UKIC / International Student & Scholar Services / Student Services / Student Status Information

Student Status Information

As an F-1 or J-1 student, it is your responsibility to maintain lawful status. The benefits associated with your visa status such as re-entry in to the U.S., on-campus employment, and practical training, are only available if you maintain student status.  If you fail to comply with the regulations, you will be out of status and your SEVIS record will be terminated. You will not be eligible for benefits provided to F-1 or J-1 students.  Below is important information about your student visa status.

Immigration Documents

Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019)

Once accepted, a record is created in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).  The international student will then receive a Form I-20 or DS-2019 from their Designated School Official (DSO)  or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) depending on their program of study and purpose for coming to the United States.  This form reflects the information in the SEVIS record. 

The Certificate of eligibility should reflect your major field of study, education level, and dates of attendance.   If this information changes, your SEVIS record will need to be updated and a new I-20 or DS-2019 will need to be issued. 

  • F Students: Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status – For Academic and Language Students. 
  • J Students: Form D-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status – For Exchange Visitors  

You are only authorized to attend the school listed on the Certificate of Eligibility.

Address Reporting 
As an F-1 or J-1 student, you must report your local address within 10 days of your move-in order to comply with immigration regulations. This is the street address where you are residing; box numbers cannot be used. This is done via myUK.  The update in myUK will automatically notify our office and we will update your SEVIS record.  If you have completed your degree and are pursuing Optional Practical Training,  you must report your address within 10 days by completing the OPT Reporting e-form in iCAT.   

Finishing Early or Before the I-20/DS-2019 End Date 
The I-20 or DS-2019 end date is an estimated completion date. It may or may not be the date you actually complete all your degree requirements. The Form I-20/DS-2019 is only valid when you are pursuing the degree listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019. International students in F-1 or J-1 status cannot remain in the U.S. to pursue other educational objectives which are not part of the degree program listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019 (e.g. taking additional courses or credits, engaging in internships which don’t count toward the total credits required for the degree).  If you complete your program early,  you will begin the immigration grace period (30 days for J-1 students, 60 days for F-1 Students).

Passport

It is important that your passport be valid at all times. Make plans to renew it 6 months prior to its expiration. Check with your country’s embassy for instructions to renew your passport. Keep in mind that to enter the U.S., your passport must be valid a minimum of 6 months into the future.

Visa Stamp

A student visa is a travel document you receive from a U.S. consulate or embassy that gives you permission to travel to the United States.   The visa stamp does not determine status or length or stay.  If your visa stamp has expired, you are permitted to remain in the U.S. as long your SEVIS status is active.  If you plan to travel outside the U.S. during your academic program and your visa stamp has expired, you must have it renewed at a U.S. consulate or embassy while outside of the U.S.  

I-94

Upon entry to the U.S., a CBP officer will place an admission stamp on your passport and create an electronic I-94 record.  The I-94 is official proof of your entry as a nonimmigrant. The admission stamp will indicate your date of entry, class of admission (F-1, J-1) and admitted until date (D/S).  

 
D/S is a notation made at the port of entry on your I-20 and Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record. You are admitted to the US for "duration of status," which is defined as the time during which you are pursuing a full course of study and making normal progress toward your degree. This also includes the time you may be on Optional Practical Training (OPT) after you complete your studies (if you qualify and are so authorized), plus a 60 day grace period. 

Once you have entered the U.S., you will be able to access your I-94 admission record online here. You will be required to enter your passport number and entry information in order to obtain your I-94 record. 

When applying for jobs on campus or requesting benefits from agencies such as the Social Security Administration, Driver’s License Office, or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you will print the record from the CBP website. If there is an error or mistake on your I-94, please contact UKIC for assistance in locating the nearest CBP office.

Maintaining Status

Enrollment

Students in the US on F-1 and J-1 visas are required to carry a full course of study each semester.  Full-time Enrollment Requirements:  

  • Undergraduate – 12 credit hours  
  • Graduate – 9 credit hours  
  • ESL – 20 classroom hours 

Suspension From School

Students who are suspended from the University for any reason are out of status and the SEVIS record will be terminated.  Students who suspect that they might be suspended at the end of the academic term should check their academic status with their respective colleges before leaving the country on vacation. If they return and discover that they have been suspended, they will lose their student status.  The 60-day grace period does not apply to students who do not complete their program.

