This form must be filled out by all international students on an F-1 Visa once a year during their studies at UTRGV.  


During the Convocation Presentation, you were explained how The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service places responsibility on the student to understand and comply with immigration law.  Failure to comply with the following regulations will mean the loss of your F-1 student status. We refer to this as being "out of status." Falling out of status has very serious consequences. For example, you could be prevented from re-entering the U.S. for three to ten years, depending on the length of your status violation. 


Items required to fill out this form: 

  • Have fully read and understood F-1 regulations
  • Have taken the Fall Convocation Knowledge Test  (on Blackboard)
  • Home (Forgein) Country Address/Phone
  • If applicable, complete U.S. Address (apartment and zip code included)


Once submitted, please allow 2-3 Business Days for our office to confirm that we have received your form accurately or if any edits will be required.  

International travel is in a fluid state, and new travel restrictions could arise at any moment. A signed I-20/DS-2019 is not required to depart the U.S.; however, international students and scholars who are reentering the U.S. must ensure they have a valid travel signature on their I-20. Only Designated School Officials (F-1)/ Responsible Officers (J-1) at the Office of International Services are permitted to sign the I-20 for travel.

The signature on page 2 of the I-20 is valid for 12 months

If your re-entry date to the U.S. is within 12-months from the last signature, you will be eligible to re-enter on that I-20.  However, if you re-enter after the 12-month period, then a new travel signature is required.

In response to COVID-19, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has allowed Designated School Officials (DSOs) to electronically sign and email Form I-20 to students. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Department of State (DOS) have also recently confirmed they will accept electronically signed I-20s. IASS will re-issue the document and endorse it for travel with DocuSign. 

Once this form is submitted, IASS will email the I20 in PDF to the student's UTRGV email account only within 3-5 business days.  


As an F-1 student, you must regularly report any changes that may affect your Form I-20  to your designated school official (DSO)  also known as your International Student Advisor.  This will ensure that all your information is correct on your SEVIS record and you are able to continue maintaining your legal status in the U.S: 

Examples of updates on I:20

  • Part-Time Border Commuter: Require a new I-20 every semester
  • Academic: Change in major
  • Biographical: Change in name
  • Dependents: Addition of F2 dependent
  • Financial: Remove Border Commuter Status
  • Financial: Significant change to financial support such as an addition or loss of a GRA or GTA
  • OPT: Need a new I-20 due to update on the SEVP portal

Application process: This is the first stage of the application process for participating in an exchange program between UTRGV and your Home University. International Programs and Partnerships will review your application. Before being approved for any specific program, you must submit all required documents. Please have ready digital copies of the following documents:

Passport ( With an expiration date of six months from the date your program will end).

Transcript: University Transcript in English.

Your resume/Curriculum Vitae.

Proof of Adequate funding: Adequate funding is US$1500 per month for the duration of the stay. 

Documentation must be in the form of letters from a financial institution or a bank statement showing  the required dollar amounts available. These documents will have to be in English and current -no older than six months from the beginning of  the initial school semester-.

If funds are from a source  other than the applicant or their immediate family member(s), the  sponsor must submit a letter of support stating the amount of funding  pledged, and attach copies of recent bank statements. 

If you have been offered a scholarship you will need to provide a copy of the award letter (In English) that includes a dollar amount of the scholarship.

Proof of English Proficiency: Incoming Exchange Students whose native language is not English must  submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English  Language Testing System (IELTS). The minimum scores for the tests are as follow: TOEFL IBT 61, TOEFL PB 500, TOEFL CBT 173, and IELTS 6

**Waiver if Exchange Visitor comes from an English speaking country. Passport is sufficient: Applicants from the following English-only countries do not need to submit a TOEFL

TOEFL exempt countries

  • American Samoa
  • Australia Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada (except Quebec)
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Grand Cayman
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Liberia
  • New Zealand
  • Sierra Leone
  • Trinidad/Tobago
  • United Kingdom
  • U.S. Pacific Trust

Class Request Form: Please download the review  UTRGV Class request form. Undergraduate students can only take classes in the levels 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000. You can review the classes here

To maintain F-1 status, international students must be enrolled in a full course of study each fall and spring semester (summer enrollment is optional if it is not your first semester). 


Undergraduate full-time enrollment is 12 credits hours and Graduate full-time is 9 credits hours. Part-time undergraduate borders commuters must be enrolled for at least 6 hours and part-time graduate border commuters for at least 3 hrs. 


