One of the most important responsibilities you will have as an international student at the Institute 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 of J-1 student. In immigration terms, you obtained F-1 or J-1 status in the United States. You now have a responsibility to maintain your immigration 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): https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. 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 every time you re-enter the United States from abroad. 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 email@example.com 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 break periods (i.e., summer). Maintaining your immigration service status means you are pursuing a full course of study and making progress toward your degree.
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 current.
The program dates, as 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 contact ISSS to request a change to your SEVIS record.
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 email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time to obtain an updated travel signature.
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.
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.
J-1 Students and Scholars
Maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of your program.
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/week during the semester, whether you hold one or more positions.
- 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) 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.
Do not exceed your authorized period of stay.
You were admitted to the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student for what is termed 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.
- During the grace period of 60 days (F-1) or 30 days (J-1), a student can depart the U.S., or may be eligible to apply for a change of status, or transfer to another school to continue their program of study.
Failure to Maintain Status
Failure to maintain status can affect you in a variety of ways. The first is that you would technically be illegally in the U.S. and, while it is very unlikely, you could be asked by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to leave the United States. More likely, 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
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement provides oversight and enforcement of the SEVIS program as well as the regulations governing international student status and benefits.
- U.S. Department of State provides useful information about studying in the U.S. as well as applying for a visa.
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 3/3/2022