Recently Admitted Students

Immigration Definitions

It is important to be familiar with immigration terms, as they are used in information you may receive from the International Student Service Office throughout your stay at UNK.

SEVIS

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is a data collection and monitoring system that links institutions of higher education, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), consulates and embassies abroad, and ports of entry. Schools are required to make updates in SEVIS each semester. This includes, but is not limited to enrollment status, changes of address, changes in level of study, reduced course load authorizations, employment recommendations, and school transfers.

Form I-94

This small white card is a record of your legal entry into the U.S. and immigration status. You completed it on your flight to the U.S. or at a border crossing, and it is then processed at a port of entry. An immigration inspector usually staples it into your passport. Form I-94 notes name, date of birth, country of citizenship, and the date and port of your arrival in the U.S. It also indicates how long you can stay in the United States. The notation D/S signifies "duration of status" and refers to the completion date. The Form I-94 is also a record of your arrivals and departures. Each time you leave the country you surrender your I-94. Only in the case of short trips to Canada, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean do you keep this form. The I-94 card is an important form; we recommend that you make a photocopy of both sides of the form to keep separately in case you need to replace it. If you made an error when completed your I-94 card, you must pay $380.00 to apply to USCIS for a replacement and wait for the request to be processed.

Form I-20

The Certificate of Visa Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F-1 Student Status is the I-20. This is the document issued by a school through SEVIS for presentation at a U.S. consulate abroad to apply for an F-1 Student visa. It must also be presented to an immigration official upon entry into the U.S. When traveling outside the U.S., those in F-1 status must carry a recertified I-20 if you intend to return to the U.S. in status to continue your studies or practical training.

The Form I-20 and its corresponding electronic updates in SEVIS are a permanent record of your activities as a student in the U.S. You must keep all of those documents issued to you throughout your student status, no matter how long you stay in the U.S. or how many times you travel abroad. The initial document used when you entered the country and stamped by the DHS is a very important immigration document. It is a recommendation of this office that you make a copy of both sides of your document to keep with your permanent records. If you lose your I-20 or DS-2019, please come to the ISS Office. Under most circumstances, we can provide you with a replacement form in three to five working days.

Form DS-2019

The Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant J-1 Exchange Visitor Status is the Form DS-2019. This is the document issued by the program sponsor - the university, government agency or other organization sponsoring the visit - through SEVIS for presentation at a U.S. consulate abroad to apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa. It must also be presented to an immigration official upon entry into the U.S. When traveling outside the U.S., those in J-1 status must carry a recertified DS-2019 if they intend to return to the U.S. in J-1 status to continue their studies or academic training.

The Form DS-2019 and its corresponding electronic updates in SEVIS are a permanent record of your activities as a student in the U.S. You must keep all of those documents issued to you throughout your student status, no matter how long you stay in the U.S. or how many times you travel abroad. The initial document used when you entered the country and stamped by the DHS is a very important immigration document. It is a recommendation of this office that you make a copy of both sides of your document to keep with your permanent records. If you lose your DS-2019, please come to the ISS Office. Under most circumstances, we can provide you with a replacement form in three to five working days.

Immigration Status

This is often confused with "visa" but your immigration status, (F-1, J-1) is determined at the time of your entry into the U.S. by an immigration official and is noted on the Form I-94. You may have many visa stamps in your passport but, upon entry into the U.S., an immigration inspector will admit you in only one immigration status which is noted on the I-94 card (see above). Be sure the correct status is written on your I-94 card. Unlike your entry visa, your immigration status may be changed in the U.S. The U.S. Department of State web site provides further clarification on visa and status differences. Several important differences between the F-1 and J-1 immigration status are described below.

Passport

Students in F-1 or J-1 immigration status must keep their passports valid at least six (6) months into the future at all times. You may obtain extensions of your passport through the nearest consulate or embassy of your country.

Entry Visa

Your entry visa is issued by a United States Consulate abroad and affixed into your passport. The only purpose of an entry visa is to apply for admission to the United States at the port of entry. The entry visa itself may expire while you are in the U.S., but your permission to stay in the U.S. remains valid. All international students - with the exception of Canadian nationals - requesting F or J immigration status are required to have a valid F-1 or J-1 entry visa in their passport at the time of entry into the U.S. Your visa specifies the type of immigration status you will hold (F-1, J-1), the date until which you may enter the U.S., and the number of entries you may make before you must apply for a new entry visa stamp. The length of validity of each visa type is determined by an agreement between your home country and the U.S. government and is not necessarily tied to the length of your program of study. Please refer to the State Department's Visa Reciprocity information on their website for more details.

NOTE: Although F-1 and J-1 entry visas may be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start date on the I-20 or the DS-2019, you are not permitted to enter the U.S. more than 30 days in advance of that date. If you have been out of the U.S. for more than 5 months and not registered in your current degree program, any valid student visa you may have is subject to cancellation and you are required to obtain a new visa to return to the U.S.

