F-1 Reminders

As an F-1 student, it is your responsibility to be familiar with and abide by the immigration regulations as they relate to your documents, reporting responsibility, travel and academics. Please contact OISS directly if you have any questions about the information below. 

Please refer to our Employment page for information about F-1 employment options.

OISS recommends that you check all of your immigration documents regularly to ensure that they are accurate and up-to-date, especially before traveling. If you have any questions regarding your documents, please contact our office directly. 

Important Reminder: Do not rely on Google or other online sources for immigration-related questions. You should only obtain information directly through our office. Additionally, students should never submit any government (USCIS) applications without consulting our office. This includes, but is not limited to, Form I-539 and Form I-765. 

Passport

Must be valid at least 6 months into the future at all times. If you have dual citizenship, be sure to always enter the U.S. with the passport that is associated with your I-20.

I-20

Check your I-20 for accuracy, paying special attention to:

  • Biographical information
  • Major(s)
  • Program end date
  • Travel signature

At the time of orientation, our office issues a travel signature to all students. The travel signature is valid for one year (or 6 months while on OPT). If your signature is expired, it is your responsibility to obtain an updated travel signature from our office in a timely manner– do not wait until the last minute!

If your I-20 needs to be updated, please request a new one through iTorero > F-1 Student Services > I-20 Request. If you need an extended I-20, you must submit the Program Extension Request through iTorero

F-1 Visa

The F-1 visa stamp must be valid for international travel purposes. However, if your F-1 visa expires, you can stay/travel in the U.S. as long as your I-20 is valid. You are not required to renew your visa if you will not travel outside the country.

For visa renewal inquires, please contact our office for guidance, as visas can only be renewed at a U.S. consulate abroad.

If you are traveling to either Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean Islands, you may travel under the Automatic Visa Revalidation Program with an expired F-1 visa.

I-94

An electronic admission number is given to you every time you enter the U.S. It is important to print off your most recent I-94 and carry it with you when traveling.

EAD Card (OPT Students Only)

Students on post-completion OPT receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, which is an important immigration document. Students on OPT who plan on traveling internationally must carry their EAD card, along with the other documents mentioned above. We also recommend having an employment verification or job offer letter as a supporting document for your travels.

Lost Documents

If you have misplaced or lost your passport, we highly encourage you to file a police report and visit our office immediately. If you have misplaced your I-20, please request a new I-20 through iTorero.

All F-1 students have a responsibility to ensure that all of their information on their record is updated accordingly. Please review the processes for updating your information below.

Contact Information

Your must report any changes in your contact information (local address, phone number, or email address) within 10 days of your move or change.

To update your local address please follow the instructions below:

  1. Log into their 
  2. Under the “Torero Hub" tab click on “My Torero Services”
  3. Under Personal Information click on “Update Address”
  4. Click on “Update” under Local Address

Please update your phone number and non-USD email address in  > "Biographical Information" > "Your Contact Information" or by stopping by our office.

I-20 Updates

You must ensure that your I-20 is up to date with your current status. A new I-20 needs to be issued if you change or update the following:

  • Academic major/minor
  • Degree level
  • Funding Source
  • Biographical Information

To update your I-20, please complete the I-20 Request form in  under F-1 Student Services.

*If you will NOT graduate by the Program End Date listed on your I-20, you must file for a Program Extension. Please contact OISS for more information.

Dependents

You must notify OISS of any accompanying dependents in F-2 status and provide biographical information (e.g. full name, address, country of birth, etc.) and immigration information (e.g. passport information, visa information, etc.). OISS is required to report information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding your dependents.

Passport & Visa

If is your responsibility to renew your passport to keep it valid at least 6 months into the future at all times. Students should contact their home country's consulate for information about how to renew passports. If your F-1 visa has expired or will expire and you would like to renew it, please contact OISS. All updated documents must be uploaded to iTorero > F-1 Student Services > Document Collection.

While students are not required to check in with our office prior to traveling, we strongly encourage that all students review their immigration documents prior to their scheduled trip and ensure that they understand the various travel policies listed below.

It is critical you bring all the below documents when traveling internationally:

  • Valid Passport/F-1 Visa
  • Valid I-20 (Travel signature validity = 1 year)
  • Most recent I-94

It is also highly recommended to have:

  • I-901 SEVIS payment receipt
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Proof of funding

Travel Outside of San Diego

With San Diego being near the Mexican Border, we ask that students carry their immigration documents when leaving central San Diego. You always want to be prepared in the case you get stopped by a border portal officer.

