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LEC International Education Information

Here, you will find important information related to international students at CU’s Louisville Education Center. Use the links below to find the information you seek.

Quick Links


COVID-19 Travel FAQs

Campbellsville University (CU) understands this is a stressful time as many of you have friends and family around the world are impacted by this situation. There is still much uncertainty with the situation and travel restrictions are changing daily. CU and ISS staff are monitoring the news and government updates.
Presently, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions do not apply to any foreign national who is:
1. a lawful permanent resident of the United States
2. a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
3. a parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
4. a sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
5. a child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
6. For additional exceptions, see the Presidential Proclamation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated on March 15, 2020.

What is the status of spring semester classes?

The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provided general guidance earlier this week that made accommodations for students already/currently in the U.S. regarding online study and maintenance of status. At this time all CU classes are provided via distance learning.  As soon as the learning format changes to the residencies you will be notified.

Since the CU decision on March 10 is to offer spring classes online, can I return home for classes; will my F-1 SEVIS record and I-20 remain valid?

Yes, nonimmigrant students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19. SEVP will provide updated guidance as additional information concerning the scope and length of this situation becomes clearer. International student records will remain active in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) so long as students intend to resume their course of studies when classes start up again, just as they would for regularly scheduled academic breaks.

I am considering returning home for spring semester and possibly summer semester as well? What should I do?

It is important to understand the impact taking time off from your studies may have on your immigration status. If you decide to take spring semester (and possibly summer semester) off, please review the following information.

Submit an Authorized Early Withdrawal form

Other Full-Time Enrollment Exceptions

Also, consider these factors before making your decision:

      • Are you completing your current semester or withdrawing from this semester?
      • How many semesters do you plan to be away from CU?
      • Are you close to graduation?
      • Do you plan to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

If you have additional questions, please submit a request through the ISSRS ticket system be sure to read the knowledge base before submission as the answer to your question may already be there.

I am currently in the U.S. but was planning to travel outside of the U.S. soon. Should I cancel my trip?

We do not know how long these travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place.
If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time. Your trip may be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return.

Which countries are impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions to the U.S.? If I am outside of the U.S., what should I do?

The restricted countries changes frequently.  Please view the Department of Homeland Security website to get up to date facts and travel restrictions.

I am currently in my home country and was planning to return to CU for spring semester. If I am unable to return to the U.S. due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, what should I do?

Every student’s situation is different please submit a request through the ISSRS ticket system and an Immigration advisor will help you work through this decision. The CU advisor may not be able to answer all questions until we hear more from CU leadership and the U.S. government. Options may include:

      • Continue to monitor the situation until we are closer to summer semester. We are waiting for updates from the U.S. government to determine if there will be any exceptions or accommodations for students needing to return for studies.
      • Leave of Absence
      • Medical Reduced Course Load (if applicable)

Can I travel to another country before traveling to the U.S.?

If you plan to travel to another country before entering the U.S., be sure to review any travel restrictions in that country before making travel plans. Be aware that you must remain physically present outside of the country impacted by travel restrictions for 14 days or more before you will be allowed to enter the U.S. ISS advisors cannot advise on travel to countries other than the U.S., so make sure you do your research and understand any restrictions or requirements before traveling.

How long will these travel restrictions last?

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services will monitor the situation. No more than 15 days after the date of the proclamation, and every 15 days after, the Secretary will advise whether the restriction continue, change, or end. See proclamation section 5.

I am currently in a country impacted by the travel restrictions. Can I provide a negative test result for COVID-19 to enter the U.S.?

The U.S. government is not allowing exceptions at this time. Continue to monitor the news or this web page for updates.

I am currently in a country impacted by the COVID-19 travel restrictions but have not been near any of the impacted cities. Can I return to the U.S.?

The U.S. government is not allowing exceptions at this time. Continue to monitor the news or this web page for updates.

Are there travel restrictions in the U.S.?

Please monitor the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to determine if there are any recommendations for the state to state or regional restrictions.

I am having difficulty paying my tuition by the deadline what should I do?

Contact Vickie Montgomery about your situation before the tuition deadline. The Business Office may be able to offer you payment plan options.  vlmontgomery@campbellsville.edu  (502) 753-0264 x6027

I am nearing the end of my F-1 status and my plan was to return to my home country. I would prefer to stay in the U.S. for now. What are my options?

Every student’s situation is different. Open a ISSRS ticket if you have not already done so and an ISS adviser reply to you directly about your options.

