United States immigration law places responsibility upon the individual student to know and follow all relevant immigration regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations may have very severe consequences for your ability to study, seek employment, or even remain in the United States. In addition to the information below, be sure to review the Department of Homeland Security fact sheet on maintaining visa status .
Maintaining F-1 Visa Status
Make sure that your immigration documents are valid and/or unexpired.
- An unexpired foreign passport valid at least six months into the future.
- A stamp in the passport marked “F-1 D/S” (usually appears on the page opposite visa stamp).
- An unexpired I-20.
Register for and complete a full course load (12 credits for undergraduate students; 9 credits for graduate students).
- The minimum number of full time course credits per semester is 12 for undergraduates and 9 for graduate students. You are expected to maintain full-time registration and make normal progress toward your degree.
- Obtain PRIOR authorization from you Designated School Official (the International Student Advisor) BEFORE dropping below full course of study, withdrawing from classes, or taking a leave of absence. There are very limited exceptions to the full-time requirement – so you must consult the DSO in advance of any drop below full-time, or you will be in violation of your status.
- Please review the Reentry Information Section on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website if you are traveling outside the country.
- Check the travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019. The signature is valid for 12 months unless you are on OPT or Academic Training and then it must be signed every 6 months. Please schedule an appointment with the ISSS office if you need a signature. We must confirm that you have been registered full-time each semester before we can sign the I-20.
Change of Address
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requires that you inform the DSO within 10 days of any address change. A Form AR-11 can be submitted via the USCIS website to make an address change.
If you are planning to transfer to another institution, you must notify the DSO before the end of the semester. The transfer of the SEVIS record must be completed within a 60 day period after completion of studies or a student’s last enrollment date. Your new school cannot issue you a Form I-20 until we have released your immigration record to them.
Optional Practical Training
Students who are completing a degree program and are planning to do Optional Practical Training (OPT) must make an appointment with an international student advisor to discuss the application process (instructions and requred forms are available on the ISSS website). Applications can be sent to USCIS up to 90 days prior to your program completion date.
Students who have graduated and are not doing OPT must leave the U.S. within 60 days of the completion of the program, or transfer to a higher level of degree program.
Maintaining J-1 Visa Status
Detailed information coming soon.