Academic Issues That Impact Immigration Status
International students are required to have an approved Plan of Study in Hokie SPA when applying for approval of a Request for Reduced Enrollment, or when applying for Curricular Practical Training (Co-op).
Check with your academic department for details on how and when to file a Plan of Study for your particular program of study. Also see Forms and Procedures for the appropriate forms.
International students are required to request an update to their immigration documents any time that they change degree levels or majors. If this change occurs within the same department, file a Change of Admission Status form with the academic department.
International students are required to request an update to their immigration documents any time that they change graduate programs or request admission to another department. File a Change of Graduate Program form with the academic department.
Please be aware that, if your request to change Graduate Programs is denied, you will be dismissed from the rolls of the Graduate School . This has severe implications with regard to your immigration status, because if you are dismissed, you only have 15 days in which to request admission to another department at Virginia Tech, or request that your SEVIS immigration record be transferred to another college or university.
International students are required to request an update to their immigration documents any time that they request a change of campus, either from Blacksburg to the National Capital Region campus, or vice versa. File a Change of Campus form with your academic department. Please be aware that you must apply for admission through the other campus, and be admitted to the new program of study and department.
Change of Campus also requires you to complete a SEVIS Transfer Out form and have the immigration advisor at your current campus complete the form and release your record either to the Blacksburg campus or the National Capital Region campus.
If the request for Change of Campus is approved, then complete a Request for I-20 Form (F1) or Request for DS-2019 Form (J1) and submit it to the IGSS at the campus to which you will be moving, with all required supporting documentation.
Graduate students may submit a Certificate of Defending Student Status form to the Graduate School after obtaining the appropriate departmental signatures. International students enrolling in Qualifying for Start of Semester Defense Exception must also submit a Request for Reduced Enrollment form, which is available in the International Graduate Student Services office.
International students must defend within the first 5 weeks of the semester in order to maintain immigration status.
- During first 3 weeks of a semester (for example, no later than Feb 3), student must submit Exam Request and Qualifying for Start of Semester Defense Exception form. Exam card must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the defense date. An earlier defense date requires earlier submission of Exam Request and SSDE form.
- Within the next 2 weeks (for example, no later than Feb. 17), student must defend.
- Within the next 2 weeks (for example, no later than March 2), student must submit the ETD.
Degree completion for international students on SSDE is the date of submission of the ETD.
Scheduling of the final examination and defense means that you have completed all work on the thesis/dissertation and the only thing left is the taking of the final examination and defense.
International students who have some research or writing remaining in order to finish their thesis or dissertation and who cannot apply for and defend within the first 5 weeks of the semester are required to enroll for 3 credit hours. The 3-hour enrollment documents the need to be physically present on campus for the semester, utilizing university resources and pursuing degree requirements (which is required for continued eligibility for F-1 or J1 status).
International students at the end of their programs and carrying less than full time hours must remember that, for immigration purposes, your academic program ends when you defend and submit your thesis or dissertation. After the submission of your ETD (within 14 days of your defense), you have a grace period (60 days for F-1, 30 days for J-1) during which you may begin your practical training, change your visa status, or leave the United States. After the submission of your ETD, you may no longer work on or off campus unless you have a valid work authorization.
For F-1 students, OPT applications must be submitted to IGSS with sufficient time to be processed and mailed to USCIS before the end of your 60 day grace period. OPT Information and Application Materials.
For J-1 students, Academic Training applications must be submitted to IGSS at least 30 days prior to the end of your academic program or the expiration of your DS-2019, whichever comes first. Academic Training and Application Materials.