I am feeling very anxious about the COVID-19. What should I do?

If you are experiencing stress or anxiety about this situation, we encourage you to reach out to counselors, advisers, or friends to talk about your feelings.

Main Campus Director, Counseling Center  Peggy Richerson 270.789.5070 pcrichardson@campbellsville.edu

Director, Marriage and Family Therapy (non-students) Kenneth Hollis 502.753.0264 x6016

These professionals are available to help.

Will students be able to return to the United States if they are continuing their studies outside of the country as a result of COVID-19?

Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions, nonimmigrant students should refer to their local embassy’s website through the U.S. Department of State for any updates about visa issuance. Also, DHS and CDC websites both provide information about current travel restrictions to the United States.

Can F-1 students who were previously employed and are now unemployed due to COVID-19 apply for unemployment benefits?

Students who are unemployed due to COVID-19 should contact their local or state employment agency for more information.

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Special Student Relief and Severe Economic Hardship

Student Relief (SSR) permitted students to enroll part-time, apply for a work permit, and request a fee waiver­­­­ to apply for the I-765.  In today’s COVID-19 environment with about one million international students in the U.S. and the fact USCIS cannot process benefits in a timely manner before this crisis, I doubt this plan will be rolled out as it was in the past.  If an SSR is rolled out it will likely be adjudicated by the Universities.  CU notify all students eligible for this benefit and how to process the request if this is approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations.  You may also wish to read this site:https://www.nafsa.org/professional-resources/browse-by-interest/special-student-relief-f-1-students-essential-concepts.

Please keep checking the sites I shared with you and CU’s LEC – International Student Services site. 

Another for students is called Severe Economic Hardship.  This benefit is for students who have completed at least an academic year of study at CU (which is eight months) and have had unforeseen economic hardship.  Examples would be the death of a sponsor, or devaluation of the currency, etc.  If you have started your program and eight months have not passed you are not eligible.  The eligibility requirements are extensive. Please keep this in mind before you ask to apply.  Further, this work permit is restricted to 20 hours per week, will take at minimum 90 days, may require a $410 fee, and you are not guaranteed to get the work authorization.  Also, you will never get to use this work authorization for more than 20 hours per week since you must maintain your enrollment and there are not any authorized vacations in these masters programs which would allow full-time enrollment.

Finally, you may have work authorization through CPT.  Therefore, if you do, there is no benefit in applying for either work permit outside your current benefit.  The only difference is that you are not limited to your field of study.

Please let CU know if you have additional questions and send links to sites that offer work permits so we can quickly assess and get you a rapid response regarding them.  Please be aware only DHS will authorize this do not be fooled by anyone assuring they can get you a work permit.  CU will guide you if you have questions.

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Employment in F-1 Status

Applying for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT “is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” CPT “may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis in” an SEVP approved “college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year.” 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)

“An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum.” 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)

Our Graduate Catalog provides further clarity regarding the university’s definition of “integral” as it pertains to our CPT program and the established curriculum.

CPT Requirements

      1. Enrollment in a full-course of study. Campbellsville University has defined full-time status for a student as 6 credit hours per semester. Students may only be exempt from the full-time requirement if they are approved for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) as defined in 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(vi) or if in their final term and fewer than a full course load is required to complete the program as described in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A).
      2. Enrollment in BA 500: Experiential Learning Seminar
      3. Demonstrate a minimum of a 3.0 CGPA (Unless applying for authorization in the first semester).
      4. Complete and submit a CPT Cooperation Agreement signed and dated by both the student and employer.
      5. Submit an offer letter of employment on company letterhead that is signed and dated by the employer. CPT employment must be DIRECTLY related to the student’s major program of study. The offer letter must specify the following:
        • Job Title
        • Job Description listing specific job duties and responsibilities
        • Specifies whether the position is part-time or full-time
        • Specifies the location where the student will be physically working.

Application Processing Time:

Step One: Enroll for BA 500 each term of CPT engagement

Step Two: Apply for CPT each term. Use link provided by ISS for application and complete CPT form, which is 100% online. Your employer will receive an email prompter to complete Employer Form for CPT application.

Step Three: After Enrollment Management’s review of completed application for academic eligibility, ISS authorizes CPT employment in SEVIS by adding start and end dates within the term, and employer information, which show on the Form I-20. It takes 10 business days to process CPT application.

Step Four: CPT is authorized for a specific employer. If you change employer, return to STEP ONE.

