates to your I-20 or DS-2019
      • ISAP is not responsible for providing or keeping copies for you to request as needed.

      Passport Validity

      The passport must be valid for at least six months into the future. Students should contact their home country’s consulate or embassy for instructions on extending the passport within the U.S.

    • Enrollment Requirements

      International students must enroll full-time each Fall and Spring term, except in the final term.*  Summer enrollment is optional.


      *Final Term less than full-time requires approval for Reduced Course Load (RCL) in advance.

      Minimum Credit Hours Required in Fall and Spring:


      • Undergraduate Students                              12 credit hours
      • Graduate Students                                         9 credit hours

      Students who drop below full-time without approval from ISAP (see below) are subject to termination of status and immediate loss of benefits (empoloyment, GA, waiver, CPT...)  

      Online Enrollment

      • COVID-19 Temporary Modification by SEVP:

        Nonimmigrant F-1 students at schools offering both online and in person classes (i.e. a hybrid model) will be allowed to take more than one 3 credit hour class online but not an entirely online course load Fall 2020. 

      • Immigration regulations limit international students to 1 (one) online, 3 (three) hour course per semester as part of the minimum enrollment requirments above.
      • Online courses, including hybrid courses, which are taught at least 51% in person, are considered traditional courses. If instruction is less than 50% in person, the course is considered online, regardless of partial on-campus requirements for instruction or testing.
      • Final Term? F1 / J1 students in their final term with an approved RCL of 1 course may not enroll in an online-only course.
      • Final term RCL requires in-person courses only
      • Additional online or hybrid enrollment is possible each semester beyond the minimum enrollment requirements.  

      If you are unable to fulfill this requirement due to degree requirements, contact the ISAP office before the beginning of the semester to review your options. 

    • Reporting Local U.S. Address

      F-1 / J-1 students must report changes to local U.S. address within 10 days of moving to a new location.

      • Note: Never report your U.S. Address as a permanent address. By definition, F1 and J1 visas are a non-immigrant category; therefore, your permanent address is not in the U.S.
      • Before using the form below here are the things you can change in your SEVP portal
        • Physical Address (where you live in the U.S)
        • Mailing Address
        • Phone Number
      • Report an Address Change
    • I-20 Extension Request
      I-20 Extension Request

      When do you need an  I-20 Extension?

      F-1 International students who are not able to finish their degree program by the completion date on the I-20 can request an I-20 extension. The extension period is based on the recommendation of the student's  academic adviser but cannot be longer than one calendar year. 

      When to Apply

      You must apply and be approved for the extension BEFORE your current I-20 expires. Normally, students should request an extension as soon as they learn it will be needed, not the day before expiration. ISAP cannot extend your I-20 dates after expiration. After expiration, you will be out of status, and a $410 Re-instatement application to the goverment is required, which takes several months. Processing time is 3-5 business days once all materials for the extension are in order. 

      Eligibility

      You may apply for an extension of program if:
      1. You have not yet exceeded the time limitation placed upon your study by the expected completion of studies date on your I-20
      2. You have continuously maintained lawful F-1 status
      3. The delay in completing program requirements has been caused by compelling academic reasons (such as changes of major field or research topics, or unexpected research problems), or compelling and documented medical reasons

      Delays in completing program requirements caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for extension of a program.

      How to Apply

      Download this fillable I-20 Extension Request Form.

    • Change of Major
      Change of Major

      Report  Change of Major

      ISAP must be notified of a change of major, additional major or minor during the semester in which the change takes effect so we can update your SEVIS record within 21 days. It is your responsibility to inform ISAP of these changes and request an updated form I-20 or DS-2019. 

      Report Major Change

    • RCL - Reduced Course Load
      Reduced Course Load


      USCIS allows only specific circumstances in whcih  a reduced course load (RCL) can be authorized to allow for lower than full time enrollment in Fall or Spring semester. In all cases: 

      1. Meet with or contact ISAP first.
      2. Meet with or contact your academic advisor.  They will need to document their support and justification on a signed RCL form.
      3. Bring the signed RCL form to ISAP for review and final approval.
      4. A DSO (Desinated School Official) in ISAP will update your SEVIS record with the RCL approval if approved.
      5. ONLY then, may you withdraw from a course or be enrolled less than full-time; otherwise your status will be terminated according to USCIS regulations for F1 / J1 students.

      The following reasons are a basis for RCL approval: 

      • Inappropriate course level placement (must be documented)
      • Initial difficulty with the English language or reading (For use once, 1st semester only)
      • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (For use once, 1st semester only)
      • Final semester (Last semester of academic program only) In this case, enrollment may not be online-only.
      • Medical Reason* (As needed up to 12 months in duration)

      * Medical: written recommendation required by a licensed Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O), or Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Be aware:

      1. Chiropractic: is not recognized for RCL purposes.
      2. Time Limit:  if the medical RCL exceeds 12 months, the student is required to return home for extended treatment.
      3. Pregnancy: is not a basis for RCL; however, medical complications from pregnancy may be.

