Maintaining Your Student Status
Visa vs. Visa Status
As an F-1/J-1 student, you are admitted to the U.S. for “duration of status”, which is notated as D/S on your I-94 arrival record.
- This means you are permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as you follow the rules of your immigration status.
- Note that a visa is different from immigration status; the visa stamp is placed in your passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and is granted for entry purposes only.
Even if your visa is valid, you can lose your immigration status if you do not comply with immigration laws regulating your stay in the U.S. If you fail to maintain your immigration status, you will need to speak to an Immigration Advisor at International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) to discuss your options for restoring your immigration status.
How to Maintain your F-1/J-1 Status
Below are the main requirements for maintaining your F-1/J-1 status.
1. Maintain a valid passport at all times.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months into future at all times. If you have a new passport, please upload a copy to myIO > General Services > Immigration Document Update so that we can update your records.
2. Attend the school that is listed on your current I-20 or DS-2019.
F-1 students who change educational institutions must complete the SEVIS transfer process. This is a totally separate process from transferring academic credits and must be completed within 15 days of starting classes at your new school. You must register for classes at the new school and receive an I-20 confirming the completion of your transfer.
J-1 students must complete the SEVIS transfer process within 30 days of the transfer release date from your previous institution.
If you are transferring from another university to UT, please complete the SEVIS Transfer Form in myIO. If you are leaving UT to attend another college or university, please complete the Transfer Out Release Form in myIO.
3. Enroll in a full course load.
Enroll in a full course of study every semester of your program. In certain scenarios, an F-1 or J-1 student can obtain authorization for a reduced course load. See Full-Time Enrollment Requirements for F-1 and J-1 Students for more information.
4. Obtain ISSS approval before reducing your course load or withdrawing.
See Full-Time Enrollment Requirements for F-1 and J-1 Students for more information.
5. Apply for an extension of your program if you cannot complete your degree by the end date listed on your I-20/DS-2019.
To extend your I-20 within the same degree program, request an F-1 Extension of Stay. To extend your DS-2019 within the same degree program, request a J-1 Extension of Stay. Your extension must be processed before your I-20 or DS-2019 expires and you need to account for ISSS processing times, so we strongly recommend submitting your extension request at least one month prior to your I-20/DS-2019 program end date.
6. Obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 if you change your degree level.
You must obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 reflecting the correct education level for your new program. This includes changing from English language studies to a university degree, from bachelor’s to master’s, from master’s to a doctorate, from Optional Practical Training to a new degree, etc. If you have already begun (or completed) one program of study at UT and have been admitted to another, you will receive a "New UT Admission" notification in myIO. Complete the required steps to request your new I-20. If you do not see a "New UT Admission," please email email@example.com.
7. Work by the rules.
F-1 and J-1 students are limited in the types of employment they can pursue. F and J visas are student visas and are issued for the purpose of completing a course of study. All employment must be incidental to study and must be authorized prior to the employment start date.
Learn more about work authorization options for international students. If the type of employment you want to engage in is not listed on our website, then engaging in it would likely be a violation of your status. Note that "employment" can have a very broad meaning and can refer to any scenario where you are providing a service and receiving compensation for it. To avoid violating your status for "unauthorized employment," do not engage in any type of compensated activity without checking with our office first.
8. Have the proper documents for international travel.
All F-1 and J-1 students must have a valid travel signature on their I-20/DS-2019 to re-enter the U.S. from abroad. You can easily request this through myIO. If you plan to travel abroad, be sure to review our Know Before You Travel prior to departing the U.S.
9. Keep your address up to date.
All F-1 and J-1 students are required to keep their physical U.S. address on file with the university in MyUT and to update their address within 10 days of a change. We will update your SEVIS immigration record to reflect exactly what you list in MyUT. Be sure to format your address properly so that it is accepted by the SEVIS online immigration database:
Street Number + Street Name (this line must begin with a numerical value or it will be rejected by SEVIS)
Apartment/Unit Number (if applicable)
City, State, Zip Code
You can use the USPS Address Lookup Tool to make sure you are properly formatting your address.
10. Maintain adequate health insurance.
All F-1 and J-1 enrolled students, and those applying for a change of status to F-1 or J-1, are required to have health insurance and will automatically be enrolled and charged for the UT Student Health Plan.
In certain cases, students holding comparable coverage may be eligible to waive enrollment in the UT Student Health Insurance Plan. For additional information, including waiver eligibility, process, and deadlines, please see Insurance Waivers.
The UT Student Health Plan will provide insurance coverage until the end of the student's final semester at UT Austin. Students remaining in the U.S. after graduation should make arrangements to obtain new health insurance.
J-1 students and their J-2 dependents must maintain health insurance that meets J-1 federal guidelines for the entire length of their J program, including while on post-completion Academic Training. This is a requirement for properly maintaining J-1/J-2 status.
There is no federal requirement for F-1 students to have health insurance. However, because health care can be very expensive without insurance, F-1 students are strongly encouraged to obtain health insurance after graduation while on post-completion Optional Practical Training.
Consequences of Not Maintaining Status
What is a status violation?
A status violation can occur any time you fail to meet the F-1 or J-1 rules. For example, failing to enroll in a full course of study is a status violation.
How can a status violation affect me?
Status violations can lead to the termination of your F-1/J-1 immigration status and/or negatively impact any future applications for U.S. visas or immigration benefits.