Travel After Program Completion

During your 60-day grace period you cannot exit and re-enter the country under the F-1 status. You must re-enter another a valid tourist visa or qualify for the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA).

If you choose to travel and re-enter at the border, please refer to our guidance on obtaining a new I-94 here.

Visiting Another Country

Find out more information on visa requirements if you are planning on visiting a country.

Mexico/Canada: Under the F-1 status, you are not required to obtain a tourist visa to visit Mexico. However, you will need to still bring ALL of your immigration documents with you. If you are traveling to Canada, it is responsibility to find out if you are required to obtain a tourist visa (depending on your citizenship).

Currently, traveling to Cuba from the U.S. for tourism purpose is not permitted.  For more information, please visit U.S. Embassy in Cuba

Useful Resources

OISS Consultation

For any travel and visa inquires, please be sure to contact our office for an initial consultation. You may either stop by our office or email internationaloffice@sandiego.edu to request for an appointment.

External Immigration Resources

The following immigration/legal resources are not affiliated with University of San Diego, but may be helpful for international students and scholars looking for immigration advising that goes beyond the scope of the OISS.

An F-1 student's immigration record can be directly impacted by academic issues. As such, it is critical that students pay special attention to the following academic matters

Full Time Requirement

As an international student on an F-1 visa, you are required to maintain full-time status during the regular semester (fall/spring).  Full-time status is equivalent to the following:

Full Time Requirement
Standing Number of Units
Undergraduate 12
Graduate 9
Doctoral 6

The only exception to the full-time requirement is during your final semester, if you require less than full-time loading to complete the final requirements for your degree. 

Reduced Course Load

You may request to be authorized for a reduced course load on a semester basis (with a maximum of 2 semesters). A reduction of course load may be authorized due to compelling medical reasons. You must present a letter provided by your physician/medical provider stating your diagnosis, treatment plan, and why a reduction in course load is being recommended. 

A reduction in course load may also be authorized if you present a well-documented case for initial adjustment issues that may result from either language adjustment or a lack of familiarity with the American educational system (or both).

Leave of Absence/Withdrawal

You must obtain written authorization/permission from OISS if you would like to file for a leave of absence or withdrawal from the university. Once your leave of absence/withdrawal has been officially processed you will have 15 days to depart the country.

For more information on how to successfully file for an LOA/Withdrawal, please schedule an appointment with OISS.

If you will be transferring out to another U.S. institution, you must notify OISS of your intent to transfer. In order for our office to release your F-1 SEVIS record to your new school, you must submit a copy of your acceptance letter from the new school.

Discipline Issues /Academic Probation / Disqualification

Please be reminded that disciplinary issues, academic probation, or disqualification will impact your immigration standing. For instance, an F-1 student who is disqualified for academic reasons will not be eligible to keep their I-20 record active. In this case, your F-1 record will be terminated and the you will have to depart the United States immediately. F-1 record termination therefore invalidates both your I-20 and F-1 visa stamp, and the you may no longer use either document for travel. This is why it is critical for you as an F-1 student to seek advising in matters relating to your immigration status, if you find yourself in a problematic academic situation.

Concurrent Enrollment Policy

As an F-1 student, you may request to take classes at another university during the regular semester only upon registering full-time at USD. In other words, if you are an undergraduate student, you must first be registered for 12 credits at USD during the fall or spring semester in order to receive permission to take classes at another institution within the same semester. If you have satisfied the full time load requirement and are interested in taking a class off-campus, you may request for a Concurrent Enrollment letter via iTorero.

Note: If you wish to take summer or intersession classes off-campus, you are not required to be registered full-time at USD for those terms.

If you interested in taking a class at another school or institution, you must take all measures to ensure that the class you are taking off-campus will be credited back to your degree at USD, either by confirming it with USD’s Articulation Agreement or with your respective academic advisor. You should consult with your academic department on the current process for requesting a transfer of credits to your degree. 

Embassy-sponsored students: You are responsible for ensuring that classes taken off campus are approved and acknowledged by your respective embassies. 