      RCL Request form is here: Reduced Course Load Request Form

    • Employment
      Employment

      UWG international students in active F-1 / J-1 status are eligible for temporary employment in the U.S. in accordance with the regulations of your visa category. To learn more about:

      • On-campus employment, including GRA's
      • Off-campus OTP and CPT
      • Emergency Hardship Work Authorization

      Please see our:  International Student Employment Page

      • For tax issues related to int'l student employment, please see Taxes under the Support Services tab on this page.
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      WYSIWYG 4

    • Grace Periods
      Grace Periods

      All F1 and J1 students who are in active status are automatically granted a certain number of days (Grace Periods) after the program end date on their I-20 or DS-2019. During a grace period, int'l students can remain in the U.S without further action. 

      Grace Periods

      • F1 Students: 60 days after completion of program
      • J1 Students: 30 days after completion of program
      • Termination for Approved Early Withdrawal: 15 day to depart the U.S.
      • Any other Termination: no grace period

      Options During Grace Periods

      • Transfer to a new school or program
      • Begin a new program of study at the same or different school, or at a higher degree level
      • Change of Status ex: F1 > PR; F1 > H1-B
      • Apply for OPT
      • Prepare to Depart the U.S.

      International Travel During Grace Period

      If you depart the U.S. during a grace period without prior action to maintain status, your status is considered abandoned, and you cannot re-enter the U.S. This includes short trips to Canada, Mexico, cruises etc... Do not make such travel plans without consulting with ISAP first. 

    • Terminated Status
      Terminated Status

      I-20s and DS-2019s can be terminated for a number of reasons, but only by "Designated School Officials" (DSO's) or "Alternate Responsible Officers" (RO's) in the ISAP office. This action causes loss of status / being "out of status." 

      Before any I-20 or DS-2019 is terminated, ISAP will do its best to contact and advise international students on risks and options. 

      UWG Enrollment In Terminated Status

      • Loss of status is a serious situation with the potential for long-term effects on your immigration record in the U.S. However, it does not cause you to be dropped from enrollment.
      • Active status is required or eligibility for it is required for acacemic admission.
      • If you lose your status while in the course of study, please consult with ISAP about your options. 

      Consequences of Terminated Status

      • Accrual of U.S. unlawful presence. 
      • Loss of employment eligibility, including GRA.
      • Loss of UWG scholarships or tuition waivers.
      • Inability to renew or obtain a Georgia Driver License
      • Inability to participate in CPT, OPT or AT
      • Inability to remain in the US unless "approved early withdrawal" was granted.
      • Inability to re-enter the U.S. in terminated status
      • Loss of status for all dependents (all F2, J2's) 
    • Fixing Terminated Status
      Fixing Terminated Status

      I. TRAVEL & RE-ENTRY

      1. Consult with ISAP immediately
      2. Depart the U.S. and return to your home country.
      3. Obtain a new immigration form (I-20 or DS-2019) from UWG
      4. Pay a new SEVIS I-901 fee
      5. Apply for new visa if it was expires during the terminated status. No need for a new visa if unexpired and the termination reason was "approved early withdrawal".
      6. Re-enter the U.S. in a new Active Status up to 30 days before the new program start date.

      Risks:

      • No guarantee of new visa issuance; thus possibility you may not be able to return.
      • New status re-sets your eligibility requirements for CPT or OPT (2 semesters) 

      II. REINSTATEMENT

      "Reinstatement" a formal procedure to request the U.S. government to restore your immigration status back to active status.  

      1. Consult with ISAP to help you determine if Reinstatement is a viable option.
      2. Submit the ISAP Reinstatement Request Form
      3. Prepare and file USCIS form I-539, Application to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status
      4. Wait. Procssing times can take 6-10 months. 

      Eligibility

      • Applicant has not been out of status for more than 5 months after filing for reinstatement.
      • Applicant does not have repeated violations.
      • Applicant 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.
      • Applicant has not worked illegally in the U.S.
      • Applicant can document (to the satisfaction of USCIS) that loss of status resulted from circumstances beyond his/her control, such as:  serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or error on the part of the DSO   


      Document  To Prepare  

      • Form I-539 + $370 Fee, payable to USCIS
      • A personal statement fully explaining the context and circumstances that lead to termination.
      • Detailed documentation of all claims made in letter.
      • New SEVIS I-20 For Reinstatement, issued by UWG
      • Photocopies of previous I-20's
      • Photocopy of your passport and bio page with at least 9 months future validity
      • Photocopy of your most recent visa stamp
      • Financial support documents less than 6 months old
      • Form I-94
      • Original transcript and course registration at UWG

      III. REACTIVATION
      F1 students who contact ISAP before course withdrawal may be eligible to receive "approved early withdrawal". This termination reason allows for return to active status and future visa approval, if needed.

