Border Commuters

Border Commuters & F-3 Visa

The Border Commuter I-20 and F-3 visa is an option for students who are citizens of Mexico and who attend a U.S. institution within 75 miles of the U.S. / Mexico border. Border Commuters may attend full-time or part-time.

Full-time Border Commuters

A student who lives in Cuidad Juarez and attends UTEP on on full-time basis is issued an I-20 for the entire length of their program. This is at least two years if starting a master degree and longer for undergraduates and doctoral students. Full-time border commuter students must be enrolled full-time every semester to maintain their F-3 visa status.

A student may change from a full-time I-20 to a part-time I-20 at any time during a semester, provided classes are still in session. Visit the forms tab at the top of this page for the Border Commuter I-20 Request.

Part-Time Border Commuters

A student who wishes to attend UTEP part-time will be issued an I-20 for one semester of enrollment. The student must request a renewal of the I-20 every semester before the expiration date on the I-20. Requesting the renewal before the end date will maintain continuous visa status which becomes extremely important when applying for employment authorization. If the request is made after the end date, then the student has lost their continuous status and now needs to resume their visa status. Any time that a student resumes their status, a new SEVIS fee must be paid.

It is important to note that the student MUST be enrolled in at least one academic course to maintain  part-time border commuter visa status. This rule applies to undergraduate, non-degree, and graduate programs.

Maintaining Visa Status
Border Commuters are subject to the following rules:

  • Students MAY NOT live in the U.S.
  • Students MAY NOT own a car with American plates.
  • Students MAY NOT have an F-2 dependent
  • Students MAY work on or off campus through Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Students MUST renew the I-20 every semester before the expiration date located on page 1 the I-20. This gives students continuous status which is important for maintaining eligibility for work authorization . If students do not renew the I-20 on time, they have to wait until they have two terms of continuous status.

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