An annual vacation is an authorized break in an F-1 student’s studies that is taken once per academic year and lasts one term. At BEI, F-1 students are eligible to take an annual vacation after completing 4 cycles (28 weeks) of Intensive English Program classes. The length of the annual vacation is 7 weeks and students must pre-register before for the next cycle before vacation is approved.
Change of Address
Federal regulations require you to notify Immigration of your address in the United States within ten (10) days of any change. You must have both a local and permanent address on file with BEI. “Local address” refers to your address in the Houston area. “Permanent address” refers to an address outside the U.S.
Change of Funding
The information on your I-20 should always be current. If there is a substantial change in your funding, such as a change of financial sponsor or major adjustment of amount provided by your current sponsor, your immigration document should be updated. Provide updated funding documentation (Bank Statements, I-134, etc.) to BEI DSOs.
Extend your I-20
The completion date on your I-20 is an estimate. If you will not complete your program objective by that date, you must request an extension. The U.S. Immigration regulations require that I-20s remain valid during the course of study. You are eligible for a program extension if:
- Your I-20 has not yet expired.
- You have been continually maintaining lawful F-1 status.
The delay in completion of your program of study was caused by compelling academic or medical reasons. Federal regulations about extensions are strict; approval of an extension request is not guaranteed. Students in F-1 status are required by law to comply with the regulations pertaining to their immigration status, including the program extension requirements discussed above. Failure to apply in a timely manner for a program extension is considered a violation of status and will disqualify you from benefits such as employment eligibility.
Health Insurance Updates
If you extend, renew, or change your health insurance policy, you must provide updated proof to BEI. Provide updated health insurance documentation to BEI DSOs.
BEI’s DSOs can issue a replacement I-20 if yours is lost, damaged, or stolen. Reprinted I-20sare tracked in SEVIS by the Department of Homeland Security, so you should request a replacement only if your I-20 has been lost, stolen, or damaged. If you need an updated I-20 because information on the current document has changed—such as a program extension, change of funding, etc. – please request with a DSO.
If for any reason, you are unable to fulfill your full-course study requirements due to a documented medical reason, you may request Medical Leave. This is a Reduced Course Load (RCL) and is permission from BEI’s DSOs to enroll below the full-time requirements for a given cycle. Students must provide a doctor’s request of medical leave from a licensed Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy, or Clinical Psychologist.
If you want to change the purpose of your visit while in the United States, you (or in some cases your sponsor) must file a request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the appropriate form before your authorized stay expires. Until you receive approval from USCIS, do not assume the status has been approved and do not change your activity in the United States. That means that F-1 students waiting on a new status must continue to maintain status and keep up with full-course study.
Reinstate F-1 Status
If you fail to maintain status, you may apply to reinstate your F-1 status. There are two ways to regain status: apply for reinstatement or depart the U.S. and seek a new admission to the U.S. in F-1 status. The process to regain valid F-1 status can be challenging. Meet with BEI’s DSOs to discuss your eligibility and options. We also encourage you to contact an immigration attorney so you can make an informed decision and consider the risks with both options.
Transfer out SEVIS Record
If you decide to continue your studies at another SEVIS-approved school in the U.S., you must submit a request for a BEI DSO to transfer your SEVIS record electronically to that institution. Classes at your new school must start in their next available term, which cannot be more than 5 months from your last date of attendance at BEI or from your date of graduation. You will need to provide a transfer form, a letter of acceptance, and complete BEI’s Exit Departure Form.
Travel/Leave of Absence
U.S. laws require F-1 students to enroll full-time while studying in the United States. However, sometimes students may need to leave the US temporarily for family matters, work responsibilities, financial restraints, etc. This leave of absence will affect your F-1 status and it will not remain active when you are outside the USA. Students must inform BEI’s DSOs of all travel plans. You will need to submit your travel tickets, have page 2 of your I-20 signed, and leave the USA within 15 calendar days from your last date of attendance.