Welcome to the ISSS Faculty Resource page! This page is designed to help Geneseo faculty members understand the basic concepts of the rules and regulations governing F1 and J1 visa holders including International Students, Exchange Students, and Visiting Scholars.
The ISSS Office, Erwin Hall 218, is ALWAYS happy to help answer your questions! If you are concerned about an international student, confused about work regulations, or if you would like to invite a Visiting Scholar to campus please call or email us: 245-5404 / firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help!
Overview of Terms
- SEVP: Student and Exchange Visitor Program. SEVP manages schools and non-immigrant students in F and M Visa Classification on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of State (DoS) manages Exchange Visitor Programs, nonimmigrant exchange visitors in the J visa classification and their dependents. Both SEVP and DoS use the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to track and monitor schools; exchange visitor programs; and F, M and J nonimmigrants while they visit the United States and participate in the U.S. education system.
- SEVIS: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS is a web-based system for maintaining information on international nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors in the United States.
- F1 Visa: The visa typically held by degree-seeking international students.
- J1 Visa: Encompasses multiple groups including international students pursuing a short-term exchange programs as well as visiting scholars, researchers, and professors.
- Form I-20: The form generated by a Geneseo Official after an international student is admitted. The I-20 is generated in SEVIS and must be presented to the U.S. Consulate when the student applies for the F1 visa. The I-20 must be updated and maintained through the duration of the student's time in the U.S.
- Form DS-2019: Similar to the I-20, the DS-2019 is generated by a Geneseo Official in SEVIS for exchange students and visiting scholars and must be presented to apply for a J1 visa.
- Full-Time: For Undergraduate students full-time enrollment is usually defined as 12 credit hours, but in some cases a "full course of study" may be defined differently, based on specific program requirements.
- PDSO/DSO: Primary Designated School Official / Designated School Official. An employee of SUNY Geneseo that is authorized to enter information about our programs and F1 international students. Geneseo's PDSO and DSOs are located in the ISSS office.
- RO/ARO: Responsible Officer / Alternate Responsible Officer. An employee of SUNY Geneseo that is authorized to enter information about our programs and J1 exchange students and visiting scholars in SEVIS. Geneseo's RO and AROs are located in the ISSS office as well as the Study Abroad office.
- J1 Exchange Visitors: Established by the Fulbright-Hayes Act of 1961, the purpose and objective of the Exchange Visitor category is "to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges". Encompasses some degree-seeking students, non-degree Exchange Students, Professors and Research Scholars, Short-Term Scholars, and more.
F1 Visa Regulations
There are many F1 student visa regulations. Those listed here are the regulations that pertain to faculty members that may have F1 students enrolled in their courses.
Full-Time Enrollment Requirement
F1 International Students must be enrolled full-time (at least 12 credit hours) each semester. There are three notable exceptions:
- If it is a student's first semester and if they are experiencing difficulty with the English language, adjusting to American classroom structure, or if the course level is inappropriate for them, the student can be given a one semester authorization to reduce their enrollment below 12 credits.
- If the student experiences a medical situation that leaves them unable to maintain full-time enrollment, the student can be authorized to drop below 12 credits. A doctor's note must be presented to the ISSS office.
- If it is the student's final semester and fewer than 12 credits are needed to graduate, the student is not required to enroll full-time.
These exceptions must be authorized in SEVIS by a DSO. Please contact the ISSS office if you believe a student meets the requirements and needs authorization to drop below full-time enrollment.
Along the same lines as the full-time enrollment requirement international students must attend class. A student that enrolls but does not attend class could be be seen as violating their full-time enrollment requirement. It could also be a cause to be concerned for the student's well being. In either case, ISSS and the Dean of Students should be notified in the event that an international student is missing significant class time.
Make Normal Degree Progression
International students are required to make normal progress toward degree completion. This means that international students may only enroll in courses that are required to graduate. Unfortunately, an international student could not take several "extra" electives for fun, as a domestic student could.
This is also interpreted to mean that an international student should not fail (and repeat) multiple classes. Failing one or even several classes is typically not seen as a status violation, however a student that significantly increases their length of study due to repeating multiple classes COULD be seen as violating their student status. These situations will be reviewed on a case by case basis by ISSS.
There are very strict restrictions on employment for F1 students. There are four types of legal work authorization:
- On-campus: International students are allowed to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week. International students need to apply for SSN cards to be able to work on-campus. ISSS can provide a packet with instructions.
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT): CPT is the term for an internship for an F1 student. International students can work off-campus if the internship or employment meets a degree requirement. This can include required student teaching, required internships, practicums, etc. A student must be enrolled for one academic year prior to applying for CPT. ISSS can provide a packet with instructions for both the faculty recommendation and the international student.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT): International students get 12 months of work authorization in their degree field for each level (Bachelor's, Master's, etc.) completed. OPT can be adjudicated for use after graduation (recommended) or in some situations students can apply to use some of their 12 months of OPT prior to graduation (for example: during summer vacation). ISSS can provide guidance on this.
