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International Student Requirements

International Student Requirements


Welcome to the Jaguar Family!


To be part of the Jaguar family, there are many things you need to know about attending a Southern University and A&M College, obtaining and maintaining your immigration status, seeking employment in the U.S., and more.This page contains important information that will help you transition into life as a Jaguar. If you have any additional questions, you should call or visit your college’s international student office located in the J. S. Clark Annex, 2nd Floor.

Whether you are in F-1 or J-1 status, you should always contact your International Student Advisor (Designated School Official-DSO, Responsible Officer-RO or Alternate Responsible Officer-ARO) before and upon your arrival in the U.S. 




This section covers the information, process and forms needed to obtain the F-1 and J-1 visa, and immigration status; also, frequently referred to as F-1 status or J-1 status (F or J status).

Welcome Letter & Required forms


Once you have been accepted to SUBR you will receive a few letters and forms. This will eventually will happen after you apply to SUBR and meet all the admissions requirements.

After you have been accepted, you will receive a Welcome Letter along with 4 forms for you to complete and return to your college’s Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) (this person is). These forms are needed before you can enroll at the College and so that your DSO/RO can issue the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. You will need the Form I-20(Certificate of Eligibility) to obtain the F visa; Form DS-2019 to obtain the J Visa.

Here’s what you will need to do, upon receiving the Welcome Letter and required forms:

  1. Review the Welcome Letter and forms.
  2. Complete and return the following forms:
  • A translated to English Immunization Form.
  • The I-20 or DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility) Application Form. Review the instruction letter accompanying your I-20 or DS-2019 upon receipt.
  • The Affidavit of Support form.
  • Declaration & Certification of Finance form.

Proof of certain immunizations is needed before you can register for courses. Therefore, you will need to submit this immunization form along with any other pertinent health records. This information is needed to determine if you have the mandatory immunizations as required by the U.S. government.

The Certificate of Eligibility (for the I-20 or DS-2019) application form is needed to obtain information required to issue the actual I-20 or DS-2019. The Affidavit of Support and the Declaration & Certification of Finance forms are needed to determine if you are financially able to support yourself.

When completing the finance forms, remember to convert all figures into U.S. dollars and attach all necessary documents (e.g. bank letter/statement, sponsor’s proof of income, proof of an approval loan or evidence of a scholarship) before returning them to your advisor. 

**Please attach documents that are original and translated into English.


Form I-20 & DS-2019

Forms I-20 and DS-2019 are very important documents. They are needed to obtain the F or J visa, and to maintain F or J immigration status in the U.S.

You will receive instructions from your International Student Advisor on how to apply for your F/J visa, how to obtain your F/J immigration status, and what you must do after you arrive. Carefully review this letter upon receipt and before you apply to the F-1/J-1 Visa.

In addition to issuing these documents, the International Student Advisor is charged with entering the information listed on them in the DHS database known as SEVIS: Student & Exchange Visitor Information System. The information is viewed by the Department of State officials at the U.S. Consulate when you go to apply for F-1 Student Visa or J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa.

After the college has determined that you have provided the required information, including sufficient funds to support your education and living expenses, the International Student Advisor will mail the Form I-20 to you, if you are a prospective F-1 student; the Form DS- 2019 if you are a prospective J-1 student.

The Forms I-20/DS-2019 will be reviewed and verified by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer via SEVIS, each time you enter the U.S. The SEVIS database is also updated by your International Student Advisor, when you report to school, register for classes, change your major, drop below full-time status, apply for permission to work, change your address, graduate, withdraw from school, and any other related F/J requirements.

It is extremely important that you take care of your I-20 or DS-2019 forms, and do not lose them. Your I-20 or DS-2019 form, passport with the valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp and, I-94 Admissions/Departure Card are documents critical to maintaining your F/J status. When you report to your Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) on campus your advisor will make copies of these documents and maintain them for mandatory record keeping purposes.

You will receive instructions from your International Student Advisor on how to apply for your F/J visa, how to obtain your F/J immigration status, and what you must do after you arrive. Carefully review this letter upon receipt and before you apply to the F-1/J-1 Visa.



As a new applicant, you must pay a one-time I-901 SEVIS fee: $200 for F-1; $180 for J-1, to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before you can apply for a visa. You will need the SEVIS fee payment receipt to apply for your visa at the U.S. Consulate in your home country.

You must pay the SEVIS fee in U.S. dollars, either online (using a credit card) or through the mail (by U.S. check, money order, or bank draft). Once payment is received, it takes three business days to be processed. This means your payment must be received at least three days before you apply for a visa at the U.S. Consulate in your country (or at least three days before your entry into the U.S. if you are a Canadian citizen).

You must have your I-20 or DS-2019 form before you can pay the SEVIS fee. After receiving the I-20 or DS-2019 form, you will need to know your SEVIS identification number. The SEVIS identification number is printed in the upper left of the I-20 and on the upper right of the DS-2019. Detailed information and instructions on paying the fee can be accessed at Student and Exchange Visitor (SEVP) I-901 SEVIS FEE WEBSITE


Consulate / Embassy Appointment

Once you have received your I-20 or DS-2019 and your SEVIS fee payment receipt, make an appointment at the U.S. Consulate in your home country to apply for the visa.

