Maintaining Visa Status

Maintaining status means you follow all regulations and reporting requirements for your immigration status.

Your status is determined by the last time you entered the country, or by the result of a change of status petition, which is submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Failure to maintain your status may result in the termination of your program and losing your eligibility to study in the United States.

J-1 Scholars

Please review our J-1 Scholar Program Guide for rule and requirements specific to J-1 scholar status. J-1 scholars should contact ISS before enrolling in any coursework or degree programs. Contact with any questions.

Your Responsibilities

Keep your passport valid at all times. Consult your country’s consulate or embassy in the US to renew your passport.

Only attend the school authorized on your I-20 or DS-2019.

Complete a full course of study during the academic year or have full-time certified/equivalency. No more than the equivalent of one online class may count toward the “full-time study” requirement.

F-1 Status
If you need more time to complete your degree beyond the date indicated (in section 5) on your I-20, you must request a program extension before your I-20 expires. Program Extension Forms are available in the ISS office or on our website. Forms should be submitted 30 - 90 days prior to the expiration date of your Form I-20. The extension process needs to be completed prior to the expiration date on the document.

J-1 Status
If your DS-2019 will expire before you can complete your program, you must apply for an extension before it expires. Requests for extensions should be submitted 60 days prior to the expiration date. The extension process needs to be completed prior to your current DS-2019 program end date.

F-1 Status
You must submit an Acceptance letter and a Transfer Request form from your new school to ISS before we can transfer your SEVIS record to the new school. Once ISS has transferred your SEVIS record, your new university can issue an I-20 to you. Once you begin studying at the new school, you must report to the Designated School Official within 15 days of the program start date listed on the Form I-20.

J-1 Status
You must notify the ISS office if you intend to transfer. J-1 students on RIT's sponsorship must submit an acceptance letter and a transfer request form from the new school to J-1 scholars must submit a new offer letter and transfer request form from the new institution to The new institution can issue your new DS-2019 no earlier than the transfer release date. You must report to the Responsible Officer/Alternate Responsible Officer within 15 days of the transfer release date.

If you will continue from one educational level to another at RIT (e.g. Bachelor's to Master’s), please use the Request for Change of Level I-20/DS-2019 Form. ISS will update your I-20 or DS-2019 for you.

You may work no more than 20 hours per week, all on-campus jobs combined. J-1 students must first obtain on-campus work authorization from their J-1 Responsible or Alternate Responsible Office prior to engaging in any on-campus employment.

F-1 Status
Refrain from all off-campus employment without prior authorization from an ISS advisor and/or USCIS.

J-1 Status
Obtain written authorization from the J-1 Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officer for your program before accepting any off-campus employment.

F-1 Status
You will need permission from your academic advisor and a Designated School Official at ISS.

J-1 Status
Consult with the J-1 Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer of your J-1 program.

Report you address change to the RIT Student Information System (SIS) within 10 (ten) days of the move. ISS will then electronically notify USCIS of the change, via SEVIS. J-1 students not on RIT's sponsorship must also update their J-1 Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officer.

All international students (except those in H-1B status) are automatically enrolled in the RIT student health insurance plan. This plan meets the J-1 insurance regulations.

J regulations require you and any accompanying dependents to maintain certain levels of health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay in the US. Insurance must cover illness, accident, medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains. See part f of page of your DS-2019 for further details.

Online Classes

Federal regulations limit the number of online courses that international students can count toward their full-time enrollment minimum.

  • Undergraduate students must enroll in at least 12 credits/4 classes (or equivalent) per semester. At least 3 out of the 4 classes required for full-time enrollment must be in-person or hybrid, with the remaining class permitted to be online. If an undergraduate student enrolls in 15 credits, for example, with 3 in-person/hybrid classes, the remaining 2 classes are permitted to be online.
  • Graduate students must enroll in at least 9 credits/3 classes (or equivalent) per semester. At least 2 out of the 3 classes required for full-time enrollment must be in-person or hybrid, with the remaining class permitted to be online. If a graduate student enrolls in 12 credits, for example, with 2 in-person/hybrid classes, the remaining 2 classes are permitted to be online.

