The following policies apply to all students on F-1 or J-1 temporary (non-immigrant) visas attending Golden Gate University (GGU) School of Law in the JD (Juris Doctor), LLM (Master of Laws), SJD (Doctoral), Visiting Scholar and Post Graduate (LLM) Certificate programs. F-1 students and J-1 scholars must report to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Designated School Official (DSO) at GGU for Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) registration at the beginning of each semester and summer session, address and name information updates, travel/reentry authorization, administrative advising, change of non-immigrant status, and all employment-related matters, including practical training (curricular practical training (CPT) and pre-completion and post-completion optional practical training (OPT)).
Students who are not US citizens or US lawful permanent residents and who hold US visa status other than F-1 or J-1 are not covered by the SEVIS (immigration compliance) system. They are subject to rules different from those mentioned in this section. GGU law students with questions may contact a DSO at email@example.com for general administrative information or for a referral to qualified legal assistance.
GGU assists international students in F-1 and J-1 visa with a variety of immigration related issues including but not limited to maintaining immigration status, employment eligibility/authorizations, travel guidelines, and immigration documents. Due to COVID-19 GGU is currently providing immigration advice and support virtually. Students can reach out for assistance via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arrival, Registration, and Orientation
All F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must report to a GGU DSO at the mandatory international student orientation session. At the beginning of each semester, the DSO will register the current session start and end dates. During the orientation period in August, January or May, the DSO will copy the student’s passport and visa, I-20 Form, I-94 Arrival/Departure record and other immigration travel forms for the GGU law student immigration compliance file. The DSO will maintain a file for every SEVIS student while he/she attends GGU School of Law and during the standard 12 month (optional) post-completion OPT period.
All F-1 and J-1 students must have at least six months remaining until passport expiration under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). If your visa is in a passport that has expired or will expire within six (6) months of the end of your US visit, you will need to get a new passport. However, you do not need to apply for a new visa. Just bring both your new passport and your old passport with the valid visa to present to the US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Officer when you arrive in the US.
F-1 or J-1 students are required to abide by various federal regulations to maintain immigration status. A few of these requirements include reportable events and other mandatory requirements which are described below.
While enrolled at Golden Gate University, students must report within ten days all “reportable events” to the DSO at email@example.com for entry into SEVIS within the period required by federal law. Failure to do so can cause a student to fall out of F-1 or J-1 student visa status and the student could be deported (removal from the US) or potentially be banned from reentering the US for a period of up to ten years.
SEVIS reportable events include the following:
• Change of name or US mailing and physical address
• Substantial change (of more than 30% due to currency devaluation) in funding
• Change of academic program or enrollment status, including changes between LLM academic programs at GGU;
• Failure to maintain status or complete the program
• Early graduation or program completion prior to the end date on the Initial Attendance SEVIS I-20
• Disciplinary action taken by the University or because of the student being convicted of a crime in the US
• Any change involving dependents, such as adding dependents (spouse and children under the age of 21), or name or address change of dependents.
At the beginning of fall (August) and spring (January) semesters, the GGU DSO is required to report registration information for all F-1 and J-1 law students and scholars to the DHS using the SEVIS database.
Other Mandatory Requirements
In addition to SEVIS reportable events, students are required to meet the following requirements to maintain their immigration status:
An F-1 or J-1 student planning to travel out of the US must report to the DSO at least one to two weeks before traveling. Unfortunately, some foreign students have encountered delays when seeking entry/reentry at the US Port on a student visa (i.e. secondary inspection). To minimize delays, a student should be certain that the DSO has his/her travel information. In general, when traveling internationally, F-1 students will need the following documents for re-entry to the US:
a. Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of re-entry to the US
b. Valid Visa
c. Valid I-20 (F-1 students) or Valid DS-2019 (J-1 students and visitor scholars) with travel signature endorsed by a DSO no more than 6 months old. Students should ALWAYS be sure to get a DSO travel signature (endorsement) on page 2 of their I-20 two-four weeks before traveling outside the US. To obtain a travel signature students need to submit an online I-20 Travel Signature request.
d. Evidence of financial resources
e. Proof of enrollment (transcripts) at GGU School of Law
2. Full Course of Study and Continuous Enrollment Requirements
Immigration regulations require F-1 students enroll in a full course of study while completing degree programs in the US. GGU defines a full course of study depending upon the academic level and degree program. A full course of study for JD students is twelve (12) units per semester. A full course of study for LLM students is eight (8) units per semester. All SJD students must register for the fall and spring semesters in the Residency or Candidacy course. Law students must seek academic advising to be certain they maintain a full course of study and immigration status while attending GGU.
