Maintaining Status

To maintain your legal right to stay in the U.S. as an F-1 student, you must meet the following general requirements:

1. Keep your passport and I-94 card valid at all times.

If your I-94 card has an expiration date of “D/S” then this is a valid card for an F or J participant. Your passport will have a specific expiration date.

2. Register full time as required by your academic program.

Not all programs at U.B. have a summer vacation period. Please check with your academic advisor to see what your requirements are for full time study. 12 credits per semester is the minimum for full time study for undergraduates; however, full time at the graduate level varies and students must consult their academic department. Exceptions to full time study must be authorized by an International Advisor prior to the start of the semester or prior to dropping courses.

3. Keep your I-20 form valid at all times.

Be aware that there is an expiration date on your I-20 form. If your I-20 form is going to expire and you need extra time to study, you must extend your I-20 form by applying at the International Center for Students and Scholars prior to the current expiration date. Your I-20 form must also be correct for the school you are attending and your academic program.

4. Do not accept any employment without specific authorization from the International Office.

If you have any questions regarding your immigration responsibilities while you are in the U.S. please contact the International Center for individual advisement.

What is the difference between visa and immigration status?

Your visa foil in your passport and your immigration status are not the same thing.

It is important to understand the important difference in order to fully understand how to maintain your legal right to stay in the U.S. It is very common for people to use the words “visa” and “immigration status” to mean the same thing, but this is incorrect. The following paragraphs explain the difference.

Visa Sample

The visa foil in your passport was obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and is used to enter the U.S. The visa shows the latest date you may apply to enter the U.S. It does not show how long you may remain in this country.

  • A valid visa is not necessary to remain in the U.S., so it is ok if your visa expires after you arrive.
  • A valid visa is generally required to return to the U.S. after a trip abroad.
  • If your visa stamp is expired and you will leave the U.S., you must reapply for a new visa to return.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule, specifically for Canadian citizens and brief trips to bordering countries. If you are concerned about your visa expiration, please contact the International Center for Students and Scholars for an appointment with an advisor.

Electronic I-94

After you are admitted to the U.S. at the port of entry, an immigration status is granted to you and will be shown on your I-94 card. Generally, your immigration status will be the same as the valid visa you used when you entered the U.S.

However, if you are already in the U.S. and apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to change from your current status to another status, then your visa and immigration status will not be the same thing. Once you are inside the U.S., it is vital that you maintain your immigration status by pursuing your authorized activity.