Step Five: Complete BA 500 course, which ties theories learned in the classroom to practice on CPT employment. If you continue with the same employer, apply for CPT Renewal when prompted by ISS for the next term and re-enroll in BA 500.

NOTE:

      • If GPA is under 3.0, student is ineligible for CPT.
      • At the Louisville Education Center (LEC), CPT application is 100% online. Please follow the link below, fill out the information accurately and ISS will process your application in a timely manner. Link: https://tigernet.campbellsville.edu/ICS/Forms/CPT-OPT/

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International Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is designed to provide you with an opportunity to gain actual employment experience, related to your chosen field of study, for a maximum of one year. Its purpose is to complement your academic work during or upon completion of undergraduate, graduate and/or doctoral degree levels of education.

Optional practical training is available both before (Pre-Completion OPT) and after (Post-Completion OPT) “completion of the course of study, or, for a student in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding dissertation).”

English as Second Language (ESL) program or non-degree seeking programs are ineligible for OPT.

Students will send all documents to their International Student Advisor for review.

Please click on each link to get to the item on this page:

Types of OPT

Post-Completion OPT

Post-Completion OPT is for F-1 students who have completed “their course of student, or, for a student in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent).” Students may be authorized to participate in Post-Completion OPT after they have been enrolled for one full academic year. In order to be eligible for Post-Completion OPT, students must:

      • Have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student at least for one full academic year (two terms at Campbellsville University).
      • Have less than 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) at the same educational level and school.
      • Be currently in F-1 status.
      • Have met the degree program/course requirements

Students can apply up to 90 days before their program completion date, and USCIS should receive applications no later than 60 days after students’ program completion date. The application process for Post-Completion OPT can take up to 90 days processing time by the USCIS.

Students may begin engaging in Post-Completion OPT only once they receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). Employment must be within the authorized dates listed on the EAD card. The starting date for the Post-Completion will be the date requested by the student or the date that is approved on the EAD card.

The Post-Completion OPT must “directly be related to the student’s major area of study.” Students authorized to participate in Post-Completion OPT must work at least 20 hours per week. Students can change employers during post-completion OPT. Students must report employer changes to the ISS.

Students on Post-Completion OPT are limited to 90 days of unemployment. Students are responsible to keep track of their unemployment days. Students are required to report their employment status to ISS. SEVIS will terminated the F1 records of students who exceed 90 days of unemployment. This means they will no longer have F1 status.

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Application Procedures

      • For standard post-completion OPT, the Form I-765 must be received by the USCIS Service Center no more than 90 days prior to the Program End Date listed on the student’s I-20, and no later than 60 days after the Program End Date listed on the student’s I-20.
      • In addition, the Form I-765 in support of post-completion OPT must be received by the USCIS Service Center no later than 30 days after the Designated School Official (DSO) submits the OPT recommendation to SEVIS and prepares your new OPT I-20.
      • From ISS email with OPT attachments, complete OPT Application Form to request OPT I-20 from your International Student Advisor (ISA) at Louisville Education Center (LEC).
      • Use most recent Form I-765. Complete form electronically by TYPING your information. Do not submit, instead, print typed form.

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Gather the following required documents and organize them before mailing.

      • Two (2) current passport size photographs of yourself. (Photos must be taken within 30 days of filing the form.). Lightly print in pencil your name and your I-94 Admission Number on the back of photos and place in small envelope with your name and I-94 admission number on the front of the envelope
      • Prepare a personal check or money order for $410.00 USD
        • Instructions on how to complete a money order can be found here, Money Order Help
        • Instruction on paying USCIS immigration fees can be found here: USCIS Paying Immigration Fees
        • Make the check / money order payable to: US Department of Homeland Security
      • Make a copy of your current and ALL previous I-20’s issued to you, especially those on which CPT or OPT was granted previously, so that all prior periods of CPT and OPT, and whether they were for full-time or part-time training, can be reviewed by USCIS.
      • Make one copy of your passport information and picture page.
      • Make one copy of your F-1 Visa.
      • Print a copy of your I-94 from the following webpage: I-94 Webpage
      • Make one copy of your social security card (if applicable)
        • A social security card is not required to apply for OPT
      • Download a copy of your Unofficial Transcripts from TigerNet
        • You must have your account paid in full to have access to your unofficial transcripts on TigerNet
      • Make one copy of any previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (if applicable)
        • If you have previously applied for OPT and withdrawn your application, you will to make a copy of your confirmation receipt of the withdrawal or any document from USCIS confirming your denial of or withdrawal of an OPT application.
      • Schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisors (ISA) / Designated School Official (DSO) at LEC to review your OPT materials and generate your OPT request I-20.
      • Include a copy of your new OPT I-20 in the packet to USCIS. Remember to sign it before making a copy.