If a student starts a degree during a summer term, these same online class limitations and enrollment rules apply.

If a student has only one class left to complete a degree, that course must be in-person/hybrid.

Address Reporting Requirements

F-1 international students and J-1 exchange visitors are required to maintain a current US address and a permanent non-US address. Reported US addresses must be physical locations where the student or scholar resides, not a mailing address. Address changes must be reported to the ISS office within 10 calendar days, through the methods described below. J-1 students on non-RIT DS-2019s must report to their J-1 program sponsor.

Current students should report any changes to their US or non-US addresses within 10 days. In SIS, update US addresses under Current Address and update non-US addresses under Permanent Address.
J-1 students must also report changes to their telephone number and email address within 10 calendar days.

Students participating in Co-op/CPT/Pre-completion OPT in a new city/state and residing at a new address must update their US address in SIS within 10 days of each change. 

Step-by-step instructions for updating addresses in SIS

F-1 international students participating in OPT and the STEM Extension must report changes to their US address in the SEVP Portal within 10 days of each change. OPT and STEM Extension participants should also maintain an updated address in SIS to ensure they receive their RIT diploma. If your non-US (permanent) address has changed, please email the new address to

Instructions for reporting an address in SEVP portal

J-1 international students participating in post-graduation Academic Training should report address, US telephone, and email updates to within 10 days of any change. Before graduation, make updates in SIS.

J-1 exchange visitors in the Research Scholar, Professor, or Short-Term scholar category must report changes in US address, permanent (non-US) address, US telephone number, and/or email to within 10 days of any change.

Extending Your Stay

If you are not able to finish your program by the end date noted on your I-20 or DS-2019, you can request an extension of your program.

The length of time allowed for an extension is based on the recommendation of your academic adviser. J-1 students on Fullbright or similar sponsorship, should talk to their sponsoring agency advisor about eligibility and procedures to extend the DS-2019.

Deadline for Extensions

An extension of your I-20 or DS-2019 must be completed before the end date of the document. If your I-20 or DS-2019 expires while you are still a student, you will be considered in violation of your status.

How to Apply

  • Your academic advisor submits the Program Extension Form, indicating the new term in which you will graduate, to
  • After the application is processed, the ISS advisor will email you the updated I-20 or you will be notified by email that the updated DS-2019 is available for pick-up in our office.

J-1 Scholars

J-1 scholars must request an extension of their DS-2019 prior to the current DS-2019 program end date. Extensions must be supported by the RIT host department, and are subject to J-1 category time limits. The Research Scholar and Professor categories of J-1 status allow a maximum of 5 years of participation, and the Short-Term Scholar category allows a maximum of 6 months.

To request an extension of a J-1 Research Scholar, Professor, or Short-Term Scholar DS-2019, please email with the following:

  1. Copy of new RIT reappointment or invitation extension letter
  2. If the letter above does not include funding information, please provide additional financial documentation
  3. If you are subject to 212(e) (the two-year home residency rule), please confirm in your email that you have not submitted an application for a waiver of this rule
  4. Confirm in your email that you will continue to maintain your health insurance per J-1 regulations (see part f on page 2 of your DS-2019 for details)
  5. Confirm in your email your current US residential and contact information

An ISS advisor will process your DS-2019 extension and will email you when the updated DS-2019 is available for pick-up in the ISS office.


If you have maintained a valid F-1 or J-1 status you are eligible to stay in the US for a grace period after finishing your program (F-1 60 days, J-1 30 days). During this time you may:

  • travel within the US
  • make arrangements to return home
  • transfer your SEVIS record to another school
  • apply to USCIS for a Change of Status.

If you are leaving before finishing your program, the grace period will be shortened or eliminated. In this case, you should leave the country or make other arrangements promptly. An ISS advisor will be happy to discuss with you the necessary time frame for your departure.

Changing Status

There are two ways to change your immigration status.

  1. Traveling out of the US and applying at a US consulate for a new type of visa stamp and then re-entering the US in the new visa classification
  2. Sending an application to USCIS service center while remaining within the US

We recommend discussing your eligibility and the timing of your application with an ISS advisor.