Current International Students
Now that you are an enrolled student at Rocky Mountain College, you will have responsibilities not only as an RMC student, but as an international student. The following information will help you understand your roles and responsibilities as an undergraduate international student at RMC.
PDSO (Principal Designated School Official) – A PDSO is someone who works for the college, but is also authorized by the U.S. government to act for the government. A PDSO may make changes in the government system regarding a school's certification to educate foreign students.
DSO (Designated School Official) – A DSO is someone who works for the college, but is also authorized by the U.S. government to act for the government. A DSO may only make changes to student information in the government database.
I-20 – A document issued to you after your acceptance to RMC. The I-20 allows you to apply for admission to the U.S.A.
F-1 – Student status in regard to the visa type that is issued.
J-1 – Exchange visitor visa type issued to those interested in study for a short term, usually less than one year.
Full-time enrollment – As international students, you are required by law to take a "full course load:" 12 credit hours per semester, not including online courses. If you fall below 12 credit hours by dropping courses or by being dropped by the professor for poor attendance, you become "out of status" or illegal. When you violate status, it is a very serious matter, and it may result in your having to leave the country.
SEVIS (The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) – SEVIS is an electronic tracking system used by the U.S. government to monitor international students and scholars as they enter or leave the country or as significant events occur.
For purposes of immigration law, your passport must be valid for six months beyond the period of your approved stay in the U.S. Check your passport expiration date, and get an extension if you need one.
The F-1 visa stamp in your passport and your I-20 give you permission to apply for entry into the U.S. The visa itself has nothing to do with how long you can stay in the U.S. Do not confuse the validity of your visa stamp as being an indication of your approved period of stay here. The visa must be valid at the time of any entry to the U.S. – it does not have to be valid for you to remain in the U.S.
You should keep the stamped I-20 that will be returned to you at the port of entry to the U.S. This is a permanent record of your F-1 non-immigrant status, and you will need it for any necessary endorsements and certifications by a designated school official (DSO). Information such as transfers and employment recommendations are also recorded on the I-20. This is also used for re-entry to the U.S. after a brief visit outside the country. Your I-20 only needs to be endorsed once a year.
Maintaining status refers to your visa status. As a student with an F-1 visa, there are regulations that you must follow to continue to study in the U.S. In order to maintain student status you must:
- Remain enrolled full-time (12 credit hours or more) at the institution you are authorized to attend;
- Maintain a 2.00 GPA or better;
- Hold a valid, current I-20;
- Maintain a passport that is valid for at least six months into the future;
- Have appropriate authorization for any work and not be employed for more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session; and
- Inform the Office of International Programs of any change of address. The DSO will update your SEVIS record.
Students are required to show proof of adequate insurance or will be required to purchase insurance. If students do not have proof of adequate medical insurance by September 15, they will be billed for insurance purchased for them by Rocky Mountain College.
Medical insurance is a necessity in the U.S. The State of Montana and Rocky Mountain College require all international students to buy health insurance. This requirement is waived only if you are covered by another insurance plan that offers the same or better coverage. The Office of International Programs can help you purchase a plan if you don't have one.
Work Opportunities Available to F-1 Students
The following opportunities are available to those students who maintain status. To discuss these opportunities in full detail, please visit the Office of International Programs. If a student is in violation of status by working without permission, dropping below 12 credits without permission, or dropping below the 2.00 GPA, he/she is no longer eligible for these benefits until reinstated to F-1 status.
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as an "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." This means that you qualify for CPT as long as it is "an integral part of an established curriculum." CPT can be either part-time or full-time employment.
Eligibility: You must have completed nine months in F-1 status.
Optional Practical Training
You may be authorized for temporary employment through Optional Practical Training (OPT) while you are still pursuing your course of study and/or after you have finished your degree. OPT must be directly related to your major area of study. The total amount of time you may spend engaging in OPT is 12 months. You may be authorized for OPT:
- During your annual vacation and other times when school is not in session if you are currently enrolled and eligible and intend to register for the next semester;
- While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week;
- After completion of course requirements (can be full-time); or
- After graduation (can be full-time).
Eligibility: You must have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year.
Do not work-off campus without approval from the Office of International Programs.