Individuals admitted to the U.S. on student visas (F-1 or J-1 visas) must obey a special set of immigration laws. In addition to these laws, you must also abide by local, state, and federal laws and the University's Code of Student Conduct.
Below are some of the basic guidelines you must follow in order to maintain your F-1 or J-1 status.
Academic Advisors are encouraged to review our Quick Guide for F-1 and J-1 Students for reference when advising international students in F-1 or J-1 status.
Check-in is required by the immigration regulations. You must check-in so that ISSS can report in the SEVIS system that you have arrived on campus to begin your program of study.
F-1/J-1 students must be registered for a full course of study:
|Academic English||20 clock hours|
|Undergraduate/Undergraduate Pathway||12 credits|
|Graduate/Graduate Pathway||9 credits|
|Summer (First or Last Semester only ) - if summer is your first or last semester of study, then it is not considered a vacation period and you must be enrolled full-time||6 credits|
NOTE: Due to COVID, the U.S. government is temporarily allowing F-1/J-1 international students to enroll in more online courses than would normally be permitted by immigration regulations. Continuing F-1 students can enroll in a combination of in-person, hybrid, and online courses (while inside the U.S.) or enroll in 100% online courses (from inside or outside the U.S.) and maintain their status provided they have maintained all other requirements of their nonimmigrant status since March 9, 2020.
There are specific limits for online and distance education courses that are stipulated by the immigration regulations. At Illinois State, both online and hybrid courses are considered distance education. For the exact definition of these course types, please see the Course-Type Definitions listed on the Office of the Registrar's website.
F-1 and J-1 students:
Students in Academic English or Pathway Programs:
The program end date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 document determines the end date of your immigration status and how long you can stay in the U.S.
The visa page inside your passport does not determine how long you can stay in the country. Your F-1 or J-1 visa can expire, and you can still remain in the country as long as your I-20 or DS-2019 document is still valid and you are properly maintaining your status.
F-1 students can work on campus without prior permission from ISSS. If you are a new student, you can begin working up to 30 days prior to the start of classes.
J-1 students are required to receive prior permission from ISSS for on campus work.
Both F-1 and J-1 students have specific limits for how many hours they can work on campus:
Please see the On-Campus Employment section of our website for further details.
Off-campus work must be related to your field of study. You must have prior authorization for all off-campus work, even if the internship/work experience is unpaid.
Immigration regulations state that F-1 and J-1 students must report any change in address, phone number, email address, or name within 10 days of the change.
Please report these changes by updating your My.IllinoisState.edu account with your new contact information.
Your I-20/DS-2019 is an important document that needs to be kept up-to-date.
You should keep your passport valid while you are studying in the U.S. Make sure you know the expiration date and begin the renewal process at least 6 months before it expires.
Contact the embassy or consulate of your home country in the U.S. for information on passport renewal processes.
You will need a valid travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019 from an ISSS advisor in order to re-enter the U.S. When you request a travel signature, ISSS will also look over your immigration documents and check that your SEVIS record is in "Active" status.
Please see the Travel section of our website for further details.
While in the U.S., you are required to obey federal, state, and local laws. You are also bound by the ISU Code of Student Conduct
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, ISSS recommends you seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer, as well as a criminal lawyer.
F-1 students must depart the U.S. within 60 days after the end date on their I-20 document or after completion of studies (whichever is sooner).
J-1 students must depart the U.S. within 30 days after the end date on their DS-2019 document or after completion of studies (whichever is sooner).
Students working on Optional Practical Training (OPT) must depart within 60 days after the end date listed on their EAD card.