There are only certain reasons which U.S. Immigration will accept for enrolling less than full-time. The acceptable reasons are listed below. For any semester in which you are enrolled less than full-time, please complete the following form, and have your academic advisor submit the recommendation if the advisor feels that you have a valid Immigration reason. 


Please note that immigration regulations do not consider financial difficulties a valid reason for enrolling less than full-time.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) as defined by the United States Federal Code of Regulations: temporary employment authorization granted to an F-1 student to fulfill required off-campus training that is an integral part of an established curriculum. 

The regulations define CPT as paid/non-paid “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” (8 C.F.R. § 214.2 (f) (10) (i)

The following requirements must be met to be eligible for CPT

  1. The student must be in valid F-1 status at the time of the application and have been in full-time status for one academic year preceding that CPT application. Exception: Graduate students whose degree requires immediate participation in CPT may apply at any time.
  2. The work must be needed to fulfill course/class requirements.
  3. The course must be an “integral part of the established curriculum,” i.e., it must be required for the degree program or earning credit for the degree program. For graduate students on a thesis or dissertation, the work done must be required to complete the thesis or dissertation.
  4. The student must have a minimum of a 2.0 overall GPA to participate in CPT.
  5. The student must submit the completed CPT request before the census date of the semester they wish to participate in CPT.


To request authorization, you must submit the following:

  • Copy of the CPT Online Blackboard Certification
  • Handshake CPT Internship Approval from Career Center
  • Curricular Practical Training Advisor/Instructor Agreement & Certification
  • Academic  Recommendation Letter
  • Employment/Internship Offer Letter

All CPT Documentation can be found on Blackboard. 


The deadline to apply for CPT for any given semester is the census date for that semester. 

Please review census dates here: https://www.utrgv.edu/_files/documents/admissions/utrgv-academic-calendar.pdf.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment benefit contained in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) regulations governing the F-1 visa category. Students who have maintained their status will have an opportunity to obtain work experience in their fields of study in order to enhance their educational experience in the United States.

In order to apply for a Post Completion OPT, students must FIRST request an I-20 from IASS with the recommendation of OPT.  Required items you must submit this request are the following (please refer back to Blackboard for forms and links):

  • PDF copy of the OPT Online Blackboard Certification
  • PDF copy of the OPT Administrative Processing Fee of $100 receipt
  • PDF copy Intent to Graduate Form signed by an Academic/Program Advisor 
  • PDF copy of official most recent UTRGV Transcript
  • JPEG/JPG colored copy of US passport-style Photo (imagine size needs to be 2x2)
  • JPEG/JPG Copy of your Passport and I94 front and back and preferably in color
  • If applicable, PDF copy I20 with previous CPT approvals
  • If applicable, PDF copy of previous approved Employment Authorization Document (front and back)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online.   The online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case anytime from anywhere, and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail. USCIS is using innovation and technology to meet the needs of applicants, petitioners, and employees.  To file these forms online, individuals must first create a USCIS online account at myaccount.uscis.gov. This free account allows them to:

  • Submit their forms;
  • Pay their fees;
  • Track the status of their case;
  • Communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox; and
  • Respond to Requests for Evidence.

USCIS continues to accept the latest paper version of these forms by mail.  If you choose to mail your I-765 with the traditional method you will require to also submit the following:

  • Copy of I-765 filled and signed
  • Copy of Check or Money Order payable to US Department of Homeland Security for $410

**Once the application is submitted, it will take 5-7 working days to review your paperwork. You will receive an email when your Form I-20 is ready.  


The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved STEM field.

Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT (often for 12 months) have the option to apply for a STEM OPT extension. Students may not apply for STEM OPT extensions during the 60-day grace period following an initial period of regular post-completion OPT.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online.   The online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case anytime from anywhere, and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail.

Required items you must submit on this application:

  • Copy of the OPT Administrative Processing Fee of $150 receipt
  • Signed and Completed copy of I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. You can view the instructions for filling out the I-983 Through Study In the States.
  • Copy of your current Employment Authorization Card (EAD) also known as OPT Card (front and back)
  • Copy of most recent UTRGV Transcript showing completion of your degree
  • Copy of Diploma
  • Copy of your Passport, Visa, and I94 (preferably in color)
  • Passport-style picture 2 x 2

USCIS continues to accept the latest paper version of these forms by mail.  If you choose to mail your I-765 with the traditional method you will require to also submit the following:

  • Copy of I-765 filled and signed
  • Copy of Check or Money Order payable to US Department of Homeland Security for $410

Once the application is submitted, it will take 5-7 working days to review your paperwork. You will receive an email when the application has been reviewed and your I20 is ready.  