PLEASE NOTE: The Form I-765 must be properly and timely filed with USCIS. The student must file an OPT application (signed I-765, signed I-20, and required documents, including fee) within 30 days of the DSO’s OPT recommendation in SEVIS (this is the date at the bottom of your OPT Request I-20 next to the DSO’s signature), and within other OPT filing deadlines.

Mailing your OPT documents: To USCIS Dallas Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) First-Class and Priority Mail Express deliveries:

USCIS
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For overnight/courier deliveries (non-USPS):

USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

14-month window to use standard 12-month post-completion OPT

For standard post-completion OPT, the requested employment start date may not be more than 60 days after the student’s program end date, and all standard post-completion OPT must be completed within the 14-month period following the completion of study.

8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(D) 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A)(3)

NOTE:
The latest expiration date on a standard post-completion OPT EAD will be 14 months after the program end date. If a student’s EAD begins shortly after the program end date, a full 12 months can easily fit into the 14-month window. For students whose EADs are approved more than 60 days after the program end date, a full 12 months cannot fit into the 14-month window. In that case, the OPT period will be truncated, and the student will lose practical training time. Students should bear this in mind when timing their OPT application submission.

students in classroom

24-Month STEM Extension OPT

F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT). 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. On May 10, 2016, this extension effectively replaced the previous 17-month STEM OPT extension. 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.

If you earned a previous STEM degree from an accredited US institution, you may be eligible for the STEM OPT extension, provided the degree is on the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program List.

You can find the CIP code for your previous degree on page 1 of the current format I-20 or at the top of page 3 of the old format I-20.

Entrepreneurship and Employer-Employee Relationships

F-1 students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Form I-983 because F-1 students may not provide employer attestations on their own behalf. However, STEM OPT applicants can participate in a start-up or small business so long as all regulatory requirements are met. The employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.

These requirements mandate that the company remains in good standing with E-Verify and has the resources to comply with the proposed training plan.

STEM OPT Extension Overview

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Requirements for the STEM OPT Extension

To qualify for the 24-month extension, you must:

      • Have been granted 12-month OPT and currently be in a valid period of OPT;
      • Have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a school that is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency and is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) at the time you submit your STEM OPT extension application.
      • Previously obtained STEM degrees: If you are an F-1 student participating in a 12-month period of post-completion OPT based on a non-STEM degree, you may be eligible to use a previous STEM degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to apply for a STEM OPT extension. You must have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions and cannot have already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree. The practical training opportunity also must be directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree.

Example: If you are currently participating in OPT based on a master’s degree in business administration but you previously received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, you may be able to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor’s degree as long as it is from an accredited U.S. college or university and the OPT employment opportunity is directly related to your bachelor’s degree in mathematics.

      • STEM degrees you obtain in the future: If you enroll in a new academic program in the future and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level, you may be eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.

Example: If you receive a 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor’s degree in engineering and you later earn a master’s degree in engineering, you may apply for an additional 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your master’s degree.

      • Must have offer of paid employment for at least 20 hours per week from an employer.
      • Work for an employer that is enrolled in USCIS’s E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
      • STEM OPT employer must provide the student with formal training and learning objectives.
      • Student must complete a Form I-765.
      • Student and employer must complete a Form I-983 Training Plan;
      • Student must present completed I-983 to ISA / DSO prior to DSO’s STEM OPT recommendation in SEVIS.

The start date of the 24-month OPT Extension will be automatically set to the day after the expiration of the current Post-Completion OPT authorization. The end date will be 24 months later, and it is not possible to request a shorter or longer period.

If the application for the 24-month OPT Extension is successfully received prior to the expiration of the Post-Completion OPT period, students may continue employment until the application is approved or until 180 days from the 24-month OPT Extension receipt notice date; whichever is sooner.

For more information on 24-month STEM OPT, check STEM OPT Hub.

Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT)

Reporting Requirements for 24-month STEM OPT Extension

6-month Validation Report

Students approved for the 24-month OPT Extension have additional reporting requirements in order to maintain their status and work authorization. These students are required to send the following information to ISS every six months, even if there has not been any change to their employment or address:

      • Legal name
      • Residential or mailing address
      • Employer name
      • Employer address, and/or
      • Interruption or loss of employment

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International Students

Unemployment Days, Reporting Employment and Change of Address During Optional Practical Training (OPT)

On Post-Completion OPT, when students are not employed, days get subtracted from their 90 days of unemployment. Students on the 24-month OPT extension have 150 days unemployment during the “total OPT period” (including the initial Post-Completion OPT from which 24 months has been extended).

