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Maintaining your status

Maintaining F-1  Maintaining J-1

Maintaining F-1 Status

While studying in the United States, it is important to maintain your F-1 student status. Your visa says that you are coming to the United States to study. You should not consider any action that detracts from that purpose.

Upon Arrival

New students may enter the United States no more than 30 days before your program of study begins.

When you arrive at school, you need to contact the OISS, no later than the program start date listed on your Form I-20 “Certificate of Eligibility.”


  • Attend and pass all your classes. If school is too difficult, speak with the OISS immediately.
  • If you believe that you will be unable to complete your program by the end date listed on your immigration forms, talk with the OISS about requesting a possible program extension.
  • You must take a full course of study each term; if you cannot study full-time, contact your advisor in the OISS immediately. Full-time for undergraduate student is 12 credits (15 if you have a scholarship) and for graduate students between 6-9 credits per term/semester/module depending on your course structure.
  • Do not drop a class without speaking first with your advisor in the OISS

Campus Employment

All F-1 are eligible for campus employment. Please be advised that there are a limited number of campus job. So plan accordingly.  Visit the OISS for more information

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular practical training (CPT) at either the undergraduate or the graduate level is only available if this employment is an integral part of an established curriculum and if the position directly relates to your major area of study. You must be enrolled one academic year, completed 30 credits and have declared your major to be eligible.  All internships must be registered for credit. Your advisor in the OISS can give you the school’s policy on this option.


Do not work without authorization. An F student may work only when authorized.

If you want to work in the United States, talk with your OISS advisor about your options. Your OISS advisor may authorize certain work; other employment may require your advisor’s recommendation and authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

If you choose to work without authorization, you will be forced to leave the United States immediately. You may not be able to re-enter the United States at a later date.

Upon Program Completion

Take action to maintain legal status after completing your program of study.

Once you complete your program of study and any authorized period of practical training, you may wish to learn about doing one of the following:

  • Transfer to another school
  • Change your education level (e.g. bachelor’s to master’s)
  • Apply to change status to another visa status (e.g. H-1B-temporary worker; O-extraordinary ability in science, art or business; P-athlete)

You have 60 days after completion of your program (the program end date on your Form I-20) to leave the United States.

Talk with your OISS advisor first

Your OISS advisor should be the first person you talk with if you have any questions regarding the legal requirements of your stay in the United States.

Your OISS advisor can assist in answering your questions or help you find someone who can help.

Talk with your OISS if you are planning to do any of the following:

  • Change your major, program, or degree level
  • Change your education level
  • Transfer to a new school or take a leave of absence
  • Take a break from school
  • Travel outside the United States 
  • Move to a new address
  • Request a program extension



Maintaining J-1 Status

As a J-1 exchange visitor, it is your responsibility to maintain your immigration status throughout the duration of your J program at UCSB by adhering to the four points listed below. Be certain to review the section below about the 30 day Grace Period that is given to J-1 scholars to remain in the U.S. after the end date on their DS-2019 form.

Maintain up-to-date immigration documents:

  • A passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the program end date on form DS-2019. (If the passport needs to be renewed, the student/scholar should contact their embassy to find out the procedures to renew the passport.)
  • Current DS-2019 form
  • I-94 printout issued with entry stamp marked “J-1” or “J-2” with “D/S.”

Report and Update Local Living Address J-1 students/scholars need to update their local living address within 10 days of their registration in SEVIS or upon moving to a new address.

Maintain Insurance Required for J-1 Visa Holders U.S. immigration law states that failure to maintain proper health insurance coverage will result in the termination of the J-1 exchange program. Proof of health insurance is required upon registration with OISS and at the time that a J-1 scholar requests an extension of their DS-2019.

Health Insurance Requirements:

Program participants and their dependents are required to have medical insurance coverage with the following minimum benefits [22 CFR 62.14].

  • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $10,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

30 Day Grace Period At the end of the J-1 program (the end date on the DS-2019 form), the J-1 student/scholar and their J-2 dependents may remain in the United States for another 30 days in order to pack their belongings and perhaps do some site-seeing within the United States.

  • If the J-1 visitor leaves the United States during this 30 day period, they will not be able to re-enter the United States in the J-1 status.
  • Exchange visitors are no longer able to engage in any academic or employment activities during the 30 day grace period.