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Maintaining Lawful F-1/J-1 Status

F-1/J-1 Status Overview

Pace University is required by U.S. law to maintain accurate and up-to-date records regarding the enrollment status, address, employment authorizations and other information for each international student in F-1 and J-1 status. This information is reported via the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to the Department of Homeland Security Department of State. Every F-1 and J-1 student and their dependent(s) have a SEVIS record, from which the form I-20 or DS-2019 is created. It is crucial that all information contained in the SEVIS record and printed on the I-20 or DS-2019 is accurate at all times. ISS staff members have the authority to verify, sign and process immigration documents for Pace University and its international students. ISS staff members are responsible for advising and assisting international students to properly maintain their F-1/J-1 status.

The ISS provides information to students which assists them in maintaining their status. Ultimately, students are responsible for their status - a student's eligibility to remain in the U.S. is contingent upon knowledge of and compliance with immigration laws.

There are several requirements for maintaining your legal status. It is your responsibility to be aware of these requirements to ensure you are in compliance.

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. *Please note, current SEVP policy guidance amid Covid-19 allows continuing F-1 students to enroll entirely online.

*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.