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that you finish your program of study by the completion date on your I-20. The end date on the I-20 (Item #5) is established by the admissions office to reflect the average length of time it should take a student to complete the degree requirements. If, during the course of your studies it becomes necessary to extend your I-20, the International Center can provide I-20 extensions to those who are eligible and apply in a timely fashion.

Overview

Admission to a new school does not by itself authorize an international student in F-1 status to begin studying full-time at the new school.  You must request your current school (UTRGV) to transfer/release your F-1 U.S. government SEVIS I-20 record to your new school before you can begin full-time studies there. The U.S. government calls this process a “SEVIS Transfer.” (It is different from an “academic transfer.”)

There are several benefits to a SEVIS transfer:

  • You do not pay the $200 SEVIS fee again
  • You can remain in the U.S. in between programs
  • You maintain the same current SEVIS ID number (which may make you eligible for certain benefits at your new school earlier, such as CPT eligibility)

Eligibility for a SEVIS Record Transfer

  • You must currently be maintaining F-1 status
  • You must have an offer of admission from a new school
  • If you already graduated or completed OPT, you must still be within your 60-day grace period
  • The start of classes at your new school must be within 5 months of one of the following:

            – Academic program completion at UTRGV
           – Last day of enrollment at UTRGV (if not graduating from UTRGV)
           – OPT authorization end date
           – For students not completing OPT period, the requested SEVIS I-20 transfer/release date

If the period of time between F-1 activities is longer than 5 months, your SEVIS record is not eligible for transfer. Your new school must issue a new initial I-20 with a new SEVIS number.

Transfer Out Process

1. Choose the date that you would like to have your SEVIS record released.

  • This day must be within 60 days of the end of your program at UTRGV or the end of your OPT.  Or you may also transfer out in between semesters. You can end OPT early and transfer your record, as well.
  • You may no longer work once your SEVIS record has been released.
  • Your UTRGV  I-20 will no longer be valid for re-entry to the U.S. once your record has been transferred.

2. You will require the following information to initiate your SEVIS Transfer

  • Admissions letter to the new school
  • SEVIS School Code for your new school
  • Your requested SEVIS transfer/release date
  • “Transfer In” form from new school (if they require a “Transfer In” or “Transfer Eligibility” or similar named form–not all schools require this form)


Your F-1 student status permits you to work on campus at the university that issued your I-20 while you are enrolled in a full course of study. Your I-20 is your proof of work eligibility for on-campus employment at UTRGV only. You must maintain F-1 status to be eligible for this employment benefit; maintaining status means that you are a full-time registered student (except for approved exceptions) in good academic standing with a valid I-20. Your on-campus employment eligibility ends:

  • When you graduate. It expires the last day of your final semester (per UTRGV calendar), even if your I-20 expiration date is in the future.
  • If you transfer to another university; your work authorization expires on the day of your SEVIS record release date.
  • If you violate your F-1 status.

To be eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) an F-1 student must show proof of status, proof of employment, and proof of authorization. This number is a unique identifying number assigned to you and will not change. If you already have an SSN, you do not need to request another. You should keep your Social Security Card in a secure location along with your other important documents. If approved, new security procedures do not permit a Social Security Number to be issued immediately. All your documentation will be verified with immigration and a number will be issued in 2-6 weeks. Immediately upon notification of employment, employees must report to Human Resources to ensure that all employment eligibility documents are in order and to comply with other new hire Human Resources requirements.

As an F-1 student, you must regularly report any changes to your designated school official (DSO) to ensure that your information is correct on SEVIS. Federal regulations require that you report any changes in address within 10 days of the change to your DSO/ International Admissions and Student Services. IASS will only update your address in SEVIS. Please remember to update your address with UTRGV at U CENTRAL or on ASSIST at my.UTRGV.edu. 

While on 12-month post-completion OPT, you must report the start and end of your employment to SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) within 10 days of occurrence. You will be reporting and updating your employment information in the SEVP Portal.
The SEVP Portal is a tool that lets OPT students meet their OPT reporting requirements. The Portal allows OPT students to report their address, telephone number and employer information. The portal shares information with SEVIS, but does not give students direct access to SEVIS.


Only IASS has direct access to your SEVIS record, but you will be able to review and update your home/mailing address, telephone number, and employment information via the SEVP Portal. All data entered into the SEVP Portal will be automatically sent to SEVIS.
After you are approved for Post-Completion OPT you should received an email from do-not-reply.sevp@ice.dhs.gov up to 10 days after your OPT start date. If you do not receive it by then, you will have to request that IASS update your employment information on your behalf.

