As an international student you are required to abide by the laws of the United States, and you may find that some of those laws may be inconsistent or contrary to the laws in your own country. For example, the legal age to drink alcohol in all states in the U.S. is 21, while there may be no minimum age to drink in your country. It is your responsibility to abide by the laws of the U.S. and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as local laws.
In order to avoid adverse consequences, you should:
- Not drink if you are under 21
- Not buy alcohol for anyone under 21
- Not do illegal drugs
- Not sell illegal drugs
- Not make false statements on forms or other paperwork
- Not stalk or harass others. You should understand that acceptable behavior -- particularly in male/female relationships -- differs from culture to culture.
- Not threaten others (these can be seen as terrorist threats)
- Not harm others
These are just some of the activities that are illegal. You should be aware that some things that might be considered "minor" crimes for a U.S. citizen can have severe consequences for non-immigrants. Even if you are not convicted, an arrest may affect your ability to obtain a visa to the U.S., to gain entry into the U.S., or to receive immigration benefits. At the very least, you will be delayed in getting a visa and/or entering the U.S.
If you are arrested, you should seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney as well as an immigration attorney. Sometimes a defense attorney will resolve a criminal case in a way that would be the right course of action for a U.S. citizen but is not the best solution for an international student who must also be concerned with immigration laws. In these cases, an immigration lawyer can advise your criminal defense attorney. Remember that you have a right to see a lawyer and other important rights (including the right to remain silent and not answer questions) if you are arrested; read the ACLU brochure Know Your Rights. DISSA can provide you or your attorney with a list of immigration attorneys.
In addition, activities that violate Penn State's code of conduct standards may affect your immigration status in the U.S. If the punishment for a violation of Penn State's rules results in your inability to enroll, DISSA will be required to terminate your SEVIS record. If your SEVIS status terminated, you have no grace period and are required to leave the U.S. immediately.