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Maintaining Immigration Status

As an F-1 or J-1 student, there are number of regulations governing your F-1 and/or J-1 status that you need to be aware of.  It is your responsibility to maintain your non-immigrant status while in the U.S.  You must comply with all federal immigration regulations as outlined below. Failure to do so will result in being “out-of-status,” which will require you to either apply for Reinstatement or to exit the country and attempt to re-enter to clear your status.  Please review the following information carefully.

You are ultimately responsible for knowing the rules and regulations of your status while in the U.S. Be sure to check your e-mail account regularly for important immigration updates.

If you have any questions regarding U.S. immigration regulations or your non-immigrant status in the United States, please contact the Office of International Student Services at

IMPORTANT NOTE: This information is not exhaustive and is subject to change without notice. For more information please see the Study in the States website. 

  1. Admission to the U.S.

    You are permitted to remain in the U.S. if you are pursuing a full course of study, are engaging in authorized practical training, or are in your grace period (60 days for F-1 students; 30 days for J-1 students).]

  2. Document Maintenance

    Your passport must be always kept valid. For renewal instructions, contact your embassy. Your visa must be valid only for re-entry to the U.S.

    Form I-20 (for F-1 students) and Form DS-2019 (for J-1 students) must be kept valid and reflect your academic status throughout your stay.  If you change your major, you must request a new I-20/DS-2019.  If your program will go beyond the listed end date, you must apply for an extension 30-45 days prior to your completion date.

  3. School-Specific I-20

    If you are transferring in, you must obtain a Mount Union I-20/DS-2019. If you wish to transfer out to another school, you will need to obtain an I-20/DS-2019 from the new school.  Complete the Transfer-Out Request Form so your SEVIS record can be released to the new school. 

  4. Reporting Changes

    Report any change of your local address, phone number, or name.  You must report any change to your personal information within 10 days of the change. 

  5. Full-Time Enrollment
    • Undergraduates must enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours each fall and spring semester.
    • Graduate students must enroll in a minimum of 9 credit hours each fall and spring semester.
    • Only one distance learning course may be counted toward full-time enrollment each semester.
    • Students in their final semester may register full time, but they must enroll in at least one class that requires on-campus physical presence (i.e. registration cannot be limited to an online course).
  6. Enrolling Below Full-Time

    You must receive permission before enrolling below full-time. Students must submit a Reduced Course Load(RCL) Form to request permission to enroll below full-time. The RCL must meet one of the stated criteria to qualify for approval:

    • Initial English language difficulties
    • Initial unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
    • Improper course placement
    • Medical reasons – Documentation from a medical professional required
    • Final semester of the program
  7. Employment

    On-Campus Employment

    You may work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week.

    Off-Campus Employment

    You must have work authorization before engaging in off-campus employment. Options include curricular practical training (CPT), optional practical training (OPT), academic training (AT) and economic hardship.

  8. Health Insurance

    F-1 and J-1 students MUST have health insurance during their entire stay in the U.S. 

  9. Tax Returns

    You should file your Tax Return each year by April 15.  Even if you had no U.S. income, there are still forms that must be completed.

  10. Security of Documents

    Keep all immigration documents in a secure place. Be prepared to present your immigration documents (passport, visa, I-20/DS-2019) when requested by a government or school official. Contact the Office of International Admissions if any of your immigration documents are lost or stolen.

  11. Travel Abroad

    You are permitted to remain in the U.S. if you are pursuing a full course of study, are engaging in authorized practical training, or are in your grace period (60 days for F-1 students; 30 days for J-1 students).

    Valid Passport

    • Must be valid at least 6 months ahead of time when re-entering the U.S.

    Valid F-1 or J-1 Visa

    • Make sure your visa isn’t going to expire while you’re out of the country!  If it is, plan to attend a visa renewal appointment in your home country before returning.

    I-20 or DS-2019 Travel Signature

    • All F-1 and J-1 students must have a valid travel signature from a DSO (Designated School Official for F-1 students) or RO (Responsible Officers for J-1 students) to re-enter the U.S.  Travel signatures are valid for 1 year.  Contact the Office of International Admissions or the Office of International Student Services to obtain this signature.

    Traveling to and from Canada, Mexico and Neighboring Islands

    Travel to Canada is handled a bit differently than travel to other countries. In fact, you cannot enter Canada from the U.S. without a valid I-20 or DS-2019. Students from certain countries will need a Canadian entry visa to enter Canada.  Please check the Government of Canada’s website for further information.

    If you are taking a trip of fewer than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or neighboring islands (Bermuda, Bahamas, and all Caribbean islands except Cuba), you may reenter the U.S. even if your F-1 or J-1 Visa has expired.