Please use the information below as a guide for IUP international students and scholars on F and J visas. Our office advises students and scholars and their families about how to maintain their status while in the US. During the COVID-19 crisis, our office
will contact all IUP international students via email to inform them of any updates to immigration or travel requirements. We review and advise based on regulations and policies set by Student and Exchange Visitor Program,
US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the US Department of State.
Note: Please make electronic copies of all your immigration documents in case they are lost or stolen or if you need information from them. Do not carry original documents daily unless absolutely necessary.
While studying in the U.S., it is important to maintain your F-1 student status. Your status relates to the purpose or reason for why you want to come to the U.S. Your immigration status is your responsibility, so knowing the regulations and following the guidelines outlined in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will assist you in assuring that your immigration remains in active status. The menus below provide a brief overview of the rules to maintaining your F-1 status and the consequences associated with failing to maintain your F-1 status.
Rules to Follow
Failure to Maintain Legal Student Status
Following are consequences you may face if you fail to maintain your legal student status:
As a J-1 exchange visitor, it is your responsibility to maintain your immigration status through the duration of your J program at IUP. If your DS-2019 was issued by IUP, please read the following requirements to maintaining your J-1 status. If your DS-2019 was issued by a sponsoring institution such as Fulbright or IIE, please contact your student advisor there.
Consequences if you fail to maintain your legal student status:
International students coming to the United States for study will need to apply for the appropriate visa before being permitted to enter the country. As a student, you will be applying for an F-1 (I-20) or a J-1 (DS-2019) visa. US law states that F and
J visas are given to those who intend to remain in the U.S. temporarily, and their primary purpose is for academics.
Step 1: Pay the SEVIS Fee
All accepted international students and scholars applying for an F or J visa will become part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) when an I-20 or DS-2019 is created for you. SEVIS is a national tracking/monitoring system that
will allow the US government to monitor and track various events during your program of study. Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Office of International Education handles all SEVIS records for all international students and scholars. We are required
to report your USA address, registration of classes, and any changes within your program at IUP. For more information, see Study in the States.
All F, M, and J visa applicants must complete Form I-901 and pay a SEVIS fee, $350 for F Visa and $220 for J Visa, to the Department of Homeland Security before applying for a new visa. Take the receipt to your interview. Dependents
and spouses are not required to pay. The purpose of the fee is to cover the costs of administering and maintaining SEVIS. If you have questions, please visit the Student and Exchange Visitor Program fee processing website for information on the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement website; call (from overseas) 011+ 785-330-1048; or email fmjfee.SEVIS@dhs.gov.
Step 2: Make a Visa Appointment
Plan as well in advance as possible. Contact your local embassy or consulate for an appointment. To find your closest US Embassy, go to the list of embassies on the US Department of
State website. Visit your embassy or consulate’s website for specific application procedures. IUP does not have any power to influence your consular officials, so please do not ask us to call or fax letters to your consulate or embassy. Please use
the IUP letters in your acceptance packet.
As a student, you will be applying for an F-1 (I-20) or J-1 (DS-2019) visa. U.S. law states that F and J visas are given to persons who intend to remain in the U.S. temporarily and their primary purpose is for academics.
What you will need to obtain a student visa:
Visa Interview Tips
If you have an F-1 or J-1 visa and have dependents who will accompany you to IUP:
Visa Approval or Denial
You may check your visa application status by going to Visa Application Status Tracker.
If your visa is denied, you can apply again within the same year. If you decide to defer until the next semester, notify the Office of International Education in writing as soon as possible. Your SEVIS fee is valid for 12 months.
Please make plans for your housing and transportation.
For Additional Information
F-1 Students Only
IUP policies about academics will affect immigration. Please consult with your academic and international student advisor if you withdraw, are suspended, or will be absent from IUP for any period of time other than scheduled breaks, within reason.
You will have 15 days from the day you do a total university withdrawal to transfer to another academic institution, or pack your belongings to return home.
J-1 students who complete their program have a 30-day grace period before departing the US.
F-1 students who complete their program or OPT period have a 60-day grace period to leave the United States.
Dismissal or Suspension
Please discuss academic dismissals or suspensions with an immigration advisor. Students have 15 days from the date a final decision is made to to transfer to another academic institution or to pack their belongings to return home. Students who are dismissed or suspended because of judicial proceedings need to consult with the IUP Office of Student Conduct and the international student advisor.
If you plan on going home for personal emergencies or other reasons, please let the Office of International Education know in advance so that your international student advisor can reactivate your SEVIS record prior to your return. You must return to the US within five months of your departure to maintain the use of your current I-20 and visa. If you are gone for more than five months, a new I-20, I-901 Fee, and visa are required.
Students who are absent for more than one semester need to check both immigration and academic status before returning to the US. Undergraduate students should refer to IUP’s Reenrollment Procedures; graduate students should contact their graduate coordinator about returning to IUP and then contact email@example.com to receive updated immigration forms to return to the US.
IUP policies will affect your immigration status. Please be familiar with policies that could affect your academic standing. See the undergraduate catalog and graduate catalog for policy information.
Please make an appointment to meet with an international student advisor. There are many different situations and rules that apply to changing your visa status in the U.S.
An IUP international advisor will assist prospective and current students with changes of status relevant to IUP. Please make appointment by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
If your immigration documents are lost or stolen, please report it to the IUP University Police or the local police department and ask for a police report. Also contact your local embassy. Please make every effort to put your immigration documents in a safe place and make copies of your passport photo page and US visa. Please follow the instructions below to replace each of your important immigration documents.
I-20 or DS-2019
The Office of International Education prints lost documents easily. Request a replacement at the front desk of the OIE.
