Maintaining Your Visa Status

Maintaining your student visa status is not complicated.  However, you MUST carefully follow all the instructions below in order to ensure that you don’t run into problems with US immigration.  If you have any questions, please contact the SEVIS Designated School Official (DSO).

  • Make sure your passport is always valid for at least 6 months beyond your next intended departure from the US.
  • Always, always, always take your I-20 with you when traveling outside the US.
  • Before leaving the US make sure there is a current DSO signature on page 3 of your I-20.  A current signature should be less than 1 year old when you will re-enter the US.
  • When traveling outside the United States with an expired U.S. visa you must obtain a new visa at a US embassy abroad before attempting to re-enter the US.  The only exception to this rule involves travel to Canada for less than 30 days.  If you plan to travel to Canada please consult with the DSO before you leave.
  • It is okay for your passport visa to expire while you remain inside the US as long as your I-20 is still valid.  However, for all travel outside the US (except visits of less than 30 days to Canada) you must get your visa renewed.
  • Always keep all immigration documentation – including old I-20’s and other documents.
  • Anytime you change your major you must inform the DSO so this can be recorded on your I-20.
  • All F-1 students must be enrolled full-time (a minimum of 12 credits* for undergraduate students) every semester.  There are very few exceptions to this requirement.  You must consult with the DSO before dropping below full-time.
    * Credits must be in classroom credits.  An F-1 student can only take one online course for up to three credit hours per semester while college is in session.
  • Do not seek or accept any employment, except on-campus jobs at Houghton, without first consulting with the DSO.
  • For more information on exiting and re-entering the United States while continuing on your F-1 student visa, please visit this SEVIS website.