We hope you make the most out of your experience as an F-1 international student at Augusta University! Below are some resources to help you navigate your time in the U.S.
While you're here, there are certain rules and procedures that you are required to follow. Please read each of the sections below. If you have any questions, please email our office at IPSO@augusta.edu. You can also request an appointment for travel endorsement or return, or to address other questions or issues.
Welcome to Augusta University!
I'm Beverly Tarver, the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) for Augusta University's F program. I look forward to meeting with you (and your dependents) personally after your arrival. Please contact the International and Postdoctoral Services Office (IPSO) at 706-721-0670 to schedule a meeting time after your arrival in the U.S. IPSO is located on the second floor of the Kelly Administration Building on the Health Sciences Campus.
**Failure to report to International and Postdoctoral Services Office upon your arrival at Augusta University may result in automatic cancellation of your F-1 program and further action by the United States Department of Homeland Security. Cancellation of your F-1 program may make you ineligible to participate in your stated F-1 program activities (including Augusta University employment) until your F-1 program is re-instated.**
If possible, you should wait until you have been approved for the F-1 visa before making travel plans.
The Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field is located 7 miles from downtown Augusta on Doug Barnard Parkway (56 spur) south of Bobby Jones Expressway (I-520). You will probably fly into Augusta from Atlanta, Georgia or Charlotte, North Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina, another airline hub, is 1.5 hours west of Augusta. Travel arrangements and payment for travel arrangements are the responsibility of the F-1 student.
If you will not report to Augusta University program within 30 days before or on the date listed on your Form I-20, please notify the academic department and International and Postdoctoral Services as soon as possible. The Augusta University academic department/college requesting the document record must determine if it is appropriate to request a change of your arrival date in SEVIS. If the academic department/college determines that it is appropriate and the International and Postdoctoral Services Office determines that it is possible, the department should request that IPSO change the arrival date at least 7 days before the original arrival date. If the department does not request a change of the arrival date and the student arrives in the U.S. after that date, SEVIS will automatically invalidate the non-immigrant student’s record. The United States Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry may not allow the student to enter the U.S. on the Augusta University Form I-20.
Who pays the SEVIS fee?
What about F-2 dependents?
F-2 dependents do not have to pay the fee.
Do I have to pay if I transfer to another school, travel outside the United States or renew my visa?
The SEVIS fee is not required when transferring schools, changing to another degree program or level, requesting a program extension, renewing an F-1 visa or using F-1 program benefits such as practical training. If you are in status when you travel internationally and are not physically outside of the U.S. for more than five months, you will not be required to pay the fee.
When do I pay the SEVIS fee?
The fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to applying for your visa, or applying for admission at a U.S. port of entry for those exempt from the visa requirement. The fee must be paid prior to submission of a change of status petition or reinstatement application.
Can I pay the SEVIS fee at a university, consulate or port of entry?
No. At this time the SEVIS fee can only be processed by the Department of Homeland Security via mail or online.
How do I pay the fee?
The fee can be paid to the DHS by mail or online and must be accompanied by a Form I-901. It can be paid by you or by a third party, inside or outside the United States.
To pay online (recommended)
2. Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. Write your name exactly as it appears on your Form I-20.
3. Print a copy of the online receipt.
4. Make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.
A third party such as a friend, family member, or other interested party can pay the fee on your behalf through the same means described above.
Will DHS keep a record of my payment on file?
Fee payments should be entered into your permanent immigration SEVIS record but it is strongly recommended that you retain a copy of your fee receipt Form I-797 to use as needed.
Is the SEVIS fee transferable?
Yes. DHS has confirmed that fee payment made on one SEVIS ID number (i.e. Form I-20) can be applied to another SEVIS ID number issued to the same individual.
What do I need to do to apply for an F-1 visa, change of status or reinstatement?
Obtain the appropriate Form I-20 from a DHS-approved school.
Pay the SEVIS fee by mail or online (recommended).
Keep a copy of the receipt for your records.
Submit a copy of the receipt with your visa, change of status or reinstatement application.
Students who are exempt from visa requirements, such as Canadians, should take a copy of the SEVIS fee receipt to present at the port of entry with the appropriate Form I-20. It will not be possible to pay the fee at the port of entry.
For change of status or reinstatement applications, if you previously paid the SEVIS fee while attending a different school, you should submit a copy of that school’s Form I-20 with your application.
What if my F-1 visa application is denied?
The SEVIS fee will not be refunded. However, if you reapply for a new F-1 visa within 12 months of the denial, you will not have to pay the fee again.
Note: DHS will not refund the SEVIS fee if the F-1 student is not granted a visa or chooses not to come to the United States after their visa is granted.
