The F-1 visa is intended for non-immigrants wishing to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs for a period of time in the United States. The F-1 visa program is managed by a shared database called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). F-1 students are granted permission to remain in the United States until the completion date noted on the Form I-20 plus 60 days provided they remain enrolled full-time and meet all other terms and conditions of the F-1 status.
The J-1 visa is generally used for students in specific educational exchange programs such as the Fulbright, LASPAU, DAAD, AmidEast, etc. Educational institutions such as Norwich University may also sponsor J-1 visas for students in their degree programs. The purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences.
The J-1 visa program is managed by a shared database called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
The J-1 visa and the J-2 visa (for dependents) are obtained by submitting a Form DS-2019 issued by the Exchange Visitor sponsor to a U.S. embassy or consulate.
Form I-20 (Certificate of Visa Eligibility)
Students who (1) are fully admitted, (2) need a student visa to enter the U.S. to study at Norwich (except Canadian citizens), and (3) have documented their ability to finance their education will receive a Certificate of Visa Eligibility, Form I-20. This document certifies eligibility for an F-1 visa. You must apply for the F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad, and must show Form I-20 to the immigration inspector when you enter the US. The I-20 is processed and issued through SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).
The initial I-20 that you used to enter the U.S. and which was stamped by the Department of Homeland Security is an important immigration document. Copy all pages, and keep them with your records. If you lose your I-20, alert the Norwich University’s International Center.
The Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant J-1 Exchange Visitor Status is the Form DS-2019. This document is issued by the program sponsor (the university, government agency, or other organization sponsoring the visit) through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (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 inspector upon entry into the US. You must keep all DS-2019s issued to you.
The initial DS-2019 that you use when you enter the country and stamped by the Department of Homeland Security is an important immigration document. Copy both sides to keep with your records. If you lose your DS-2019, alert the Norwich University International Center.
Form I-94 / Admission Stamp
Prior to April 30, 2013, you have been issued a white paper I-94 that was completed for you by a U.S. customs official at the port of entry. There is an 11-digit ID number on the card. If you were admitted on an F-1 or J-1 visa, your I-94 card is marked “D/S” (Duration of Status) Do NOT lose your paper I-94 card. There is a USCIS fee and a lengthy process to replace it!
If you were admitted in the United States AFTER April 30, 2013, you may NOT have received a white paper I-94, but your passport was stamped with an admission stamp and marked “D/S” for Duration of Status. You can access your electronic I-94 entry record online and print a paper version of your I-94 by visiting www.cbp.gov/i94.
Often confused with the visa. Your immigration status (F-1 or J-1) is determined when you enter the U.S. by an immigration inspector and is indicated on the I-94 or on the admission stamp in your passport. You may have many visa stamps in your passport, but upon entry into the U.S., an immigration inspector can admit you in only one immigration status. Verify that the correct status is indicated on your I-94 card or in your passport. Unlike your visa, your immigration status may be changed in the U.S. The U.S. Department of State provides further clarification on visas and visa status.
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
SEVIS is a data-collection and monitoring system that interfaces between institutions of higher education, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. consulates, and ports of entry. Schools must regularly update student information in SEVIS each semester for each student, such as enrollment status, changes in address, changes in level of study, employment recommendations, and school transfers.
Students in F-1 or J-1 immigration status must maintain passports valid at least six months into the future. You must extend your passport through your embassy or during a trip home.
Your visa is issued by a U.S. Consulate abroad and placed in your passport. A visa permits you to apply for admission to the U.S. The visa 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) who request F-1 or J-1 immigration status must have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa in their passport at the time of entry to the U.S. Your visa specifies the type of immigration status you will hold (F-1 or J-1), the date until which you may enter the U.S., and the number of times you may enter the U.S. before you must apply for a visa. 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 related to the length of your program of study. Please refer to the U.S. Department of State Visa Reciprocity Tables for more information.
ALTHOUGH F-1 VISAS MAY BE ISSUED BY U.S. CONSULATES UP TO 120 DAYS IN ADVANCE OF THE PROGRAM START DATE, U.S. IMMIGRATION REGULATIONS DO NOT PERMIT F-1 AND J-1 STUDENTS TO ENTER THE U.S. MORE THAN 30 DAYS PRIOR TO THE PROGRAM START DATE. If you currently hold a valid F-1 or J-1 visa, you will not be permitted to apply for a visa renewal until 30 days or less prior to your current visa's expiration date.