Passport (Includes renewing)
Please contact your local embassy or consulate to replace your passport. Your passport needs to be valid for six months into the future when re-entering the US. If your passport will be expiring and you plan to return home, consider renewing your passport at home. If you will remain in the US, please contact your country’s embassy or consulate for more details.
Report a lost visa via fax to the issuing embassy post aboard. Visas cannot be replaced while in the United States. When you return home, you can apply for a replacement passport.
The I-94 is an electronic arrival/departure record is used by Department of Homeland Security to track who has entered and exited the US. This document is necessary when applying for a driver’s license, Social Security number, on-campus work, Optional Practical Training, and Curricular Practical Training.
Copies of I-94 records can be accessed online through the US Customs and Border Protection website. Corrections to I-94 records can be made through the Office of International Education. Please bring copies of your e-ticket, passport, entry stamp in your passport, and copy of I-94 showing errors or “not found.”
As an F-1 or J-1 visa holder, your immigration record in SEVIS is under IUP’s control as long as you are in status.
Once you graduate, or complete Optional Practical Training, you have until the end of your 60-day grace period to transfer your record before it completes. You may transfer a record as long as you will begin your new program within five months
of your program or OPT end date. Although you are beginning a new program, you still need to get IUP’s international office to transfer your immigration record in SEVIS to the new school.
Note: Your record can only be transferred once. Please decide which school you will attend before asking our office to complete a transfer form.
Office of International Education Checklist
The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) oversees issuing of driver’s licenses and state identification cards. Most non-immigrants and their dependents can obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license or state identification card.
A state identification card is a good alternative to carrying a passport and is useful for opening bank accounts, paying via personal check, or going to bars or restaurants where alcohol is served.
Please plan ahead! If you are thinking about getting a license or state ID, do it while you have six to eight months of study left, otherwise you may not be eligible for a document.
Eligibility and Applying
All F-1/F-2, J-1/J-2 visa holders are eligible for a state ID or driver’s license as long as their I-20 or DS-2019 is valid for a minimum of six months or more in the future (including grace period). New students must wait at least two
weeks from the start of the semester before going to the DMV to allow time for immigration record validation. J-2 and F-2 visa holders need to allow six to eight weeks for process verification.
Step 1: Obtain a social security number or letter of denial You can get those documents from the Social Security Administration. To obtain a letter of denial, bring your I-20/DS-2019 and passport and you will get the letter the same
day. SSA is located at: 119 Professional Center, 1265 Wayne Avenue, Indiana, PA, 15701.
Step 2: Gather Other Documents
Step 3: Go to the driver’s license centerComplete application (DL-180) found in the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual or available at any Driver’s License Center.
International and Foreign Driver’s Licenses
A waiver of some or all of these tests may be available for those who hold a U.S. driver’s license or citizens of France, Germany, and Canada who hold a license from their home countries. It is still required to show an I-20 or DS-2019, which is valid for more than one year.
International driver’s licenses are valid for one year before needing to obtain a Pennsylvania Driver’s License.
Renewing Your Driver’s License
To renew your license, you will need to go in person to the Driver’s License Center and present the same documents needed for your first license. The new Driver’s License expiration date will be the end date of your I-20 or DS-2019. You do not
have to retake any written or driving tests. You will need to have six month validity on your immigration documents (I-20, DS-2019, or EAD card).
Renting and Buying an Automobile
BuyingHelpful guides to purchasing a car can be purchased at local bookstores and read on the Internet. Consumer Report is an especially good place to look. You can request one online at Consumer Reports.
Also check out the value of a car at Kelly Blue Book or Edmund’s. The newspaper in Indiana, the campus newspaper, campus bulletin boards,
and electronic bulletin boards are good sources of information on used automobiles.
Be very careful when purchasing a car, especially a used one. Before you buy, have a reliable mechanic inspect the vehicle. In the U.S., you can purchase a car by obtaining a loan and paying installments. Be sure to obtain the title to the car you buy.
The title is an official document issued by the state that signifies ownership of the vehicle. Additional documents may be required to complete the transfer of a car from the previous owner to you. If you are unsure about your rights and responsibilities
when purchasing an automobile, check with the Driver’s License Center or the Automobile Association of America (AAA), 724-357-4193.
Pennsylvania requires automobile insurance if you plan to own a vehicle. In case of an accident, automobile insurance protects you against most of the cost of repairs and injuries. The cost of repairs or injuries can be very high. In some states, you
may be required to pay for the cost of repairing the other vehicle if you cause the accident.
RentingThere are several car rental agencies in Indiana. Inquire ahead of time and ask about extra costs, such as insurance, extra drivers, and mileage-per-day fees.
Driving Practice and Instruction
If you have never had a license before, you may want to practice driving before taking the driver’s test.
Resources for Driving and Traveling
AAA Travel Agency, 1169 Wayne Avenue, 724-349-4193
The Automobile Association of America offers services related to travel, vehicle emergency roadside services, title changes, and updating your address for vehicle registration.
Driver’s License Centers
Indiana Driver Licensing CenterIndiana Mall, entrance next to SearsHours: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:00 a.m.–4:15 p.m. No cash or credit card accepted
Penn Hills Driver Licensing CenterPenn Hills Shopping Center11620 Kelekit DrivePittsburgh, PA 15235Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 8:30 a.m.–4:15 p.m. Phone: 412-371-1960
State Office Driver Licensing Center300 Liberty AvenuePittsburgh, PA 15222Hours: Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:15 p.m. Phone: 412-565-7781
Allison Park DL CenterDuncan Manor Shopping Center1701 Duncan AvenueAllison Park, PA 15101Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 8:30 a.m.–4:15 p.m. Phone: 412-366-3502
Additional information is available from the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, 800-932-4600.