International Admissions and Advising Services assists students with a variety of
immigration related issues including: travel and visa renewals, employment eligibility
and other topics. The information provided on this website is meant to serve as a
general guideline. It is not considered legal advice.
Immigration regulations are constantly changing, so international students are encouraged
to carefully read messages sent by IAA Services and review this website for updates.
Students are ultimately responsible for understanding and abiding by the guidelines
imposed by current immigration status requirements. IAA Services strongly encourages
students to contact our office with any immigration related questions.
F-1 or J-1 status students are required to abide by various federal regulations to
maintain immigration status. A few of these requirements include: providing IAA with
a current address, enrolling in a full course of study, and keeping appropriate immigration
documents up to date.
Full Time Enrollment
Immigration regulations require F-1 students enroll in a full course of study while
completing degree programs in the US. GGU defines a full course of study depending
upon the academic level and degree program. The chart below summarizes enrollment
Full Time Enrollment Requirements
||12 units per academic term
||9 units per academic term or more
||8 units per academic term or more
Only one online course may used to meet the full time enrollment requirement. Students
may enroll in more than one online course after meeting the full time enrollment requirement.
Full time enrollment also requires students to be enrolled over the course of the
entire term. This means students must enroll in at least one 16-week course or a combination
of 8-week terms including both B term and C term.
Students may be authorized to enroll in less than a full course of study if they have
academic difficulties, a valid medical condition, or are eligible for a vacation term.
Students must receive permission from IAA Services PRIOR to enrolling in a reduced course load or dropping below a full course of study. Failure
to receive permission could jeopardize your immigration status.
Students are eligible for a vacation term after completing two consecutive terms as
a full time student at Golden Gate University. Students should inform IAA Services
of intent to take a vacation term by submitting a Reduced Course Load Form before
the beginning of the term.
F-1 and J-1 visa students are required to report a change of address within ten days
of moving to a new location. Address updates can be made by logging in to GGU4YOU.
Recently arrived students from outside the United States, must ensure the I-94 record
is marked "F-1" and "D/S" (duration of status). While in the US, international students
should always be aware of the following:
- Maintain a valid I-20 which reflects your current degree level and program of study.
You are responsible for making sure the dates on your I-20 are current and valid.
- If you are unable to finish all degree requirements before the completion date listed
on your I-20, you must apply for a Program Extension before your I-20 expires. An
extension cannot be granted after the program completion date has passed.
- Maintain a valid passport at all times. Contact your Embassy or Consulate to extend
On Campus Employment
F-1 visa status students are eligible to work part-time while school is in session
and full-time during approved vacation terms. Part-time work is considered less than
20 hours per week. Many international students who would like to work on campus at
GGU are able to secure positions. On campus job openings are posted on GGU Careers.
International students do not require authorization from USCIS to work on campus.
Once a job offer has been received, IAA Services will help students with the documents
to apply for a Social Security Number. You will not be permitted to begin work until
you have obtained a Social Security Number.
Beginning September 1, 2004, a new United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
rule went into effect. This rule requires F-1 student visa applicants to pay a one-time
fee of $200 to supplement the administration and maintenance costs of the Student
and Exchange Information System (SEVIS).
Basic Travel Guidelines
In general, when traveling outside the US, F-1 students will need the following documents:
- A valid I-20 with the third page endorsed for travel by an IAA advisor The signature
is valid for four months
- A passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of re-entry to the US
- A valid F-1 visa. The visa only needs to be valid through the date of re-entry to
- Verification of financial support
If you are traveling to a country other than your own, be sure to check with the consulate
or embassy of that country. You may need to apply for a tourist visa.
Anytime you travel, please complete the I-20 Request Form and leave your I-20 at IAA
at least one week before you will be leaving San Francisco. If you have dependents
in the US, they will also need to obtain a travel signature on their dependent I-20
if they plan to travel.
If you are on OPT and residing outside of the Bay Area, you will need to mail your
most current I-20 along with an I-20 Request Form to IAA Services to get the proper
signature for travel. Please plan ahead.
The US Department of State and the Citizenship and Immigration Service have increased
the level of review international visitors face at US Consulates and Embassies abroad,
US airports, and border crossing posts with Canada and Mexico.
Travel While on OPT
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), an Office of the US Department of
Homeland Security, revisited its policy concerning reentry for students on OPT. Based
on this new interpretation we advise students to travel outside the US only if they
can establish they are currently employed in the US or have a valid offer of employment.
Students on OPT should plan to present the following documents at the US Port of Entry:
- A valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
- An official letter of employment or offer letter
- A current I-20 with a travel signature on the third page, dated within the last three
- A valid F-1 visa
- A passport valid for at least six months
- Verification of financial support
If you choose to travel, please follow these recommendations:
- Carry proof of current enrollment at GGU and an official or unofficial copy of academic
transcripts. It will now be important to also carry a letter from an IAA advisor if
you have ever taken less than a full course of study.
- Be honest, patient and courteous with all government officials, even if they are not
the same way in return.
- Consult the US Department of State website for alerts and information on visa issuance at particular US Embassies and Consulates
Be prepared when you travel for the following possibilities:
- Delays in appointment scheduling and visa processing at US Consulates.
- Change of visa processing at some US Consulates to include mail-in or "drop box" service
for visa applications.
- Delays in flights within the US and returning to the US from abroad due to heightened
security measures at airports and delays along the Canadian border.
- Inquiries and increased review of documents at all ports of entry for non-US citizens.
- Multiple inspections of the same person by Immigration Service and/or Customs Officials.
- Possible photocopying of documents by USCIS officials and possible videotaping of
USCIS, Customs or FBI interviews.
- Inspection of personal belongings, luggage, pockets or other searches.
- For students in certain technologically sensitive fields, the Department of State
is required to conduct a security clearance prior to issuing an initial US entry visa
or extension of visa through a US Consulate abroad. The fields are listed on the Technology
Alert List. Clearance may take one month to several months.
Given the current rapidness of changes to immigration regulations and practices, this
information is subject to change.