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Staying Legal

We are here to assist you in maintaining your legal status while you are in the USA. However, the responsibility for maintaining your immigration status lies with you.

Staying in constant communication with the office and familiarizing yourself with the policies and procedures booklet will allow you to avoid common immigration issues that may jeopardize your status.

It is our number one priority to always keep you informed about imminent and current changes to immigration laws so you are well equipped to remain legal while studying in the United States.



Keep Your Passport Valid

It is your responsibility to keep your passport valid at all times. Renewal applications must be made with the Embassy or Consulate of the country issuing the passport. Address of embassies and consulates are available from the U.S. Department of State website at if the need arises for you to send your passport to your embassy, make sure that your I-94 card is not included in the package.

Visa Expiration/Renewal

This procedure is only necessary when you intend to travel outside the United States. and your visa is expired. To get a new visa stamp you will need a valid passport, a properly executed I-20, proof of financial support, and/or letter of certification. You must visit the American Consulate/Embassy Office located in the country you are visiting in order the get the visa stamp issued. A student visa cannot be obtained in the United States

Report Departure Date and Reason to International Student Adviser

For a variety of reasons, students may need to leave the university early or unexpectedly. Some of these reasons include graduation, leave of absence, suspension, expulsion, or family emergencies. You are required to inform the International Student Adviser if you plan to leave the university and the reason for doing so.

Receiving Authorization to Travel

You must notify the Southern Adventist University International Student Adviser prior to traveling outside the United States so that your I-20 Form can be endorsed to travel or a new form can be issued if required. Your I-20 Form must be signed (on the last page) within the last 12 months or your re entry might be jeopardized. When you return to campus, it is essential that you report to International Student Services with your travel documents so we can make copies of your arrival documents to keep your files updated.

Traveling Outside the United States

F-1 visa holders need the following documents to re-enter the United States after a temporary absence (less than five months):
1. Form I-20 endorsed by the Southern Adventist University International Student Adviser (on the last page) for travel within one year of the date of travel return
2. A valid passport and U.S. F-1 Visa (unless visa exempt)
3. Verification of adequate financial support
4. Verification of enrollment

NOTE: A new I-20 is required only if there has been a change in your field of study, degree level, the source or amount of funding, or if all of the travel endorsement lines on your I-20 are completed. Request for a new I-20 or for a signature must be made at least five days before your planned departure.

Changing Academic Program or Degree Level

You must obtain a new I-20 Form if you change your academic program from one degree level to another (e.g., from bachelor’s to master's level) or from one major/field of study to another.

In order to request the change, you need a letter of acceptance into the new program stating the projected graduation date. You also need an official degree audit from Records Office before you petition for a new I-20.

Obtain Prior Authorization Before Dropping Below a Full Course of Study

You are required to pursue a full course of study during normal enrollment periods (Fall and Winter semesters). The Reduced Course Load Certification must be completed prior to dropping below full-time status. Full-time undergraduate students have a course load of 12 credit hours, and graduate students have full course load of 9 credit hours. You are allowed to deviate from the full course of study only with PRIOR authorization from the International Student Adviser, and only under very limited circumstances including:
• Illness (providing supportive medical documentation), given for one semester.
• English proficiency deficits (1st semester only) for students whose English is not the primary language.
• Being in your last quarter of study to complete your course load.

Apply for an Extension of Program

You must apply for an extension of your program prior to the expiration date of your Form I-20 if you cannot complete your program by that date. Requests for extensions should be submitted to the Southern Adventist University International Student Adviser prior to the expiration date on the Form I-20. Please allow two (2) days to process your new I-20. An official degree audit must be obtained from Sharon Rogers, assistant director of Records Office, proving your need to extend your academic program. Mrs. Rogers can be contacted at extension 2896 or by email at


Transfer to Attend Another School

You are currently accepted to attend Southern Adventist University. If you decided to attend another school in the U.S., you must notify the Southern Adventist University International Student Adviser of your intent to transfer and the name of the school to which you intend to transfer.

Before the transfer is completed, you will need to present proof of financial clearance from Southern Adventist University (provided by your financial counselor). You also need to provide the transfer form from the other institution.

No transfer is granted during the first year of attendance at Southern Adventist University.

Report Address Changes to ISC

You are required to report any address change to the International Student Services department within 10 days of the address change. A change of room in the student dorm does not need to be reported; however, if you move off campus from an on-campus address or vice versa, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires notification from you on that change of address within 10 days of doing so.

This includes address changes of any of your dependents, as well.

Summer Vacation

• Students are not required to be in classes during summer vacation. However, if you choose to attend summer classes at another institution, a permission letter from the International Student Adviser should be obtained. You also need to verify that the credits/classes that you wish to take over the summer will be accepted at Southern Adventist University (please, provide the international adviser with a letter from the Records Office acknowledging it).
• While in summer school, you are not permitted to work full time.
• International students are not allowed to work off campus. This includes summer camps, canvassing, Bible worker, etc. You are required to work on campus if you choose to have a job during summer vacations while in the United States (see Working as an International Student).

Abide by Employment Regulations

It is a privilege for each international student to work part time on campus (and off campus under authorized circumstances), and we are dedicated to making sure you have an opportunity to work part time on campus if you so desire. Students may work no more than 20 hours per week on campus while school is in session.

During scheduled breaks (i.e. summer), you can work full time (40 hours/week) on campus. Please be aware that you are not allowed to work off campus (summer camps, canvassing, ABC Store, Collegedale Credit Union, A.W. Spalding Elementary School, Collegedale Academy, or any other SDA facility).