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Maintaining Status

While studying in the United States all F-1 and J-1 international students must follow immigration regulations as outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in order maintain their legal immigration status. Your status relates to the purpose of your visit to the United States: to study. You should not take any actions that detract you from that purpose.

As an F-1/J-1 student, you are admitted to the United States for "Duration of Status," which is noted as "D/S" on your I-94 Form. This means that you are permitted to stay in the United States as long as you maintain your status. F-1/J-1 is status granted when you enter the U.S. and is regulated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

It is important that you are aware that your visa is different from your immigration status. The visa is placed on your passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and it is granted for entry purposes only. Even if your visa is valid, you can lose your legal student status if you do not comply with immigration laws regulating your stay in the U.S.

Maintaining status means:

  • Following the purpose of your visa: to study.
  • Following the regulations associated with that purpose.

It is absolutely critical that you maintain your legal immigration status at all times during your stay in the United States. Failure to do so or "falling out of status," could result in serious consequences and problems with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services. Some consequences include, but are not limited to:

  • Denial of any attributes or benefits associated with your F-1 or J-1 status
  • Hindering your ability to get a U.S. visa or visit the country in the future
  • Deportation

Designated School Officials (DSOs) and Responsible Officers (ROs) at Tarleton are here to assist you and provide you with the information needed to maintain your legal immigration status; however, the responsibility of maintaining status is ultimately yours.

How to Maintain Status

Maintain Valid Immigration Documents

  • Maintain a valid passport at all times and at least 6 months into the future.
  • Attend the school listed on your current I-20/DS-2019.
  • Be aware of the expiration date on your I-20/DS-2019. If you cannot complete your program of study by the expiration date listed on your I-20/DS-2019, you must request a program extension before the expiration date on your document. Students who do not file a program extension in a timely manner will be considered out of status.
  • Obtain a new I-20/DS-2019 if you make any changes to you major or degree level.
  • Request a travel endorsement signature on your I-20/DS-2019 from a Designated School Official or Responsible Officer before traveling outside of the United States.

Enroll in a Full-Course of Study

As an international student you are required to be registered for a full course of study in classes that meet your degree requirements during the Fall and Spring semesters.

  • Undergraduate Students - 12 Credit Hours
  • Graduate Students - 9 Credit Hours

Online Courses: Only 3 credit hours (or one online course) per semester are applicable towards your full-time enrollment.


  • You are not required to take classes during the summer unless it is your first semester at Tarleton.
  • If it's your last semester, you must take at least one face-to-face course.

Report Any Changes to Your Address

Immigration regulations require all international students to report any changes to their local address to a DSO or RO within 10 days of the change. This information needs to be updated in your SEVIS record.

Work Only with Proper Employment Authorization

Failure to request the proper employment authorization from a DSO or RO could result in termination of your immigration status.

Before applying for any job, visit our Employment section and make yourself aware of the Department of Homeland Security's employment regulations for international students.

Abide by Grace Periods

F-1 students who complete an academic program or OPT have a 60-day grace period.

J-1 students who complete an academic program have a 30-day grace period.