Unlawful Presence

Under a new policy, USCIS will start counting days of unlawful presence the day after an F, M, or J status violation occurs. Prior policy did not count unlawful presence until a USCIS official or immigration judge made a formal finding of a status violation.

Common examples of status violations include:

Dropping below full-time without authorization
Working without authorization
Failing to complete your program by the I-20/DS-2019 end date
Exceeding the limit of online enrollment
Failing to report OPT employment information

Students who have accrued excessive days of unlawful presence may be restricted from entering the U.S. for three years, ten years, or even permanently:

"Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, and then depart, may be subject to three-year or 10-year bars to admission, depending on how much unlawful presence they accrued before they departed the United States. Individuals who have accrued a total period of more than one year of unlawful presence, whether in a single stay or during multiple stays in the United States, and who then reenter or attempt to reenter the United States without being admitted or paroled are permanently inadmissible.  Those subject to the three-year, 10-year, or permanent unlawful presence bars to admission are generally not eligible to apply for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status to permanent residence unless they are eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or another form of relief."

Regaining Student Status

 

Regaining Status by Travel 

Regaining status by traveling requires you to depart the U.S. and attempt to re-enter on a new SEVIS record and I-20.  You will be required to pay a new SEVIS I-901 fee before re-entering.  If you are permitted re-entry in F-1 status, your new SEVIS record will be activated.   To travel back to the U.S., you must have a valid F-1 visa stamp.  

 

 

Regaining Status by Reinstatement 
F-1 students who have remained in the U.S. beyond their authorized period or have otherwise failed to maintain F-1 student status for fewer than 5 months may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status. Students may apply to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for reinstatement only if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond their control. Reinstatement is intended to be a rare benefit for exceptional cases. If the request is denied, the decision may not be appealed. 

Students must submit the Reinstatement Request to the main office in Bradley Hall after proving that they: 

  • are currently pursuing, or intend to pursue, a full course of study at a school which issued the I-20, 
  • have not been employed without authorization, 
  • have established that their failure to maintain student status was due to circumstances beyond their control or that failure to receive reinstatement would result in extreme hardship, 
  • have not been out of status for more than 5 months, and 
  • are not deportable on any ground other than failing to maintain status.

Unlawful presence is not counted (i.e., the count is tolled, which means, suspended) during the period that a timely-filed F or M reinstatement application is pending. 

F-1 & J-1 Differences

Once accepted to the university, students are issued either an I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility. These documents are necessary when applying at an American consulate or embassy for an F-1 (I-20) or J-1 (DS-2019) non-immigrant visa.

The primary differences in F-1 and J-1 visas are:

  • J-1 students must be supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds, unless the exchange program is carried out pursuant to a written agreement between an American and foreign education institution or government. 
  • F-1 students have no restrictions on the sources of funding. 
  • J-1 students must be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover the entire duration of their program of study. 
  • F-1 students must demonstrate that they have funding for the first year, with the continued ability to access adequate funding.

F-1/J-1 Immigration Fee

  • UK has assessed an F-1/J-1 Immigration Fee in the amount of $60.00 each fall and spring semester, for all F-1 and J-1 enrolled international students.  This fee is necessary to cover costs associated with continued compliance with the regulatory obligations of the Department of Homeland Security.  The fee can be viewed on the Registrar’s website. 

Academic Issues

  • J-1 students are allowed to change to higher degree, but cannot move from one degree level to a lower degree, or from non-degree to degree seeking student.  They must also remain in the same field of study as listed on the DS-2019 used for entry to the US. 
  • F-1 students have no restrictions on either changing degrees or fields of study.

Employment

  • J-1 students must have the authorization of their Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) for all employment. 
  • F-1 students do not need the authorization of their Designated School Official (DSO) for on-campus employment.  For other types of employment off-campus, they must have either the authorization of their DSO or must apply to the US Citizenship & Immigration Services.

The Grace Period After Study is Completed

  • J-1 students have 30 days. 
  • F-1 students have 60 days.

Dependents

  • J-2 dependents can apply for work authorization and can pursue a degree. 
  • F-1 dependents can neither work nor pursue a degree.

The Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement

  • Certain J-1 students are subject to the Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement.  
    • For more information about requesting a waiver of the requirement, please visit the Department of State’s website here.
  • F-1 students are not subject to this requirement.