Staying in Status

U.S. federal regulations require all international students to maintain lawful (F-1/J-1) student status. It is your responsibility to be aware of the factors that will impact your legal status and make sure you take all necessary steps to remain compliant. Non-compliance is a very serious matter with severe consequences.

While the responsibility for maintaining compliance is yours, the ISSI is here to help you navigate the complexities of U.S. government regulations and procedures. If you ever have concerns or questions about your status, you should contact the ISSI immediately.

The following requirements are key to maintaining your student status:

  • ARRIVAL: You must arrive no later than your program start date on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. You will not be allowed to enter the United States if you arrive more than 30 days prior to your program start date.
  • IMMIGRATION CLEARANCE: All international students in the first term of a new program or who are returning from a leave must report to the ISSI in person during a scheduled Immigration Clearance session with the proper documents in hand.
  • ENROLLMENT: You must maintain full-time enrollment each term/semester (except during designated vacation periods) and normal progress toward the completion of your degree or program of study.
    • Undergraduate: 12 semester or quarter hours per term
    • Graduate: 8 semester hours per term
    • International students enrolled in College of Professional Studies and English language programs must follow the requirements of their programs.
    • All international students are limited to no more than 3 credits or one on-line course per term as part of their full-time enrollment.
    • You should not take a reduced course load or a leave of absence without checking with the ISSI in advance of the start of each term.
  • ADDRESS CHANGE: You must notify the ISSI of your local address when you arrive in the U.S. Any time you change your address while in the U.S., you must notify the ISSI within 10 days of the move.
  • ACADEMIC STATUS: Any change in your academic status (e.g., early program completion, change of major, change of program or degree, etc.) must be reported to the ISSI within 10 days.
  • EMPLOYMENT: You may not accept employment either on campus or off without written permission from the ISSI and/or authorization from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. International students are prohibited from working more than 20 hours per week during the academic term.
  • TRAVEL: Before leaving the U.S. temporarily during your study at Northeastern please make sure that you have the following documents: a valid passport, an unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa in your passport, and a valid unexpired I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature. Note: request for travel signature must be submitted to the ISSI at least 4-5 business days before you plan to leave.
  • EXTENSION OF STAY: If you are unable to complete your program of study by the end date on your I-20 or DS-2019, you must obtain an extension of stay from the ISSI at least 30 days before your program end date.
  • PROGRAM EXTENSION: You must obtain an extension of your academic program (if eligible) before your visa eligibility document (I-20 or DS-2019) expires.
  • FINANCIAL SUPPORT: If you change programs, new evidence of financial support is necessary to process a SEVIS document for your new program.
  • LEAVE OF ABSENCE, WITHDRAWAL OR SUSPENSION: If you take a non-medical leave of absence, voluntarily withdraw, or are suspended, you will loose your legal status and be required to leave the United States within 15 days. The only exception that allows you to stay in the U.S. without transferring to another school or changing to another nonimmigrant status is a medical leave documented by a physician’s letter
  • OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT): You must apply for post-completion OPT before you complete your program requirements. Contact the ISSI 90 days before your expected completion date in order to begin the application process.
  • TRANSFER FROM ANOTHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION: You must ensure timely transfers of your SEVIS record to Northeastern from your previously attended U.S. school/college/university.

IMPORTANT: If SEVIS does not receive a timely report each semester confirming that you are enrolled, your SEVIS record will be automatically terminated by the government and you will be expected to either apply for reinstatement to lawful F-1 or J-1 status, or leave the U.S. within 15 days.