Visa and Immigration Regulations
The following are a few terms International Students should become familiar with:
- Visa: This is a stamp in the passport which is given to an individual at a U.S. Consulate outside the United States. Every visa has a particular number/letter designation and must be shown to an Immigration Official upon entering the U.S. Students at CalArts are, for the most part, assigned one of the two following visa classifications: F-1: Student Visa Status and J-1: Student/Scholar Visa Status.
- In Status: A student must be enrolled full time in order to maintain F-1 or J-1 status. Any departure from this, except in special circumstances, will result in a student being 'out of status,' which needs to be addressed by the International Student Advisor and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). All international students need a valid passport and must enter the U.S. with a student (F-1 or J-1) visa, obtained at a U.S. Consulate overseas. Canadian students do not need a passport and will be able to attain the student status at the port of entry. Spouses or children of international students should be listed on the I-20 or IAP-66 form and need the proper visa (F-2 or J-2) to enter the U.S.
- Duration of Status (D/S): D/S is granted in the immigration inspection area. D/S allows students to remain in the U.S. for the length of time necessary to complete their studies. D/S generally ends on the last day of classes (i.e., I-20 or DS-2019 expiration date), plus a 60-day grace period for F-1 students and 30-day grace period for J-1 students. If you have entered on an F-1 or J-1 visa, check that both the stamp in your passport and your I-94 record state D/S in "Admit Until Date."
If a visa is expired, a student is allowed to remain in the U.S., as long as his/her I-20 or IAP 66 forms are still valid and the I-94 arrival/departure record shows the correct immigration status.
The International Student Office will provide each student with an I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility) which you must submit to the U.S. Consular Office abroad in your application for a student visa. In addition, you may be required to offer proof of financial support for your stay in the United States. You will receive an F-1 visa which indicates you have your financial obligations covered by either personal or outside private sources. Those students on an F-1 visa are not eligible to work while in student status. The exception to this regulation is an on-campus employment position.
If you are being funded by a government or other private organization, you may be issued an IAP-66 form by that organization. After presenting this and any information required by a U.S. Consulate, you will be issued a J-1 visa to enter the United States. A J-1 visa does not allow employment, other than work done on campus at CalArts.
When you enter the U.S., you will be issued an electronic I-94 arrival/departure record containing your admission number (11 digits). Visit the I-94 retrieval site (https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html) and input your biographical, passport and entry information. Be sure to print or save a copy of your I-94. A new record is generated each time you enter the country and you will be unable to access previous records once you re-enter the U.S. Double check that your I-94 properly reflects your "Class of Admission" (either F-1 or J-1) and "Admit Until Date" (D/S).
Maintaining status is the responsibility of each individual student as well as his/her dependents. In order to maintain your status, either F-1 or J-1, you must:
- Keep a valid passport (except for Canadian students and/or dependents).
- Maintain your I-20 or IAP 66 form at all times. If you are a transfer student, you must have CalArts issue you a new I-20 form when you enroll.
Make sure that the International Student Advisor signs the back of your I-20 AB form each time you leave the U.S.
- Make sure that your visa is valid before you depart the U.S. If not, you should report to the International Student Office to obtain the appropriate paperwork. You will need to get a new visa from an overseas U.S. Consulate before returning to the U.S.
- Make sure you maintain full-time enrollment at CalArts. The International Student Advisor will explain what constitutes 'full-time enrollment.'
- Make sure you are in good standing academically. If you are having any problems with your coursework and are unable to maintain passing grades, please see the International Student Advisor and your Mentor to discuss your situation and possible solutions.
If your I-20 form expires before you have completed your program at CalArts, you must report to the Office of International Students/Programs to get an extension. This must be done 45 days before the expiration date on the I-20. The expiration date is the date stated under the #5 item on the I-20 and is the same as the expected completion date.
For those students in J-1 status, your IAP 66 form is usually for one year. You must contact the IIE representative in San Francisco if you have any questions or concerns about this. The International Student Advisor will give you the contact number.
Most students who hold the J-1 visa must abide by the two year home residency rule, which states that upon completion of the program, the student must return to his/her home country for two years before being allowed to apply for another type of U.S. visa (ie., work visa, permanent residency). The San Francisco office of the IIE will be able to address this issue and provide information on an individual case basis.