Visa and Document Overview

It is essential to remember that you must take full responsibility for maintaining your status with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That is, although this office is dedicated to assisting you, you are responsible for finding out, knowing, and following pertinent regulations.

If you take time early on to familiarize yourself with your obligations to the Department of Homeland Security, you should find it easy to maintain your legal status. It may be extraordinarily difficult for you to be reinstated to legal F-1 status if you allow yourself to fall "out of status”.
USCIS publishes a fact sheet for F-1 students related to Maintaining Your Immigration Status While a Student or Exchange Visitor.

International students in F-1 status are in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System), a national database through which student immigration documents created and student records maintained. As your visa sponsor, the University has legal obligations and reporting requirements to USCIS, which are handled by the Office of International Admissions and Student Services. Among other things, this office is required to make regular reports on students' enrollment status, completion of program, employment recommendations, and failure to maintain status.
A Few Words of Advice for International Students:

  • Familiarize yourself with USCIS Glossary of Terms.

  • Bring with you your passport and all relevant immigration documents, including your I-20 and any previous I-20s, when you come to the Office of International Admissions and Student Services for immigration information or document processing.

  • The Office of International Admissions and Student Services is here to help you and advise you during your studies at the University of South Alabama. While most requests are processed in the office during your visit, please allow 2-3 business days for processing of any letters, immigration documents, etc.

  • Carry financial documentation when you travel.

  • If you are the least bit uncertain about your status - for example, whether your program will be full-time, whether your permission to stay is valid, or whether you can be paid for an assistantship - check with the Office of International Student Services immediately. Students who do not meet the full-time or normal progress requirements may have problems restoring their status. Therefore, if you believe your circumstances warrant extraordinary consideration, it is extremely important that you consult with the Office of International Admissions and Student Services before registering for your program.