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International Studies - U.S. Immigration Guidelines

All international students who enter the United States on non-immigrant visas are subject to federal regulations that do not affect U.S. citizens or permanent residents.


It is important that you pay close attention to your non-immigrant visa status and follow these guidelines. If you have any questions or doubts regarding your visa status, please contact your International Student Advisor, Susan Taylor.

Maintaining your visa status is your responsibility. When you sign your I-20, you are confirming that you have read and understand the regulations governing your visa.

CAUTION: There have been many changes to the Immigration Laws in the past few years. Therefore, do not rely on the advice of your friends or family members already in the U.S. Each student’s situation is somewhat different and rules change frequently. Susan is very well informed. She is your best source for help and information.

Full-Time Student Status
International students on either an F-1 or M-1 visa are required to be registered for, and successfully complete, a full-time program of study during each academic year, with the exception of summer quarter. If summer is your first quarter here, then you must be a full-time student. Full-time status is defined as 12 credits per quarter.

If you are having difficulties in any of your classes and think you may not complete 12 credits, it is important to talk to your International Student Advisor immediately for advice.

An important part of being successful in your college classes is attendance. If you are unable to attend a class due to illness or otherwise unavoidable circumstances, contact your instructor and make a plan to complete any assignments you missed. Follow your course syllabus to make sure that you are current with your assignments. If you have questions or don’t understand something an instructor has said, ask him or her for clarification.

I-20 Completion Date
I-20 forms are written with a beginning and end date. The estimated date of completion is an important date to keep in mind. If you cannot complete your major and need more time to finish program requirements, please see your International Student Advisor immediately.

I-20 and I-94 Forms
Both of these documents are very important and you should keep them in a safe place. Please keep all copies of your I-20. You will need your I-94 and I-20 documents when you travel outside the U.S.
If you plan to leave the U.S. at any time and will return, you must obtain prior approval from your International Student Advisor. A Designated School Official (DSO) must sign page three of your I-20 or you may not be permitted to return to the U.S.

Change of Address and E-mail
You are required to notify the Office of International Programs within 10 days if you change your address. Also, please tell the office if you change your e-mail address. It is very important for us to have your current e-mail address.

Transferring to another College/University
If you decide to transfer to another college, you must inform the Clark College DSO when and where you plan to transfer. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also requires you to begin attending the new school the first term after leaving Clark College or the first term after summer vacation.

How to Stay in F-1 Visa Status

  • You must register for a minimum of 12 credit hours each quarter. If you drop below 12 hours without prior approval from the International Student Advisor you will be out of status.
  • You have only 15 days to leave the U.S. if you decide to withdraw from all your classes. You must have prior approval from your International Student Advisor. You may be able to file for Reinstatement of Status if you have a valid reason for withdrawing from classes and are still within the five-month rule.
  • If you get sick and cannot attend classes full time, you must have a letter from your doctor, and you must talk to your International Student Advisor immediately.
  • You are expected to attend three consecutive quarters before taking a break. Do not plan to take a quarter off unless you first check with your International Student Advisor.

  • If you have fallen out of status, you must apply for reinstatement. Reinstatement is not automatic and can sometimes be denied. You have only five months in which to file for reinstatement. Please see your International Student Advisor for filing instructions.
  • If you plan to travel outside the U.S. or return home for a visit, you must get a permission signature from your International Student Advisor in order to re-enter the U.S. You must get the signature at least one week before you depart. You may need to apply for a Visitor’s Visa to travel to Canada or to countries other than your home country.
  • When you complete your program at Clark College and plan to transfer to another U.S. school, you must complete a Transfer Out Request Form.
  • If you have moved, you must report your new address to your International Student Advisor within 10 days.
  • If you complete your program at Clark College and have not applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT), and will not be transferring to another school, you have 60 days in which to leave the U.S.
  • You cannot work anywhere except Clark College. Exceptions to this are Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Please see your International Student Advisor for information.

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