International Students

F-1 FAQs

Do I have to always be a full-time student? 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires all individuals in F-student status to pursue a full course of study for the duration of their status. At Rivier University, this means a minimum of 12 credits for undergraduate students and a minimum of 9 credits for graduate students except when the student needs a lesser course load to complete the course of study during the last term of degree completion.

What do I have to do if I want to travel outside the United States? 

The student should stop by the International Student Advising Office for a travel endorsement signature on the SEVIS Form I-20. The international student advisor will verify the current registration status of student. If the student is registered for the next session, the SEVIS Form I-20 will be signed.

What should I do if I want to work on campus?

Students must be in F-1 status, registered full time and have a social security card to accept an on campus job. Job opportunities for the Rivier University student employment program are available in the Financial Aid Office, located in Adrienne Hall. This information is available during fall and spring semesters. The Financial Aid office can be contacted at (603) 897-8510. A work agreement and other required documents must be completed. The Office of Human Resources advertises summer work opportunities. Listings of summer opportunities will be posted on a bulletin board in Dion Center building sometime in March/April.

May I apply for off-campus employment if I have only been an F-1 for 6 months? 

No. An F-1 student is eligible to apply for off campus employment only if he/she has maintained legal F-1 status and registered full time for two consecutive semesters, which is generally nine months.

May I apply for Optional Practical Training every time I complete a degree program? 

Yes and no. Yes, if each degree program is higher than the prior completed degree program, you qualify for OPT. For example: associate degree to bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s degree to master’s degree, master’s degree to doctoral degree. No, if the next degree program is of the same or lesser level. For example: master’s to master’s, bachelor’s to associate.

What countries of origin are your students from? 

Rivier University enrolls students from China, France, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Romania, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Zimbabwe. Recently, Rivier has had students from Canada, Greece, Guyana, Japan, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Bolivia, Macedonia, and United Kingdom.

What should I do if I want to bring my spouse/child to the U.S? 

A student who is in active F-1 status may be able to bring a spouse and/or children to the United States as dependents. The F-1 student will be asked to submit an additional financial statement for his/her dependent(s) before ISAO issues a new SEVIS Form I-20. The student must meet with the International Student Advisor to request SEVIS Form I-20 for his/her dependents and discuss eligibility for F-2 status. ISAO will need the names, dates of birth, the places of citizenship and relationship to the dependent(s). Each dependent will be issued a SEVIS Form I-20 under his/her name in addition to the student’s name. The student’s dependent(s) must understand that family members are sometimes denied the F-2 visa and are unable to join the student in the United States of America.

May I get a new SEVIS Form I-20 if I lost my original? 

The student should call the International Student Advising Office to schedule an appointment to meet with the International Student Advisor and discuss the lost SEVIS Form I-20 and request a replacement. Generally, students will be encouraged to look carefully for the missing immigration form. If the SEVIS Form I-20 was stolen, the student will be encouraged to file a police report. A replacement SEVIS Form I-20 may be issued to the student.

Do I need an extension if my SEVIS Form I-20 is going to expire? 

You are referring to "Program Extension." Please see the International Student Advisor to discuss your reason for requesting program extension. Requests to extend program should be documented by valid academic or medical reasons. You should apply for extension prior to your program end date. Seek your International Student Advisor’s advice as soon as possible.

My visa is going to expire, what should I do? What is SEVIS form I-20 and I-94? 

A visa is an immigration document that is stamped on your passport which allows you to enter the United States for the reason it was issued for a specific period of time. This travel document is issued by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate usually in the student’s home country. It is perfectly legal if your visa (F-1) expires while in the United States as long as your SEVIS Form I-20 and I-94 are valid and you maintain status as a full-time student. However, you will need to renew your visa the next time you are outside the United States, except for short visits to Canada and Mexico. Remember you CANNOT enter the U.S. on an expired or cancelled visa. Check with the United States Consulate in your home country for application procedures and to see if an appointment is required. The procedures vary from country to country.

Rivier's International Student Advisng Office issues SEVIS Form I-20. It is used to obtain an F-1 student visa from a U.S. Consulate or Embassy and as a travel document. You must carry this form with you whenever you travel outside the United States. Make sure you keep the information on your SEVIS Form I-20 updated. The expiration of the SEVIS Form I-20 is your program end date or course of study completion date. Students should contact ISAO for any questions related to the SEVIS Form I-20.

I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) is a white card which is given to a student upon entry into the United States. This is marked with the date, place of entry, the traveler’s status such as “F-1 student”, 11 digit admission number, and for the period of admission knows as “duration of status,” generally noted as “D/S” for F-1 students.

What should I do if my passport expires? 

Students should contact their country's embassy or consulate and apply for renewal of their passport. Many of the world's embassies are located in Washington D.C. as well as other major U.S. cities, i.e., Boston, New York and Los Angeles. Remember that the passport should be valid for at least six months into the future when applying for a visa or when traveling in and out of the United States.

Is on-campus housing available for international students? 

Yes, Rivier University offers on-campus housing to students. Please contact the office of Residence Life and Housing at (603) 897-8244 or e-mail for information.

Where can I buy health insurance? 

It is advisable for students to have adequate health insurance coverage.

Rivier University offers a Student Health and Accident Insurance plan. Please contact the Business Office at 603-897-8214 for more information or stop by the International Student Advising Office (ISAO) to get some other insurance brochures, which are specially designed for international students. Full time undergraduate students must show proof of health insurance prior to attending.

How to transfer funds from my country to Rivier University? 

Please contact the Rivier University business office for any questions regarding transferring funds.  

They can be reached by phone at 603-897-8214, or by email at

As an F-1 student, am I eligible for financial aid? 