F-1 or J-1 visas cannot be obtained in the U.S. You must apply for a new visa in person at a U.S. consulate abroad. The validity period of your visa does not determine the length of time you may remain in the U.S. Your length of stay is determined by the completion date of your program that is indicated on Form I-20 or the DS2019. You are admitted to the U.S. for "duration of status," noted "D/S" on your I-94 card.
Maintaining Your Status
Legal Rights & Responsibilities
The U.S. constitution guarantees certain rights to all people, not just U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Non-immigrants in the U.S. receive many of the same constitutional protections as U.S. citizens; at the same time, non-immigrants are subject to U.S. federal immigration laws that do not apply to U.S. citizens.
Your Legal Rights
International students enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, and other rights included in the U.S. constitution.
Non-immigrants are protected against discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, color, and national origin. Federal, state, municipal, and university rules exist to protect citizens and non-immigrants from most forms of discrimination.
Your Immigration-Related Responsibilities
Report Address Changes
U.S. federal regulations require all F-1 and J-1 students to report a change of address within 10 days. You must update your address in here [link to form]. The International Center will then be automatically notified of your address change.
Access you Norwich email account as soon as possible after being admitted. You will receive periodic emails from the International Center; this is our main method of updating students regarding important regulations. We cannot send emails to personal email accounts.
You must maintain a valid passport at all times. This is a requirement of your student visa status while in the U.S.
Report Changes in Academic Program to the International Center
Students must notify the International Center whenever there is a change in their academic program (for example, a change of major or an extension of stay.)
Change of Major [link to form] Extension of Stay [link to form]
Apply for an Extension of Stay Prior to I-20 or DS-2019 Expiration
Students must apply for an extension of stay before Form I-20 or DS-2019 expires. It is not possible to extend the I-20 or DS-2019 after it has expired.
Extension of Stay [link to form]
If transferring to another U.S. school, request the transfer of your SEVIS Record (I-20 or DS-2019)
Students must request the transfer of the SEVIS record (I-20 or DS-2019) prior to transferring to another institution. You must transfer your SEVIS record to maintain your immigration status. For more information please click here [link to “Traveling in the US / Leaving the US”]
Transfer Out [link to form]
Obtain Travel Signature Prior to Departing the U.S.
You must obtain a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 before departing the U.S. Failure to do so may cause issues when you attempt to return to the U.S. Travel signatures are valid for 6 months. Visit our office during regular office hours to receive a travel signature.
Depart the US within your Grace Period
F-1 students: You must depart the U.S. within 60 days of the I-20 expiration date or your program end date, whichever is earlier, unless you have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT). If you are on post-completion OPT, you have a 60-day grace period following the completion date of your OPT.
J-1 students: You must depart the U.S. within 30 days of the DS-2019 expiration date or your program end date, whichever is earlier.
On Campus: F-1 students in valid status may work a maximum of 20 hours per week on campus during the semester. During Spring, Summer, and Winter breaks, students may work up to 40 hours per week.
Off Campus: Off campus employment requires authorization from the International Center. Review the Employment [link to “Employment and Practical Training”] section for details.
Under U.S. immigration law, you must verify sufficient financial documentation of funds available for study in the U.S. for you and your dependents, as applicable. Note: If a financial document is under someone else's name, the account holder must sign the Financial Support Letter [link to form] to be submitted with the financial document.
Financial documents must clearly state bank name or logo, account number (partial is acceptable), account holder's name, date of statement, and account balance. Date on financial document cannot be more than 90 days ago.
Acceptable Financial Documents *
Unacceptable Financial Documents
*If you have another type of financial document, please submit the financial documentation as requested. We will review your document and let you know if it is acceptable.
Employment and Practical Training
Definition of Employment
Employment is defined as any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or any other compensation.
Employment Eligibility Verification
Within the first three days of beginning work, the employee and employer must complete a form entitled Employment Eligibility Verification (USCIS Form I-9), which will be kept by the employer. To complete the Form I-9, students may need to show their passports, visa documents or other documents proving that they are authorized to be employed in the United States. The Form I-9 must be updated each time the work permission is renewed or there is a change of employer. Anyone earning income in the United States is required to have a U.S. Social Security Number.
Notes of Caution
One should not assume that students are automatically eligible to work in the United States. USCIS considers unauthorized employment to be the most serious violation of F-1 status. Students should consult with their advisors in the HIO before accepting any employment. The International Center can help with matters pertaining to applications for employment authorization.
J-1 (primary) and J-2 (dependents) visa holders are required by their visa status to maintain medical health insurance coverage at all times during their exchange visit. The minimum basic coverage is:
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
- Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000; and
- A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
In some cases, your financial sponsor may arrange for medical insurance coverage, ensuring it meets with the regulatory guidance above. In all other cases, the J-1 primary visa holder is responsible to arrange for suitable medical insurance coverage for him/herself and any J-2 dependents.