      • Granted solely by USCIS. ISAP makes the request for you in SEVIS.
      • Student must re-enter the U.S. within 5 months of the date of departure.
      • Student must request reactivation at least 2 months prior to re-entry and be properly enrolled for the next academic term prior to request.
      • Only a DSO (Designated School Official) with access to SEVIS may recommend reactivation.

      Benefits of Reactivation

      • Resets status to Active without need for a new SEVIS fee, visa (unless expired) or new I-20.
      • Protects eligibility for CPT and OPT without resetting the lawful presence clock.
      • Allows for approved, short break in studies
      • No cost

      - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      Final Considerations

      • While the application is pending, you are NOT eligible for any F-1 student benefits, such as practical training employment authorization or on-campus employment.
      • If you are reinstated into F-1 status, you must obtain proper authorization before working.
      • Travel outside the U.S. while a reinstatement application is pending may be considered an abandonment of the application. If you need to leave the U.S. while your application is pending, you must meet with an ISAP advisor prior to travel.
      • If the application is approved, USCIS will endorse the new I-20 form and return it to the mailing address listed on the I-539 form. ISAP will contact you if we receive any updates on your behalf.  Please also contact ISAP when you receive information from USCIS. 
      • If you have dependents in F-2  status, their status is automatically reinstated with your reinstatement.
      • If the application is denied, you will begin to accrue days of unlawful presence in the U.S. (accrual of more than 180 days of unlawful presence could subject a person to a 3 -10 year bar from U.S. re-entry. You have the option to file an appeal with the USCIS, but you would need to hire a qualified immigration attorney.
    • Change of Degree Level
      Change of Degree Level

      Students who wish to remain in the U.S. for a consecutive or higher level degree program at UWG or another insitution may do by requesting a Change of Level. The process must be initiated with the appropriate grace period and allows the student to maintain status with the same SEVIS# and visa. 

      Please see our Forms Page and select 'Change of Degree Level'

    • Graduation Checklist
      Graduation Checklist

      Final Semester

      • Meet with your academic advisor to verify degree requirements and completion date.
      • In your final semester only, if you don't need full-time enrollment, submit the RCL form.
      • Apply for graduation with the Registrar's Office through MyUWG.

      2-3 Months before graduation

      • If friends and family are visiting the US to attend your graduation ceremony, they will need to apply for a B2 Visitor from the US Embassy or Consulate closest to them. If needed, request an visa support letter. See 'International Visitor Visa Support Letter.'
      • Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), if you are planning to work in the US after graduation.

      1 month before graduation

      • If you will be moving, notify your landlor or housing office that you will be vacating the apartment. Most leases required 30-days written notice. Check your lease for details.
      • Pay any fines you may have and return all loaned or rented books.
      • Contact your health insurance, car insurance, and life insurance companies to discuss coverage options and whether you need to close the account

      Other Helpful Links:

    • International Visitor Support Letter
      International Visitor Support Letter

      To support the B1 Visitor Visa application of family, relatives or friends who may want to travel to the U.S. to see you graduate, the UWG Registrar offers a support letter free of charge. 

      • Email:  graduation@westga.edu
      • Include your full name and 917 number.
      • You can also request the letter in person at the Registrar's office.

      How Visitors Can Prepare

      It will be very important for your visitors to demonstrate permanent, strong ties to their home country for visa approval. They should be prepared to document the following if asked at the time of the applciation:

      • property ownership (home or business)
        bank loans in the home country
      • utility bills (power, water, phone, internet)
      • ownership of a personal vehicle (registration, insurance etc.. reflecting the home country address)
      • bank statements
    • Accrual of Unlawful Presence
      Accrual of Unlawful Presence

      Effective August 9, 2018: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) changed the calculation for unlawful presence. 

      Who is affected? : F, J, and M nonimmigrants, including dependent family members, who fail to maintain status in the U.S.

      Details: See the  USCIS policy memorandum

      Examples that begin accrual of Unlawful Presence:

      • Failure to request I-20 extension before expiration.
      • Failure to enroll full-time without RCL authorization.
      • Failure to withdrawal from UWG without contacing ISAP
      • Failure to obtain authorization to work off campus.
      • Excessive work off campus with no authorization.
      • Denail of OPT application after 60-day grace period.
      • Staying in the U.S. after the 60-day grace period - F1 visas.
      • Staying in the U.S. after the 30-day grace period - J1 visas.
      Update - May 3, 2019

      Source: NAFSA, Association of International Educators

      A U.S. District Court filed a preliminary injunction (restraint of action) regarding the policy. While the final ruling is unknown, USCIS will observe the rule in place prior to the 2018 change, for unlawful presence. Individuals admitted for "D/S" or Duration of Status, do not begin accruing unlawful presence until an immigration judge or officer finds a status violation in the course of an immigration proceeding.