While Consulate procedures for the F-1 or J-1 visa may differ from country to country, the application process usually includes a short interview in English, several forms that you need to complete, and a processing fee. 

When you go to the U.S. Consulate, you must bring the following:

  • Your college acceptance letter
  • Financial form with supporting documents
  • I-20 Or DS-2019 Form
  • SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
  • Passport, must be valid for at least six months from the date of your appointment at the consulate. Its recommended to have your passport valid for the period of time of the intended program.

If your visa application is approved, the F-1 or J-1 visa will be stamped in your passport.


Upon U.S Arrival

Make sure you arrive in the US no more than 30 days prior to the first day of classes. Check in with your international advisor as soon as possible before your program begins. After receiving your F or J visa, you will be ready to enter the U.S. and receive your corresponding F or J immigration status upon arrival in the U.S.

On your flight to the U.S., you will receive the I-94 Admissions/Departure to complete. Present this form, along with your passport, and I-20/DS-2019 to the U.S. Custom and Border Patrol Immigration Officer for inspection. The officer will place the F-1 or J-1 and D/S (Duration of Status) stamps on your I-20/DS-2019 form, and the I-94 card.

Please note, that when you enter the U.S., you may be subject to various security checks, including, being photographed and electronically fingerprinted. This is a routine procedure for anyone entering the U.S. with a visa and is part of the safety measures taken by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

DHS Regulations require that you enter the U.S. on the Form I-20 Or DS-2019 from SUBR or any other U.S. college that you plan to attend. If you do not do so, it is a violation of F-1 Immigration Laws and can result in loss of your student immigration status.Again, make sure you arrive in the US no more than 30 days prior to the first day of classes.


Reporting to SUBR

Once you arrive in the U.S., you must report to your college’s international student office within 10 days. Once you enter the U.S., you must report to International Student Services Office and meet with your International Student Advisor. Your International Student Advisor will need to validate your F/J status in SEVIS. To do so, you must provide him/her with the following original documents:

  • Passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • I-94 card

Your advisor will make copies of these documents and maintain them for mandatory record keeping purposes.

Failure to report to the college that issued the I-20 or DS-2019 upon your arrival to the U.S. is a USCIS violation and can also result in loss of your student immigration status.


Student Orientation

It is important that you participate in all new-student orientation programs offered by your college. The International Student Advisor will provide you with specific orientation information pertinent to you. Orientations are held at the start of each semester, and offer valuable information that will help you understand the requirements for maintaining your F or J status. They also provide you with student life information that will help you adjust to your new environment and learn more about your academic requirements.



One of the most important responsibilities you will have during your SUBR stay is to maintain your immigration status. This section will assist you in doing that.


Remain a Full-Time Student

You must remain a full-time student each fall and spring semester. Failure to enroll as a full-time student is a violation of your immigration status.To be a full-time undergraduate student, you need to take at least 12 class credits during both, the fall and spring semesters. This usually means being registered for at least four classes each semester.

Depending on the SUBR program, the number of class credits required for a graduate level, doctoral or law student to be full-time can vary. Please check with the International Student Advisor to confirm the number of credits you must take each semester to satisfy your full-time status requirement.


Keep your Documents Valid

To maintain your immigration status, you must make sure that your passport, and I-20/ DS-2019 remain valid all the time. Your visa needs to be valid each time you enter the U.S.

Your I-20 or DS-2019 will include an anticipated completion date for your studies in the U.S. This date is listed in Section 5 of the I-20 and in Section 3 of the DS-2019. Most students complete their programs in the period of time noted on their I-20 or DS-2019, but occasionally students need an additional semester or more to complete their program. You must consult your International Student Advisor if you need additional time to complete your program, at least 30 days before the completion date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. 

Once your completion date passes, your I-20 or DS-2019 will expire and you may not be able to extend your stay in the U.S. If you are beginning a new program, you must apply for a new I-20 at least 60 days before the completion of your first program. Evidence of funding may be required.

To make sure you keep your passport valid at all times, contact your country’s consulate or embassy for renewal procedures.

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the day you plan to re- enter the U.S. You cannot enter the U.S. on the F-1 or J-1 visa, using a passport that is less than six months from expiration.

You will always need to maintain a valid F or J visa in order to re-enter the U.S. Check the expiration date on your visa to see when you will need to renew it. Remember, you can only renew it at the U.S. Consulate in your home country. You cannot obtain or renew the visa in the U.S. Know that if your visa expires while you are in the U.S., you do not have to renew it until you leave the U.S. for a vacation in your home country.

If you have a valid visa in an expired passport, always present both, the old and new passport to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer when you re-enter the U.S.


Obtain Travel Authorization to Re-Enter The US

Meet with your advisor before you leave the U.S. to obtain the advisor’s travel authorization to re-enter the U.S. If you plan on traveling outside the U.S. during your studies, you must have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed by your International Student Advisor before you leave. The advisor’s travel signature is only valid for a year. Make sure the signature stays current.

