Maintaining Immigration Status

F-1 and J-1 students should familiarize themselves with the restrictions and reporting requirements of their immigration status. It is important to abide by the regulations governing immigration status in order to be eligible to remain in the United States and to apply for certain benefits such as off-campus employment authorization.

ISSS is here to hep you understand the immigration rules and regulations. If you are unable to find the answers you need on the website, visit our Advising page for ways to connect with an international student advisor.

Immigration Status

Immigration status refers to the lawful status you hold as a non-immigrant in the United States, which is determined either by the manner in which you last entered the country, or by the result of a change of status petition submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

"Maintaining status" means to abide by the regulations and reporting requirements governing your immigration status. Failure to properly maintain your status may result in the termination of your program and losing your eligibility to study in the United States.

Enrollment Requirements

F-1 students must enroll full-time which is 8 credits for graduate students and 12 credits for undergraduate students. No more than one online class per academic term can count towards the minimum full-time enrollment requirement. Additional courses above the minimum full-time requirement can be in any modality.There are exceptions to full-time enrollment for F-1 students with ISSS approval of non-summer vacation term or less than full-time enrollment for academic or medical reasons. More information on these options can be found in the ISSS Portal. Click on the Control Center tab and locate the relevant request.

J-1 students must enroll full-time (8 credits for graduate students and 12 credits for undergraduate students) unless authorized by ISSS for less than full-time enrollment. No more than one online class per academic term can count towards the minimum full-time enrollment requirement. However, the purpose of the J Exchange Visitor program is to facilitate in-person exchange, so ISSS encourages enrollment in in-person or hybrid classes as much as possible.

COVID Enrollment Flexibilities for F-1 Students - will end after Summer term 2023

SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) will allow F-1 students whose SEVIS record was active on March 9, 2020 and has remained active to enroll in more than one on-line class in academic year 2021-2022 and academic year 2022-2023.These flexibilities will end with the summer 2023 term. Starting fall 2023, the standard course enrollment requirements will apply for all F-1 and J-1 students.

Students whose SEVIS records became active after March 9, 2020 must have at least one course with an in-person component each academic term.

Continuing F-1 students who were in the U.S. and had active SEVIS records on March 9, 2020 may take all of their courses online. All other types of students must have at least one course with an in person component to maintaining their status.


Regulations and Reporting Requirements

The list below outlines some of the major responsibilities and reporting requirements of F-1 and J-1 immigration status. If you are unsure about a particular requirement or how it may apply to your status, please contact an international student advisor to learn more.


  • Passport: Must be unexpired at least six months into the future.
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record: Review details after each entry into U.S. to confirm it is correct (Get Most Recent I-94)
  • U.S. Visa: Must be unexpired when traveling and re-entering the U.S. The visa stamp can expire while inside the U.S but it cannot be renewed inside the U.S.
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019: Must contain current biographical, academic, and financial details.
  • Program end date: Must extend until completion of studies.


  • Change of Address: Must be reported within 10 days of moving. Update the Mailing address in PioneerWeb to inform ISSS.
  • Change of Legal Name: Submit a copy of your updated passport to ISSS.
  • Change of Immigration Status: Submit copy of I-797 Notice of Approval from USCIS to ISSS.


Federal immigration regulations limit employment for F-1 and J-1 students. The kind of employment, the number of hours per week and the periods of employment are specified by the regulations. You should verify that you have authorization before beginning in any form of employment.

See our Employment section for more information.


  • Academic Term: Must maintain full-time enrollment each academic quarter or semester.
  • Summer Vacation: Enrollment is generally not required unless the student is beginning studies in the summer or if the student was approved for a non-summer vacation quarter for that calendar year. See our page on the annual vacation term for more information.