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Maintaining Status for F-1 and J-1 Students

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As an F-1 or J-1 visa holder, you must be aware of and abide by the United States immigration regulations that govern your stay in the U.S.

The following video gives an overview of the requirements for maintaining your status.  Additionally, more information with links to more details is provided below.

Visa Documents

  • You must maintain a valid passport and an unexpired I-20 (for F-1) or DS-2019 (for J-1) at all times when in the U.S.
  • When transferring to Stanford from another U.S. school, you must first apply to Bechtel International Center for a “transfer-in” I-20 or DS-2019, and request a “transfer completed” I-20 or DS-2019 after you have enrolled at Stanford and updated your local residence address in Axess as your SEVIS (U.S.) address.  You will be contacted by Bechtel when your new I-20 or DS-2019 is ready for you.

Academic Requirements

  • You must maintain a full course of study during the academic year.
  • You must obtain approval from Bechtel prior to dropping below the full course load or risk violating your legal status.
  • You must apply for a new I-20/DS-2019 from Bechtel at least two weeks before changing degree levels or programs

Employment Regulations

  • Employment on student visas is restrictive.
    • You cannot accept off-campus employment without receiving prior authorization from Bechtel or USCIS
    • You cannot work more than 20 hours a week in any combination of on-campus and/or off-campus work while school is in session. For graduate students, your department may have additional limitations on the number of hours you can work, so check with your department.
    • More information: Employment.

Personal Information Change

  • You must report any changes to your personal information (including address changes) within 10 days of the change.

Re-entry to the U.S.

  • You must have a valid passport, a valid visa stamp (Canadians do not need visa stamps), and a valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature no more than 12 months old to re-enter the U.S. If you are currently on OPT, the travel signature cannot be older than six months.
  • If you have been absent from the U.S. for a period of five months or more and plan to re-enter the U.S. to continue your program, you must request a new I-20 or DS-2019 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.
  • More information: Travel and Re-entry.

Dependent Information

Insurance Requirements

  • As an F-1 visa holder you are subject to Stanford policy that mandates that all students are enrolled in a medical insurance plan. You are not subject to federal regulatory requirements for you or your dependents.
  • As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you are required by law to maintain medical insurance for yourself and your dependents.

Change of Visa Status

  • 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 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (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 your visa status change is completed, you must 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, you should also check your I-94 record to ensure you entered the U.S. in the correct status.