Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Maintaining Visa Status

Maintaining Visa Status

One of the most important responsibilities you will have as an international student at the Institute is maintaining your visa status as an F-1 or J-1 student.

When you entered the U.S. your immigration documents were stamped and you were admitted as an F-1 of J-1 student. In immigration terms you obtained F-1 or J-1 status in the United States. You now have a responsibility to maintain your immigration status. It is easy to do by following key rules.

Rules for Maintaining Visa Status

Register for a Full-Time Course Load

You are required to be a full-time registered student during each of the academic terms (Fall and Spring semesters). You are not required to be a registered student during the break periods (i.e., Summer or winter break). You are considered to be maintaining your immigration service status while you are pursuing a full course of study toward your educational objective.

If for some reason you are unable to register for a full-time course load, or will be dropping classes that would bring you below the minimum units required, please contact Student Services as soon as possible to discuss your situation.

Exception to requirement for full-time enrollment during the academic terms: If in your last academic semester you require less than the minimum units in order to graduate, you are not required to register for more units than needed for graduation. For example, if you need only four units in the Spring semester to graduate, you can register for 4 units and still be considered maintaining your legal status. If you decide to take less than the minimum units in your last quarter, you do need to contact Student Services.

Do Not Exceed Your Authorized Period of Stay

You must not remain in the US beyond your authorized period of stay. You were admitted to the US as an F-1 or J-1 student for what is termed Duration of Status (D/S). This means you are authorized for a limited stay in the US for the duration of the study program indicated on your I-20 form (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students).

There are two issues to be aware of regarding this requirement:

  1. You need to be sure that your I-20 or DS-2019 is current:
    The date on item #5 of the I-20 form, or item #3 of the DS-2019 , indicates the period of time you are allowed to pursue your educational objective. This date can be extended, if necessary, by coming into OIS. You will need to extend your I-20 or DS-2019 BEFORE it expires. Please contact our office at least two months before the expiration of your I-20 or DS-2019 in order to process an extension.
  2. Your authorized period of stay ends when you complete your program of study or otherwise stop being a full-time continuing student, even if your I-20 or DS-2019 has not expired:
    When you complete your program of study you are allowed to remain legally in the US for an additional period of time - 60 days for F-1 students and 30 days for J-1 students.

You must not engage in unauthorized employment.

Generally speaking, if you are in valid F-1 or J-1 status and are a full-time continuing student, you are eligible to be employed on the MIIS campus without any special authorization. All off-campus employment requires some form of documented authorization issued by either the Student Services or USCIS depending on the nature of the employment. Employment (both on and off campus combined) is restricted to 20 hours per week or less) while school is in session, but can be full-time during the break periods. Information on off-campus employment authorization can be obtained at Office of Student Services.

Failure to Maintain Status

Failure to maintain status can affect you in a variety of ways. The first is that you you would be technically illegally in the US and, while very unlikely, you could be asked by US Immigration service and Customs Enforcement (US ICE) to leave the United States. More likely, being out-of-status (violating your immigration service status) will cause problems for you in participating in the benefits of your immigration service status (e.g., employment) or making later changes in your plans in the US (e.g., applying to change your immigration service status or transferring schools). Once out-of-status, you can only be reinstated back to a legal status through USCIS or the U.S. State Department (for J-1 status holders). Therefore, it is imperative that you are aware of what is required of you to maintain a legal immigration service status in the US.

Resources for Maintaining Status

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: ICE provides oversight and enforcement of the SEVIS program as well as the regulations governing international student status and benefits.

U.S. Department of State: The Department of State website contains useful information about studying in the U.S. as well as applying for a visa.