Holds

A "hold" is a block on your student account that may be placed by various departments on campus, such as your academic department, OISS, or the USD Health Center. A hold indicates that there is something that requires your attention and you should contact the office that placed the hold to resolve it. Please note that you will NOT be able to register or undertake other school-related transactions if there is an active hold on your account.

Sponsored Student Responsibilities

  • Follow USD, scholarship sponsor, and immigration rules
  • Understand what your sponsor requires of you!
  • Maintain a valid financial guarantee (or financial support letter)
  • Make sure your official Financial Guarantee is submitted to Student Accounts at studentaccounts@sandiego.edu
  • Check your Financial Guarantee end date:
    • If you have an expired Financial Guarantee, you will not be able to register for the following semester. It is your responsibility to work with your sponsor to ensure a valid Financial Guarantee is given to Student Accounts so USD can continue to invoice your sponsor.
  • Check your student account in your MySanDiego portal and pay any outstanding personal balance each term
    • You are responsible to pay for any fees that are not covered by your sponsor. These include: parking citations, printing, library fines, etc.
  • Check your USD email frequently
  • Be aware of holds
    • Reasons for holds may be:
      • Outstanding balance (check your student account frequently and pay on time!)
      • Expired Financial Guarantee
      • Academic Standing (Grades, Attendance)
      • Lack of official documentation such as the submission of high school transcripts or language scores
      • It is your responsibility to seek the appropriate office to remove your hold before your course registration date!It may take up to 10 business days to remove a hold. If you are unsure of which office to contact email internationaloffice@sandiego.edu for guidance.
  • Submit the Authorization for Release of Information waiver (FERPA form) for your sponsor.
    • We ask you to complete this form before the first day of classes.

Sponsored Letters & Document Requests

Types of Letters & Where to Request Them:

  • Major Letter: a letter stating a student’s intended or declared major.
  • Academic Plan: this document confirms the length of your study at USD
    • Request from: Please see your Academic Advisor for this document. You can see the name of your Academic Advisor by logging in to your MySanDiego portal, click on “My Academics” and then “Degree Works”.
  • Verification of Enrollment Letter: this document confirms your enrollment at USD
  • Evaluation of Transfer Credits (Transfer Students Only): complete this document to transfer credits to USD from another institution
  • Good Standing Letter: this letter confirms you are a student in good standing at USD
    • Requested from: Office of International Students and Scholars via iTorero
  • Concurrent Enrollment Letter: this letter states the courses you have requested to take at another institution
    • Requested from: Office of International Students and Scholars via iTorero
      • Please keep in mind that the issuance of a Concurrent Enrollment Letter does not guarantee that your classes taken outside of USD will transfer back, nor should this letter be used for tuition reimbursement purposes. Please consult with your embassy adviser or scholarship benefactor with regard to taking classes off campus. Also refer to this resource on petitioning to transfer credits.
  • Official Transcript: a comprehensive record of a student's academic progress at the University of San Diego. 
  • Unofficial Transcript: an unofficial (not certified by the university) comprehensive record of a student's academic progress at the University of San Diego. 
  • Immigration Related Documents (such as an I-20)
    • Request from

FERPA Authorization

The Office of International Students & Scholars encourages all sponsored students to complete a FERA authorization form. In order to facilitate requests and documents from embassy scholarship advisors on your behalf please complete one of the following steps:

Option 1) Grant FERPA authorization to your embassy advisor

Option 2) Upload your signed scholarship agreement to iTorero.

USD’s Health Insurance Requirement:

Students and visiting scholars have the option of enrolling in the USD Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), coordinated through USD’s provider Gallagher Student Health, or waiving with a comparable plan. Embassy scholars have the following options to waive or enroll in the USD SHIP:

Option 1: Request your sponsor send a valid Financial Guarantee (also known as a Financial Support Letter) to Student Accounts at studentaccounts@sandiego.edu. Once the university has this document on file the health insurance charge will be dropped from your student account and you will be waived from the health insurance requirement. 

Option 2: If you are unable to provide a Financial Guarantee by the health insurance deadline please follow the waiver instructions here. If you have questions on the waiver process email internationaloffice@sandiego.edu.

Option 3: If your scholarship does not include health insurance you can either enroll in the USD Student Health Insurance Plan or waive with a comparable plan.

Learn more about the USD SHIP enrollment and waiver deadlines and what is considered a “comparable plan”.