General Immigration Information
United Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)
The United Citizenship & Immigration Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for enforcing immigration regulations. Although some USCIS paperwork must be sent to the USCIS Data Processing Center or the Texas Service Center, other business can be handled in person at the local office. The local USCIS office that processes actions for international students at Bellarmine is: Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse Building, Room 390, 601 West Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202, 502.582.6375. Or visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services' website.
Completion of Studies
Students have 60 days to depart the country after completing their course of study.
Students have 15 days to depart the country if they terminate their program of study early. Failure to register for classes each semester constitutes early termination.
Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
Permission to enter the U.S. is recorded by the Form I-94, issued at the port of entry. F-1 and J-1 students are admitted for duration of status, which is written as D/S on the Form I-94. D/S refers to the time necessary to complete a course of study as recorded on the Form I-20. F-1 and J-1 students have 60 days to depart the U.S. at the completion of the duration of status.
All international students are responsible for maintaining status as non-immigrant students, or they may be subject to legal proceedings that could result in deportation. In order to maintain status, students must, as a minimum:
- Carry a valid passport at all times.
- Attend the school authorized to attend.
- Maintain a full course of study.
All international students must maintain status as full-time students for the duration of stay. This means enrollment for a minimum of 12 credit hours each fall and spring semester as an undergraduate, or 9 credit hours per semester as a graduate student. Audit courses do not count toward a full course of study. A leave of absence from any academic program is not permitted. Students may seek authorization from the Assistant Dean of Students for a reduced courseload only for the final semester of study or due to medical necessity. Please remember that authorization for a reduced course load is required.
- Refrain from off-campus employment without authorization.
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours/week when school is in session.
- Report a change of address and phone number within 10 days to the Assistant Dean’s Office and to the Registrar.
Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
All international students are now registered electronically with the USCIS through SEVIS. This system allows for real-time updates and reporting as needed.
Some confusion exists about the function of the visa. A U.S. visa does not provide permission to enter the U.S. nor does it grant a permission to remain. A visa must be valid only to the date of entry into the U.S., and there is no effect on legal status if the visa expires while international students are in the U.S. The visa is only a travel document that allows boarding an airplane or ship destined for the U.S.
F-1 Student Information
The following information is intended for students on F-1 visas, including degree-seeking students and students participating in bilateral exchange programs with Bellarmine University.
Designated School Official (DSO)
The Designated School Official at Bellarmine is the Assistant Dean of Students. The Designated School Official represents and speaks for the school in all matters relating to F-1 students. Only a DSO may sign an immigration document for the school in a matter relating to F-1 students. After arriving on campus, the DSO must receive from all new international students copies of the following documents: Valid Passport, Visa, I-20, personal identification, and the I-94 card. ISEP students please refer to J-1 Visa Information.
Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student (F-1)
The I-20 form is a certificate from the school, addressed to the U.S. government, in which the school confirms acceptance to pursue a full course of study. An I-20 is a required part of an F-1 visa application but otherwise carries no legal meaning. This form must be signed, and the signature constitutes an agreement to abide by all applicable rules as well as grants the school permission to provide certain information to the USCIS. When traveling outside the U.S., the DSO must first sign the Form I-20. It is important to keep all I-20s, including those which have expired, in order to be authorized for employment.
Transfer of Schools
An F-1 student who is maintaining status may transfer to another college or university by following the proper notification procedure. Although USCIS does not require any formal authorization for a student to transfer, there are certain procedures that must be followed. The student should notify the Assistant Dean of Students of his/her intention to transfer by completing and signing a “SEVIS Transfer Request” form available in the Assistant Dean’s office.
F-1 students may work on campus part-time (maximum of 20 hours per week) while school is in session, and full-time during vacation periods without prior approval. The Multicultural Student Advisor should be informed of such employment. To process on campus employment, the student must bring identification (such as a passport) to the Bellarmine Business Office in order to file I-9 and W-4 forms. A social security number will be needed for payroll purposes. (For more information, refer to section entitled “Social Security Number/Card”)
F-1 students need authorization to work off campus. Employment is limited to part-time (a maximum of 20 hours a week) while school is in session and full-time during school holidays or summer vacation. However, students must have been enrolled in F-1 status for a full academic year and be in good academic standing before receiving authorization to work. Graduate Students enrolled in a program that requires an internship (i.e. MBA) may apply for authorized employment prior to completing a full academic year. The following options exist for off-campus employment authorization:
Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship
F-1 students may apply for employment based on unforeseen circumstances beyond their control and if on-campus employment is either unavailable or insufficient. Circumstances leading to unforeseen severe economic hardship may include:
- Loss of financial aid
- Loss of on-campus work
- Substantial fluctuations in value of currency or exchange rate
- Inordinate increases in tuition or cost of living expenses, such as medical bills
F-1 students may apply for employment practical training related to their field of study. Practical training is divided into two sub-categories:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT). This employment takes place before completion of studies and is designed to provide work experience that serves as an integral part of the student’s academic program, including internships, cooperative education, or any type of required practicum offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. There is no limitation on the length of time allowed for participation in either part- or full-time CPT; however, participation in 12 or more months of full-time CPT precludes eligibility for Optional Practical Training following graduation. The Assistant Dean of Students authorizes CPT and requires the following supporting documentation be submitted two (2) weeks prior to the requested start date:
- Completed CPT checklist cover sheet (available in CC 225 office)
- A letter from the employer describing the position along with number of hours per week, including the beginning and end dates of employment.
