This page contains information related to immigration and F-1 international students. Topics include: immigration forms, bringing dependents, maintaining your status, new immigration regulations, visa overstay, and ways to maintain your status.
Requirements for Maintaining Status
International students (F-1 and J-1) are required to have a full course of study in order to maintain their immigration status. Therefore, international undergraduate students are required to register for at least 12 semester credits each term. International graduate students without an assistantship are required to have at least nine semester credits unless they have an assistantship in which case they are required to take at least six semester credits each term. Please note: only one online course counts towards your immigration status - ask an international advisor if you have questions about this requirement.
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA)
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is becoming stricter with all non-immigrants and they are becoming less forgiving of minor violations of status. This information is to inform you of the changes in immigration law that will (might) affect international students. If you have further questions after reading this, please come in and talk to one of the international student advisers.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, signed by President Clinton on September 30, 1996, has many provisions that may affect your plans to study, travel or visit the U.S. in the future.
An overstay is defined as whenever an individual "completes, concludes, terminates, ceases, or otherwise interrupts the activity, employment, course of study, or program participation" and "remains in the U.S. beyond the termination date " of the activity or program plus "any grace period" that may apply (60 days for F's; 30 days for J's).
The consequence of an overstay can be very harsh. One of the consequences is that the visa stamp in the passport is canceled and in order to get a new visa, individuals in F, J, and H status must return to their home country. Before this new law, these individuals were able to go to Canada or Mexico to get a new visa but this option no longer exists. After April 1, 1997, individuals who have overstayed and remain in the U.S. for a period of more than six months, but less than one year, who then depart the U.S. and seek readmission to the U.S., are not allowed to re-enter the U.S. for three years. Those who have unlawfully remained in the U.S. for more than one year will not be able to re-enter the U.S. for 10 years.
Ways To Maintain Your Status
It is now more important than ever for you to maintain your immigration status. You can avoid unintentionally violating your status, and possibly committing an overstay, by following these rules.
Students should maintain their full-time student status by enrolling in the appropriate number of credits - 12 credits per semester for undergraduate students, 9 credits per semester for graduate students, and 6 credits for graduate students with an assistantship.
Students should apply for an extension of their I-20 within 30 days before the expiration date. It is the student's responsibility to know the expiration date on the I-20 and to have the I-20 extended in a timely manner. The end date on the I-20, or the date when a student completes his/her program, whichever comes earlier, is a date that must be taken seriously.
Students may not work off-campus without written authorization from an international student advisor in the Office of International Programs and USCIS. Also, it is important that students remember they are limited to 20 hours per week of work while school is in session. Any work completed on-campus must be paid by NDSU.
Individuals in F, J, and H status should keep all of their immigration documents, including old I-20s, DS-2019s, Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), and I-797s. You may need these documents in the future to prove that you have maintained your status.
Immigration Forms and Resources for F-1 students
Please click below for Immigration Forms and Procedures related to F-1 students:
- Statement of International Student Responsibilities
- Bringing Dependents
- Change of Status to/from F-1
- Did you change your major?
- Graduation and Beyond
- I-20 Extensions
- Leave of Absence
- Maintaining your Status: Credits
- Reduced Course Loads
- Reinstatement to F-1 Status
- Requesting OIP letters
- Social Security Cards & Drivers License
- Transferring to Another School
- Travelling Home
- Updating your Address
BACK to the main Immigration page.
Are you Travelling Home?
Click here for tips on what to think about related to your immigration documents when travelling to your home country or anywhere outside of the United States for a visit or during school breaks.