One of the most important responsibilities you will have as an international student at Middlebury is maintaining your visa status as an F-1 or J-1 student.

When you entered the U.S., your immigration documents were stamped and you were admitted as an F-1 or J-1 student. Therefore you are in F-1 Student or J-1 Exchange Visitor student status in the United States. You have a responsibility to maintain your immigration status.  Below is some basic information about F-1 and J-1 status. 

Confirm Your Status

To double check that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has entered you in the correct visa status, you can access your I-94 record on their website (go to the Get Most Recent I-94 section):  Please note, information on how to access your I-94 record can also be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section of our website.

  • Check your I-94 Record every time you re-enter the United States from abroad (including Canada and Mexico). This is your Lawful Record of Admission.  Please note, it may take CBP up to 24 hours after your entry into the United States to update your I-94 record.
  • Keep an image or copy of your I-94 as proof of visa status for each entry for your records. Once you depart the U.S., each entry and departure becomes part of your “travel history” record and no longer shows your visa status. Having a record of your I-94 visa status history can be useful for future immigration-related actions
  • If you find an error on your I-94 record, please contact ISSS at as soon as possible.

Rules for Maintaining Visa Status

Register for a full-time course load.

You are required to enroll and engage in a full course of study each academic term of your program. You are not required to be a registered student during official break periods (i.e., summer). One of the requirements to maintain your F-1 or J-1 student status is that you are enrolled in and attending a full course of study and making progress toward your degree/educational objective.

There are limited exceptions to the full course of study requirement.  

  • Academic difficulties
  • Medical Conditions
  • Completion of course of study 

If you believe you may have reason to be enrolled in a reduced course of study, be in touch with ISSS before dropping any courses, or purposely under-enrolling, to confirm your eligibility.

Keep your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) valid and accurate. 

The program dates listed on the I-20 or DS-2019 indicates the period of time you are allowed to pursue your educational objective. Occasionally, program dates change for academic reasons.  In the case that the information on your I-20 or DS-2019 is no longer correct, you must request an updated I-20 from ISSS.

  • If you change, add, or remove a major or minor, please submit the Major/minor Update form (found on the Forms and Resources page).
    • You are required to request this within 10 days of when  you declare, change, add, or remove a major or minor.
  • If you need to shorten or extend your program end date on your I-20 because you will complete early or need more time to complete, please submit the Program Extension or Shortening form (found on the Forms and Resources page).
    • In the case of needing a program extension, you will need to request an extension to your I-20 or DS-2019 BEFORE it expires. Please contact ISSS at least two months before the expiration of your I-20 or DS-2019 in order to review and process an extension.
    • If you extend, we may need require funding evidence for the extended period of time you request to issue the extended I-20.  You will be asked for this evidence with if this is needed.
  • ISSS reviews each request and, if it meets the requirements, we update your I-20/DS-2019 record in SEVIS and we will provide an updated form to you.

Part of keeping your I-20 or DS-2019 is maintaining a valid travel signature signed by a PDSO/DSO (for I-20s) or an RO/ARO (for DS-2019s).  ISSS regularly sends out reminders on how and when you can obtain a valid travel signature.  In general, we recommend you obtain a new travel signature once during the fall term and once during the spring term.  This is your responsibility to maintain.  If you are studying at Middlebury College in Vermont, you can obtain an updated travel signature by making an appointment through Calendly.  If you are studying at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, please request a travel signature by submitting an Updated I-20/DS-2019 Form for Travel Signatures.

Report Any Change in U.S. Address and Other Reportable Changes Within 10 Days 

Students are required to report any change of their U.S. address to ISSS, for the purpose of updating your SEVIS record.  Reporting an address change must occur within 10 days of moving.  Students can use the Address Update form, which can be found under the Forms section of the website.

Other required reporting within 10 days of the change: when you declare/change/add a major or minor, official name change, and employment updates when on an approved off-campus work authorization (OPT). These changes may also be made using appropriate forms found under the Forms section of the website.

Do not engage in unauthorized employment.


Generally speaking, if you are in valid F-1 or J-1 status and are a full-time student, you are eligible to be employed by Middlebury for on-campus  employment. 

  • F-1 Students: You are eligible to start on-campus employment as of the first day of your program at Middlebury.  You do not need approval from ISSS.  You are limited to working no more than 20 hours per week total for all on-campus jobs combined during the semester.
  • J-1 Students: You are eligible to start on-campus employment as of the first day of your program at Middlebury, however, you are required to obtain authorization from ISSS BEFORE starting your on-campus position.


All off-campus employment (employment that is not offered by Middlebury and/or not located on a Middlebury campus) requires some form of documented authorization issued by either ISSS or USCIS, depending on the nature of the employment. Engaging in employment without authorization is a violation of status and can lead to the loss of your status.

Please go to the Student Employment Information pages for detailed information about employment.

Do not exceed your authorized period of stay.

You were admitted to the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student for a period of admission called Duration of Status (D/S). D/S allows a student to:

  • Enter the U.S. up-to, but no more than 30 days prior to the start of your program (as shown on the I-20 or DS-2019)
  • Remain in the U.S. for the duration of your program  (dates listed on the I-20 or DS-2019) and any extension of post-degree completion work authorization for which you have been approved. 
    • Please see the Student Employment Information pages for detailed information about employment and when to apply for post-completion work authorization.
  • Upon completion of the program, a  student must do one of the following during the grace period of 60 calendar days for F-1 or 30 calendar days for J-1:
    1. Depart the U.S., or
    2. Apply for a change of status, if eligible, or
    3. Transfer to another school to continue their program of study.  

J-1 Students

The above information is relevant to both F-1 and J-1 students.  There are additional regulatory requirements for J-1s to maintain.  For additional detailed information on maintaining your J-1 status while in the U.S., please go to the J-1 Scholar Maintenance of Status page

All J Exchange Visitors must maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of their program as detailed on the DS-2019 form.  Please go to the  J Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Information page for detailed information about the mandated health insurance requirement for J Exchange Visitors.

International Travel during your F-1 or J-1 Academic Program

In order to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 student status or J-1 student status, you will need three documents:

  • A valid passport (valid 6-months into the future)
  • Your current I-20 (for F-1s) and DS-2019 (for J-1s), which has a valid travel signature (valid six months into the future from the date it is signed) in the appropriate section that will be no older than 6 months at time of re-entry
  • A valid F-1 or J-1 visa*

*There is an exception to the requirement of a valid visa to enter the U.S. for trips of less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands. This is called Automatic Visa Revalidation

NOTE: Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require a visa stamp in their passport. If you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda, you will only need to present a valid passport and current, valid I-20 or DS-2019 at the border.

Students from some countries may have further restrictions. Please check our International Travel Restrictions Information page for more details.

Failure to Maintain Status

Failure to maintain status can affect you in a variety of ways.  One way is that you could technically be considered without status/illegal in the U.S. and you could be asked by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to leave the United States. Another way is that being out of status (violating your immigration service status) will cause problems for you in participating in the benefits of your immigration service status (e.g., employment) or making later changes in your plans in the U.S. (e.g., applying to change your immigration service status or transferring schools). Once out of status, you can only be reinstated back to a legal status through USCIS or the U.S. State Department (for J-1 status holders). Therefore, it is imperative that you are aware of what is required of you to maintain a legal immigration service status in the U.S.

Resources for Maintaining Status

Taking a Leave of Absence

International students who are making plans to take a leave of absence from Middlebury should consult with ISSS before submitting your leave of absence petition to ensure that your best interests are protected.

ISSS can provide information about how the leave of absence process will impact your F-1 or J-1 status.

Updated on 05/23/2023 by Kas.

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