     

  • Support & Services
    • Georgia Driver's License

      Getting a Georgia Driver's License
       
      A valid international or U.S. driver’s license and automobile insurance is required to operate a motor vehicle in the United States. To save money on insurance, you may wish to obtain a Georgia driver’s license.  Please see details at: Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)

      Fees and Verificaion

      • Cost appx. $25
      • Wait at least 10 days after U.S. entry and activation of your I-20 or DS-2019 by ISAP before applying. You ust attend International Check-in and Orientation for that to occur.
      • Two forms of  of Residence (utility bill, bank statement, rental/leasing contract, etc.)
      • Passport and I-20 form or DS-2019 form
      • I-94 form
      • Social Security Number (SSN)
        • If you do not have an SSN, you must go in person to a Social Security Administration office (SSA) and request Form SSA-L676 , the "letter of ineligibility" before visiting a DDS Center to apply for a driver's license.

      Validity Period of License

      The expiration date of your new license will match the end date of your I-20 or DS-2019 form. To renew your DL, you must extend your immigration status first. Contact ISAP about this if needed. 

    • Banking

      ISAP encourages you to open a U.S. Bank Account when you arrive. We provide time for this during new international student orientation. 

      Benefits:

      • Makes transactions easier both domestically and internationally
      • Earn interest on your money.
      • Ease of international wire transfers
      • Ease of using ATM's / Cash Machines throughout the U.S.
      • Ease of establishing credit if you later want to apply for a U.S. credit card or loan. 
    • Tax Information for International Students


      All international students have at least 1 tax form to file each year, regardless of employment or income in the U.S. It is very important to understand this information. ISAP provides a workshop each year called "Let's Taco Bout Taxes", and we provide tacos during the session. All the details are on our tax information page for non-residents.

      International Student Tax Information

    • Waivers
      Out-of-State Tutition Waiver 

      Non-residents of Georgia, including international students, pay significantly higher tuition. However, ISAP can offer waivers to cover the  "out-of-state" portion of tution, saving the student thousands per year.

      • Eligibility is based on academic performance, not financial need.
      • Waivers are renewalbe each Fall based on GPA.

      View details at:  International Out of State Tuition Waivers

    • Emergency Funding and Scholarships
      CCWC International Student Emergency Fund

      Provided by the Carrollton Civic Woman’s Club (CCWC)

      This fund was set up in support of CCWC’s passion to help international students and their motto, “Planting the Seeds of Service in our Community” for the following purposes:

      • Critical, unforseen situation; Sudden health emergency or expenses not covered by health insurance; Death in the family, or other family emergency; Loss of personal items due to theft, fire or vandalism. 

      I. General Information

      • Up to $400.00
      • Eligible for support once per year when school is in session.
      • Student must be enrolled full-time, except for approved RCL.
      • Not intended for tuition, fees or personal living expenses.


      II. Process & Dispursement

      • Applications are reviewed within 48 hours.
      • Once approved, emergency items will be purchased by ISAP with a debit card issued expressly for this purpose. No cash payments to students. Itemized receipts will be retained to document expenses.

       

       Carrollton Civic Women's Club International Student Emergency Fund Application

       

      See Also

      Off Campus Employment Authorization for "Severe Economic Hardship"

       

      Scholarships

      For consideration, all students can review scholarships and submit a single application via the General Scholarship Application , maintained by UWG's Enrollment Services Center.

      Two scholarships for international students in particular are

      1. Sylvia Shortt Scholarship

      Sylvia Shortt led international student services at UWG for over 20 years and retired in 2014. She created this scholarship to support international students. The funds shall be awarded annually by a committee to an international degree seeking student in F1 status.

      Amount: appx. $4000

      Criteria: 

      • Demonstrated Financial Need*
      • Academic Excellence based on Cumulative GPA
      • Quality of personal essay

      Documenting Financial Need:

      As international students are not eligible for federal financial aid and do not submit a FAFSA form, this criteria will be documented by the student holistically. Examples of financial need may include but not be limited to: currency devaluation; natural disaster / loss of livelihood or medical expenses of the student, parent(s), or sponsor; war / civil strife in the student's home country; theft / ID fraud. All references to financial need mentioned in the student's essay must be documented with appropriate, compelling evidence such as: bank statements, news articles, police reports, mecical summaries ect...

      2. James R. Rash Rotary Club of Carrollton Scholarship

      This scholarship is intended to support a Georgia Rotary Student Program (GRSP) student who has completed their Rotary year and wishes to continue their studies at UWG. If a GRSP alumni is not available to apply, a returning international student beginning their junior or senior year may apply. 

