Visas & Immigration

Students in F-1 status have certain privileges and obligations under the regulations of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This document outlines the most important of these rights and responsibilities. For more detailed information, please speak to Emily Kempf, International Student Advisor at 816.501.3571.

Immigration Documents

Passport

Passports, Visas, and Arrival-Departure Records (Form I-94) are official travel documents that foreign citizens coming to the United States must have in their possession to show their country of citizenship and legal status in the U.S.  We encourage students to make a copy of their passport biographic page, their U.S. visa and their Form I-94 as soon as possible after their arrival in the U.S.

If you are an international student temporarily in the United States, and you lose your U.S. visa, you can remain for the duration of your authorized stay, as shown on your Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). You will need a valid passport to depart the United States and to enter another country. Your I-94 is needed as you depart the U.S., to document that you are departing by the required date.   If your passport with your I-94 are lost or stolen, you must get them replaced immediately. There are a number of steps you need to take as follows:

Police Report
Go to the local police station and report your document(s) lost or stolen.  If available, you will need to provide copies of the original documents.  You will be issued a police report detailing the incident.  Don’t forget to make an extra copy of the report for your own records.

Report your Passport Lost/Stolen to Your Embassy
Contact the local Embassy or consular section for the country of your citizenship, for information on the procedure to replace a lost or stolen passport.  Most countries have Internet web sites with contact information. Embassy Web Sites

Report your Visa Lost/Stolen to the U.S. Embassy Abroad
Fax the Consular Section or Consulate General at the Embassy abroad which issued your visa to report it lost/stolen. Go to the Embassy Consular Section Website to locate the Fax number and contact information. Specifically state whether the visa was lost or stolen.  Be sure to include your full name, date of birth, place of birth, address in the U.S., and an email address (if available).  If you have a copy of the passport or visa, fax this to the Embassy or consular section.  Otherwise, if known, report the category of visa and the passport number from the lost/stolen visa.   If you have already reported your visa lost/stolen to the U.S. Embassy abroad, and then you later find your misplaced visa, please note that the visas will be invalid for future travel to the U.S, and you must apply in person at the Embassy or Consulate abroad for a new visa.

Applying for a Replacement United States Visa
Lost/stolen U.S. visas cannot be replaced in the United States. For replacement of a visa, you must apply in person at an Embassy or Consulate abroad. When applying for the replacement of a visa, you will need to provide a written account documenting the loss of your passport and visa.  Include a copy of the police report.

USCIS Form I-20
Read and clearly understand the information on USCIS Form I-20.  The International Student Advisor can issue a replacement I-20 if yours is lost, damaged, or stolen.  Reprinted I-20s are tracked in SEVIS by the Department of Homeland Security, so you should request a replacement only if your I-20 has been lost, stolen, or damaged.

The International Student Advisor will not print replacement documents for purpose of travel only.  If you exit the U.S. and realize you forgot to obtain a travel signature prior to departure, you must mail your current I-20 to International Student Advisor to be signed for travel.

If you need and updated I-20 because information in the current document has changed-such as a program extension, change of funding, change of degree level, etc.-please contact the International Student Advisor.  

Procedure for Requesting a Replacement I-20:
1.  To replace a lost, stolen, or damaged I-20 contact the International Student Advisor at 816.501.3571.
2.  Allow one week for processing.
3.  You will receive an email from the International Student Advisor when your document is ready for pick up.

The new replacement document will be your official I-20.  It will not have a stamp on the front page because that stamp can only be issued by an immigration official.  The next time your travel into the U.S. a Customs and Border Protection Officer will stamp your I-20, notating your F-1 admission.

If you are travelling without an I-20, the Border Official may suggest you enter the U.S. in tourist status instead of granting the I-515.  Under no circumstances should you enter the U.S. in tourist status.  Tourist status does not allow enrollment in courses or employment. If you enter in tourist status and attend classes, you will be in violation of your immigration status.  Changing from tourist status back to F-1 is a time-consuming and expensive.

USCIS Form I-94
Foreign visitors to the U.S. arriving via air or sea no longer need to complete paper Customs and Border Protection Form I-94 or I-94W. Those who need to prove their legal-visitor status—to employers, schools/universities or government agencies—can access their CBP arrival/departure record information online.  You may access the information here at Department of Homeland Security.

Registration, Attendance and Course Load

Full Course Load Minimum Requirements

An international student may not drop below a full-time course load unless authorized in advance by their International Student Advisor. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior authorization is considered to be out of status.

Level of Study: Credit Hours Per Semester:

  • Undergraduate or Undergraduate Certificate: 12 credit hours
  • Graduate or Graduate Certificate: 9 credit hours

Dropping Below Full-time Course Load

Students may be authorized to drop below full time by their International Student Advisor for these reasons only: 

  • Medical conditions: The student must provide current medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or a licensed clinical psychologist. The student may be authorized to be less than full time for medical reasons for no more than an aggregate of 12 months in any degree program.
  • Academic difficulties: Initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements; unfamiliarity with American teaching methods; or improper course level placement. The student who studies less than full time due to academic difficulties must carry at least a half-time course load (i.e., for undergraduates, at least six hours per semester). After dropping below full-time, he/she must resume a full course of study in the next available semester to maintain student status. The student previously authorized to drop below full time due to academic reasons is not eligible for a second authorization for this reason.
  • Final semester before completing a program: If the student does not need a full-time course load to complete the program in the final semester, he/she must receive approval from their International Counselor at the beginning of the semester.

Summer Session Enrollment
International students are not required to enroll during the annual summer vacation break, unless they are issued a Form I-20 o begin their initial program of study with the summer session as noted on the Form I-20 (F-1). In this case, a student beginning his/her academic program with the summer session must enroll full-time (4.5 credits for graduate students and 6 credits for undergraduate students). These students will continue to be required to attend full-time throughout the subsequent fall/winter terms.