- Economic Hardship: In cases of unexpected and unavoidable circumstances that impact the student's financial resources (for example: natural disasters, political upheaval, loss of employment of sponsor, death of a sponsor) international students can apply for off-campus work authorization. The student must present evidence of the unexpected and unavoidable circumstance (such as news clippings, letters of evidence, etc.)
Other than these situations, an international student may not work in the United States. Working without authorization can result in deportation and a 10 year ban (up to a lifetime ban) on returning to the U.S.
J1 Visa Regulations
The J1 visa category can be particularly confusing because it encompasses many (completely different!) categories! J1 visa holders can short-term exchange students, visiting scholars, researchers, faculty members, and more. This section focuses only on those regulations that pertain to the J1 categories that we are likely to host at Geneseo: Degree-Seeking Students, Non-degree Exchange Students, Professors and Research Scholars.
J1 Degree-Seeking Students
Degree-Seeking students in the J1 category are similar to F1 students in that they must enroll full-time, make normal progress toward degree completion, and can have employment for academic purposes. There are also a few major differences. One is that J1 students cannot be fully funded by personal or family funds. They must be sponsored by an outside source such as a foreign organization (often a foreign government, scholarship organization, or foreign university) or a U.S. organization (such as Fulbright). Another difference is that sometimes J1 students are subject to a two year home-stay requirement after completion of their program. This means that if subject to this rule, a J1 student cannot apply for certain other U.S. visas until they have remained physically present in their home country for an aggregate of two years.
J1 Non-Degree / Exchange Students
Students can participate in a program for up to 24 months. The minimum participation time is three weeks. Must enroll in a full course of study, as defined by the specific program at SUNY Geneseo. Non-degree students can participate in employment for academic training, on-campus employment, or employment related to academic funding.
Professors and Research Scholars
These are technically two separate categories, but the rules governing them are very similar so they are often listed together.
J1 Professors are defined as "A foreign national whose primary purpose is teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at post-secondary accredited academic institutions, museums, libraries, or similar types of institutions. A professor may also conduct research where authorized by the sponsor." 22 CFR 62.4(e)
J1 Research Scholars are defined as "A foreign national whose primary purpose is conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited academic institutions, or similar types of institutions. A research Scholar also may teach or lecture where authorized by the sponsor." 22 CFR 62.4(f)
Professors and Research Scholars are expected to have appropriate academic or similar credentials. As the program sponsor, SUNY Geneseo is responsible for having an appropriate method to screen and select prospective exchange visitors to be sure that they are eligible for program participation.
Previous participation in certain other J Visa categories can subject the Visitor to a 12 or 24 month ban on repeat participation. If the Visitor has been in the US in a J Visa Category, please be sure to check with the ISSS Office about eligibility.
Professors and Research scholars may participate in the Exchange Visitor Program for the length of time necessary to complete his or her program, provided that such time does not exceed five years. The minimum program duration is three weeks.
Professors and Research Scholars are permitted to work as described on the Form DS 2019 and may accept additional employment as authorized by the sponsor in accordance with regulations. This means that as part of an invitation to come to Geneseo as a Professor or Research Scholar, employment at Geneseo or a previously established partner site can be authorized.
Certain types of employment can also be added to the program in SEVIS after the initial invitation. Professors and Research Scholars may also participate in occasional lectures or short-term consultations at sites previously authorized in SEVIS (typically on campus, but can include partner sites as long as they are formally established). The occasional lectures of short-term consultations should be directly related to the objectives of the program, be incidental to the primary program activities, not delay the completion date of the program, and be documented in SEVIS.
This is very broad and not particularly well-defined by design. ISSS and HR can assist with interpreting work authorization regulations for J1 Professors and Research Scholars.
Inviting a Visiting Scholar to Geneseo
As with all J1 visa categories, the primary purpose is to promote educational and cultural exchange between the United States and other countries. These things should be kept in mind before inviting a Visiting Scholar to campus. The host department has responsibilities to fulfill this mission by ensuring that the Visiting Scholar is provided appropriate space, resources, and access to cultural activities.
The ISSS Office has created several documents to explain the process of inviting a visiting scholar to Geneseo. These documents can be downloaded here:
For the Hosting Academic Department: Department Request to Host Exchange Visitor.docx (88.1 KB)
For the Exchange Visitor to Complete: Exchange Visitor Forms.docx (87.3 KB)
Please complete the forms in the Department packet and return them to Jennifer Kenyon in ISSS (email@example.com). Feel free to forward the Exchange Visitor Forms to the proposed EV. ISSS will also follow up with the EV to be sure the forms are completed and the necessary supporting documents are submitted.