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Immigration Status

As an international student on an F-1 or J-1 visa, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are maintaining proper immigration status. Below is some important information that you should follow to assist you in maintain your status.


Maintaining your immigration status is YOUR responsibility. Stay informed and ask questions if you are unsure!


As an international student, you need prior authorization from ISSS to do the following:

Undergraduate and Exchange Students

  • Maintain a Full-time Academic Load:
    • Must take a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester: This means at least 4 classes and you cannot drop below this amount throughout the semester without approval from ISSS. Even if your faculty advisor approves it, you must have ISSS approve it BEFORE dropping below 12 credits.
    • Only one course per semester may be online. If you wish/need to take more than that, please contact ISSS.
    • Summers are considered your annual vacation so you do not need to register for the summer even if you intend to stay in the U.S.
  • Make Academic Progress:
    • You must be in good academic standing with the university to maintain your status.
    • You must be making progress towards earning your degree.

REMEMBER, you are a student first and your first priority is to earn your degree!

If you change your name, address, or major, you are required by USCIS to inform ISSS within 10 days of the change.

Graduate Students

In order to maintain your immigration status, a graduate student must:

Complete the enrollment requirements below:

    • Engineering, Business, and English for Teachers students must attempt 18 credits over the four terms
    • ABA/BA students must enroll in 4 credit hours each quarter
    • Math for Teachers must attempt 15 credits over the four terms
    • Phd students must enroll in 1-12 credits/year once all course work is complete (depending on status of dissertation and recommendation of Advisor)
  • Make Academic Progress:
    • You must be in good academic standing with the university to maintain your status.
    • You must be making progress towards earning your degree.

NOTE:

  • If you plan to drop below a full time course load (even if your academic or faculty advisor approves) receive authorization from ISSS first.
  • Only 2 courses per year may be online.

REMEMBER, you are a student first and your first priority is to earn your degree!

If you change your name, address, or major, you are required by USCIS to inform ISSS within 10 days of the change.

Report Change of Address

Immigration regulations require that all non-U.S. citizens report their residential addresses within 10 days of their entry to the United States and subsequently report any changes of addresses within 10 days to the immigration authorities. 

Please note that the ISSS is not able, at this time, to report or collect address changes to and from other University offices automatically. Therefore, international students and scholars must report their address changes directly to ISSS and then ISSS will send it to SAS. 

To change your address, please contact ISSS.

Obey U.S. Laws

Be sure to follow all U.S. laws since criminal activity could negatively affect your immigration status. Getting caught and arrested is not worth it. Remember that while you are in the U.S., you are bound by U.S. laws. This document, prepared by the ACLU, provides an overview of what to do if you are stopped by the Police, Immigration Agents, or the FBI. 

  • If you drive an automobile, you should have a driver's license, buy the required insurance, and obey the traffic laws.
  • If you are under the age of 21, you are not allowed to drink alcohol in the U.S.
  • F-1 students must depart the U.S. within 60 days of the I-20 their program end date unless they have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students on post-completion OPT have a 60-day grace period following the completion date of their OPT.
  • J-1 students and scholars must depart the U.S. within 30 days of the DS-2019 program end date or their Academic Training end date.
  • Do not buy, sell, or use drugs (marijuana, cocaine, crack, heroin, or any other controlled substance). Engaging in any one of these activities is illegal and will subject you to deportation and future exclusion from the United States.
  • Do not operate any firearms. International students are not allowed to operate or possess firearms or ammunition in Massachusetts. International students having their photo taken with firearms run the risk of being deported.

If you violate a law that results in a citation or other legal action, the University will only be able to act in an advisory or referral capacity. The University cannot provide legal representation to you in any capacity. ALWAYS consult with an immigration attorney for anything involving legal action against you.

If you are taken into custody by the police, please contact the Office of Public Safety at 413.782.1207 or ISSS at 413.796.2389 for assistance.