Maintain Your F-1 or J-1 Student Status

As an F-1/J-1 student, you are admitted to the U.S. for “duration of status”, which is notated as D/S on the form I-94. This means you are permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status. F-1 status is granted when you enter the U.S. and is regulated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The visa is different from immigration status; the visa stamp is placed in your passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and is granted for entry purposes only.

Even if your visa is valid, you can lose your legal student status if you do not comply with immigration laws regulating your stay in the U.S. If you fail to maintain your legal student status, you will need to speak to an Immigration Advisor at International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) to discuss your options for restoring your immigration status.

How to maintain your immigration status

  • Maintain a valid passport at all times.
  • Attend the school listed on your current I-20 or DS-2019.
  • For F-1 students, complete an immigration transfer whenever you change educational institutions. This process must be completed within 15 days of beginning classes at your new school. An immigration transfer is a completely separate process from transferring academic credits from another school. The transfer is not complete until you have registered for classes at the new school and received an I-20 confirming the completion of your transfer.
  • For J-1 students, the immigration transfer has to be completed within 30 days of the transfer release date from your previous institution.
  • Complete a full course of study, that is 12 hours per semester for an undergraduate student and 9 hours per semester for a graduate student. However, graduate students may be eligible to enroll for three hours once all coursework has been completed and the student is enrolled in thesis or dissertation. If you have an academic appointment, please check with your department for coursework requirements. Correspondence courses and in absentia registration do not count toward a full course of study. If you are a continuing student, you are not required by USICE to enroll in classes during the summer sessions. If you plan to graduate in the summer semester, please be sure to enroll in at least one academic course at UT. If you need to drop below a full course of study, see an Immigration Advisor in ISSS before dropping any courses.
  • Apply for an extension of your program if you cannot complete your degree by the end date listed on your I-20/DS-2019.
  • Obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 whenever you make a change in degree levels. A new I-20 or DS-2019 must be issued within 15 days of beginning classes in your new program. This includes changing from English language studies to a university degree, from bachelor’s to master’s, from master’s to a doctorate, from Optional Practical Training to a new degree, etc.
  • Work off-campus: You may work off campus only if you have received authorization from an Immigration Advisor or USCIS.
  • Work on-campus: F-1 and J-1 students may work on campus part time only during the fall and spring semesters without special authorization (part-time employment is defined as 20 hours or fewer less per week). On-campus employment may be full time (more than 20 hours per week) only during the summer and official school breaks. You must not exceed 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. If at any time you are assigned to work more than 20 hours a week during the fall and spring semesters, you are to contact your supervisor immediately and request an assignment in accordance with your part-time work limitations. J-1 students whose DS-2019 was issued by a sponsor other than UT are required to obtain an authorization letter from their program sponsor in order to work on the UT campus.
  • Request a travel endorsement on your I-20/DS-2019 from ISSS before leaving the U.S. so that it is not more than one year old upon your return to the United States.
  • Report your change of local address within ten days of your move. Update your address online in UT Direct.