F-1 Student Status
F-1 Student status is the most common immigration status for foreign students studying in the United States. To be eligible for F-1 status, a student must be admitted to an educational institution that is authorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status.” In addition to meeting the normal institutional requirements for academic admission, the student must show evidence of sufficient English language ability, and documentation of sufficient financial support for at least one academic year of study. U.S. government agencies may also require evidence of the student’s intent to return home after studying in the United States.
Based on a Texas Tech University (TTU) letter of admission, the TTU-issued SEVIS form I-20, evidence of payment of the SEVIS fee, financial and language documentation, and any other documents required by the U.S. consulate, a prospective student may be issued an F-1 visa in his or her passport. With the F-1 visa, Form I-20 and other documentation the student can travel to the United States and be admitted in F-1 status by a port-of-entry officer no more than 30 days before classes start. Upon arrival in Lubbock, Texas, the student must report to the Office of International Affairs (OIA) with his or her immigration documents (passport, form I-20, and form I-94 issued by the DHS officer at the port-of-entry).
The spouse and children (under age 21) of an F-1 student may be eligible to enter the United States in F-2 status. F-2 family members must have a dependent’s I-20 and must have documentation of the family relationship to the primary student and financial support in order to apply for an F-2 visa. Persons in F-2 status cannot have employment authorization in the United States. F-2 dependents are not authorized to study at an institution of higher education in the United States.
F-1 students must be enrolled and complete a full-time program each fall and spring semester. For immigration purposes at Texas Tech, an undergraduate full-time program is considered to be 12 or more credit hours and a graduate student’s full-time program is considered to be 9 or more credit hours. Only one course or three credits taken on-line or by distance learning can be counted toward fulfillment of this full-time requirement. Under certain circumstances other levels of enrollment may be considered “full-time,” but alternative enrollments must always be discussed with, and approved by, an International Student Counselor at OIA prior to the beginning of classes.
An F-1 student in the United States has authorization to be employed “on-campus” up to half-time while school is in session by the institution in which he or she is enrolled and which issued the I-20. This “on-campus” employment authorization includes half-time assistantships for teaching or research as well as other student jobs. The F-1 student is not limited to half-time by immigration rules during vacations and other times that school is not in session. Under certain circumstances F-1 students may apply for authorization to work for employers other than the school they are attending, but usually an F-1 student is limited to “on-campus” employment.
Certain information on F-1 students and their F-2 dependents is provided to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as required by U.S. law.
Texas Tech University Office of International Affairs, MS 5004, 742-2974, fax 742-1286