Authorized Reduced Course Load (RCL): US federal regulations permit F-1 students to enroll in less than a full course of study if they have academic difficulties (only for students in their first academic term), a valid medical condition, are in their last term and have less than full course of study units remaining to complete their program of study or are eligible for a vacation term. However, every F-1 student must have the approval of their Program Director or Law Student Affairs and the DSO before departing from the full course of study requirement. In addition, every F-1 student should speak with the DSO to fully understand the important academic and administrative consequences of such departure from the full course of study or the US.
3. Program Extension
F-1 and J-1 students who need more time to complete the academic program than has been entered in the SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 Form must contact a DSO at firstname.lastname@example.org and file for a program extension at least thirty (30) days (one month) before the end date on the GGU Law I-20/DS-2019 Form (Certificate of Eligibility).
In general, F-1 and J-1 students have limited legal work authorizations in the US while attending law school on a full-time basis. However, the following important exceptions/benefits apply:
a. On-Campus Employment
On-campus employment is available for F-1 students and is specific work that takes place on campus or at an off-campus location that is affiliated with the school. On-campus job openings are posted on the GGU’s website https://www.ggu.edu/jobs
• Part-time while school is in session (20 hours or less per week.)
• Full time during approved vacation terms
• Students can begin on-campus employment on the first day of their program of study
• Students cannot work on-campus after the last day of their program of study
• Social Security Number (SSN) required (See the SSN section below for application instructions)
• No US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employment authorization is required.
b. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
F-1 students in JD, LLM, and SJD programs may work off-campus for pay or without pay in law-related employment (law clerk/legal researcher) to satisfy practical training requirements and to gain US work experience. Complex rules apply to CPT because the training opportunity must comply with both federal regulations and school policies regarding internships, experiential learning, etc. For CPT immigration rules and advising, application forms and detailed instructions, students should contact email@example.com and review the corresponding CPT Packets for JD, LLM, and SJD students. In addition, eligible students to apply for CPT must complete the following steps: meet the English language proficiency requirement, LLM and SJD students must seek approval from their Program Directors, meet the academic eligibility requirements established by their program of study, meet tuition obligations and work with Graduate Law Programs and Office of Career Services (OCS) to present an appropriate resume and cover letter to help locate practical training in the San Francisco Bay Area under the supervision of a qualified US attorney.
c. Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)
F-1 students may spend up to one year after graduation working in the US in a law-related position or internship. To qualify for OPT, the student may apply up to ninety (90) days before the last day of their program of study as indicated in their most recent I-20. Because of the estimated three month processing time for the OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD) work permit, we recommend that GGU law F-1 students apply for OPT as soon as they are eligible (near the beginning of their final semester). For additional information about OPT, students should review the online GGU OPT Packet here: https://www.ggu.edu/media/student-resources/documents/international/opt-packet.pdf and must attend an OPT Application Lab. A DSO will send eligible students to apply for OPT the information about the OPT Application Labs at the beginning of each academic term.
d. Academic Training (AT) (J-1 students only)
J-1 students (exchange visitors) have work opportunities similar to those permitted F-1 students. The US Department of State (DOS) rules and deadlines differ slightly, but in general J-1 students may work during and after their studies in law related practical training positions with authorization from their sponsor. For assistance, students should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
e. Economic Hardship
Though it is extremely difficult to qualify for economic hardship, there is an application process for this employment authorization from USCIS. For more information, students should contact email@example.com.
Dependents entering the US while their parents or spouses are studying at GGU will need F-2 or J-2 dependent visas, additional financial certification, and individual registration with the DHS on SEVIS. For more information, students should contact the firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social Security Numbers (SSN)
The current relationship between the US Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (formerly INS) is settled since 2004. The US Social Security Administration (SSA) has specific policies regarding issuing SSN to visa-holding students with valid US work authorization and evidentiary documentation. Local SSA office in San Francisco:
Address: 560 KEARNY STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94108
In order to be able to work on-campus, F-1 students must obtain an SSN. To obtain an SSN F-1 students must apply at an SSA office with the following required documentation:
• F-1 Visa
• I-94 Form
• A letter from the appropriate GGU hiring department/on-campus employment support letter issued by a GGU DSO. To request this letter, students need to submit an online Letter Request.
