Center for International Programs
West Chester University
320 Mitchell Hall
675 S. Church Street
West Chester, PA 19383
Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 4:30pm
International Student Advising:
Make an appointment.
Limited availability for walk-ins.
All F-1 and J-1 international students must follow the below set of immigration regulations as outlined by the U.S. government in order to maintain their international student status:
International students must be registered for a full course of study during fall and spring semesters:
Online Courses: Only 3 credits or one online course per semester is applicable to full-time enrollment total.
Audit Courses: Audit course credits are not applicable to the full-time enrollment total.
On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours a week when school is in session during fall and spring semesters and 40 hours a week during University vacations and summer vacation. On-campus employment information for F-1 and J-1 students is available.
In order for international students to work off-campus, they must obtain the proper work authorization through the CIP and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
I-20/DS-2019: International students must be aware of the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019. If students cannot complete their degree by the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019, students must request a program extension before the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who do not file a program extension in a timely manner will be considered out of status.
Passport: Students should keep their passport valid at all times. If the passport will expire soon, student must renew it through the embassy or consulate of their home country.
Students who change their local address must report the change to the CIP within 10 days of moving.
F-1 students who complete an academic program or OPT have a 60 day grace period and J-1 students who complete an academic program or AT have a 30 day grace period.
F-1/J-1 students who have received prior authorization to withdraw from classes have 15 days to depart the U.S. after the withdrawal date. Students who withdraw from classes without prior authorization are not eligible for a grace period.
International students who plan to be enrolled for part time studies must submit the Reduced Course Load (RCL) form to the CIP in a timely manner. There are only a few exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement for the fall and spring semesters. Each exception has its own criteria, which are outlined below.
The deadline for submitting the RCL form is the add/drop date of the fall and spring semesters. The form must be approved by the student's academic advisor prior to submission to the CIP:
Online Courses: Only 3 credits or one online course per semester is applicable to the full-time enrollment total.
Audit Courses: Audit course units are not applicable to the full-time enrollment total.
F-1/J-1 students should not drop below full-time enrollment until they have received authorization from the CIP. Students who drop below full-time enrollment without the proper authorization from the CIP will be considered out of status.
Students may request an RCL due to academic difficulty only once per degree level. Academic difficulty could be due to the following reasons:
Students who receive an academic difficulty RCL must resume a full course of study in the next available semester in order to maintain status.
The CIP may authorize a medical RCL due to a temporary medical condition with an appropriate doctor's letter recommending the RCL for medical reasons. Students must receive prior approval from the CIP for the medical RCL. To submit a medical RCL, F-1 and J-1 students must meet with the DSO/RO from the CIP.
If a doctor believes that a student is unable to meet this minimum unit enrollment, then the student should consider a Medical Leave of Absence.
The CIP may authorize a final semester RCL for students who are in their final semester of study and only have a few units remaining to meet academic program requirements. Students may request an RCL due to final semester only once per degree program.
Students who intend to transfer to another college or university must receive permission from the CIP prior to doing so by completing the TRANSFER OUT form. The SEVIS record must be transferred to the new institution that you designate so they will be able to issue a new Form I-20. Please provide a copy of the admissions letter with the TRANSFER OUT form.
F-1/J-1 students are given a specific period of time to complete the academic program requirements. For F-1 students, this period of time is shown on #5 of the I-20 and for J-1 students; this period of time is shown on #3 of the DS-2019.
Please note the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who are unable to meet the academic program requirements by that date, a program extension form must be submitted to CIP before the expiration date. If the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019 has passed, students must contact the CIP immediately, as the student is considered to be out of status.
NOTE: Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for a program extension.
After successfully completing an academic program, F-1/J-1 students are given a grace period allowing them to remain in the U.S. for a specified time after program of study, OPT or Academic Training. Travel and re-entry to the U.S. as an F-1/J-1 student during the grace period is not possible.
Review the following guidelines regarding the grace period pertinent to F-1/J-1 student status:
F-1 students have a 60-day grace period in which they are permitted to do one of the following:
F-1 students who plan to work in the U.S. after graduation but have not yet applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT) must do so immediately. The OPT application must be received by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the end of the grace period. However, CIP recommends that students apply for OPT as soon as possible.
Please keep in mind that it takes about three months to process the OPT application and students cannot begin working until they receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. Please complete the OPT online workshop and submit the application to the CIP immediately to the CIP front desk.
The immigration status of an F-2 is dependent upon the F-1 student and they cannot remain in the U.S. under the F-2 status after the F-1 student has departed the U.S. during the grace period.
J-1 students have a 30-day grace period in which they are permitted to do one of the following: