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Maintaining Status (F-1/J-1 Students)

As an international student in the US, it's important for you to understand that it is your responsibility to keep your F-1/J-1 status legal and valid throughout the duration of your studies in the US. One of the most important services we can offer is to make sure students understand the rules they need to follow to be able to remain in the US.  Please find a brief summary here of the most important requirements for maintaining your status. We encourage you to make an appointment with an advisor if you have any questions or concerns about any of these requirements.

10 Tips to Maintain your F-1/J-1 Status

You must have a current, valid I-20/DS-2019 from the school you are attending full-time. If you transfer from another school to UMD, or from UMD to another school, make sure you follow the proper procedure to transfer.

  • Your passport should be valid at least six months into the future at all times. If your passport is expiring soon, renew it with your country’s consulate in the US or in your home country. 
  • Your I-94 record should be correct and printed out every time you travel outside of and reenter the US to ensure you entered the country in F-1 or J-1 status. 
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 must be accurate and unexpired. You must keep all original I-20s ever issued to you in a safe place. Do not throw away any I-20. If any information is incorrect or you need to update anything on your I-20 or DS-2019, contact us. If your I-20 or DS-2019 is expiring, learn more about getting an extension.
  • Your visa must be valid if you are traveling outside of and reentering the US. To learn more about getting a new visa, visit get a US visa.
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 is only valid as long as you are a continuing, full-time student in your degree program, or on your approved post-completion training.
  • If you graduate early, your I-20 or DS-2019 will be shortened to the last day of your final semester of enrollment. If your final semester is Summer you MUST be enrolled in Summer. 
  • You must notify ISSS of your early completion using the exit form in order to avoid overstaying. If you need more time to complete your program, apply for an Extension of Program BEFORE the current completion date on your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • UNDERGRADUATE students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester.
  • GRADUATE students must be enrolled in at least 48 units each Fall and Spring semester.
    • 20-hour assistantships are equivalent to 24 units;
    • 10-hour assistantships are equivalent to 12 units
  • Graduate students on 12 week terms must continuously register without breaks for a minimum of 36 units per term.
  • Students in the Business School Specialty Masters programs are required to take a minimum of two courses in each term in addition to meeting the 48 unit requirement for the overall semester.
  • Courses taken for "audit" or "incomplete" do not generate credits/units and cannot be used in calculating full-time status
  • Only one online/distance education course can count towards full-time enrollment.
  • Students may be authorized to drop below a full course of study for the following reasons only:
    • Illness or medical condition (you must submit the Part-Time Authorization Form for Medical Reasons)
    • Initial difficulty with the English language (first semester only)
    • Initial difficulty with reading requirements (first semester only)
    • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (first semester only)
    • Improper course level placement
    • Completing your intended program in the current term 
  • Students who are experiencing academic or medical difficulty and considering part-time authorization are encouraged to meet with an ISSS advisor as soon as the academic or medical issues become a challenge. For more information, please review information about Part-time authorization for medical reasons on our Leave of Absence page.
  • To apply for Part-Time status log into iTerp>F-1 Student Services, and complete the Part-Time Authorization e-form.  Your academic advisor will need to confirm the Part-Time information as well. 
  • For the final semester, part-time authorization e-forms must be submitted during the schedule adjustment period.  Your last remaining course cannot be online. 
  • All other (non-final semester) part-time authorization requests must be filed several business days in advance of the posted deadlines to drop a course or withdraw from all courses. Late requests cannot be accommodated and retroactive drops are not possible.
  • You must keep a current US address and US phone number in your UMD record. If there are any changes, you are required to update the information within 10 days.
    • Currently enrolled students should update their address and contact information in TESTUDO.
    • Students on OPT/AT should update their address and contact information in iTerp (Address Update while on OPT or Address Update while on AT e-forms)

F-1 and J-1 students have limited options for employment. Before beginning any employment, review and understand F-1 or J-1 student employment rules for on-campus work or off-campus work, including before degree completion and after your degree completion. Be aware of employment authorization application procedures, eligibility, deadlines and rules for maintaining status during post-completion employment.

Review all information on our Travel Abroad page and obtain a new travel signature if needed before your departure from the US.

Upon completion of your degree program listed on your I-20, F-1 students have 60-days and J-1 students have 30 days to do the following: 

  •  Prepare to depart the US* 
  •  Transfer to another school
  • Begin a new program at UMD (program level change)
  • Change to a different immigration status 
  •  Apply for work authorization, such as Post Completion OPT (F-1 students). J-1 students must apply and be approved for Academic Training before the end date listed on your DS-2019.

Once you have decided your plans for after graduation (or if you plan to end your F-1/J-1 status early), please log on to iTerp and fill out the Exit Plan form. This will allow our office to take the appropriate action to extend, transfer or end your F-1 status.

 * Students may not exit and reenter the US in F-1 or J-1 status during their grace period. This includes any travel to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands to the US. 

J-1 students — and their J-2 dependents — must maintain health insurance coverage that meets J-1 federal guidelines for the entire length of their program, including post-completion Academic Training. 

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