• ITS Policy on F-1 Students
  • Student Visa Information

    ITS Policy on F-1 Students: Full Course of Study (Effective Date: Fall 2013)
    Click here for Chinese 學生:全修生修業政策 
    A. Maintaining “Full Course of Study” 
    1. The seminary recommends the following study load in order for a student to complete his/her program within a normal length of study period:
                M. A.    16 units per quarter to complete the program in two (2) years (96 units)
                M. Div. 16 units per quarter to complete the program in three (3) years (144 units)
                Th. M.  12 units per quarter to complete the course work and thesis in two (2)years (33 + 6 nits_
                D. Min. 15 units per quarter to complete the course work and dissertation in Two (2) years (45 + 9 units)
    2. Student with F-1 visa is allowed to carry less than the minimum units in the last quarter of the last year of study ONLY. The minimum fulltime study load for the four degree programs ofITS is as follow:
    M. A.                12 units per quarter
    M. Div.             12 units per quarter
    Th. M.              9-12 units per quarter
    D. Min.             10 units per quarter
    3. Student applying for extension beyond the published timetable due to consistent minimum load per quarter is subject to “Extension Fee and fee for re-issuing the 1-20.”  He/she may not be qualified for scholarship or grant. See office for details.
    B. Duration of Stay Policy for F-1 Students
    1. Who are affected?

    1. Th. M and D. Min students  (F-1 visa) who are writing or intending to write their thesis/dissertation starting this Fall Quarter 2013.
    2. M.A. and M.Div. students (F-1 visa) who extend their study beyond ITS published timetable ( 2 yrs for M.A and 3 yrs for M.Div)

    2. What is the Policy?

    1. Thesis or Dissertation should be completed within three (3) quarters.

    First Quarter …………. Register Thesis or Dissertation
    (Proposal should be approved by the committee.)
    Second Quarter ……… Register for Continuation
    Third Quarter …………  Register for Continuation
    (Schedule a defense and prepare for graduation.)

    1. Fourth Quarter Extension for Thesis/Dissertation:

    Student applying for this extension is subject to “Extension Fee.”(See Tuition Fee Table)

    1. 1-20 Extension is only for six (6) months. Every application has a fee. (See office for scheduled payment.  It may increase without notice.)
    2. Student may be advised to finish writing his/her thesis/dissertation in his/her home country.  He/she may return for graduation.
    3. Student may return to his/her home country for research and be away from school for NO  MORE THAN 120 days.

    3. Duration of Stay and Grant/Scholarship:

    M.A. and M.Div. students who extended their stay beyond ITS published timetable will not be qualified for any grant/scholarship. (For F-1 visa only).

    The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System – SEVIS


    This page was prepared to help you understand the kinds of information that International Theological Seminary, and all colleges and universities in the U.S., must maintain on international students and how this information is shared with the government in a manner prescribed by law. We hope you find this explanation helpful.

    What is SEVIS?

    SEVIS is an internet-based system that allows schools and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS, formerly known as INS) to exchange data on the visa status of international students. Accurate and current information is transmitted electronically throughout an F-1 student’s academic career in the United States. U.S. embassies and consulates also have access to SEVIS.

    Is SEVIS new?SEVIS [1]

    Yes. And no. The requirement that schools provide the federal government with information about each student’s status is not new. Most of the information that will be reported to SEVIS has been required by CIS for many years. But the existing paper-based system precluded widespread coordination amongst schools and governmental agencies. In 1996, Congress passed legislation directing CIS to move to an electronic data collection system. This program would come to be known as SEVIS—the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. Technical challenges and lack of funding delayed the program for several years. However, in October 2001, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act that authorized additional SEVIS funding and required nationwide compliance by January 30, 2003.

    How does SEVIS work?

    After International Theological Seminary admits an international student, SEVIS is notified and CIS approves the school’s request to issue an I-20. The school transmits the new bar-coded I-20 form to the student.

