Maintaining F-1 or J-1 Student Status

Student-visa holders must comply with Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS) regulations and Department of State regulations while in the United States. Please read the "Instructions to Students" on page 2 of your I-20, or on page 3 of your DS-2019. Those instructions and the information below are very important. They will enable you to maintain legal student status in the U.S. and to take full advantage of student status benefits such as work and travel. If you have any questions, please visit the Office of International Programs (OIP).

To be in status, every student must

  1. Maintain full-time enrollment

    Undergraduate students must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester. Graduate students must be enrolled for a minimum of 8 hours. This total does not include audits or incompletes.
    If you are considering withdrawing from a course that will cause your enrollment to drop below full-time, you must consult with an OIP advisor before doing so. Dropping below a full-time enrollment without prior authorization will jeopardize your ability to remain in the U.S.

  2. Maintain your passport valid at all times.

    The passport must be valid six months into the future.

  3. Make normal full-time progress toward your degree.

  4. Accept only authorized employment. Off-campus employment requires pre-authorization.

    F-1 students are allowed to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the semesters and full-time during vacation (summer) and breaks. J-1 students can also work on-campus but must get prior permission from the OIP office to do so.
    F-1 and J-1 students must get permission to work off-campus. According to the USCIS, working without proper authorization is one of the most serious violations of your student status. In your I-20 or DS-2019 form you will see the statement "Warning--a nonimmigrant who accepts unauthorized employment is subject to deportation." It is very important, therefore, that you consult with the OIP before accepting an offer of employment or beginning work. We will advise you whether or not it is possible for you to work, and if it is, assist you with the appropriate documents. Please keep in mind that it is illegal to begin work in anticipation of being granted permission to do so; you must have permission first.

  5. Notify the OIP of a change in your address within 10 days.

    USCIS requires students to report change of address within 10 days of the change. The OIP will be responsible for updating your address with the government.

  6. Notify the OIP of any changes in your name or status.

  7. Make sure your I-20 is valid and obtain extensions, if needed, of your permission to stay in the United States.

    If valid academic reasons require that the student stay beyond the date authorized on the I-20, a program extension request must be made to the OIP 30 days before the completion date noted on the I-20. F-1 visa holders are granted permission to stay for the period of time (duration of status [D/S]) required to pursue a full course of study in any particular program, plus any periods of practical training, plus 60 days to depart from the United States or to apply for a change of status.
    Those in J-1 immigration status are also admitted to the U.S. for duration of status, or D/S. The completion date in section 3 on the DS-2019 indicates the period of time reasonably required to complete the course of study. Again, an extension of the program can be requested through the OIP 30 days before the expiration date on the DS-2019.

  8. After completing your studies and any practical training, you must leave the U.S. or change to another immigration status within the appropriate time allowed.

    F-1 students are allowed to stay in the United States for 60 days beyond the completion date of their studies or practical training. J-1 students are allowed to stay 30 days after the completion of their program, including academic training. In view of the serious repercussions for overstaying (i.e. staying beyond the allowable period), it is essential that students do not let their I-20 or DS-2019 expire while continuing their academic program and that they do not stay in the U.S. beyond their duration of status.

  9. Have medical insurance coverage at all times.

    The Department of State requires that students in J-1 status have comprehensive medical insurance that includes medical evacuation and repatriation benefits covering themselves and all their dependents. Failure to maintain medical insurance is a violation of J-1 status. While the F-1 student regulations do not yet have the same requirement, Creighton University does require all students and their dependents to have comprehensive medical insurance.

  10. Have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed before traveling outside the United States.

    Before traveling outside the U.S., bring your valid I-20 or DS-2019 to the OIP for us to verify your status and sign your document so that you can reenter the U.S.

  11. Keep your documents (I-20/DS-2019, I-94 card and passport) with you as it is required by law to carry proper official documentation at all times.

    We recommend that you make a copy of all your documents and keep them in a safe place other than where you keep your original documents.

For more information on immigration matters, please consult with the OIP Coordinator of International Student and Scholar Services.