      Amount: appx. $2000 

      Criteria: Demonstrated financial need

      Other Scholarships

      International Students are encouraged to research, find and apply for private, governmental or organizational private scholarships.

    • Health Insurance
      Health Insurance for International Students


      All international students are required to have adequate health insurance coverage in the USA. Follow the link below for details and options. 

      International Student Health Insurance Options

    • Friends and Involvement
      Friends and Involvement

      One of the best ways to succeed academically is to get involved socially. ISAP encourages all students to choose from over 100+ clubs and activities at UWG. Membership is free. It's also one of the best ways to make friends and improve your casual English skills.

       

    • International Flag Loan Program
      International Flag Loan Program

      Purpose & Description: To support the entire UWG community in celebrating and highlighting the diverse, global dimensions of UWG.

      ISAP has acquired a full set of 193 international country flags recognized by the United Nations. They are 5 x 7 polyester flags with 2 metal grommets. Flags may be checked-out by UWG clubs, organizations, academic and administrative offices for UWG sponsored programs and events. Note: poles and rope are not provided. 

      Click Here to Learn More or Borrow a Flag

    • Wifi Access
      Wifi Access Around Campus

      UWG provides 24 / 7 access to outdoor and indoor wifi around campus at the following locations.

      Wifi Around the World
      • "Eduroam" is a wifi network you can access at any participating institution in the U.S. or abroad if they are part of the Eduroam network.
      • Check-out the Eduroam Map for global access locations.
      • Simply log-in with your UWG email address and password. No need to request a guest account. It's free.
      • For set-up and details, visit the Eduroam Wireless tab on the UWG ITS page.
    • UWG Shopper Shuttle
      UWG Shopper Shuttle

      The UWG shopper shuttle departs Fridays at 1pm in front of Row Hall and returns at 4pm. The shuttle is free with current UWG ID. It goes to / from the main shopping area near Target / Walmart as well as Publix and Kroger supermarkets,

      Originally, the shopper shuttle idea came from a group of international students in 2014 who saw a need for all UWG students without personal vehicles. 

      Walkable Alternatives for the Basics:

      • CVS Pharmacy & Personal Items:  2125 Maple St, 15 min. walk / .8 mile / 1.2km
      • Food Depot Supermarket:  180 Maple Crossing, 20 min. walk / 1.2 miles / 1.9km
      • Family Dollar (disount, mini-variety store):  2290 Maple St. / 1.3 miles / 2.1km
    • Break Stay Request
      Break Stay Request

      Need Campus Housing Over Break?
      Limited housing is available during Spring, Summer, Fall (Thanksgiving) and Winter break. The nightly fee is around $26. 

      Fee Waiver Request:
      Follow this process in order for the charge to be considered for a waiver by Housing & Residence Life. *No guarantee of a waiver.

      1. Complete a Break Stay Request at: Housing & Residence Life Residence Hall Closing Information
      2. Email global@westga.edu at least two weeks before your the start of the break. Include:
        1. Full Name
        2. 917#
        3. UWG Email
        4. Residence Hall Name & Room #
        5. Start and End Dates of your break stay request
        6. Reason for break stay request

      Failure to include all this information could delay the process of your request! Processing time takes up to 3 business days as we coodinate with UWG Housing & Residence Life.

    • Graduation and Transcripts
      Transcripts

      UWG Transcripts and requests are managed by the Office of the Registrar.

      Pre-Graduation Checklist

      Final Semester

      2 - 3 Months Before

      • Friends and family who want to visit the US to attend your graduation ceremony apply for a B2 Visitor from the US Embassy or Consulate closest to them. A visa support letter is available. See below.
      • Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), if you plan to work in the US after graduation.

      1 Month Before

      • If you will be moving, give notice to your landlord or housing office that you will be vacating the apartment. Most leases require 30-days written notice. Check your lease for details.
      • Pay any fines you may have and return all loaned or rented books.
      • Contact your health insurance, car insurance, and life insurance companies to discuss coverage options and whether you need to close the account
      Visitor Visa Support Letter

      To support the B1 Visitor Visa application of family, relatives or friends who may want to travel to the U.S. to see you graduate, UWG's Registrar offers pre-graduation confirmation letters, free of charge. 

      • Email:  graduation@westga.edu 
      • Include your full name and 917 number.
      • You can also request the letter in person at the Registrar's office. 

      What Does the Letter Say?

      It states your name, confirms eligibility for graduation, and states the term and date for the ceremony. It will be signed by a staff member in the UWG Registrar's Office.

      What Should Your Visitors Prepare?

      They must demonstrate permanent strong ties to their home country and intention to return home for visa approval by documenting the following to show at the visa interview, if asked. 