- A letter from the academic advisor clearly stating that the work experience fulfills curricular requirements.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT). This employment is divided into pre- and post-completion practical training. F-1 Students must apply directly to the USCIS for authorization to work, and the work must be related directly to the student’s major area of study. OPT is limited to twelve months full-time. Students are encouraged to apply for OPT at least 90 days in advance of the start date requested for employment. Students must also apply for post-completion OPT prior to the end of their final semester of study. For post-completion practical training, a student must complete all training within a 14-month period following completion of study. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is required for OPT, and the DSO can provide guidance on applying for the EAD – under no circumstances shall any international student work prior to receiving an EAD.
Practical Employment Information
Social Security Number/Card
In the United States an individual’s Social Security number/card is used for a variety of purposes usually relating to identification or employment. Although a Social Security number/card may be obtained for reasons other than work, it is generally used for employment purposes. Obtaining a social security card does not give international students authorization to work, but you must have one in order to be legally employed.
If you have been approved to work in the U.S., you may be issued a valid Social Security number/card. Before applying for a Social Security card you must have verification from the employer on company letterhead of your job offer. You may then apply by taking your current I-94, I-20 from an accredited school, evidence of age and identity, and evidence of full-time attendance and authorization to work to the Social Security Administration Office. You will need a letter from the Assistant Dean of Students before they will provide you with a Social Security card. For further information or to apply for a Social Security number/card, contact:
Social Security Administration Office
General Information and Services
601 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
10503 Timberwood Circle
Louisville, KY 40223
2500 W. Broadway
Louisville, KY 40211b
*You will receive an informational Social Security Packet at Orientation.
Federal and State Income Taxes
International Students are required by law to file a federal income tax return each year, even if they have not earned any income in the United States. To do so, you need to complete three forms: (1) Federal form 1040 NR (Non-Resident) or form 1040NR-EZ (Nonresident with no dependents), (2) State (Kentucky) form 740, or 740-EZ (Single person with no dependents), or 740-NP (Part-year resident), and (3) Federal form 8843 (Statement for Exempt Individuals, an informational statement). Forms are due by April 15 for individuals who have earned income in the United States. The deadline for students who have not earned any U.S. income is June 15. For further information or assistance, contact the Internal Revenue Service, the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet, or a tax preparation service, or visit the website at www.IRS.gov
USCIS Photo Requirements
Since September 1, 2004, USCIS will only accept color, full-frontal photographs for immigration benefit applications such as employment authorization documents and adjustment of status applications. To view the USCIS flyer with the new photo instructions, please visit the USCIS website.
F-1 Travel Outside the U.S.
International students wishing to leave the United States temporarily (and return to continue their studies at the institution in which they are enrolled) must secure the necessary documents to permit entry to another country and re-entry to the United States. Please contact the Assistant Dean of Students if you need more information.
If you travel outside the United States during your stay at Bellarmine, you must have the following documents: a valid passport, valid visa stamp, recently signed I-20, I-94, and a copy of most recent transcript. If you require a new I-20 please make your request at least one week before you plan to travel. Remember that you must have a valid visa (one that is not expired or marked “single entry”) in order to re-enter the U.S., as well as a valid passport. It is also advisable to carry an updated copy of your financial documentation.
For travel to certain destinations, it may be wise to obtain a letter from the Assistant Dean of Students verifying your current enrollment at Bellarmine and your intent to return. In some cases, it is also advisable to prepare proof that you have the financial resources to cover your trip’s expenses and return to the U.S.
If you plan to travel to a country other than your home country, consult with the Assistant Dean of Students. You may be required to have a visitor’s visa in order to travel. It is recommended that you seek advice at least 2 months prior to your travels outside of the U.S. to a country that is not your home country.
J-1 Student Information
Students participating in an exchange program with Bellarmine University through the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) have been issued a Form IAP-66, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, through that program. These students must coordinate directly with ISEP for all issues relating to employment, extension of stay, transfer and travel.
Contact the Department of Foreign Languages and International Studies at 502.272.8479 for more information.