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Maintaining Lawful F-1/J-1 Status

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Three Most Important Requirements to Maintain Status

The following are the most important requirements every F-1 and J-1 student must follow in order to maintain legal status while in the U.S. Failure to comply with these requirements may have severe consequences for your ability to study, seek employment, or remain in the U.S. legally.

1. Full-time enrollment*

  • Undergraduate Students: full-time enrollment is a minimum of 12 credits during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Graduate Students: full time is a minimum of 9 credits during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Students are not required to enroll during the summer.

Any change of enrollment status should be reported within 10 days to the ISS.

On-line classes: Immigration regulations stipulate that only one online class may count towards full time course load in any fall or spring semester. Failure to comply with this regulation may have extremely severe consequences including losing your legal F-1/J-1 status.

*If you need to register on a part-time basis and have a valid reason, obtain ISS approval for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) BEFORE your registration is finalized.

2. Valid Immigration Documents

Keep the following immigration documents valid (unexpired) at all times:

  • Passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future
  • I-94 arrival/departure record should be annotated with D/S (Duration of Status).
  • Unexpired I-20 or DS-2019
  • Valid F-1/J-1 visa stamp if you plan to travel outside of the U.S. Your visa may be expired while remaining in the U.S., but has no effect on your legal stay, as long as you maintain status.

3. Employment Authorization

Do not begin off-campus employment/internship without obtaining authorization in writing. Prior to the start date of off-campus employment, your SEVIS record must be annotated for such and a new I-20/ DS-2019 will be processed for employment.

If you are planning to work, get more information on employment eligibility and application procedures.

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SEVIS Reportable Events

Students are responsible for reporting any change of information to ISS within 10 days:

Submit the Report Change to SEVIS Record request in ISS Connect for the following changes:

  • change of major
  • declaration of/change of minor
  • change of home campus
  • legal name change (new passport reflecting the name is required)

Submit the Change of Address and/or Phone Number request in ISS Connect if your mailing, residential, and/or phone number changes.

Contact the ISS staff immediately if you are experiencing any of the following SEVIS reportable events:

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