As an F-1 student, you must meet certain obligations in order to maintain legal immigration status. Maintaining status is necessary in order to receive the benefits of F-1 status such as employment and program extension, and can be crucial to a successful application for a change or adjustment of visa status in the future. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S. Due to the complexity of U.S. immigration regulations, we recommend that you consult with an International Student Advisor at the UM-Flint International Center for details.
Family members who are not the children or spouse of the F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor must apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa to gain entry into the U.S. Family members from certain countries may be eligible to travel to the U.S. to visit for stays of up to 90 days without obtaining a B-1/B-2 visa through the U.S. Department of State Visa Waiver Program.
Documents needed to apply for B-1/B-2 Visa
The following documents are required to apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa:
- Valid passport
- Visa application fee
- Visa application forms
Additional Recommended Documents
B-1/B-2 visa applications are sometimes denied. To help strengthen your B-1/B-2 visa application, we recommend that you provide additional documents to clarify that the visit is temporary and/or is for a specific occasion (e.g., graduation ceremony), and that the visitor will be supported financially while visiting the U.S. Most importantly, the additional documents should show proof of ties to the home country to prove that the visitor does not intend to immigrate to the U.S. Proof of ties to the home country may include proof of economic, social, family, or other commitments that will help demonstrate that the family visitor intends to return home after a temporary stay in the U.S. Examples include:
- Proof of employment – The best document would be a letter from the employer indicating that this individual is currently employed and is taking time off, but is due back at his or her job on a specific date.
- Proof of property ownership, such as a house, an apartment, or a business, if such a document exists.
- Proof of contact with other family members in the home country.
- Proof of finances – Proof that your family member can support himself/herself during his/her entire stay in the U.S. without working. Examples include:
- A bank statement
- Proof of assets such as stocks or property
- Proof of a scholarship or fellowship
- If you are an employee at the University, a document which shows your position and salary
- Proof of your family member's salary, employment, and/or income
- A formal letter of invitation [PDF] (written by you as the F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor) indicating the specific reason for the visit (e.g., graduation, wedding, illness, birth of a child). The letter should include information about the purpose of travel and planned itinerary or schedule. It may also include information about your U.S. immigration status as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor.
For more information about B-1/B-2 visas, refer to the U.S. Department of State Visitor Visas.
You will need a UM-Flint I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F-1 Student Status, a valid F-1 visa (the visa stamp in your passport) issued by the U.S. embassy/consulate overseas, a valid passport, and your SEVIS fee receipt. Canadian citizens do not need U.S. visas. Please be advised that you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date in section 5 on your I-20 (refer to “Travel”, later on this page).
Departing and Re-entering the United States
When you re-enter the United States, you should expect more thorough screening procedures at airports and other ports of entry. Your identity and the validity of your visa and immigration document I-20 or DS-2019 will be checked against U.S. law enforcement databases.
You may also be subject to in-depth questioning about your immigration status, travel history, the purpose of your visit, background, and other issues, and potentially inspection of personal belongings and luggage, photocopying of documents, etc. You can potentially be delayed by a “secondary inspection” if you do not have proper documents, had some previous immigration problem or error, or simply fall under certain criteria or circumstance.
During these entry procedures, it is best to be honest, patient, and courteous with all U.S. government officials, even if they are not so with you. Remain patient and answer all questions clearly. If you do not understand a question, make sure that you ask for clarification before answering. Omission or misrepresentation of information can cause serious problems.
- All international students in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status must either be enrolled full-time or receive permission from the International Center for a reduced course load or a full-time exception.
- The deadline for meeting the full-time registration requirement is the end of the UM-Flint Drop/Add period.
- If you are not registered full time by the deadline, your SEVIS record will be terminated and you will lose your F-1/J-1 status. There is no grace period to remain in the U.S. following status termination.
- In general, the minimum full-time enrollment for international students is as follows:
- Undergraduate Students: 12 credit hours
- Graduate Students: 6-8 credit hours (depending on the graduate program enrolled)
Exceptions to Full-Time Enrollment Requirements
In some cases, international students may receive permission from the UM-Flint International Center to drop below full-time enrollment.
- Reduced course load
- Full time equivalency
- Concurrent enrollment