A visa is issued to give you permission to enter the United States. You may only enter with a valid visa in your passport and a valid visa document (e.g. I-20 or DS-2019), if required by your status. The visa in your passport will often expire while you are in the United States. If you must leave the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa at the American consulate in your country. Visit this site to find out that consulate's procedures before leaving to ensure you have all necessary documents.
For F and J visa holders: As long as your I-20/DS-2019 and passport are unexpired, you should be fine to remain in the U.S. Should your current form be expiring, you must request a new I-20 or DS-2019. Be sure to allow at least 10 business days for your new form to be issued once all documentation (Recommendation for Extension of Visa form and new, original financial documents).
You should request a new I-20 or DS-2019 at least four weeks before it expires. Failure to request a new form in time will deem you out of status (i.e. illegal) and in need of reinstatement. Should this happen, make an appointment to see an advisor. Be sure to allow at least 10 business days for your new form to be issued once all documentation (Recommendation for Extension of Visa form and new, original financial documents).
You are required to have a passport that is valid for at least six months into the future. If your passport will be expiring in the next year, contact your embassy to ask about their procedures.
Below is a list of the minimum courseload for each type of student:
- Undergraduate Bridge Students: maximum of 8 credits, plus required Bridge courses
- Graduate Bridge Students: maximum of 3 credits, plus required Bridge courses
- Undergraduate Students: 12 credits
- All Graduate Level Students: 9 credits
If you must take less than the above detailed credits, please submit a Reduced Courseload Request Form (RCL). Your request will be evaluated and you will be notified at your student e-mail account whether it has been accepted or not. If you need a letter for your on-campus employer, allow up to five business days for it to be issued.
NOTE: Immigration is very strict on this and your situation must fit into one of the six situations detailed on the form. If you have read them all and find that you are still not sure, please contact us.
You must go through a specific procedure to obtain a driver's license or Virginia State identification. Read the information on how to get an official state identification and submit the required documents.
The Career Management Center maintains a list of all available on-campus jobs. Be aware that if an employer requires an applicant to be eligible for work study, international students may not apply; work study is a federal program for citizens.
After you have been offered a job, you will need to come to our office to fill out employment paperwork (also called I-9 paperwork); all necessary information like what to bring and when to bring it to ISSS can be found at the above link. Once you have completed the forms, you will get a letter from our office that needs to be taken to the Social Security Administration. Further information on that process will be given to you with the letter.
You may only work 20 hours per week while school is in session and 40 hours per week during summer and vacations.
Please refer to the following portions of the ISSS web site for information regarding permission to be employed off-campus:
It is often difficult for internationals to find financial aid, but not impossible. Some resources are given below. Please remember, however, that the Financial Aid Office on campus is not able to help international students on non-immigrant visas (individuals from other countries who do not have a green card or a U.S. passport).
International Student Leadership Award: This is announced on the ISSS listserv in about February. The award is for undergraduate students who meet the following criteria:
- Minimum 3.25 GPA
- At least 12 credits earned
- Proven leadership on-campus or in local community
- Not receiving $8,000 ISS scholarship through International Admissions office
- Non-immigrant visa holder
- Will be registered for 12 credits for both the fall and spring semesters of the coming academic year
- Not eligible for in-state rates
- Good disciplinary standing
ISSS has a web page to assist you with the process of bringing family over for a visit.
Generally, pregnancy is not a valid reason for a reduced courseload, unless documentation is submitted from the student's physician that verifies there is a complication with your pregnancy that requires you not take a full courseload or any classes at all. This reason and a specific time frame for which reduced registration is required for the health of the mother and/or baby must be provided in a letter by the doctor on letterhead. This letter must be accompanied by the Reduced Courseload Request Form.
If you have questions regarding the transfer of credits from a previous institution, please go to Dragas 2101 to speak with an International Admissions counselor.