J-1 scholars are not benefits eligible employees of the university and must purchase independent health insurance. While the Norwich University does not specifically endorse any other health plans, the following resources may offer acceptable coverage:
- PSI International Student & Scholar Health Insurance
- HTH Worldwide
- Cultural Insurance Services International
- International Student Insurance
- ISO Health Insurance
Failure to maintain adequate medical health insurance coverage will lead to termination of J visa status and departure from the United States.
Traveling in the US / Leaving the US
Depending upon your circumstances, your procedure for leaving the U.S. may be different. Review the information in the section below that applies to your situation.
Recommended documents to carry when travelling internationally. Only show documents requested.
I-94 Arrival/Departure Card
Entering the U.S. after May 21, 2013 by air or sea port means your I-94 is electronic and you do not need to do anything.
Entering the U.S. by a land port or before April 26, 2011, surrender your paper I-94 card at the point of departure from the U.S. (unless traveling to Canada or Mexico)
Passport valid at least six months into the future
Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature.
Information on the I-20 says that the travel signature is valid for one year. However, based on recent SEVP guidance, the International Center recommends you get a new travel signature if you will reenter the U.S. more than 6 months from your last travel signature.
Valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in passport
Financial Documentation (bank statement, scholarship/assistantship letter)
Proof of enrollment (transcript, printout of current enrollment, and next semester’s enrollment, if available)
Renewing a Student Visa
You cannot renew your student visa stamp in the U.S. Except in rare cases, you must have a valid visa to reenter the U.S. It is not guaranteed that the U.S. consulate will renew your visa. If your visa application is denied, you cannot return to the U.S.
Visa applicants should note the following:
- Applicants are subject to security clearances that may take several months. Background checks can result from arrests in the U.S., field of study, country of origin, or other factors.
- If you need a visa and will be traveling on a short trip, remember, you may encounter visa processing delays.
- Appointments are required for almost all non-immigrant visa applications. Check the website of the U.S. consulate in your home country to see processing times at travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638
- Graduate students, professors and research scholars who are deemed to be studying certain “sensitive areas of study” may be subject to a security review.
- If you are out of status and will be traveling outside of the U.S., you must speak with an international advisor before you leave the U.S. to make certain you have the required documents for reinstatement through reentry.
Automatic Revalidation for Travel to Canada or Mexico
For most students, travel to a country that is contiguous to the U.S. (Mexico, Canada, St. Pierre, Miquelon, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, Jamaica, Winward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique) with an intended stay of less than 30 days (not applying for a new visa) may return to the U.S. on an expired visa. This process is known as automatic visa revalidation.
If you travel to Canada or Mexico, you may need a visa to enter that country.
For more information and restrictions, visit travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/automatic-revalidation
It is important to remember that while you are on a Norwich Study Abroad program you are still a Norwich F-1 student and your SEVIS record will be maintained by the International Center.
Please make an appointment with an International Student Adviser when planning for your Study Abroad experience.
Authorized Early Withdrawal
Want to depart the US prior to completing your program? Complete the Departure Form [link to form]. Departing the U.S. without completing this form could result in a termination of status for Failure to Enroll.
Departure Form [link to form]
Transfer to Norwich University
F-1 students who have been admitted to Norwich University and are coming from another institution are considered F-1 program transfers, which is not necessarily the same as an academic transfer. The students will have to complete the Transfer In to Norwich form and submit this form to the admissions offices of the schools to which they have been admitted. They must also speak with the international student advisor at their current schools and request that their SEVIS records be electronically released from their current schools to Norwich. Once the SEVIS record is released and all other admissions materials have been submitted, the new Form I-20 from Norwich will be processed and sent to the student by the admissions office.
Transfer from Norwich to Another Institution
F-1 students who have made a commitment to attend another institution must inform the International Center and request that their SEVIS records be electronically released to the new school. It is advised that students discuss their travel plans and new program start dates with the International Center before settling on a SEVIS transfer release date.
Departure Upon Completion of Studies
After you have completed your program, you have a grace period within which to depart the U.S. If you remain in the U.S. after the end of your grace period following the end of your program, you will be unlawfully present in the U.S. Being unlawfully present in the U.S. could make you subject to removal and future bars from entering the U.S., even if you qualify later for a new U.S. visa through study, work, or marriage. Submit a Departure Form [link to form] to prior to leaving Norwich.