MAINTAINING STATUS / REDUCED COURSE LOAD
According to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations, once admitted to the United States in F-1 status, students must meet certain obligations in order to maintain status.
The F-1 non-immigrant student must:
Exceptions to full course of study:
You are advised to notify the International and Postdoctoral Services Office within 10 days if you:
The most important employment issue that you always need to keep in mind is the issue of legal (or "authorized") versus illegal (or "unauthorized") employment. You must always make sure that any employment you plan to engage in is legal employment. Any unauthorized (i.e. illegal) employment - even for one day, or even if you did not know it was illegal - poses a grave threat to your ability to remain in or return to the United States. You must always make sure that you have the necessary employment authorization before you begin work, since starting work without prior authorization - even if you receive authorization later - constitutes illegal employment.
You should always consult with an IPSO advisor before beginning any employment. This is the best way to avoid unknowingly engaging in illegal employment, with all of its adverse consequences for your future in the United States.
Different requirements exist for each type of F-1 employment, but there are basic requirements that must be met for any F-1 employment:
Definition of Employment
Employment is any type of work performed for services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit or compensation.
Categories of F-1 Student Employment
Work on the Augusta University campus is usually permissible if it meets certain requirements.
USCIS defines on-campus employment as the following:
Type 1: Employment at Augusta University: Any on-campus work for which you receive a paycheck (or other compensation, such as room and board, etc.) from Augusta University or Augusta University Health.
Type 2: Employment on campus with a Augusta University-affiliated on-site commercial firm on the Augusta University premises is allowed if the work provides direct services to Augusta University students. This includes work on the Augusta University campus for a commercial firm.
Type 3: Certain employment off campus is allowed where there is an official educational relationship between Augusta University and the off-campus employer. USCIS regulations allow work at an off-campus location provided the:
The Augusta University academic program or school and IPSO must approve the employment.
Internship with an International Organization
If you are offered employment in the form of an internship by a recognized international organization, you may accept such employment upon receipt of authorization from the Immigration Service. Examples of recognized organizations include the United Nations, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc. For more information consult with an IPSO advisor.
Curricular Practical Training
Certain work experiences, which are an integral part of your program of study may be the basis for Curricular Practical Training employment authorization. These experiences may include alternate work/study programs, internships, cooperative education programs and practicum experiences which are either (1) a required part of your academic program, or (2) work for which you receive academic course credit.
The Augusta University academic program or school and IPSO must approve the employment.
Optional Practical Training
F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT provides an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge obtained in an academic program to a practical work experience. This employment opportunity must be directly related to your major field of study.
It may, in certain circumstances, be full- or part-time and may take place anywhere in the U.S. You may apply to use OPT during your vacation periods, during the academic year or when you complete your studies. Students in masters and PhD programs with thesis and/or dissertation requirements can apply for OPT upon completion of all coursework. OPT must be endorsed by IPSO but also requires authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before you can start to work.
To be eligible for OPT, the F-1 student must be enrolled in a full course of study for at least one full academic year. Applications for OPT may be submitted up to 90 days prior to the completion of your program of study and must be received at the USCIS Service Center not later than the completion date of your program. It typically takes 90 days to obtain your employment authorization. You cannot begin working until you have received the USCIS authorization.
F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, are employed by employers enrolled in E-Verify, and who have received an initial grant of post-completion OPT related to such a degree, may apply for a 24-month extension. (See USCIS FAQ enclosed)
Contact the International and Postdoctoral Services Office for additional information on OPT.
Economic Hardship Employment
In some instances, a student who is able to prove severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control, which arose after obtaining the F-1 students status, may be eligible for permission to work off-campus. Students must have been in student status for one full academic year, and must be able to document the circumstances causing the economic need. Authorized off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship is limited to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session and full-time during the break or vacation periods. Applications must be endorsed by IPSO and submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for approval. This application may take up to 90 days or more to process. See an IPSO adviser for more information.
Social Security Numbers and Taxes
If you plan to work in the U.S. (including on-campus) you will need a Social Security Number (an Augusta University student ID is not a Social Security Number. A Tax Identification Number (TIN) is not a Social Security Number.) The Social Security Administration will process your application and a number will be sent to you in about one month.
If you are planning to travel outside of the United States (for less than five months*) and return to the U.S. then you must, at a minimum, have the following documents with you when you return to the U.S:
Before you leave the U.S., you should:
1. Advise the appropriate person for your academic department/college or academic advising of:
2. Request a letter from the Augusta University department/college (signed by the program chair or department head) or from academic advising. (For graduate studies: The dean or the dean’s representative should write and sign the letter.) The letter should:
3. Request a travel endorsement appointment with IPSO and bring the following to your appointment: