Definition of Certificate Program
Certificate programs are typically short-term education programs designed by Georgia State departments that lead to the awarding of a specialized credential in a particular field of study.
Federal Regulations and Certificate Programs
Per federal regulations [CFR 214.2 (f)(6)], all F-1 students must enroll and complete a "full course of study" during each fall and spring semester in a program that leads to the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective. Most Georgia State certificate (CERG) programs cannot be pursued alone at a full-time (F/T) rate (12 credit hours for undergraduate/9 credit hours for graduate students) due to class registration availability. As a result, ISSS recommends all F-1 students wishing to pursue a certificate program in addition to their normal degree requirements do so concurrently with their primary program of study listed on Form I-20. If a student is pursuing a certificate concurrently with their degree listed on their Form I-20, no further immigration requirements are necessary to pursue this certificate. Students who have completed their primary program of study and seek to obtain a specialized post-completion certificate must be issued a new Form I-20 by International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) for this certificate. To obtain a Form I-20 following completion of degree studies for a certificate program, the student must meet the specific requirements listed below. ISSS will review and approve each request on a case by case basis.
Issuance of Form I-20 for Certificate Program
ISSS may issue Forms I-20 to eligible students for a certificate program at Georgia State. However, students issued a new Form I-20 for a certificate program are not eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) based on the certificate program, nor for any other previous degree, they completed prior to being issued a Form I-20 for a certificate program. If a student passes up OPT based on their prior completed degree program in order to immediately start a certificate program, they may not apply for OPT based on the earlier degree once the certificate is complete.
Eligibility for I-20 Issuance
Prospective students for a post-completion certificate must provide the documentation required of all international students for I-20 issuance (proof of financial support, copies of immigration documents, etc.).
Duration of Certificate Study
Study for the obtainment of a certificate may not exceed twelve (12) months or one academic year. After completing all the requirements for obtaining the certificate, students have a 60-day "Grace Period" to leave the United States, apply for a change of status or transfer to another school. A student does not receive a grace period if s/he fails to complete the certificate listed on Form I-20.
Full-time Enrollment Requirement
Students who wish to obtain a certificate after completion of their degree must maintain full-time enrollment each semester in order to maintain F-1 visa status. Full-time study is defined as at least twelve (undergraduate) or nine (graduate) credit hours.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Post-Completion Certificate
Students studying on a post-completion certificate can only do CPT if the certificate program requires an internship as part of the curriculum. Students must provide documentation with the CPT request showing an internship is required.