Individuals who are in the United States on another non-immigrant visa and for whom one of the following applies can change to an F-1 student visa:
- You are about to turn 21 years old
- Your current visa status is about to expire
- Your current visa status is B-1/B-2, F-2 or C-1.
In order to study at Wake Tech in a curriculum or English as a Foreign Language program, you will have to receive an I-20 and apply for a change of visa status to F-1 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After your application is completed with the International Student Office, you will submit a change of status application to USCIS. Download the checklist and Form I-539:
Maintaining F-1 status
International students at Wake Tech need to follow these steps to maintain their F-1 student visas:
- Register and maintain a minimum of 12 credit hours every Fall and Spring semester. Only one online course is permitted per 12 to 14 credit hours per semester. English as a Foreign Language classes cannot be taken online.
- Withdrawing from a class – a grade of "W," "WP" or "WF" – does not count towards the minimum of 12 credit hours. If you have difficulty with this requirement, you must meet with the international student coordinator to discuss your situation before you withdraw from a class. F-1 visa status has no provision for part-time study.
- Approval is needed by the international student coordinator to retake a class or make changes to your program of study.
- Know the expiration dates of your I-20, visa and passport.
- Your I-20 can be extended or changed by the international student coordinator. Submit an updated bank letter with sufficient funds, along with the I-20 Extension Request form. You must extend your I-20 before the program end date on your I-20 – do not wait until the last day to extend. If you have numerous course failures and/or retakes and are not making progress toward completion, we will not be able to extend your I-20.
- Your visa can be renewed only at a consulate or embassy in your home country.
- Your passport can be renewed in the U.S. by your home country embassy.
- Do not work without authorization. Work authorization for F-1 students is very limited.
- Keep the International Student Office notified of any changes in your mailing address, phone number, visa status or enrollment status within 10 days. Download and complete the Permanent Record Change form and submit it to the office, and we will update your address with USCIS.
It is always best to check with the international student coordinator if you have questions about immigration or visa status issues.
F-1 status reinstatement
If you do not comply with F-1 regulations, your F-1 status will be terminated. In order to restore your F-1 status, you will have to process a reinstatement. There are two ways to reinstate your F-1 status, so discuss your options with the International Student Office before making a decision:
- Provide financial documents showing sufficient funds to the International Student Office
You will receive an initial I-20. You will need to leave the United States within 15 days. With a valid passport and F-1 visa, you will have to leave the United States and re-enter. With this option, you will need to repay the SEVIS fee on the new I-20. Your academic calendar for immigration purposes will restart. You may be interrogated by officials at the port of entry. The officials will make a decision to allow you to re-enter the United States or return to your home country. If the officials allow you to re-enter, you have reinstated yourself. Note that you must use the new I-20 to re-enter the U.S.
- Apply for reinstatement with USCIS and remain in the United States
You will bring all required documents to the International Student Office. The office will submit the documents to USCIS. You will remain in the United States while waiting for the adjudication of your application. You should apply for reinstatement immediately.
If you would like to transfer your I-20 to another institution, your first step is to apply to the institution. Once you have been accepted and made a final decision, bring your acceptance letter to the International Student Office.
Optional practical training (OPT)
If you graduate with an associate degree, you can apply with USCIS to work for one year. During your last semester, you will submit your OPT paperwork to the International Student Office, which will submit it to USCIS. You can submit your paperwork as early as 90 days before your last day of class. However, your OPT paperwork must be received by USCIS before your 60-day grace period ends.
- Employment authorization checklist
- I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
- Authorization for credit card transactions (if needed)
- E-notification of application/petition acceptance (if needed)
IRS Form 8843
Form 8843 must be filed by all individuals on F-1 visas and their dependents, even if the student has not earned any income in the U.S. If the student has not earned any income, he or she will complete Parts I and III, sign and mail Form 8843 to the IRS. The student should keep a copy for his or her records.
If the student had no U.S. source of income, the student does not need to file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ. If the student receives U.S. income only from interest earned by a U.S. bank account, this is not considered a U.S. source of income for non-residents. Therefore, the student will file only Form 8843. If the student was an international student in the United States for more than five years, the student is considered a resident for federal income tax purposes, and he or she is not required to file Form 8843.
All non-residents living in the U.S. must file a Form 8843 tax return each year by the appropriate deadline. The forms are available at Internal Revenue Service, 4405 Bland Road, Raleigh, N.C. 27609, or call 919-850-1100.