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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 your immigration status. Below is some important information that you should follow to assist you in maintaining 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:

Important Information

  • Maintaining Your Status

    Watch this video to learn more about how to maintain your F-1 or J-1 student status.

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' approval 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 summer courses even if you intend to stay in the U.S. Winter term enrollment is not required.
  • 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!

Graduate Students

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

    • Engineering, Business, Math for Teachers, and English for Teachers: starting Fall 2018, students must enroll in 6 credits/term. Students are eligible for a vacation period after nine months of enrollment
    • ABA/BA students must enroll in 4 credit hours each term. Students are eligible for a vacation period after nine months of enrollment
    • All But Dissertation PhD students must enroll in 1-3 credits/term once all course work is complete (depending on status of dissertation and recommendation of Advisor). Students are eligible for a vacation period after nine months of enrollment 
  • 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 1 course per term is allowed to be online.

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

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. 

If you change your name or address, submit an update in Self Service within 10 days of the change.

Obey U.S. Laws

Be sure to follow all U.S. laws as 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 required to follow all U.S. laws. Information prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union, 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, the required car insurance, and obey traffic laws.
  • If you are under the age of 21, you are not allowed to drink alcohol in the U.S.
  • 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 may be subject to deportation and future exclusion from the U.S.
    • Marijuana is legal in the U.S. but you are under federal law due to your immigration status and buying, selling, or using the substance can result in visa revocation or removal from the U.S.
  • 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 reporting to Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE).
  • Practice Sexual Consent 
  • 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.

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 your local Embassy or the Office of Public Safety at 413.782.1207 for assistance.