Students who secure paid off-campus employment under a GGU School of Law practical training program may apply for an SSN upon receipt of the work permit (CPT I-20 or OPT EAD). Details and application forms can be requested at email@example.com.
Generally, US financial aid, including subsidized loans supported by the US government, is not available to F-1 and J-1 visa holding students and scholars. However, some international agencies provide loans, grants and scholarships for US study. Further information can be found here: https://law.ggu.edu/admissions/international-applicants/ Students from Certain Countries.
The National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was a pilot project focusing on a smaller segment of the non-immigrant alien population deemed to be of risk to national security. Inspectors at ports of entry have discretion, based on national security criteria and intelligence reports, to refer an individual from any country to a more detailed secondary inspection. Also, under NSEERS, males born on or before November 15, 1986, and who are nationals of designated countries, were required to register at a local district immigration office. The process included an interview by an immigration inspector or adjudicator and the collection of biometrics (fingerprints and a photograph): www.ice.gov/doclib/nseers/srindividuals.pdf.
US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
On March 1, 2003, the immigration functions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) were transferred to three new bureaus within the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). US CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) is responsible for most applications and adjudications that were, in the past, handled by legacy INS. US ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is responsible for immigration investigation, detention, removal/deportation, intelligence/surveillance, and SEVIS. US CBP (Customs and Border Protection) is responsible for immigration inspections at US Ports of Entry, for the Border Patrol, and for Customs Service.
Please note important changes to the I-94 Arrival/Departure Documentation. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) completed automation of the I-94 arrival/departure record) at airports and seaports on May 21, 2013. Foreign visitors to the US who need to prove their legal-visitor status -to employers, schools/universities or US government agencies -can access their CBP arrival-departure record information online: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home US Customs and Border Protection automated Form I-94 (arrival/departure record) at air and sea ports of entry to increase efficiency, reduce operating costs and streamline the admissions process. The paper I-94 form will no longer be provided to a traveler upon arrival, except in limited circumstances. The traveler will be provided with a CBP admission stamp on their travel document (passport).
Within ten (10) days of entering the US Port, ALL travelers are advised to get a copy of their electronic I- 94 (record of admission) for verification of alien registration (California Department of Motor Vehicles DMV ID Card), immigration status (Social Security Number SSN processing) and/or post-completion employment authorization (US Citizenship & Immigration Services USCIS). I-94 admission information can now be obtained from the official US Customs and Border Protection website: www.cbp.gov/I94.
ALL non-immigrants entering the US are issued an I-94 record of their arrival. For more than 50 years, the I-94 record was issued as a small paper card and manually inserted for the US customs officer in the passport as proof of legal status in the US. It was then surrendered at the time of departure from the US in order that the departure was recorded officially.
The I-94 automation will remove the need for the paper-based I-94 and instead will create an electronic record of the individual’s entry and departure information.
Students can now prove legal F-1 or J-1 status without the paper I-94 card. A student’s passport will now be stamped with the date of admission to the US and the visa status under which the student has been admitted and this serves as proof of legal status along with a passport and GGU Law Certificate of Eligibility (FormI-20/DS-2019).
GGU School of Law recommends that students print their I-94 documentation from the official CBP website after each arrival in the US and retain it for immigration compliance records. The US government printout will serve as the official I-94 record which can be used for I-9 (employment eligibility verification) compliance as well as for other government agencies (e.g. DHS, DMV, SSA). All the previous rules and procedures related to the paper I-94 card still apply until the next entry to the US Port creates an electronic I-94 record.
The most common forms an international student will encounter while studying at Golden Gate University are:
GGU International Student Forms: https://www.ggu.edu/student-resources/student-services/services-and-resources/international/forms/
USCIS Form AR-11 Change of Address Online (Ten Day US Address Change Rule): https://egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do
USCBP Form I-94 (Record of Admission) Automation: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search
USCIS Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (Work Permit): https://www.uscis.gov/i-765
USCIS Form I-539 Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status in the US: https://www.uscis.gov/i-539
These forms are available on the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov/forms
These US government websites provide information from recent blog posts on how to study in the US and how to maintain your visa status:
• Study in the States: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students
• Education USA: https://educationusa.state.gov/