Maintaining Proper Immigration Status

Forms I-20 and DS-2019 indicate the type of status, length of authorized stay, and name of the authorized institution or school, which the student will attend. Students are required to maintain lawful immigration status at all times. It is the student’s responsibility to keep track of immigration matters. In order to maintain proper immigration status, F-1 or J-1 students must:

  • Register for a full-time course load every semester. Failure to register for a full-time complement of courses is an automatic breach of lawful status.
  • Study full time and attend classes.
  • Remain at Carleton College for the complete duration of the program of study (Bachelor of Arts). Students wishing to transfer to another institution before completion of this course of study will need to receive proper authorization from both Carleton College and the transfer institution.
  • Not perform any unauthorized employment, either on or off-campus, while in F-1 or J-1 status.
  • Apply for an “Extension of Stay” if studies will take longer than the prescribed duration of status, well in advance of the completion date on Form I-20 or DS-2019.

“Out of Status”

Failure to comply with immigration regulations will retroactively place you “out of status” and in violation of U.S. immigration laws. Students who fall out of status must apply for reinstatement and will likely be asked to leave the country and re-enter with new documentation. They also may be barred from re-entry for a period of three years or longer if an immigration judge or the service finds them in violation.

Immigration Problems

If an international student has not maintained lawful immigration status, s/he may face difficulties with and possible legal action from the ICE. Some immigration problems can be resolved simply; others can be complicated and require months of effort by many offices to resolve.

It is imperative that F-1 and J-1 students contact the PDSO/RO immediately if there appear to be any problems related to the student’s immigration status.

In some instances the student may be required to exit and re-enter the United States in order to rectify a problem related to lawful status. Sometimes students have problems which are complicated enough to require the services of an immigration attorney. Students are urged to consult the Director of International Student Programs before contacting an immigration lawyer, lest they be required to pay for expensive legal services unnecessarily.

Immigration Documents Explained

Expiration Date of Entry Visa

The validity period shown in a non-immigrant visa relates only to the period during which it may be used in making application for admission into the United States; it does not indicate the length of time one may spend in the United States. Some visas are valid for several years, others are valid only for a few months or weeks. The visa in your passport allows you to enter the United States and may expire after your arrival in the country. Once you have entered the United States to begin your studies, you will be concerned with this particular expiration date only when you expect to travel outside the U.S. If you wish to re-enter the country and your visa has expired, you must apply for a new entry visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad (except when traveling to Canada. See note about Travel to Canada). You must consult with the Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Office (RO) before traveling outside of the United States.

D/S: Duration of Status notation

The F-1 or J-1 individual is admitted to the United States for “duration of status,” noted as “D/S” on both Form I-94 and possibly Form I-20 or DS-2019. Duration of status means the period during which the student is pursuing a full course of study in any educational program (e.g., BA) and any periods of authorized practical training, plus sixty days (F-1) or 30 days (J-1) grace period within which to depart from the U.S. or apply for a change of status.  After May 2013, if you arrive in the U.S. by land from Canada or Mexico you are still issued a paper I-94; you should always keep that in your possession and when you depart the U.S. give it up to the airline or immigration official (except for travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean). If you flew into the U.S. after May 2013, you no longer complete a paper I-94 but you still should print up the electronic copy from this the US Customs & Border Protection website.  The Form I-94 should be kept in the student’s passport at all times, since it indicates the purpose of admission and the length of time for which his or her stay is authorized. Students should also always have with them their Form I-20 ID or DS-2019, particularly when they travel, even within the United States, since this is their personal identification and carries their SEVIS record information. A non-immigrant who remains in the U.S. beyond the period for which he/she has been granted permission to stay may become subject to deportation. 

There is no Grace Period (mentioned above) if a student is suspended from or withdraws from Carleton without authorization, or violates his or status in other way. 

Extension of Stay

All international students should pay attention to their approved length of stay in the U.S. The length of authorized stay for F-1 and J-1 individuals is indicated on the Form I-94 as D/S (duration of status), and refers to item 5 on the I-20 and to item 3 on the DS-2019. People who need additional time to complete their degree requirements must consult with the Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) at least 30 days prior to the expiration of their authorized length of stay. The completion date on forms I-20 and DS-2019 might differ by a few weeks from the actual end date of the study program (last day of final exams), please be advised that the actual end date is the legal date.

Change of Status

Have you recently been approved for a new immigration status, i.e. permanent residency?  If so, you will need to contact ISL to end your F-1/J-1 status at Carleton. To do this, you will need to provide a copy of your approval notice, I-94 record, and/or visa showing your updated status and submit it to Liz Cody.  Once your record has been completed, you will receive a confirmation from ISL. You will also want to make sure that your record is updated in the university system, including with the Registrar’s Office and Student Financial Aid. Please make sure that you keep copies of all of your old immigration documents as you may need them in the future.