F-1 Students: 60 day grace period
If you wish to remain in the U.S. lawfully, you must do one of the following:
- Apply to the USCIS for a change of visa status before the end of your grace period
- Be accepted into a new degree-seeking program and receive a new I-20 before the end of your grace period
- Depart the U.S. prior to the end of your grace period.
J-1 Students: 30 day grace period
If you wish to remain in the U.S. lawfully, you must do one of the following:
- Depart the U.S. prior to the end of your grace period.
- Apply to the USCIS for a change of visa status before the end of your grace period
Travel after Graduation while on Optional Practical Training
If you plan to travel outside of the U.S. and then return for Optional Practical Training (OPT), we recommend you carry:
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from USCIS
- Proof of employment (letter from your employer) or if you are not yet employed, have proof that you are actively seeking employment (proof of resumes sent, rejection notices from companies, and so on.) If you do not have a job, you may not be permitted to reenter the U.S.
- I-20 signed for travel
- Passport valid at least six month into the future
- Valid student visa
Two-year Home Country Residency Requirement
J-1 Exchange Visitors come to the U.S. for a specific objective such as a program of study (J-1 student) or a research project (J-1 scholar). The intent of the Exchange Visitor Program is for the home country to benefit from the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s experiences in the U.S. Accordingly, J-1 Exchange Visitors and their accompanying J-2 dependents may be subject to a two-year home residence requirement.
Who is subject to the two-year home residence requirement?
J-1 Exchange Visitors may be subject to the two-year home residence requirement if:
- They received government funding, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, and for the purpose of exchange, from their home government, the U.S. government or selected international organizations;
- The education, training or skill the J-1 Exchange Visitor is pursuing on the exchange program is on the Exchange Visitors Skills List (a list of areas and disciplines identified by foreign governments as having a short supply of workers in that country) for the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s country;
- They participated in graduate medical education or training; or
- They are J-2 dependents of a J-1 Exchange Visitor who is subject to the two-year home residence requirement.
What does the two-year home residence requirement mean?
If a J-1 Exchange Visitor is subject to the two-year home residence requirement, s/he must “reside and be physically present” for a total of two years in either his/her country of nationality or legal permanent residence after the completion of his/her stay in the U.S. as a J-1 Exchange Visitor.
What restrictions do I have if I am subject to the two-year home residence requirement?
Until this requirement is met, the J-1 Exchange Visitor is NOT ELIGIBLE for the following:
- H-1B (temporary worker) visa;
- L (intra company transferee) visa;
- K (fiancé/e) visa;
- Adjustment of Status to permanent residence (green card); or
- A change of status inside the U.S. to any other non-immigrant classification except A (diplomats and dependents) or G (representative to international organizations)
How do I know whether or not I am subject to the two-year home residence requirement?
Evidence of whether or not a J-1 Exchange Visitor is subject to the two-year home residence requirement may be found:
- On the J-1 visa stamp in the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s passport. The phrase: “Bearer (is/is not) subject to section 212 (e). Two-year rule (does/does not) apply” should appear; or
- In the section labeled “preliminary endorsement” in the lower left hand corner of the DS-2019 form
How can I waive the two-year home residence requirement?
J-1 Exchange Visitors who are subject to the two-year home residence requirement may be able to receive a waiver of this requirement. A waiver may be pursued on four grounds:
- A “statement of no objection” from the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s home country. For advice on how to obtain such a statement, J-1 Exchange Visitors should contact their Consulate or Embassy in the U.S. The statement must be transmitted through official channels from the home country government to the U. S. Department of State. The Department of State then makes a recommendation to the USCIS as to whether or not the waiver should be granted. The USCIS makes the final decision whether the waiver should be given. Note: J-1 foreign medical graduates are not eligible to apply for a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement on the basis of a “no objection statement” from their home country.
- The interest of a U.S. government agency. If the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s participation in a project sponsored by, or of interest to, a U.S. federal government agency is of sufficient importance to that government agency, the agency can apply to the Department of State for a waiver. The Interested Government Agency (IGA) request must be signed by the head of the agency or its designee and submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division. The J-1 Exchange Visitor has the responsibility for obtaining an IGA request from a U.S. federal government agency. The Department of State then makes a recommendation to the USCIS as to whether or not the waiver should be granted. The USCIS grants the final waiver.
- Fear of persecution. If a J-1 Exchange Visitor can demonstrate that, because of his or her race, religion, political opinion or nationality, s/he would face persecution upon return to the home country, s/he might qualify for a waiver. To apply for such a waiver, the J-1 Exchange Visitor should submit an Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, directly to the USCIS. Once the USCIS makes a decision, it will forward its decision to the Waiver Review Division. Only if the USCIS makes a finding of persecution will the Waiver Review Division proceed with the waiver case under this basis.
