Pace International student in front of a row of world flags

Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities

F-1 visa holders are non-immigrants who have been LEGALLY admitted to the U.S., and therefore have the most common constitutional rights.

Presumption of Innocence

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects legal non-immigrants students on F-1 visa from false accusation or non-based threats for deportation. You are presumed to be innocent until found guilty by a court. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. Only if you are found guilty by a court of law, as a non-immigrant, will you possibly face deportation. No one can threaten you with deportation until a judge rules and issues a deportation order.

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse

Apart from the basic civil rights (such as access to public places, consumer services etc.) and anti-discrimination rights, non-immigrants have legal responsibilities and need to obey U.S. laws.

Ignorance of law is not an excuse for breaking the law. American laws are very strict and there can be serious legal consequences for not following these laws.

A non-immigrant arrested for committing crimes and proven guilty for breaking laws can be subject to deportation, but only after a court finds you guilty and an immigration judge rules.

If you are arrested in the U.S. you have the right to call your consulate or to have the police inform your consulate of your arrest. Your consul might assist you in finding a lawyer or offer other help, such as contacting your family. You also have the right to refuse help from your consulate.

Information adapted from Association Civil Lawyers Union (ACLU)

For more information on your legal rights under the U.S. Constitutions, please refer to Know Your Rights (PDF).