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. For US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 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 (pre-completion curricular practical training (CPT) and post-completion optional practical training (OPT)), F-1 students and J-1 scholars must report to the US Department of Homeland Security Designated School Official (DSO) at Golden Gate University.
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 the School of Law DSO for general administrative information or for a referral to qualified legal assistance.
Golden Gate University’s (Non-Law) International Admissions and Advising (IAA) office is located in the University’s Admissions Office. The GGU IAA office (http://www.ggu.edu/graduate/international) offers general orientation and information programs for all foreign students and scholars throughout the academic year.
Arrival, Registration, and Orientation
All F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must report to their assigned GGU School of Law program DSO upon arrival. At the beginning of each semester, the DSO will register the current session start and end dates. The DSO will enter into the SEVIS system the date of the student’s arrival at Golden Gate, thus enabling the student to register for law courses on a full-time basis. During the orientation period in August or January, the DSO will copy the student’s passport, 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 document file for every SEVIS student while he/she attends Golden Gate University School of Law and during the standard 12 month (optional) post-completion practical training 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.
While enrolled at Golden Gate University, students must report within ten days all “reportable events” to the DSO for entry into SEVIS within the time 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: a change of name or US mailing address; a substantial change (of more than 30% due to currency devaluation) in funding; a change of academic program or enrollment status, including changes between LLM academic programs at Golden Gate University; 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 as a result of the student being convicted of a crime in the US; and 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 School of Law DSO is required to report registration information for all F-1 and J-1 law students and scholars to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) using the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database.
In addition to SEVIS reportable events, DSOs are required to keep records of the following:
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. Students should ALWAYS be sure to get a DSO travel signature (endorsement) on page 3 of their I-20 two-four weeks before traveling outside the US. Students should carry their passport(s), student immigration documents, evidence of financial resources, and proof of enrollment (transcripts) at Golden Gate University (GGU) School of Law especially when traveling internationally.
- Full Course of Study and Continuous Enrollment Requirements
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 unless they are on an approved leave of absence (LOA). Law students must seek academic advising to be certain they maintain a full course of study and immigration status while attending Golden Gate University.
US federal regulations permit medical leave and certain other exceptions to the full course of study requirement, but every 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 student should speak with the DSO to fully understand the important academic and administrative consequences of such departure from the US.
- Program Extension
Law students who need more time to complete the academic program than has been entered in the SEVIS I-20 Form must see the DSO and file for a program extension at least thirty (30) days (one month) before the end date on the GGU Law I-20 Form (Certificate of Eligibility).
In general, F-1 and J-1 students have limited work options while attending law school on a full-time basis. However, four important exceptions/benefits apply:
- On-Campus Employment
F-1 and J-1 students may work up to twenty (20) hours per week on campus as a research assistant (RA), in libraries, school offices, and the like.
- Pre-Completion Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
F-1 students in JD, LLM, and SJD programs may work off-campus for pay in law-related employment (law clerk/legal researcher) to satisfy practical training requirements and to gain US work experience. To become eligible for CPT, students must complete the following steps: meet the English language proficiency requirement, complete the required first semester courses (LLM US Legal Studies Program), 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. For CPT (legal residency) advising, application forms and detailed instructions, students should see the GGU School of Law International Student Adviser.
- 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 must apply sixty (60) days before the last day of the semester/graduation. Because of the two to three month processing time for the OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD) work permit, we recommend that GGU law students apply for OPT near the beginning of their final semester. For assistance, students should contact the International Student Adviser, or the Program Director of their JD/LLM/SJD Program.
- Academic Training (AT)
J-1 students and scholars (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 the GGU School of Law International Student Adviser.
- Economic Hardship
Though it is extremely difficult to qualify for economic hardship, there is an application process for this employment authorization from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information, students may contact their GGU School of Law International Student Adviser.
Dependents entering the US while their parents or spouses are studying at Golden Gate University will need F-2 or J-2 dependent visas, additional financial certification, and individual registration with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For more information, students should contact the DSO for their GGU School of Law program.
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 local US Social Security Administration (SSA) office (560 Kearny Street, San Francisco) has specific policies regarding issuing social security numbers to visa-holding students with valid US work authorization and evidentiary documentation.
In order to get on-campus employment, F-1 students must obtain a letter from the appropriate Golden Gate University (GGU) School of Law hiring department co-signed by the GGU Law International Student Adviser. Students who secure paid off-campus employment under a GGU School of Law practical training program may apply for a US social security number upon receipt of the work permit. Details and application forms can be obtained from the GGU School of Law DSO.
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 on the website at the following address: 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: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions.
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: www.cbp.gov/I94.
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:
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 web at http://www.uscis.gov/forms or from the GGU School of Law International Student Advisor in Room 3320.
This US government website provides information from recent blog posts on how to study in the United States and how to maintain your visa status: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students.