International Graduate Student Services
Immigration Basics for Graduate Coordinators
- International Graduate Student Services (hereafter referred
to as IGSS) is a part of the Graduate Student Services Office in the
- IGSS staff process immigration documents for approximately
500-600 new international graduate students each year
- IGSS is responsible
for 1500-1600 international graduate students each year
- Three Designated
School Officials (DSOs) / Alternate Responsible Officers (AROs) are
authorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
and the U.S. Department of State to make decisions about immigration matters
and to issue and sign official immigration forms
- Ruth Athanson
- Monika Gibson
- Zelma Harris
Immigration and Admission Deadlines
- Students must be admitted by the Graduate School and submit
financial and passport documentation before an I-20 (for F-1 visa)
or DS-2019 (for
J-1 visa) can be issued
- Deadlines for admission for international
students outside of the U.S.
- January 15 for summer I
- February 15 for summer II
- May 15 for fall semester
- October 15 for spring semester
- Deadline for students to submit
immigration-related materials to IGSS
- February 1 for summer I
- March 1 for summer II
- June 1 for fall semester
- November 1 for spring semester
- International students transferring
from U.S. schools still need to be admitted within the deadlines
and need to arrive at VT
at the same time as students outside the U.S.
- ANY exceptions to the deadlines
need to be cleared through IGSS before communicating to the student
These admission and document submission deadlines are based upon
- how long it takes students to submit paperwork for immigration
documents (document gathering and mail time)
- form processing by VT
and mailing to the student
- the lengthy visa process at the U.S. Consulates
- the need to arrive at Virginia Tech at least a week before
the semester begins
Arrival at Virginia Tech
- New, first-time international students may arrive up to 30
days before the beginning of the term to which they were admitted,
and NO LATER
than the Monday before classes begin.
- Students must attend required international
orientations, during which they are informed of their rights and responsibilities
immigration and other important topics.
- IGSS will not allow students to arrive
- If departments decide against IGSS recommendations to allow
students to arrive after international orientation, then they and the
become responsible for any negative effects of missing vital information.
Notations are made in permanent student files of late arrivals/failure
to attend required orientations.
- IGSS has a government-mandated
timetable for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
registration. Every international student
must be registered in SEVIS every semester, in order to record
a local address, current academic term information, and verify enrollment.
Students not registered before the last day to add each semester run the
risk of a SEVIS record termination for failure to enroll. This is a serious
immigration violation. Please do not let your students register
late without first clearing it with IGSS.
International students are required to be enrolled full time every semester.
Students with graduate assistantships/fellowships/scholarships must
register for at least 12 credit hours; students without assistantships
must register for at least 9 credit hours.
There are only two exceptions to this rule:
- Medical—requests for academic relief, usually for reduced
hours for a semester or permission to take a semester off for health
- To be considered, students must complete a Request for Reduced
Enrollment form for IGSS. Health-related reasons must be documented
enrollment recommended by Schiffert Health Center in writing, and
relevant paperwork attached to the Reduced Enrollment form and
- Please note that routine pregnancies do NOT qualify.
semester—student only has to complete a few hours
to fulfill Plan of Study requirements, and therefore is requesting
to register only for the exact hours needed to complete degree
- Defending Student Status within first 7 weeks of
the semester (5 weeks to defend plus 2 weeks to submit the ETD)
- Less than 9 hours if completing before semester’s
- Students must secure the academic advisor’s signature
on the Reduced Enrollment form. The advisor is attesting that
does not need full time hours to complete degree requirements.
The Plan of
Study must be approved on Hokie SPA.
- Students cannot be on assistantship
if reduced enrollment is sought.
- Students who plan to travel outside the U.S. must bring their
immigration documents to IGSS for a travel signature before they leave
- If they are traveling during the semester, we recommend
that they get a letter from their academic advisor stating that they
permission to travel during the semester, and that they are expected
to return to resume their studies by a certain date.
- If they are
traveling close to the end of their program, or are traveling home
to get a new visa, we recommend that they get a letter from
the department stating that they are making satisfactory academic progress
and are expected to return to complete degree requirements.
Web Site Assistance
Please visit the Graduate School website at graduateschool.vt.edu for additional
immigration-related information that both you and your students will
Mouse over International Graduate Student Services in the left-toolbar,
and then to
- Application and Pre-Arrival Information (great for new students)
- Application information and procedures
- Financial Requirements
- Pre-Arrival Planning
- Medical and Health Insurance Requirements
- Transferring to Virginia
Tech (from inside the U.S.)
- Maintaining Your F-1/J-1 Student Status
(new and continuing students)
- Maintaining Legal Status
- Requesting an Extension of Stay
(requires an advisor/coordinator letter)
- Academic Issues (new and
- Plan of Study
- Change of Admission Status (PhD reversions to MS)
- Change of
- Change of Campus
- Defending Student Status
- Employment (new and continuing students)
- Social Security Number
application requirements (link to required Payroll form)
Authorizations available to international students