Students are responsible for tracking their unemployment days. When students pass the permitted unemployment days, USCIS shuts down their SEVIS records.

Note: OPT employment must be in the U.S.

As soon as students have found employment (whether paid or unpaid, part-time or full time), they should report their updated employment status to ISS.

While on OPT, students must continue to update ISS regarding their residential address. Residential address cannot be a P.O. Box or an office address. Students are required to send changes to their residential address within 10 business days of the change to ISS.

Using USCIS Portal to Report Address Changes

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Following Up with an OPT Application

Student who include a Form G-1145 (optional form) to their OPT application package will get notified via e-mail or cellphone by USCIS about the reception of their OPT application package. The message provides a receipt number, but does not constitute the official notice of acceptance. The message notice also provides a brief statement on how to get additional information about the status of the OPT application. The message does not grant any immigration status or benefit. Download the Form G-1145 [PDF].

Approximately 2 to 4 weeks after student has mailed application, USCIS sends Receipt Notice. The notice states the date when application was received, and gives student an application receipt number. Student can use the number to check application status on the USCIS website. It takes a minimum of 3 months for USCIS to adjudicate OPT application.

Student has to use a valid mailing address where communication from the USCIS can be directly received. ISS is not responsible for loss or delay of OPT application. For questions on lost or delayed applications, students should contact USCIS directly at 1-800-375-5283.

Once approved, USCIS sends the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to student. The EAD bears OPT Start and End Dates, plus, the student’s photograph. Student must wait until OPT Start Date before engaging in OPT employment and must cease from working after OPT End Date.

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Traveling on Post-Completion OPT and 24-Month OPT Extension

After applying for OPT, traveling is not recommended while the status of the application is pending. However, in case of an emergency, students who leave the U.S. and wish to come back before the start date of their OPT must show special documentation.

If OPT is pending (not yet approved), it is advisable not to travel because it could connote abandonment of OPT application.

If OPT is approved, students need the following documents to reenter the U.S.:

      • Valid passport
      • Valid F-1 visa stamp
      • I-20 with OPT recommendation and recent travel signature (within past 6 months)
      • Unexpired EAD card
      • Proof of employment (offer letter or employment confirmation letter from employer)

Readmission to the U.S. is at the discretion of the officer at the point of entry

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Health Insurance Coverage

Health Insurance is now available to all students. You will find below the link with information along with the link to apply.

Here are the various costs for the levels of the plans, depending on student’s
ages: https://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/student-health-insurance/premiums.php

Students are welcome to purchase the plan individually at any time via the link below. Student’s will be required to pay in full for the full period of time they’re purchasing insurance.
https://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/schools/campbellsville-university.php

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Completion/Termination of OPT

Once an EAD card is expired, students have a 60-day grace period. Students are no longer authorized to work during the grace period. Before the grace period is over, students must do one of the followings:

      • Transfer to a new academic program (please see section 14 for Transfer-Out)
      • Depart the U.S. (before the 60-day grace period ends)
      • Change their status if other visa sponsorship is available (e.g. H1-B).

Note: Only those students who complete their OPT will receive the grace period. Students who have exceeded the 90-day unemployment are not eligible for a grace period.

Authorization to engage in OPT is automatically terminated when a student transfers to another school or begins studying at another educational level.

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student on computer

Exceptions to the Full-Course of Study Requirement or Reduced Course Load (RCL)

A student could be granted “reduced course load” (commonly abbreviated as “RCL”) and have SEVIS record updated, to allow student drop below full course of study after consultations with the Office of International Student Services. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the DSO will be considered out of status.

In extreme situations, if student’s circumstance requires “no course load” it may be granted after tender of relevant / required documentation.

Regulation Citation 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)

iii) Reduced course load. The designated school official may allow an F-1 student to engage in less than a full course of study as provided in this paragraph (f)(6)(iii). Except as otherwise noted, a reduced course load must consist of at least six semester or quarter hours, or half the clock hours required for a full course of study. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the DSO will be considered out of status. On-campus employment pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship is deemed to be part of the academic program of a student otherwise taking a full course of study.

