Maintaining Your Visa Status
What does it mean to "maintain your status"?
From the time your visa is granted, you must follow a set of requirements in order to keep your visa. Those who follow the requirements "maintain status" and ensure their ability to remain in the United States. Those who do not follow the requirements violate their status and are considered "out of status." If you do not maintain your visa status, you could be arrested, required to leave the United States and possibly not be readmitted to the country.
If you fall out of status for reasons beyond your control, you may be eligible to apply for a reinstatement of status. Contact the Office of International Services (OIS) to learn if that is an option for you.
To Maintain Your Status
- Attend International Student Orientation or visit OIS within the first week of classes to have your documents copied and to report your local address. You will be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) of the United States government to remain in legal status.
- Inform OIS when you move to ensure that your address and other information in the SEVIS database are accurate and up-to-date.
- Maintain a valid passport at all times.
- Take a full-time course load. (12 credit hours minimum for undergraduate, 9 credit hours minimum for graduate)
- Follow the rules for employment.
- Work with OIS to extend your I-20 or DS-2019 if you need additional time to complete your program of study.
- Notify OIS if you will transfer to a new program or school.
- Pay state and federal taxes (if you are employed).
- Report any dependents (spouse or children) to OIS.
- Obey state and federal laws.
Other Important Information
Travel. All International Students and Scholars must have their I-20 or DS-2019 signed by the Office of International Services prior to traveling outside the United States. Students need to complete a Travel Signature Request Form from the Office of International Services. The information required on this form includes banner number, local St. Louis address, as well as passport and visa expiration dates. The Travel Signature Request Form should be turned into the Office of International Services at least 7 days before traveling.
If you fail to turn in your Travel Signature Request Form at least 7 days before traveling you may be subject to a $35 service fee in order to have your signed I-20 or DS-2019 returned to you after your departure. The service fee can be paid here through SLU Marketplace under "FedEx Documents".
I-94 Card. When you enter the US, you are given a small, white card at the airport. This is your Arrival/ Departure Record, or 1-94 Card, on which the Immigration Officer usually has written D/S, meaning "Duration of Status". D/S means you are allowed to stay in the U.S. until the completion of your school program (for example, English Language Program, B.A., M.A., or Ph.D. degree). Do not lose your 1-94 card - it is very important!