      • property ownership (home or business)
      • bank loans in the home country
      • utility bills (power, water, phone, internet)
        ownership of a personal vehicle (registration, insurance etc.. reflecting the home country address)
      • bank statements
       Post-Graduation Grace Period

      All F1 and J1 students who are in active status are automatically granted a certain number of days (Grace Periods) after the completion of their academic programs during which they can remain in the U.S without further action. This date is based on your program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019, not the graduation date.

      Grace Periods

      • F1 Students: 60 days
      • J1 Students: 30 days

      What Can I Do During My Grace Period?

      • Transfer to a new school or program
      • Begin a new program of study at the same or different school, or at a higher degree level
      • Change of Status ex: F1 > PR; F1 > H1-B
      • Apply for OPT
      • Depart the U.S.

      International Travel During Grace Period

      You are advised that departure from the US during a grace period without prior action to maintain status may constitute abadonment of status. You cannot re-enter the US in that case. Contact ISAP about your travel plans before making them, if your grace period is an issue. 

      Other Helpful Links

  • Visas & Travel
    • Passport and Visa

      Your passport, visa and immigration status have different purposes and requirements allowing you to enter and stay in the United States. It is important that you maintain valid documents and status during your time in the U.S.

      Passport

      • Is issued by your country.
      • Must be valid at all times for at least six months into the future.
      • If you are currently in the U.S. and your passport is expiring, contact your country's consulate for procedures and processing time to renew or replace your passport while in the U.S. You may renew your passport from within the U.S.
      • If time allows during your home visit, renew your passport in your home country.
      • If your expired passport has a valid visa, you may use the valid visa in your expired passport. However, you will be required to show both your expired and new passports to the Port-of-Entry officer when you return to the U.S.

      Visa

      • Your visa is one requirement for your entry to the U.S. You should have valid visa, valid passport and supporting documents (including I-20 or DS-2019) when you enter to the U.S.
      • The visa stamp is placed on your passport (except Canadian citizen) by U.S. Consulate confirming your eligibility to apply for admission to the U.S. in that specific visa classification.
      • When you arrive to the U.S., the Port-of-Entry officer makes the final determination whether you are allowed to enter to the U.S. or not.
      • You can only apply for a visa only at a U.S. consulate abroad. The length of the validity of a visa is based on reciprocity agreements between your country and the U.S.
      • You may reside in the U.S. with an expired visa as long as you maintain your immigration status. The next time you leave the U.S., you will apply for visa renewal at the U.S Consulate abroad, prior to returning to the U.S.
      • A valid visa in the expired passport can be used along with a new unexpired passport.You may have more than one visa type in the passport but you can only use one status to enter to the U.S. When you return to the U.S. to continue with your same activity (such as study), you have to return in the same status.

      us visa

      Immigration Status

      • You obtain your immigration status either through admission to the U.S. at the Port of Entry or through approval of change of status from USCIS.
      • When you enter the U.S. using your valid passport, valid visa and supporting documents (including I-20 or DS-2019), you are admitted by a Port-of-Entry officer in a specific immigration status. The officer stamps your passport and creates an electronic entry record called a Form I-94.
      • The I-94 record indicates your status (F-1 D/S or J-1 D/S) and the date and location of your arrival.
      • Duration of status (D/S) means that you have permission to remain in the U.S. for the length of your program as long as you maintain your status. If your I-94 is not marked D/S, you must immediately contact ISAP for further advisement.
      • Once you obtain your status, you have to maintain your status.

       

    • Lost or Stolen Immigration Documents

      If your passport or visa is lost or stolen and you are in the U.S.:

      • Go to the local police station and report your document(s) lost or stolen. If you have copies of your documents, bring them with you. Keep a copy of the police report detailing the incident for your records.
      • You must request a replacement of your passport from your local embassy or consulate in the U.S. of your country of citizenship. Each country has a different procedure. Consult your home country's embassy or consulate for more details on what to do next.
      • If your visa stamp is lost or stolen when you are in the U.S., you can reside in the U.S. and continue your studies as long as you are maintaining your immigration status.
      • Report your visa stamp lost or stolen, email the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the United States which issued your visa. The next time you travel outside of the U.S., you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
      • Visas cannot be replaced in the U.S.

      If your passport or visa is lost or stolen and you are outside of the U.S.:

      • Consult your country of citizenship's ministry of foreign or consular affairs to determine how to apply for a replacement of your passport. Each country has a different procedure.
      • Report your visa stamp lost or stolen to the U.S. consulate or embassy that issued your visa for next steps. For a replacement, you will need to apply in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
      • If your I-20 or DS-2019 is lost, damaged or stolen, contact ISAP to request a replacement of your I-20 or DS-2019. If your DS-2019 is not issued by ISAP, please contact your J-1 Program Sponsor for replacement of your DS-2019. If your document is stolen, you may be asked to provide a police incident report.
      • For more information on lost or stolen immigration documents, visit the U.S. Department of State website and U.S. Homeland Security website.
    • I-94 Records

      An I-94 is an arrival and departure record that is issued by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, in either paper or electronic format, to foreign visitors entering the United States.

