Maintaining Your Visa
Maintaining Your Visa Status
Once you have a visa, you must make sure you follow the rules required to keep it. Maintaining your visa status is essential to living, working and studying in the United States. We can help you navigate the process.
Use this page to find out:
- The basic rules you must follow in order to maintain your visa status
- What to do in special circumstances
- What your options are after your program ends
To maintain your status, you must:
- Report address changes to us within 10 days
- You must notify the ISS office within 10 days of an address change. This includes address changes of dependents. You should also notify the UCR Registrar by changing your address online.
- Notify us if you leave before the date indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019.
- All F-1 students must be enrolled each quarter in at least 12 units to be qualified as a full-time student. If you are taking less than 12 units, you would need to have approval in advance. Please fill out the Reduced Course Load Form.
- Notify us of any change of major, minor, degree objective or financial sponsorship.
- Avoid unauthorized employment.
- When school is in session, F-1 students can’t work more than 20 hours per week on campus, which includes any teaching assistantship or graduate student research hours.
- F-1 students can’t work off-campus without receiving prior authorization from the U.S. government and/or an ISS international student advisor.
- J-1 students must obtain permission from the ISS office before working on campus.
- Learn about legal employment options by each visa type.
- Keep your passport and certificate of eligibility valid.
- If your I-20 or DS-2019 will expire before you program ends, you may apply for an extension at our office. You must apply before your current document expires.
- Complete the extension form and submit to our office:
- For us to extend your certificate of eligibility, federal regulations require you to have enough funds to finance yourself during the extension. Please review the charts below indicating how much is required for the different lengths of time. Note that we can only extend certificates of eligibility for 1 year at a time:
- File your taxes on time.
- Follow health insurance requirements.
- All UCR students are enrolled and billed for the UC health insurance, SHIP.
- J-1 students need to follow the U.S. Department of State’s health insurance requirements. SHIP is an acceptable program to meet these requirements.
- For more information on UC's SHIP health insurance, you can visit the Student Health Services website.
- Complete immigration transfer procedures on time.
- If you are transferring from another U.S. university to UCR, you should attend the international student orientation and document check-in. Document Check-In is mandatory.
- If you are transferring from UCR to another U.S. school, notify an international student advisor in advance, so we can release your SEVIS record to the school you plan to attend.
- You will need a letter of acceptance or admission to transfer out to another school. Please submit your acceptance or admission letter along with the Document Request Form.
If Your Visa Expires
You only need to renew your visa stamp if you are traveling outside of the U.S. and need to reenter. As long as you maintain F-1 or J-1 visa status and stay in the U.S., you do not need to renew your visa. For questions, contact us.
J-1 and F-1 Students: After Your Program Ends
Within 60 days of your program completion date (which may be different than your graduation date) you need to choose one of the following:
- Leave the U.S.
- Transfer to another school.
- Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Once you complete OPT, you have 60 days to leave the U.S. or transfer to another SEVIS-approved school.
Within 30 days of your program completion date (which may be different than your graduation date) you need to choose one of the following:
- Leave the U.S.
- Transfer to another school.
- Start Academic Training. You must apply for Academic Training before your current DS-2019 expires.
Unless you have been authorized for Academic Training, you must leave the U.S. within 30 days of your program completion date or transfer to another SEVIS-approved school.
You may not work during the 30-day grace period.
At the end of your 30-day grace period, if you travel outside of the U.S., you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. as a J-1 student before returning to your home country.
If You Need More Help
For more immigration and visa guidance, please schedule an appointment with one of our international student advisors by calling 951-827-4113.