Maintaining Lawful Status

International students and scholars are granted an F-1/J-1 nonimmigrant status, providing them with the opportunity to live and study in the United States. A nonimmigrant's ability to stay in the U.S. on an F-1/J-1 visa is strictly dependent upon their legal status. Even if they possess a F-1/J-1 valid visa, a nonimmigrant may lose their ability to remain in the U.S. if they do not comply with set immigration rules and regulations. International students and scholars must understand their responsibilities in order to avoid dire consequences for violations of the law.

F-1/J-1 international students and scholars must understand and follow the rules listed below to successfully complete their program and maintain legal status. Deviation from the law may result in deportation, inability to return to the U.S. or other severe penalty:

  1. 1.  Maintain a valid passport throughout your stay in the U.S.
  2. 2.  Understand the information on your I-20/DS-2019.  Keep your I-20/DS-2019 up to date and valid. See an OGE adviser immediately if any changes to your current information occur.
  3. 3.  Report a change of address or legal name to the OGE within 10 days of any changes.
  4. 4.  Maintain a full-time class registration schedule each semester. (minimum of 12 credits per semester for Undergraduate, 9 credits for graduate)
  5. 5.  Be mindful that international students are limited to one (1) online course per semester except under special circumstances determined by an OGE adviser.
  6. 6.  International students MUST maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 for undergraduate students, and a minimum GPA of a 3.0 for graduate students to avoid academic dismissal.
  7. 7.  Consult with an OGE adviser before dropping below the required number of credits, taking a leave of absence or withdrawing from classes.
  8. 8.  Only attend a SEVP certified school (e.g. Stockton University) that's authorized by Department of Homeland Security.
  9. 9.  If changing schools within the US, complete the required “immigration transfer procedures.” (see an OGE adviser for details)
  10. 10An Extension of Program must be submitted at least 30 days before your program end date as indicated on your I-20/DS-2019, if you are unable to complete your degree or program by the end date indicated.
  11. 11.  Request a Travel Endorsement Signature on your I-20/DS-2019 from the OGE if planning on leaving the US if you plan to return to complete your program, for example, leaving the US for study or research abroad, vacation, etc.
  12. 12.  Be mindful of the “grace period” that follows the completion of your program. If you are uncertain, consult with an OGE adviser since your grace period is determined by your visa status. As an F-1 student in good standing, you have 60 days designated for departure. As a J-1 student or scholar, you have 30 days after your program end date to leave the country. During that applicable time period, you may:
    • Leave the country
    • Apply for a new I-20/DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for a new program of school and enroll in the closest semester possible
    • Apply for a change of status
  13. 13.  Students may work on-campus up 20 hours per week while school is in session and full time when school is not in session e.g. during university official holidays/breaks.
  14. 14.  Students may work off-campus ONLY if they have been granted authorization from the Office of Global Engagement and/or the USCIS.
  15. 15.  International students and scholars are required to submit U.S. tax forms regardless if they have made any money while in the U.S. or not. It is important to fulfill this requirement as it may have long term consequences if your future plans or obligations require you to return to the US. Visit the OGE for additional information on how to meet your tax responsibility.
Please refer to Maintaining Status (F-1) page to better understand the importance of maintaining legal status and consequences that follow violations of the U.S. Immigrations law.