(A) Academic difficulties. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load on account of a student’s initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, or improper course level placement. The student must resume a full course of study at the next available term, session, or semester, excluding a summer session, in order to maintain student status. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to academic difficulties is not eligible for a second authorization by the DSO due to academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at that program level. A student authorized to drop below a full course of study for academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at a particular program level may still be authorized for a reduced course load due to an illness medical condition as provided for in paragraph (B) of this section.

(B) Medical conditions. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) due to a student’s temporary illness or medical condition for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. In order to authorize a reduced course load based upon a medical condition, the student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist, to the DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The student must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must reauthorize the drop below full course of study each new term, session, or semester. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to illness or medical condition for an aggregate of 12 months may not be authorized by a DSO to reduce his or her course load on subsequent occasions while pursuing a course of study at the same program level. A student may be authorized to reduce course load for a reason of illness or medical condition on more than one occasion while pursuing a course of study, so long as the aggregate period of that authorization does not exceed 12 months.

(C) Completion of course of study. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load in the student’s final term, semester, or session if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study. If the student is not required to take any additional courses to satisfy the requirements for completion, but continues to be enrolled for administrative purposes, the student is considered to have completed the course of study and must take action to maintain status. Such action may include application for change of status or departure from the U.S.

Reasons for RCL

SEVIS limits the reasons for which an RCL can be granted to seven choices.

      1. Illness or Medical Condition
      2. Initial Difficulty with English Language
      3. Initial Difficulty with Reading Requirements
      4. Unfamiliarity with American Teaching Methods
      5. Improper Course Level Placement
      6. To Complete Course of Study in Current Term
      7. Part Time Border Commuter Student

“Except as otherwise noted, a reduced course load must consist of at least … half the clock hours required for a full course of study.”

Resumption of full course of study in next available term
Students who are granted an RCL authorization on one of the academic difficulty bases must resume a full course of study in the next available term, session, or semester, excluding a non-required summer session, in order to maintain status.

Academic difficulty RCL focuses on educational level
The academic difficulty exception to the full course of study requirement focuses on educational level rather than a particular course of study. Therefore, if an F-1 student has already been authorized to drop below a full course of study at one program level, he or she is not eligible for a second authorization due to academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at that same program level, even if the prior RCL was granted by another institution.

Illness or medical condition RCLs
An illness or other medical condition may justify an interruption or reduction in a full course of study.

8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(B)

(B) Medical conditions. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) due to a student’s temporary illness or medical condition for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. In order to authorize a reduced course load based upon a medical condition, the student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist, to the DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The student must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must reauthorize the drop below full time for each new term, session, or semester. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to illness or medical condition for an aggregate of 12 months may not be authorized by a DSO to reduce his or her course load on subsequent occasions while pursuing a course of study at the same program level. A student may be authorized to reduce course load for a reason of illness or medical condition on more than one occasion while pursuing a course of study, so long as the aggregate period of that authorization does not exceed 12 months.

The medical condition must be substantiated by “medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist.” RCLs for medical conditions can be granted for no more than 12 months in the aggregate during any one course of study. Like all reduced course load authorizations, RCL authorizations for medical reasons must be approved by the DSO prior to the reduction in course load. The rule also requires the DSO to reauthorize the RCL each new term or session.

Note: As the DSO, you do not have to concur with the medical reason. You must document the reason and then ensure that the student does not exceed the authorized amount of time at less than a full course load.

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Completing the course of study during the final term

“The DSO may authorize a reduced course load in the student’s final term, semester, or session if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study.” 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C)

(C) Completion of course of study. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load in the student’s final term, semester, or session if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study. If the student is not required to take any additional courses to satisfy the requirements for completion, but continues to be enrolled for administrative purposes, the student is considered to have completed the course of study and must take action to maintain status. Such action may include application for change of status or departure from the U.S.

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A Second Consecutive Final-Term RCL (but not a third)

According to SEVP’s Online DSO Training Text, if a student is registered for less than full time during the final semester does not finish as expected because the student fails one of the final semester courses, a second consecutive reduced course load is permitted, but that second RCL should be reflected in SEVIS, and a student is not eligible for a third final-term reduced course load.

“If a student fails a course during the last term consisting of a reduced course load, the student may again have a final session with less than a full course load. A second consecutive authorization for a reduced course load in a student’s final semester should be reported in SEVIS in order to ensure that the student is continuing to make progress toward program completion.

If a student does not finish the program of study after a second final term or session with a reduced course load, the student is not eligible for a third reduced course load.”

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