No, but there are some agencies that offer scholarships and loans to international students. For more information, please visit the following websites:

What should I do if I need to apply for a medical leave of absence? 

You need to schedule an appointment to meet with the International Student Advisor. A student must bring a letter from a qualified medical physician certifying the medical condition as well as any other type of documentation that may be important. The advisor will review all information and determine whether a medical leave of absence is the appropriate course of action.

Do I need to notify ISAO if I want to change major or education level? 

Yes. Changing major and education level (for example: certificate to master's degree, etc) requires notification to ISAO. Your SEVIS record needs to be updated in a timely manner. Supporting documents for these changes need to be sent to the International Student Advising Office.

Where can I get information about off-campus housing? 

The Student Development Office maintains information on limited off-campus housing opportunities, which are called into the University. Students are welcome to inquire. Please stop by the office during business hours (Monday–Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to check available rooms and apartments for rent, etc.

On-campus housing is also available for international students, for both graduate and undergraduate. For information, please contact the Residence Life and Student Housing Office at (603) 897-8244 or (603) 897-8298 or e-mail

What office should I notify if I change my address? 

Students must report a change of address to the Registrar’s Office at (603) 897-8212 to update school records. F-1 students are required by immigration to notify the International Student Advising Office at (603) 897-8781 within 10 days of the change of address. The Office will update the student’s SEVIS record.

What shall I do if I want to change my name? 

A student who wants to change a name should contact the Registrar’s office and request a change of name at (603) 897-8212 or e-mail You will be required to complete a student change of name form. As for your SEVIS Form I-20 record, documentation such as a copy of your marriage certificate and a written request from you to change your name are needed.

What do I need to do if I want to transfer to Rivier University? 

Contact the Admissions Office at 603-897-8506 for Undergraduate Admissions or 603-897-8219 for Graduate Admissions to complete the application process. Once the application for admission is completed, the International Student Advising Office will assist you in the process of transferring from your previous school. Please complete the Transfer Verification form for F-1 students and ask your previous International Student Advisor to complete and return it to Rivier University’s ISAO. Your SEVIS record will be transferred to Rivier University on the date your previous international student advisor indicated on the form. The International Student Activities Office will issue SEVIS Form I-20 once the record is received. You may also apply online by choosing the Apply Online link at the top of the page. For additional information, choose from the following admissions offices:

How can an F-2, H-4 and B1/B2 change status to F-1?
Instructions for Change to F-1 Status

If you are currently in the U. S. in another status, and wish to be in an F-1 status, you must apply for a change of status to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Application is filed on Form I-539 and sent to the Vermont Service Center with SEVIS I-20 AB, a $300* fee and supporting documents. Processing time varies but should be around eight weeks. The International Student Advisor will assist you with your application. It is advisable that you contact the Office for an appointment with the advisor and bring complete requirements.

  • Completed Form I-539 "Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.” This form is available and can be completed online, visit Check or money order for $290* made payable to the "United States Department of Homeland Security."
  • SEVIS form I-20 AB Form, issued by Rivier University (Complete item 11)
  • Photocopy of both sides of I-94 "Arrival/Departure Document"
  • Financial Documentation (bank statements, Affidavit of Support, etc.) for tuition and living expenses
  • Photocopy of visa stamp used to enter the U.S
  • Photocopy of identity page of your passport
  • Copies of other evidence of previous visa status (I-797 for H or E status, IAP-66 for J status, etc.)
  • SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt

*All fees are subject to change without notice. Always confirm the required fee with the International Student Advisor.

Change from F-2 or H-4 to F-1 

Applicants should submit evidence that the spouse (F-1 or H-1) has not violated status. The International Student Advisor will help you determine which documents should be sent with the application. (Note: Those in F-2 could not begin study until the change of status application is approved by USCIS.) See additional requirements below:

  • Spouse's evidence of current status (F-1 or H-1)
  • Copy of current I-20 (for F-1) or copy of INS approval notice (for H-1)
  • Photocopy of both sides of I-94 "Arrival/Departure Document"
  • Copy of H-1 visa stamp or F-1 visa stamp
  • Copy of identity page of husband/wife
  • Proof of husband still working (for H-1), example: Copies of payroll stubs (3-4 recent or letter from employer certifying that he is still a current employee.
  • Proof of husband's current full time registration (for F-1), copy of the EAD card if F-1 student currently on OPT or letter from the DSO verifying his status.
  • Copy of marriage certificate
  • A letter explaining reasons for the application and how you intend to use your degree once you return to your home country.

If you are applying for a change of status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 and do not have a "prospective student" notation on the B-2 visa stamp, it is very important to also include the following in your letter. (Note: For B1/B2, you may not attend classes until INS approves change of status to F-1)

  • Give the date and location of issuance of your B1/B2 visa. (Copy the visa page in your passport)
  • Explain specifically what information was given to the American Consulate when you obtained your B visa as to the purpose of your trip to the United States.
  • Did you indicate to the American Consulate Official or to the Admitting Inspector that you might want to study in the United States?
  • Explain how and what date you arrived at your decision to study in the United States.
  • How and when did you first contact the school or university as to your desire to enroll as a foreign student?
  • On what date were you informed by the school or university that you had been accepted for admission?
  • If your intent to attend school in the United States was prior to your entry in this country, why didn't you apply for the appropriate student visa from the American Consulate in your home country rather than getting a tourist visa?
  • If you entered the U.S.on the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (i.e. you did not obtain a visa from the American Consulate before entering the U.S.), you may not change your status while you are in the U.S.

Each student's application may need to be personalized according to individual circumstances. The International Student Advisor will assist the student with the application.


Email-F-1ISS Welcome HandbookPre-Arrival Guide