If you do not have a current signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, you will have difficulty re-entering the U.S. You should visit your International Student Advisor with your passport that has a valid F-1 visa stamp and I-20 or DS-2019, at least two-three weeks before traveling.


Keep your Advisor Informed

  • Changes in Personal Information: Notify your International Student Advisor and your college’s Registrar’s Office within 10 days after obtaining your new address. You must also notify your advisor if there are any changes in your name, citizenship, degree level, major, sources of funding or anticipated graduation date. Your advisor will make the necessary updates to your records in SEVIS. Failure to report changes in your personal information within 10 days of receiving it can place you in danger of losing your student immigration status.
  • Departure from College: Contact your advisor if you plan to leave your college temporarily or permanently. Whether you plan to study abroad, take a leave of absence, withdraw, graduate early, or transfer to another school, you must notify your advisor before leaving.
  • Missing Documents: Contact your advisor immediately if any of your documents are stolen, lost, or misplaced. Your Advisor will instruct you on how to obtain replacement documents. Note: You must always report your lost passport to the police and obtain a police report.


Do Not Work Without Authorization

International students are only permitted to work outside the university with permission from either their International Student Advisor or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Working without authorization is a deportable offense. Do not accept any employment unless you have written work authorization.


File Income Taxes

As an international student, you are required to file federal income taxes for each year you earn income from U.S. sources including income you make from working in the U.S. and income from scholarships you receive.Taxes are filed between January 1 and April 15 of each year. Visit your International Student Advisor (DSO/RO) for more information.


Employment Options


On campus employment

As an international student, you can work throughout the SUBR Campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session. Working on campus is a convenient way to earn extra money, make professional contacts, and improve your professional skills. In an effort to ensure that the student obtains a good academic foundation, and maintain immigration status, many International Student Advisors will only permit students to take on-campus employment after their first year of study in the U.S. It is highly recommended that students refrain from on-campus employment and focus on their coursework during their first year of study.

Curricular practical training (CPT) & Academic training


CPT or AT may be conducted off campus. This option is available if you are registered for an internship course or enrolled in an academic program that requires you to obtain practical training in your field of study for a specified period of time.

Internships are considered part of your education and, therefore, are allowed through a program called Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 students; Academic Training (AT) for J-1 students. This is a great way to network, develop new skills and gain work experience.

Most internships will also count as course credits, thus helping you make steady progress towards completing your studies. Here is the process for obtaining CPT or AT:

  • Check with your International Student Advisor to make sure you are eligible for an internship or practical training in your field, and to find out the specific
  • See if your academic department requires you to conduct academic training or offers any internship
  • Have your prospective employer write a letter on company letterhead, containing a job description, and specifying the length of the internship. Ask your advisor in advance, about other
  • Have the professor in charge of the internship course or overseeing your academic training to approve your internship in
  • Register for the internship or academic training credits.
  • Pay your tuition
  • Bring the job description, approval letter, proof of course registration, payment receipt, and your I-20 or DS-2019 to your International Student Advisor to obtain approval to work

Optional Practical training (OPT)


Through a program called OPT, international students can work full-time for up to one year to gain work experience in their field. You must be in F-1 status for one year to receive OPT. There are 2 categories of OPT: Post Completion and Pre-Completion.


Following graduation, F-1 international students are allowed to work full time for up to one year to gain work experience in their field of study before returning to their home country.


In March 11, 2016, USCIS published a regulation allowing F-1 students in STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields to apply for an additional 24 months of OPT, beyond their initial 12 months. To qualify for the STEM, OPT extension, a student must be engaged in an authorized OPT based on graduation from a program in the acceptable STEM field. The student must also be working for or have a job offer from an employer that is enrolled in the E-Verify system.


F-1 students can obtain OPT prior to graduation. They can work 20 hours a week while classes are in session and 40 hours a week during holiday and vacation periods. The amount of time used under Pre-Completion OPT is deducted from the students Post Completion OPT.

Social Security Number


If you get a job while in the U.S., you will need to obtain a Social Security Card from a U.S. Social Security Office. This card will contain your Social Security Number. You need the Social Security Number for tax and employment purposes. Your Social Security Number will never change, so you only need to apply once.

To get a Social Security Number, you need to get a referral letter from your International Student Advisor. Take this letter, along with your job offer, passport, I-94, I-20 or DS-2019, and SUBR identification card to the Social Security Office nearest you.



International students earning money while in the U.S. are subject to federal and state income taxes, and will need to complete the W-4 form prior to working.International students must report their annual U.S. income by filing income tax forms each year, even if they do not work or receive some other form of U.S. income. Students who do not receive U.S. income are required to file U.S. Internal Revenue Form 8843.

Students who receive U.S. income (including scholarships and assistantships) will need to file non-resident federal and state forms. Under certain conditions, international students can file as a U.S. resident for tax purposes only. Tax forms for those who earned U.S. income are filed between January 1 and April 15; for those who do not receive income during the year, the filing deadline is June 15th.

Check with your advisor to determine which forms are best for you, and to find out about available tax software programs.