- Exceptional hardship to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or child. If a J-1 Exchange Visitor can document that his/her return to the home country would result in extreme hardship to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or child, then s/he may apply for a waiver. Ordinarily, circumstances of extreme hardship, such as medical reasons why your spouse or child cannot leave the U.S. and return to the country with the J-1 Exchange Visitor, are necessary for such a waiver to be granted.
To apply for such a waiver, the J-1 Exchange Visitor should submit an Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence. Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act directly to the USCIS. Once the USCIS makes a decision, it will forward it to the Waiver Review Division. Only if the USCIS makes a finding of exceptional hardship will the Waiver Review Division proceed with the waiver case under this basis. Note: Mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish exceptional hardship.
Processing of a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement is a complicated and time-consuming matter. Individuals who are interested in pursuing a waiver should seek the advice of an immigration attorney.
For detailed application procedures on applying for a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/exchange/waiver-of-the-exchange-visitor/how-to-apply-waiver.html.
An International Driver’s License will be valid for up to six months, as will certain foreign or out-of-state licenses recognized by the State of Vermont. After six months of residency in Vermont, you need to apply for a state license at a Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) location. The closest location is approximately 10 miles away in Montpelier, Vermont.
A license will be issued after you pass the vision, written and road tests and pay the fees. Generally, the permit and road test are done on separate days. Usually, you will not be able to make an appointment for the road test until you have already passed the permit test. If you are taking the driving test, you must be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 25 years of age. The car you use for the driving test must have a valid vehicle registration certificate and be in good mechanical condition. An automobile insurance identification card is also required.
Please Note: The Vermont DMV must verify your Social Security Number (SSN). If you are a temporary foreign national not authorized for employment, you are required to present documentation from Social Security Administration (SSA) verifying you are not eligible for a SSN. To obtain this documentation, you must first make an appointment with the International Student Coordinator in the Norwich University International Center to request a letter for the SSA. Once you have this letter, you must visit the SSA to obtain the proper documentation for the DMV. The closes SSA location is also in Montpelier, Vermont. For location and hours, please visit https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp and input your zip code.
Additional information regarding obtaining a Vermont State Driver’s License:
- Montpelier DMV location and hours: http://dmv.vermont.gov/locations/Montpelier
- Foreign Licenses recognized by the Vermont DMV: http://dmv.vermont.gov/licenses/Drivers/Foreign
- Please read this information for Students Who Are Non-U.S. Citizens Applying for Vermont Driver Licenses
- If you need to complete a driver’s education course, a list of driver training schools can be found at http://dmv.vermont.gov/safety/training/drivers. Information on how to make an appointment at a local VT DMV office can be found at http://dmv.vermont.gov/licenses/drivers/2085
- Vermont State licensing requirements can be found on-line at http://dmv.vermont.gov/licenses/drivers/requirements/identity#Lawful
- License, ID and Permit Fees: http://dmv.vermont.gov/fees/license-permit-id
- Proof of identity is required and shall be one primary document and one secondary document. A list of documents accepted as proof of your identity can be found at http://dmv.vermont.gov/licenses/drivers/requirements/identity
- Vermont Drivers Manuals are available at all DMV locations.
Social Security Numbers
In the United States, a Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration. Its primary purpose is to track individuals for taxation purposes. Social Security numbers are available only to those international students and scholars who have secured employment in the U.S. If you have previously applied for and been granted an SSN, this number is yours for life. You should not apply for a second number.
Students and Scholars who are required to file a tax return, but who are not eligible for a social security number, may need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
If you will be employed while in the U.S., you must apply for an SSN in person at the local Social Security Office. Prior to applying, you must check in with the International Center. After submitting the application to the Social Security Administration, you will receive a written notice with estimated processing time.
Students or Scholars with on-campus employment must request a Social Security Number letter from the International Center. To do so, please contact the International Student Coordinator. Typical processing time for your letter is one business days after your request has been submitted. You will receive an email when the letter is ready to pick up.
Although an SSN may be requested for other services such as banking, utilities, cell phones, etc., it is only required for employment. For purposes other than employment, ask the service provider about acceptable alternative identification numbers.
Filing U.S. Taxes
All F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors must file federal tax forms every year that they are in the U.S. The deadlines to file the forms are April 15, if U.S. money is earned, and June 15, if no U.S. money is earned. Please contact the International Center for resources to assist you with this.