While on 12-month post-completion OPT, you must report the start and end of your employment to SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) within 10 days of occurrence. You will be reporting and updating your employment information in the SEVP Portal.
The SEVP Portal is a tool that lets OPT students meet their OPT reporting requirements. The Portal allows OPT students to report their address, telephone number and employer information. The portal shares information with SEVIS, but does not give students direct access to SEVIS.


Only IASS has direct access to your SEVIS record, but you will be able to review and update your home/mailing address, telephone number, and employment information via the SEVP Portal. All data entered into the SEVP Portal will be automatically sent to SEVIS.
After you are approved for Post-Completion OPT you should received an email from do-not-reply.sevp@ice.dhs.gov up to 10 days after your OPT start date. If you do not receive it by then, you will have to request that IASS update your employment information on your behalf.

While on 12-month post-completion OPT, you must report the start and end of your employment to SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) within 10 days of occurrence. You will be reporting and updating your employment information in the SEVP Portal.

The SEVP Portal is a tool that lets OPT students meet their OPT reporting requirements. The Portal allows OPT students to report their address, telephone number and employer information. The portal shares information with SEVIS, but does not give students direct access to SEVIS.

Only IASS has direct access to your SEVIS record, but you will be able to review and update your home/mailing address, telephone number, and employment information via the SEVP Portal. All data entered into the SEVP Portal will be automatically sent to SEVIS.

After you are approved for Post-Completion OPT you should received an email from do-not-reply.sevp@ice.dhs.gov up to 10 days after your OPT start date. If you do not receive it by then, you will have to request that IASS update your employment information on your behalf.

Other reasons for requesting a DSO update your OPT information are:

  • SEVP not recognizing your employer address
  • SEVP not recognizing your home address
  • Needing to delete an employer 
  • Needing to correct start and end dates for your employer
  • It has been more than 10 days since you started your new employment

While on 12-month post-completion OPT, you must report the start and end of your employment to SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) within 10 days of occurrence. You will be reporting and updating your employment information in the SEVP Portal.
The SEVP Portal is a tool that lets OPT students meet their OPT reporting requirements. The Portal allows OPT students to report their address, telephone number and employer information. The portal shares information with SEVIS, but does not give students direct access to SEVIS.
Only IASS has direct access to your SEVIS record, but you will be able to review and update your home/mailing address, telephone number, and employment information via the SEVP Portal. All data entered into the SEVP Portal will be automatically sent to SEVIS.
After you are approved for Post-Completion OPT you should received an email from do-not-reply.sevp@ice.dhs.gov up to 10 days after your OPT start date. If you do not receive it by then, you will have to request that IASS update your employment information on your behalf.


Other reasons for requesting a DSO update your OPT information are:

  • SEVP not recognizing your employer address
  • SEVP not recognizing your home address
  • Needing to delete an employer 
  • Needing to correct start and end dates for your employer
  • It has been more than 10 days since you started your new employment


Every six months a student must work with their DSO to confirm that the student's record in SEVIS accurately reflects their current circumstance.

As part of this six-month reporting, STEM OPT students must confirm that their SEVIS information correctly identifies their:

  • Legal name.
  • Residential or mailing address.
  • Employer name and address.
  • Status of current employment.

SEVP Portal users will receive a reminder via email 30 days before any validation report is due. Please note that STEM OPT students must report a change in this information, including any loss of employment, within 10 days of the change.

The Change of Status to F-1 is the process offered by the United States Government to those already in the United States, that wish to change their current nonimmigrant status to continue with their studies under an F-1 Status.  

In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant status while remaining in the United States if:

  • you were lawfully admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant status;
  • your nonimmigrant status remains valid;
  • you have not violated the conditions of your status; and
  • you have not committed any crimes or engaged in any other actions that would make you ineligible for a change of status.

The first step is to request an I-20 from the school you will attend.  

As an F-1 student, you must regularly report any changes that may affect your Form I-20  to your designated school official (DSO) also known as your International Student Advisor. Those requesting new initial I-20 will have to pay the $350 SEVIS fee again. 

For those requesting a new I-20 via travel please be aware that if your F-1 student visa is expired then you will need to apply for a new one before you are able to enter the U.S. Those filing for reinstatement must have a valid visa. 

This form allows International Admissions and Student Services to end your F-1 SEVIS record because you are leaving UTRGV, and the US temporarily or permanently.  It also allows those students who will or have been approved a change in immigration status to no longer be under their F-1 Student Visa. 

