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Maintaining Status for F and J Students

As an F-1 or J-1 visa holder, you must be aware of and abide by the US immigration regulations that govern your stay here.

1. Visa documents

  • Maintain a valid passport and an unexpired I-20/DS-2019  at all times when in the US.
  • F-1 students transferring into Stanford from other US schools will be issued a new I-20 marked "transfer completed" after enrollment, and once the local residence address has been entered in Axess as the SEVIS (US) address. You will be contacted by Bechtel International Center when the new I-20 is ready for you. J-1 students transferring from other US schools will be issued a new DS-2019 from Stanford.
  • If you are changing institutions, you must request to transfer out your F-1/J-1 SEVIS record in a timely manner. 

2. Academic requirements

3. Employment regulations

  • Do not accept off-campus employment without receiving prior authorization.
  • Do not work more than 20 hours a week on or off campus while school is in session. Your department may have additional limitations on the number of hours you can work, so check with your department if you are unsure.
  • Employment on student visas is restrictive. See our Employment page for more information.

4. Personal information changes

5. Leaving and re-entering the US

  • In order to re-enter the US after a trip abroad, you will need a valid passport, a valid visa stamp (exception: Canadians), and a valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a recent signature from Bechtel International Center.
  • If you have been absent from the US for a period of five months or more and plan to re-enter the US to continue your program, you must request a new I-20/DS-2019 from Bechtel International Center at least 2–3 months before your re-entry. Your current I-20/DS-2019 becomes invalid for entry if you are out of the U.S. for more than five months.
  • See our Travel and Re-entry page for more information.

6. Dependent Information

  • F-2 dependents may not work.
  • F-2 spouses may study part-time.
  • F-2 dependent children may be enrolled in elementary and secondary school.
  • J-2 dependents may apply for work authorization.
  • J-2 dependents have no restrictions on attending school.
  • Report any change in F-2 or J-2 dependent’s status/personal information within 10 days of the event
  • Report J-2 dependent early departure to

7. Insurance requirements:

  • All J-1 Exchange Visitors are required by law to maintain medical insurance for themselves and dependents(s).
  • While no federal regulatory requirements exist for F-1 visa holders or their F-2 dependents, Stanford policy mandates that all students be enrolled in a medical insurance plan.

8. Change of Visa Status if needed:

  • If you are changing your visa category from one type of non-immigrant visa to another, you must do so through the Bechtel International Center and USCIS. If you have received an I-20 or DS 2019 from Bechtel International Center, please be sure to complete the change of status process through USCIS. 
  • Once it is completed, verify you are in the correct status by providing a photocopy of your approval notice (Notice of Action) and your I-20/DS 2019 with the change of status notations to Bechtel International Center. If you have returned from international travel, please also check your I-94 record to ensure you entered the US in the correct status.