Immigration Guidance for VCU REAL
VCU REAL is VCU’s experiential learning graduation requirement—experiential learning means learning that occurs outside of a classroom setting.
Starting in Fall 2021, all incoming VCU undergraduate students are required to complete the REAL graduation requirement through curricular or co curricular means. Student’s academic advisors can provide information about how students can fulfill their REAL graduation requirement in their particular major.
More information about VCU REAL is online at https://real.vcu.edu/
Yes. In fact, if you are an undergraduate student who started at VCU in Fall 2021 or thereafter, you are required to complete at least one approved VCU REAL experiential learning activity before you graduate.
But if you are in the U.S. on a visa, your visa may place restrictions on the type of VCU REAL activity you can engage in.
Yes, there are a number of VCU REAL approved co-curricular programs offered by the Global Education Office, including our leadership certificate program, cultural conversations program, and study abroad programs. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about fulfilling your VCU REAL graduation requirement through any of these programs.
It depends on whether you will be unpaid or paid for the VCU REAL activity.
Unpaid VCU REAL Activity
- Unpaid means you will not receive any payment for the activity—in any amount or any form.
- If you will NOT be paid for the VCU REAL activity, you do not need to use a form of employment authorization to engage in it.
Paid VCU REAL Activity
- Paid means you will receive payment for the activity—in any amount or form.
- If you WILL BE paid for the VCU REAL activity, you need to use a form of employment authorization to engage in it.
- If you do not use a form of employment authorization for the paid VCU REAL activity, you could lose your immigration status.
The types of VCU REAL activities and descriptions of the activities are listed at real.vcu.edu/for-facultystaff/types-of-real-activities/. Students should also consult with their academic advisor about the fulfillment of this graduation requirement.
- Capstone Course Project
- Career Exploration and Development
- Civic Learning and Engagement
- Co-operative Education
- Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Note: You must consult with GEO before engaging in this activity (Entrepreneurship and Innovation).
- Field Experience
- Global Learning
- Independent Study
- Integrative Learning
- Interprofessional Collaboration
- Leadership Education
- Living Learning Communities
- Project-Based Learning
- Practicum/Clinical Placement
- Service Learning
Your VCU REAL employment authorization options vary by your visa type.
- On Campus Employment Authorization
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Severe Economic Hardship
- Special Student Relief
- F-2 visa holders cannot be employed in the U.S.
J-1 Student Visa
- F-1 student visa holders can be employed in the U.S. if they obtain Academic Training authorization from their J-1 sponsors. For more information about this, please contact Immigration Services by email.
- J-2 visa holders may be employed in the U.S. if they obtain an Employment Authorization Card (EAD) from USCIS.
- H-4 children of H-1B visa holders cannot be employed in the U.S.
- Some H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders may be employed in the U.S. if they first obtain an Employment Authorization Card (EAD) from USCIS.
- O-3 visa holders cannot be employed in the U.S.
- TD visa holders cannot be employed in the U.S.
- If your visa type is not addressed above and you have questions about whether your visa authorizes employment, please contact Immigration Services by email.