  • If you are leaving UTRGV temporarily (excluding summer vacation), or you are withdrawing from UTRGV, we recommend that you meet with an International Student Advisor before you submit this form online.
  • If you are graduating from UTRGV, and your I-20 has not expired yet, submit this form online; you do not need to see an advisor.
  • If you are on post-completion OPT or STEM OPT and leaving the U.S., and you will not return to continue your OPT, submit this form online; you do not need to see an advisor.

Do NOT submit this form, if you plan to transfer your F-1 status to another academic institution in the US. You should complete the SEVIS F-1 Transfer Out process..

Please be aware that you must submit your I-94 to U.S. immigration or to your airline official when you leave the United States. Failure to do so may result in your immigration record being “flagged” and re-entry problems in the future may occur.

Thank you for choosing UTRGV!

Once you have completed the application process and you have received an acceptance letter from UTRGV Admission Office, you must submit the following form.  


A  Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” was also issued to you to schedule your visa interview appointment.

Once your visa has been approved, you must provide us with a copy to continue with the process of attending UTRGV. 

If you do not have a visa, this form will allow you to provide us with your appointment date or a short explanation of why you don’t have a visa interview. 

For any questions or further guidance, please contact intlnewstudent@utrgv.edu

In order to attend our mandatory International Student Orientation, students must submit mandatory documentation to initiate their studies at UTRGV.  Students will be required to have scanned copies of the following documents in order to complete this form: 

  • Passport 
  • Visa 
  • I-94 document

If applicable, 

  • Form I-20 signed
  • Assistantship Letter

No exceptions.


Once you submit all documentation, staff will review your records and provide you with a link to join our International Student Orientation on the designated date and time.  

When you file the I-485 application to adjust your status from a non-immigrant to an immigrant, you are considered to be pending for permanent residency or sometimes called PR Pending or I-485 Pending; this gives you legal status to remain in the U.S. during this pending period. You can file the I-765 form to apply for work permission while you are in this pending time frame. Once you file the I-485, it will still be months or years before you have your “permanent residency” interview. If you file the I-485 application, you have to choose between 2 paths to follow:

I-485 Pending Pathway 1: F-1 Backup Plan

When you file the Form I-485 application, you are legal to remain in the U.S. without maintaining your F-1 status. Although maintaining student status is no longer required once you file the I-485, there is a practical benefit to maintaining your legal F-1 status. If you choose to maintain your full-time F-1 status while you are PR pending, you may be eligible to be reinstated back to F-1 student status if you become ineligible for PR. Without doing this, you will probably be forced to return home. This pathway provides a backup plan if you fail to become a PR and still want to stay in the U.S. You will be tracked in SEVIS so that there is proof of maintaining your F-1 status in case you need to use the backup plan. If you follow Pathway 1and fail to maintain F-1 status for even one semester, you will still be legally PR pending, but you will no longer have a backup plan available if you fail to become a PR.

I-485 Pending Pathway 2: No Backup Plan

If you have filed the I-485 (PR pending), you have legal status in the U.S. and do not have to obey F-1 regulations. You can totally drop out of school. If you follow Pathway 2 from the start or switch to it after beginning Pathway 1, you will have no “backup plan” for PR denial. More than likely, if denied, you will be forced to leave the U.S. and return to your home country. Following Pathway 2 means, “Putting all your eggs in one basket” to use an American idiom. You are completely counting on your PR to be approved. You have no backup plan.


In order to request a third party to pick up your IASS documents, the student must fill and submit this form to International Admissions and Student Services. The third party below must bring valid photo identification to pick up the document.

F-1 students are required to keep their immigration documentation up to date and inform their DSO's of any changes in their passport, visa, or I-94.

A study abroad program is a good option for an F student to experience different cultures and subjects. However, F Students must inform International Student Services of their proposed study/research outside of the U.S. prior to departing.

Students must complete this form each semester they plan to spend abroad.

Once approved, it is crucial that you keep the following two considerations in mind to ensure that your SEVIS record remains active while you’re abroad.:

#1 ENROLLMENT

You are required to register full-time to maintain your F-1 immigration status while abroad. If students fall below full-time enrollment because it’s their last semester, they must request reduced course load authorization by completing the Reduced Course Load request form in Submittable. Any unauthorized changes in enrollment while authorized for research or study abroad could affect your ability to return to the U.S. 

#2 VALID DOCUMENTATION

Ensure you have a valid passport, travel signature (no more than 1 year old), and an unexpired F-1 visa before returning to the U.S.

UTRGV International Student Services