      • Most Arrival or Departure records are now created electronically upon arrival. Visitors are provided with an annotated stamp in their foreign passport.
      • If provided a paper form, the admitting CBP officer generally attaches the I-94 to the visitor's passport and stamps the departure date on the form.
      • Visitors must exit the U.S. on or before that date stamped on the form or in the passport.
        If a visitor departs by a commercial air or sea carrier (airlines or cruise ships), their departure from the U.S. can be independently verified and it is not necessary to take any further action, although holding on to the outbound (from the U.S.) boarding pass - if they still have it - can help facilitate reentry when coming back to the United States.

      If a visitor departs by land and has a paper form I-94, the I-94 must be turned in to a CBP officer at a land border when exiting the U.S. If it is not turned in to a CBP officer at the land border, the visitor will be considered an "overstay" and they may be denied entry when they attempt to reenter the United States in the future.

      For more information on the I-94 automation process, visit CBP.gov.

      Check your I-94

      Upon reentry, always check the admission stamp in your pass­port and electronic I-94. Make sure your I-94 accurately indicates your F-1 D/S or J-1 D/S status, the date and loca­tion of your arrival.

      If your I-94 is not marked with a D/S or Duration of Status or your I-94 cannot be retrieved from CBP.gov, you must immediately contact ISAP.

      Some students may receive a paper I-94 card from the Port of Entry or Form I-515. You must contact ISAP immediately before the date indicated on your I-94. Failure to do so will jeopardize your immigration status.

      Print your I-94

      Most students receive an entry stamp with the electronic arrival record (automated I-94).

      You can print your latest I-94 record and your arrival departure information. Do not use any other website link to retrieve your I-94.

    • Travel Signatures
      Travel Signatures

      Only a Designated School Official (DSO) at the University of West Georgia can sign your I-20 or DS-2019. Travel signatures must be obtained on your document before you travel outside of the USA. 

      You can stop by the ISAP office to request a travel signature. Be sure to request signatures early and be conscious of office hours. 

      Validity of Travel Signatures

      Travel Signature Table
      Status Document Length of Travel Signature Validity
      F-1 Enrolled Student Page 2 of I-20 Valid for 12 months from date signed or until the I-20 expiration date, whichever comes first.
      F-1 Post-Completion OPT Page 2 of I-20 Valid for 6 months from the date signed or the EAD card expiration date, whichever comes first.
      J-1 Students Page 1 of DS-2019 Valid for 12 months from the date signed or until the DS-2019 expiration date, whichever comes first.

      Travel Signature Table

      • Status: F-1 Enrolled Student
        Document: Page 2 of I-20
        Length of Travel Signature Validity: Valid for 12 months from date signed or until the I-20 expiration date, whichever comes first.

      • Status: F-1 Post-Completion OPT
        Document: Page 2 of I-20
        Length of Travel Signature Validity: Valid for 6 months from the date signed or the EAD card expiration date, whichever comes first.

      • Status: J-1 Students
        Document: Page 1 of DS-2019
        Length of Travel Signature Validity: Valid for 12 months from the date signed or until the DS-2019 expiration date, whichever comes first.

    • Travel Within the USA
      Travel Within the USA

      When you travel within the U.S. to any of the 50 states or to the U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands), be prepared to take the following documents with you. 

      • Valid I-20 or DS-2019
      • Valid electronic I-94 printout or I-94 card
      • Valid passport

      You may be required to show your immigration documents to an officer of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. There are several checkpoints throughout the U.S.

      • If your visa has expired, don't worry. You do not need a valid visa while traveling in the U.S.
      • You do not need an updated travel signature if you are not entering the U.S. through a port of entry.
    • Travel Outside the USA
      Travel Outside the USA

      When planning to travel outside of the U.S., please check the travel endorsement page of your I-20/DS-2019 for a valid travel signature by a designated school official or alternate responsible officer from UWG ISAP office.

      • Signatures are valid for one year from the date of last signature, except for students on OPT.
      • If the signature will be expired on the date that you return to the U.S., students should submit a travel signature request to ISAP as soon as possible to obtain a valid travel signature.
      • If you plan to travel to a country other than your own, you should contact the consulate of that country to find out if you need a visa.
      • If your visa is expired or will not be valid when you return, you will need to renew your visa.
      • Please review this link from Visaguide.world on travelling outside the U.S. https://visaguide.world/us-visa/nonimmigrant/study-exchange-visas/f1/travelling/

      You must have the following documents to return to the U.S. in student or exchange visitor status:

      • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa.
      • UWG I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature endorsed within 1 year.
      • Passport, valid six months into the future.
      • Enrollment verification and UWG unofficial transcript.