    • The student visits the U.S. consulate abroad, and the consulate confirms through SEVIS that the I-20 the student is carrying is a valid document. If everything is in order, the consulate issues the visa.
    • A CIS officer at the airport reports to SEVIS the student’s entry into the U.S.
    • When the student arrives on campus, he/she reports to the Admissions Office (AO), who then confirms through SEVIS the student’s enrollment. The school continues to provide regular electronic reports to CIS throughout the student’s academic career.
    • Finally, SEVIS records the student’s departure from the United States.

    What data does SEVIS collect?

    ITS must report:

    • Whether the student has enrolled at the school, or failed to enroll.
    • A change of the student or dependent’s legal name or address.
    • Any student who graduates prior to the end date listed on the I-20.
    • Academic or disciplinary actions taken due to criminal conviction.
    • Whether the student drops below a full course of study without prior authorization from the DSO (Immigration regulations refer to international student advisers and admissions evaluators as “designated school officials”—DSO’s).
    • Termination date and reason for termination.
    • Other data generated by standard procedures such as program extensions, school transfers, changes in level of study, employment authorizations, and reinstatement.
    • Any student who fails to maintain status or complete his or her program.

    What does “fail to maintain status” mean?

    Some examples of failure to maintain status include dropping from full-time to part-time enrollment without prior approval, attending a school other than the one a student is authorized to attend, failure to apply for a timely transfer or I-20 extension or change in level of study, unauthorized employment, and failure to report a change of address.

    What are the consequences if a student fails to maintain status?

    The student’s record will be updated with SEVIS every quarter. Students who fail to maintain status lose the privileges of their student visa and become subject to deportation. Specific consequences may include denial of re-entry to the U.S., denial of requests for Practical Training, denial of requests to change visa status, and possible denial of all future visa applications.

    Can a student who is “out of status” regain legal status?

    If a student drops below a full course of study without prior approval from the DSO, that “event” would be reported to CIS, via SEVIS, and he or she would be out of status. The student may apply to CIS for reinstatement if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond his or her control. Reinstatement is intended to be a rare benefit for exceptional cases. The student may not apply for reinstatement under any circumstances if he or she is out of status longer than five months. If CIS does not reinstate the student, he or she may not appeal that decision.

    How will ITS help students comply with the immigration laws?

    The school is committed to assist students in ways that prevent status violations from ever occurring. Accordingly, effective Winter Quarter 2003, three Registration changes will take effect.

    1. F-1 students new to ITS must physically check in with the Admissions Office (AO) prior to registering for classes. The AO will review the student’s visa documents, confirm to SEVIS that the student has arrived on campus, and then release the restriction on the student’s registration.
    2. All F-1 students who register for less than a full course of study (other than Summer Quarter) without a waiver of the full-time requirement will be warned within the first two weeks of classes that they are in danger of falling out of status with CIS.
    3. International students will not be able to drop below a full course of study after the 7th calendar day of the quarter without prior authorization from the Admissions Office.

    “Full-time” means 12 credits per quarter. Acceptable reasons for reduced credit load include:

    • Students who experience academic difficulties (for example, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods) may take a reduced credit load.
    • Students in their final term of study with authorization from the Admissions Office need only the credits required to complete the degree.
    • Students who have a medical problem can reduce their credit load or take the quarter off.

    Remember, only the Admissions Office has authority to authorize a reduced credit load!

    What happens if ITS fails to comply with the SEVIS regulations?

    CIS is required to audit the school’s compliance with these new requirements every two years. Failure to comply with the federal regulations could result in the loss of the school’s ability to accept international students.

    What should students do to prepare for SEVIS?

    • Understand the immigration regulations and learn how to maintain lawful status in the U.S., and refer any questions or problems immediately to the Admissions Office.
    • Students should plan their course schedules carefully so that they maintain full-time enrollment. Make travel arrangements early, and anticipate delays at consulates and border crossings. Keep all documents up-to-date—changes in degree level, extensions, and travel validations must be done in a timely manner and on SEVIS documents. Allow time for processing new forms.
    • Visit the Admissions Office for assistance.

    Are there other resources about SEVIS?

    To access further information about SEVIS, immigration regulations, forms and instructions, please view the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website: http://uscis.gov