Skip to content

FAQ: General Questions

What is SEVIS and how does it affect F-1 international students at TWU?
The Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) was created by the Department of Homeland Security after September 11, 2001, to track non-immigrant students on study visas (F-1, M-1, J-1). Access to the database is limited to Designated School Officials (DSOs). This system tracks the same information the university has on a student, along with details related to sources of finances, passport/visa, entry in & out of the country, children/spouse, off-campus employment (including OPT up to 3 years), program dates/extensions, transfers between schools, and more. Each international student on an F-1 Visa must be “registered” in SEVIS each semester, and a DSO must verify the student is in good status and enrolled in the appropriate number of credit hours.
What is an I-20 and why is it important?
An I-20 is defined as: U.S. Customs and Immigration Form Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status. It is a document required to request an F-1 student visa. Your I-20 is issued by a university Designated School Official (DSO), who must first confirm that the student is eligible to receive it, and it can be updated multiple times during your time in your academic program. Because the TWU International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office cannot store all students' I-20s indefinitely, it is strongly recommended that F-1 international students keep a copy of each I-20 they are issued throughout the duration of their study in the United States.
Once I arrive in the U.S. can I still study if my visa expires?
Visas are used to enter the country and can expire while the student remains in the country. If a student leaves the country with an expired visa, they must apply for a new visa while outside of the U.S. for re-entry. Visas are not renewable in the U.S. 
What about my passport and I-20; can they expire while I am studying in the U.S.?
International students on an F-1 Visa must ensure that they maintain the validity of both their passport and their I-20 while studying in the United States. Passports must be valid at all times and can be renewed at a U.S. consulate. I-20s have a program start and end date. If students will not complete their degree by the program end date, due to extenuating circumstances, they must request a program extension through the International Portal Student Requests page. 
Once in the U.S. how do I get a state driver’s license?
1)    Request an I-20 Reprint through the International Portal
2)    Check with the Department of Public Safety for information about driving tests, etc.
3)    If you purchase a vehicle, be aware that you will need to obtain vehicle insurance (many providers to choose from) and register that vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles.  
Am I able to work while I am studying in the U.S. on an F-1 Visa?
In certain circumstances, and with ISSS authorization, yes. You do not need authorization or permission to work in an on-campus position at TWU. You do need prior permission to work off-campus. If you are pursuing a degree, the work authorization will be for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). After you complete your degree, you will have the opportunity to request Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization.
I have other questions, how do I find information or contact a DSO in the ISSS office?  
You can find information about the ISSS department and F-1 regulations on the ISSS website, or in the FAQ sections in the International Portal site home. Contact information for the ISSS DSOs can be found here. You may make an in-person or virtual appointment by contacting the DSO you would like to meet with.  
Where is your office located?
International Affairs is located in Old Main, Room 112.