      After you arrive back in the U.S., you should check your I-94 record. 

       

    • Travel to Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands
      Travel to Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands

      F-1/J-1 visa holders whose visa has expired may be able to return to the U.S. after traveling to Mexico, Canada and neighboring islands/U.S. territories under the following conditions:

      • Visit is not more than 30 days and the purpose is pleasure or vacation only.
      • Student has maintained full-time F-1 status at all times.
      • Student has unexpired passport and unexpired I-94.
      • Student has I-20/DS-2019 endorsed for travel within a year or six months if on post-OPT.
      • Student has not applied for the visa during the visit.
      • Student is not from the countries that identified as State Sponsors of Terrorism by the Department of State.

      The automatic visa revalidation process re-validates that you are eligible to enter to the U.S. for this single trip. It is not considered a new admission to the U.S. nor a renewal of a visa.

      This benefit also applies to non-immigrants who have changed to F status in the United States, whose visa is still in the category which they used to enter the United States.

    • Travel While on OPT
      Travel While on OPT

      Travel signatures, located on the back of the I-20, are valid for one year from the date of the last signature while attending school. Post-OPT travel signatures are valid for six months from the date of last signature.

      ISAP does not recommend traveling while an OPT application is pending with USCIS. We recommend that you wait until you have your EAD card before traveling. 

      If the signature will be expired on the date that you return to the U.S., students should submit a travel signature request to ISAP as soon as possible to obtain a valid travel signature.

      What to Take When Traveling
      You must take the following, to return to the U.S. in F-1 status:

      • Valid visa
      • I-20 with valid travel signature endorsed within one year, while attending school
      • Passport, valid six months into the future
      • Enrollment verification and  ASU unofficial transcript

      What to Take When Traveling While on Post-OPT
      You must take the following to return to the U.S. in F-1 status:

      • Valid visa
      • OPT authorized I-20 with valid travel signature endorsed within six months
      • Passport, valid six months into the future
      • Current EAD card
      • Job offer letter (if available)

      Traveling within the U.S. or to U.S. Territories

      You may be asked by an officer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to show your immigration documents. Be sure you have your documents with you. We recommend that you keep them in a safe place.

      Traveling to a Country Other Than Your Own

      Students should contact the consulate of that country to find out if they will need a visa for that country. Search the list of foreign consulates in the U.S.

      Visa Renewal

      Please see this topic in a separate section on this page.

      When you Return to the U.S.

      You should check your I-94 record.

       

    • Visa Renewals
      Visa Renewals

      Apply early and expect delays. 

      Documents needed for visa renewal purposes:

      • SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 form with updated travel signature from ISAP
      • Passport, valid six months into the future
      • Financial guarantee (e.g., current semester TA/RA letter, bank statement obtained within the last six months, etc.)
      • Enrollment verification and  UWG unofficial transcript
      • Consult individual embassy websites for periodic updates on country-specific visa processing.

      NOTE: If your immigration status has already been TERMINATED, you cannot renew your visa. You must apply for a new and different visa with a new SEVIS fee. 

      Automatic Visa Renewal

      • This process re-validates that you are eligible to enter to the U.S. for this single trip. It is not considered a new admission to the U.S. nor a renewal of a visa.
      • This benefit also applies to nonimmigrants who have changed to F status in the United States, whose visa is still in the category which they used to enter the United States.
      • F-1/J-1 visa holders whose visa has expired may be able to return to the U.S. after traveling to Mexico, Canada and neighboring islands/U.S. Seek advice from ISAP about this. 
    • Friends and Family Visiting from Abroad
      Friends and Family Visiting from Abroad

      During their studies at UWG or to attend their graduation ceremony or university commencement, students may invite family members to visit for a short period of time

      Extended family, including parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, are not eligible for a dependent F-2 or J-2 visa.

      During the Semester or Short Break

      • Family members must apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa from the U.S. Consulate or come to the U.S. under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
      • Students can provide family members with a copy of their I-20 or DS-2019 along with an unofficial transcript so that they can show a tie with you and the reason for visiting the U.S. when they apply for the visa.

      During Graduation Ceremony

      Family members must apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa from the U.S. Consulate or come to the U.S. under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

      You may provide the follow documents to your family member so that they can show a tie with you and the reason for visiting the U.S. when they apply for the visa.

      • Copy of your I-20 or DS-2019
      • Unofficial UWG transcript (request through MyUWG)

      Please note that ISAP no longer provides graduation invitation support letters.