Office of International Students and Scholars

Drop Shadow

How to Stay in Status

You must maintain a full course of study during the regular semester.

At least 12 units/semester for undergraduates

At least 9 units/semester for graduates

(Please contact OISS first if you have plans to drop below full-time, file for a leave of absence, withdraw from a class, or withdraw from your program.  Failure to inform OISS may seriously jeopardize your immigration status.)

You are responsible for taking note of your I-20/DS-2019’s completion date.  Should you need more time to complete your degree, contact OISS immediately for advising.

You must first consult with OISS before engaging in any type of employment.  Remember that most types of employment require some form of authorization from OISS.

You must report any changes to the following within 10 days:

  1. Address (residence)

  2. Major/Minor/Program

  3. Contact Information (Email and Phone Number)

Know your immigration documents!  Be responsible for keeping them valid:

Passport – Keep valid 6 months into the future.

Visa – Usually valid for a specific amount of time.  It is used only to enter the United States under a specific status.  The expiration date on your visa does not affect how long you may stay in the U.S.  If you know that you will be traveling and will be coming back to the U.S. to resume your studies, please contact OISS to obtain assistance on visa renewal or extension (if necessary).

I-94 card – Your I-94 is the small white card that is usually stapled into your passport when you enter the United States.  The card indicates how long you may stay in the U.S.  F-1 students usually have the notation “D/S” for “Duration of Status” which means that F-1 students may stay in the U.S. for as long as their student status is still valid or in effect (as shown by dates on I-20).  Please make sure that you do not lose this card!

I-20 or DS-2019 – Please make sure that all information listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 are true and accurate.  Please contact your OISS adviser as soon as possible if changes need to be made.

Remember to obtain an endorsement signature from your OISS adviser before traveling. 

F-1 students – 1 year
J-1 students – 6 months
F-1 students on Optional Practical Training – 6 months

If you are traveling outside the U.S. to a country other than your own, you need to contact that country’s consulate or embassy to find out if an entry visa is required.

You need to bring your passport, your signed I-20, and your I-94 card when going to Tijuana, Mexico.

Please take note that immigrations rules and regulations change frequently.  What is provided here is based on what is in effect at the time of writing.  The most updated rules and regulations may be found at and Please note that we also post important updates on our website.