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University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, California 95211

Immigration Questions and Answers for Faculty

  • What is SEVIS? 
    • The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the web-based system that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) uses to maintain information on international individuals here in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status and the schools/organizations that host these individuals. Each person that obtains F-1 or J-1 status has their own individual electronic record.  
  • Who manages or maintains these records for DOS and DHS?
    • The Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) and the Designated School Officials (DSOs) are responsible with maintaining and monitoring the records of all individuals who have been sponsored by the school for F-1 status on behalf of DHS.  These individuals are school employees hired as international student advisors in the International Programs and Services office (IPS).   The Responsible Officer (RO) and Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) are responsible for maintaining and monitoring the records of all individuals who have been sponsored by the school for J-1 status. These individuals are also school employees hired as international student advisors in IPS.   This monitoring and maintaining of SEVIS records by school employees are required by law in order to be able to host these individuals in F-1 or J-1 status. However, the SEVIS record is considered to be the property of the F-1 or J-1 visa holder.  
  • What Is The Form I-20 And The Form DS-2019?
    • Students in F-1 status hold a Form I-20 and students in J-1 status hold a DS-2019. The SEVIS system generates the I-20 and DS-2019. They are multi-purpose government forms used in connection with many F-1 and J-1 procedures and benefits.   The I-20 and DS-2019 are held by the students. The forms reflect their immigration status,  authorization for re-entry to the U.S. or the granting of employment authorization.  
  • How are F-1 student status and J-1 Exchange Visitor status acquired?
    • There are 2 ways in which a person can obtain either status:
      • If the individual is abroad, he or she enters the U.S. with the I-20 or DS-2019 and an F-1 or J-1 visa.
      • If the individual is in the U.S., he or she must send the I-20 or DS-2019 to USCIS with an application for change of nonimmigrant status.   
  • What are the student's basic roles and relationships?
    • An F-1 international student is a non-immigrant who is pursuing a full-time course of study towards a degree, certificate or other specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution in the U.S. that has been approved by the DHS to accept F-1 students.  The student is expected to return to their home country following completion of their program; however there are specific circumstances allowing for a student to stay in the U.S. and be authorized to work.   J-1 students (both degree-seeking and exchange students) are non-immigrants pursuing a full-time course of study either towards a degree or other specific educational objective at an academic institution in the U.S. that has been approved by the DOS to accept J-1 students. The student is expected to return to their home country following completion of their program; however there are specific circumstances allowing for the student to stay in the U.S. and be authorized to work for a brief period following the completion of their program.  
  • What Are The Responsibilities of F-1 Students and J-1 Students To Maintain Their Legal Status?
    • Report to the DSO to have his/her SEVIS record registered upon arrival at the school.
    • Pursue a full course of study during every academic session or semester. 
      • Full-time status at the Pacific is:
        • Undergraduates: 12 credits each semester
        • Masters: 8 credits
          • Graduate students enrolled in research, seminar, thesis/dissertation, or internship for 1 unit or more are considered to have a full course of study. For the complete policy, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies (
        • There are specific exceptions to the full-course of study requirement allowed by DHS but ONLY for F-1 students. However, a student must consult with and have approval from the DSO prior to dropping below full-time status. The student fulfills this by submitting a Reduced Course Load form signed and completed by the academic or faculty advisor.
        • Take no more than 3 credits of online coursework per the required number of credits to be full-time. For example, an undergraduate can take 3 credits online and 9 credits in-person. A master's with assistantship can take 3 credits online and 3 credits in-person.
          • J-1 students cannot take any online courses to meet their full-time enrollment requirement.
        • Make normal progress towards completing the course of study.
        • Reporting any changes to the program of study (change of major, change of expected graduation date, etc.), changes to personal information (name, U.S. and foreign addresses), and changes in finances (change of sponsor and change in scholarship/grants)  
  • What To Do If An International Student Is On Academic Probation?  
    • IPS must be informed of any student that has been placed on academic probation, has been suspended or faces disciplinary sanctions. The student must report to IPS to discuss the immigration implications of the sanction.    
  • What If A Student Is Sick Or Wants To Take A Leave Of Absence?
    • Students requiring a leave of absence or permission to take less than a full course load because of medical reasons must provide medical documentation from Pacific Health Services to the international student advisor at IPS to substantiate the illness or medical condition dependent on the information provided by a physician as required by federal immigration law.  He or she must receive the approval of IPS to remain in the U.S.    Students on a personal leave of absence may not remain in the U.S. When approving a leave of absence, the appropriate department is requested to notify and require the student to report to IPS & update SEVIS appropriately.  He or she must depart the U.S. within 15 days of the approval.    If student suddenly quits attending classes or drops out, it is critical that the Academic Department notifies IPS immediately.  IPS will follow up to ensure the student is safe and is aware of the immigration regulations governing their status.  IPS is also required to facilitate the student's resumption of study following a medical or personal leave of absence.
  • Why The Academic Departments Have To Certify Certain Student's Academic Status?
    • The Academic Department maybe asked to confirm to IPS in writing certain aspects of the student's academic status.  Students may request that you explain why they need more time to complete their studies, take a reduce course load, confirm the date by which they are expected to complete their studies or recommend them for a temporary employment related to their program of studies.  The forms you are asked to complete are designed to keep both the University of the Pacific and the students in compliance with federal immigration regulations.  Should you be unclear about what is being asked of you, please contact IPS directly. The international student advisors at IPS are authorized to issue, sign, and update immigration documents for International Students.  On occasion, students confuse their academic advisor with the IPS advisor. 
  • Are F-1 or J-1 students allowed to work?
    • In order to maintain valid F-1 or J-1 status, a student must not work in the United States unless the employment is specifically authorized under the regulations. Any unauthorized employment by a student constitutes a failure to maintain status.   Generally, F-1 and J-1 students are allowed to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full-time during any academic breaks and vacations. F-1 students do not need any special authorization. J-1 students must receive authorization from the international student advisor prior to beginning any employment. However, it is always best practice to advise the student to consult their International Student Advisor prior to beginning any work to ensure that the employment is allowed by the regulations. This includes internships, practicums, co-ops, or other forms of employment that might be required for the successful completion of a class or program.