International Student Services

international Student

Shepherd University is authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students. International students seeking admission to the college should write to the Registrar several months in advance of the fall semester requesting current information about the schools admission policies.
In additiona to the required document for admission, many of the forms needed to enter the U.S. or change status are available online at http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/ .Students may also visit www.ice.gov/sevis & studyinthestates.dhs.gov to obtain information which familiarizes and acquaints students with important immigration policies, procedures and expectations.

While the information in this section is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, you should always consult official information available online or through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
In order to satisfy U.S. immigration law, the student should be familiar with the following requirements

Address Change

All international students are required by law to maintain an up-to-date permanent and local address with Shepherd University Registrar and to update The University and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security of any address changes within 10 days.

Change of Status

Within the U.S.
To apply for a change of status from other non-immigrant status to F-1 while in the U.S., be prepared to present & submit the following documents for issuance of I-20s’.

  • I-901 SEVIS Fee ($200-effective from 10/27/2008)
  • Completed form I-539
  • $290 I-539 Application fee for Change of Status to F-1(additional $200 I-539 Application fee for Change of Status to F-2 dependent)
  • Check made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Explanation letter why electing to change status
  • Copy of I-94 card (Front & Back)
  • Copy of spouse’s I-94 if dependent on his/her visa status
  • Copies of valid/current passport and visa pages
  • Copies of passport & visa pages for spouse if dependent on spouse’s visa status
  • Graduation Certificate & Official Transcript
  • Affidavit of support, bank statement, assistantship agreement or other proof of sufficient funding.

Outside the U.S.
Application is made for a new visa for the new status at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Optional Practical Training

If you have been in F-1 status for at least nine (9) months or one academic year, you are eligible to apply for optional practical training (OPT) which is temporary employment in your current field of study for purposes of gaining practical experience.
You may receive twelve months of practical training for each academic level (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate) and 17 months extension may apply for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs. For part-time (20 hours or less per week) OPT only half time is deducted from the 12 months (e.g. for four months of part-time OPT is equal to two months of full-time OPT.)
You may apply for authorization for optional practical training directly related to your major area of study in the following cases:
During your annual vacation (summer) as long as you intend to register for the next semester, it is advisable to have a job offer at the time of application in this case. The job can be full or part-time during your annual vacation.
While school is in session, provided that practical training can not exceed twenty hours a week. Do not need to have a job offer before applying. Total number of work hours must not exceed 20hrs/wk, including on-campus jobs.
After completion of course requirements except thesis/dissertation, again, does not need to have a job offer before applying for post-completion OPT.
For post completion OPT the application must be submitted 90 days prior or 60 days after the completion of your program or before the ending date of your I-20, whichever comes first. The start date of the OPT must be within 60 days of your program completion. Please be advised that you have to get the OPT recommendation from the Designated School Official before applying for the OPT: Therefore, please plan beforehand and consult with the Designated School Official at least 60 days before applying.

OPT-Application Checklist

  • Completed Form I-765
  • All previously issued I-20’s
  • Copies of passport, visa and I-94 card (Front & Back)
  • $380.00 check made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security or USCIS
  • Photocopy of any previously issued EAD (Employment Authorization Document) if any.
  • Two color passport photos (The passport-style photos must be 2” by 2”. The photos must be in color with full face, frontal view on a white to off-white background.)

If you meet these qualifications, you can proceed with the application for practical training authorization. Upon completion of all the forms, the international student advisor will review your application and decide either to recommend or not recommend your application for submission to USCIS for adjudication. Application packets are available online or with the international student advisor. A new SEVIS I-20 will be issued with the recommendation of OPT. You will have to pick up your new I-20 form after processing has been completed.

Financial Requirements

International students who are or will be in F-1 visa status are required to show proof of adequate funding for at least one year before an I-20 form can be issued. Financial requirements are calculated on the basis of tuition and fees (for two semesters), living expenses ($1000/month) and miscellaneous expenses ($1,000). An additional $4,000 will be added for accompanying spouses and $1,500 for each child. Students must submit the Financial Certification Form along with appropriate attachments.

The following documents are accepted as financial certification:
A current (less than six months old) bank statement or certification from other legal financial institution, along with an official letter (affidavit of support) from the sponsor. The letter should include the student’s name, sponsor’s name, his/her relationship to the student (parent, sister, friend, etc.), the amount of support and the time period for which it will be provided, and a stated willingness to cover the student’s expenses.
Written confirmation from the sponsoring institution of a scholarship, fellowship, assistantship or other type of funding.
In case of personal funds, a bank statement or statement from any legal financial institution that includes the student’s name, and the amount available. Please note that photocopies and statements older than six months are not acceptable.
Financial certifications have to reach Shepherd University by the posted deadline, which is usually October 15 for the spring semester and May 15 for the fall semester.
If you need further information about the University’s tuition and fees, please contact the Business Office.

Maintaining Status

In order to maintain your F-1 visa status, you must:

  • Attend the school and degree program indicated on your I-20. Request a new form if there is any change in your degree level or major.
  • Carry a full course of study (9 credit hours for graduate students and 12 credit hours for undergraduate students). Exceptions can be approved by the Academic Dean and designated School Officer.
  • Keep your I-20 form valid at all times. Check the expiration date in item #5 to make sure that it is still valid. Request a new form if any major changes occur in your situation (e.g., changes in source of funding, marital status, major, degree program, dependent).

Follow the required procedures (with the help of the Designated School Official/International Advisor) when:

  • Applying for extension of program or stay
  • Transferring to or from another school
  • Applying for OPT
  • Withdrawing from the school
  • Traveling outside of the country (abroad)

Refrain from off-campus employment without ICE or school authorization. Off-campus work permission is approved ONLY by ICE in case of an extraordinary circumstance. It is illegal to work without authorization and you are subject to deportation.

Keep your passport valid at all times.

New Students

Required Visa Documentation

  • $100.00 non refundable to U.S. Consulate
  • Form DS-156, Form DS-157, Form DS-158 (available online at http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/forms/forms_1342.html)
  • Valid Passport
  • SEVIS fee (I-901, $200)
  • Photographs (2-inch x 2-inch)
  • SEVIS I-20 (provided by Shepherd University)
  • University acceptance letter
  • Sufficient funding

Students are required to report to the international student office within 7 days upon arrival. Please bring the following documents; passport, stamped I-20, Verification of Fund and I-94. All students and their dependents are required to purchase medical insurance whether from your home country or from the U.S. Insurance is not included in your tuition.

Reinstatement

An F-1 student who has overstayed his/her period of stay or has otherwise failed to maintain status may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) District Director. You should assemble the following documentation:

  • Copy of I-94 (Front & Back)
  • Copy of passport and visa
  • Copy of all previous issued I-20’s
  • Official Transcripts from all last attended schools in the U.S.
  • Form I-539
  • Reinstatement I-20
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Check for $300.00 made payable to “Department of Homeland Security or USCIS”
  • Letter addressed to INS from the student stating the reasons for being out-of-status

Reinstatement Application should be submitted to the address given at:
USCIS California Service Center
P.O. Box 10539, Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1053
or filed electronically at http://www.uscis.gov