University of Charleston

University of Charleston

Information on Maintaining Your Status

We understand that there are a lot of regulations to learn about in order to study in the US, and we will help you manage every step of the way. UC has a large international population, and we have experience in all facets of immigration and status issues.

If you have any questions or need information about immigration matters, it is important to check with the UC Office of International Admissions. This office is up to date on the regulations pertaining to a specific student’s immigration status and situation. Because following inappropriate advice may jeopardize legal status in the U.S. or may cause students to lose available opportunities, please make sure to check with the Office of International Admissions.

The following is a general summary of what students need to know to maintain legal status in the U. S.:

  • Maintain a valid passport
  • Attend the school the students were last authorized to attend by the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS)
  • Be registered as a full-time student
  • Apply for extensions of program when necessary
  • Do not work without necessary authorization
  • Inform the Director of International Programs whenever students change their address and/or telephone number. It is mandatory that changes of address be reported in the SEVIS system within 10 days of a move.


Important Documents

International students and scholars in the U.S. should be aware of the immigration regulations applicable to their stay here and should be certain to keep all documents appropriately updated and valid. You should be familiar with the following documents:


The passport is the legal document issued by your country of citizenship and must be kept valid at all times. The passport can be renewed through your Embassy or one of your Consulates in the United States.


The U.S. visa is the stamp on a page of your passport, which permits you to enter the U.S. Students will have an F-1 visa. Exchange visitors will have a J-1 visa. The U.S. visa may expire while you are in the U.S.; you cannot and need not renew it while on Duration of Status (D/S) in the United States. A new visa will be required if the original one expires and you travel outside and then reenter the U.S. You must present the I-20 from your school in order to obtain an F-1 visa. A valid visa may not be necessary for reentry from Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands other than Cuba, if you will be staying less than thirty days.


The I-20 form (for F-1 immigration status) is the document issued by the agency or institution with which you are affiliated (i.e. University of Charleston) which you present to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to obtain a visa and which you present to border officials in order to enter the U.S. each time you travel abroad and come back. A Designated School Official (DSO) endorsement/signature is required after your initial entry. If you travel outside of the U.S. during your “Duration of Status”, you will need to have the signature updated if the date of the most recent endorsement will be more than six months from the date of your reentry.

The I-20 form is now regarded as the permanent record of your stay in the United States so be careful not to lose it. Keep your I-20 stored with your other important papers (preferably with your passport).

PLEASE NOTE: A change in major field of study or degree objective requires issuance of a new I-20. Discussion with the Director of International Programs is required.


Visa Matters

Duration of Status/Permission to Stay

The Department of Homeland Security grants Duration of Status to F-1 students by entering the notation “D/S” (Duration of Status) in the upper right corner of the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status (USCIS Form I-20), and the Departure Record (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service/USCIS form I-94).

In order to meet the Duration of Status (D/S) requirements, you must fulfill one of the following:

  • Pursue a full course of study and make normal progress toward completing that course,
  • Be authorized for “practical training” after you complete your studies, or
  • Be within the sixty (60) day grace period you have to depart the country after you have completed your studies or program.

Limitations on Duration of Status

The “completion of studies” date in item #5 of the USCIS form I-20 is the date by which the USCIS expects you to complete requirements for your current program.

However, if you complete your studies prior to that date, your permission to stay in the United States will end after you have completed your studies, regardless of what the I-20 might indicate, unless practical training authorization has been applied for and granted.

If you are unable to complete your program of study by that date, consult with Director of International Programs at least thirty (30) days before reaching the I-20 completion date. If you are eligible for an extension of your time limit, she will assist you in complying with extension requirements.