F-1 or J-1 entry visas cannot be obtained within the U.S. Application for a new visa must be made in person at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S. The validity period of your visa does not determine the length of time you may remain in the U.S. after you enter. Your length of stay is determined by the expected completion date of your program as indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019. You are admitted to the U.S. for "duration of status" in F and J. This is notated as "D/S" on your I-94 card. The U.S. Department of State web site provides further clarification between the expiration date of an entry visa and the duration of time you are permitted to stay in the U.S. in your status.

Differences Between F-1 and J-1 Status

There are two types of entry visas issued to nonimmigrant students who intend to study full-time UNK; the F-1 Student visa and the J-1 Exchange Visitor Student Category visa. A student's accompanying spouse and children are given an F-2 or J-2 visa.

Important Points for Students in Programs of Study of 12 Months or Less

  • If your program of study is less than 12 months, Academic Training may be authorized only for the number of months of study. In addition, you must have a job offer integral to your field of study to receive AT authorization.
  • J-2 spouses who plan to apply for employment authorization should be aware that it can take 90 days or more for USCIS to adjudicate the application and the J-2 may not work until the Employment Authorization Document (the EAD card) has been received.

Sources of Funding

J-1 Exchange Visitor status is available to those students who are supported substantially by funding other than personal or family funds. Such funding may include that which comes from the U.S. government or the student's home government, an international organization, or the University.

Students who are supported by personal or family funds are ineligible for J-1 immigration status, and must come to the U.S. to study in F-1 immigration status.

Foreign Residence Requirement - Students in J-1 immigration status and their J-2 dependents may be subject to a "foreign residence requirement". This applies to those who have received U.S. or home country government funding or those who are on the "Country Skills List". The foreign residence requirement means that upon completion of the J-1 program they must reside in their countries of last legal permanent residence for two years before they are eligible to apply for entry into the U.S. on a specialized work visas (H or L) or an immigrant visa.

J-1 students who receive direct or indirect U.S. or home government funding, or who are studying in fields for which personnel are considered in short supply in their home countries (most developing nations have "Country Skills" lists of varying lengths), are ineligible to apply for a change to another nonimmigrant status) or permanent residency in the U.S. until they have satisfied the "two year home country physical presence requirement". To see if your country is on the Skills List and which fields of study are included, consult the Exchange Visitor Skills List. There is no foreign residence requirement for F-1 student status. Refer to the Department of State's web site for additional information on the Exchange Visitor Program.

Medical Insurance

Students visa holders and their dependents are required to have comprehensive medical coverage in order to fulfill U.S. government regulations governing the student nonimmigrant status. Currently the medical insurance offered by UNK covers all requirements for those in F and J immigration status. All international students are required to have Health Insurance at UNK that meet the below minimum requirements:

MINIMUM Insurance Requirements
$50,000 Major Medical
$7,500 Repatriation of Remains
10,000 Medical Evacuation and
* Deductible Limit of $500

*The sum of money that must be paid by student before insurance company begins to pay

Work Permission

Students in either F-1 or J-1 immigration status may work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) on campus with permission from the ISS Office. For both statuses, permission to work off campus based on economic need may be requested only after the first full academic year of student status, and only under extraordinary circumstances of unforeseen need. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authorizes F-1 students to work off campus, whereas J-1 students submit an application for work permission to their visa sponsor, i.e. the agency or school that issued the DS-2019 form.

  • Practical or Academic Training - Students in F-1 and J-1 immigration status are eligible to engage in differing lengths of practical or academic training during their studies and at the completion of their academic programs.
    • Practical Training, a benefit of F-1 immigration status (if you are eligible), is employment in your field of study. Those in F-1 immigration classification may be eligible for "curricular" practical training (which must be authorized by the ISS Office) during their program if it is an integral part of the degree, in addition to one year of "optional" practical training that may take place after your program of study. Permission to engage in practical training may be granted only after you have been in valid student status for one academic year. The ISS Office recommends optional practical training and the USCIS authorizes it.
    • Academic Training, a benefit of J-1 immigration status if you are eligible, is employment which is integral, not just related, to one's field of study. You are eligible to apply for permission to engage in academic training after one academic term in valid student status. The period of time allowed for Academic Training cannot exceed the length of the program of study. In most cases, there is a maximum of 18 months with the exception of postdoctoral research and teaching positions that may qualify for up to 36 months.
  • Dependent Employment - Immigration regulations allow no circumstances under which the F-2 spouse of an F-1 student can apply for work permission while in the U.S. The J-2 spouse of a J-1 Exchange Visitor may apply to USCIS for permission to be employed, if he or she can demonstrate a need for supplemental support for self or children ONLY. The spouse cannot obtain work permission in order to support the J-1 student. The I-765 Form, required to apply for J-2 employment authorization, may be downloaded in pdf format from the USCIS website.