Maintaining Your Immigration Status

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Maintaining Your Immigration Status | CGPS | University of Delaware

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Maintaining Your Immigration Status

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has provided temporary guidance and
changes to regulations related to your immigration status. Please review the


 for changes to regulations that relate to employment, travel, maintaining status and other guidance from the university and federal agencies.

Maintaining your status is your responsibility! The Center for Global Programs & Services (CGPS) is here to help advise you, but it is ultimately your responsibility to keep your records up to date and take the appropriate actions.



Here are some tips from CGPS on how to stay in legal status and be a responsible visa holder:


F-1 students should make sure the dates on your I-20 are valid. If you will not complete your degree by the date on the I-20, you need to complete the I-20/DS-2019 Student Program Extension form at least 30 days before expiration of your I-20 so that we can extend it. If you decide to apply for OPT, a new I-20 will be prepared for you at that time.

J-1 students should make sure the dates on your DS-2019 are valid. If you will not complete your degree by the program end date on the DS-2019, complete the I-20/DS-2019 Student Program Extension form at least 90 days before expiration of your DS-2019 so that we can extend it.

Please submit an I-20/DS-2019 Student Program Update online if you've added or changed majors. If you change your degree level, complete the I-20 Change of Level Request. If you need an extension, complete and submit the I-20/DS-2019 Student Program Extension. Your extension will be based on the duration of your funding and the completion date of your coursework, or dissertation (if sustaining).

If you need more information about extending your I-20/DS-2019, please visit the CGPS Extension Procedures webpage.

As long as your I-20/DS-2019 is current and valid, it is not a problem if your F-1 or J-1 visa expires while in the U.S. The F-1 or J-1 visa (the U.S. sticker in your passport) needs to be valid when entering the U.S. If you leave the U.S. with an expired visa, a new visa will be required to re-enter and can only be obtained at a U.S. consulate outside of the U.S.


Undergraduate students must register for 12 credit hours per semester and graduate students must register for 9 credit hours (Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, and Graduate Assistants - 6 credit hours). Auditing classes are not acceptable. If you have completed all your coursework, you must register for sustaining status.

Maintaining Full-time Status and Online Courses

  • ALL STUDENTS: If you are in your last semester (even if it is a winter/summer session) and only need one course to finish your program, it CANNOT be taken through online/distance education.
  • F-1 & J-1 Students: No more than the equivalent of one class (3 credits) per semester can count towards full-time.

If you are not in full-time status during fall and spring semesters, you will be considered by USCIS to be here illegally. You will not be able to work on or off campus, apply for any practical training or transfer schools until you have been reinstated to F-1 status. This can be done either by applying to USCIS or by receiving a new I-20/DS-2019, leaving the U.S. and then re-entering the U.S. in F-1 status.

If you withdraw from a class and it takes you below 9 credits (graduate students) or 12 credits (undergraduate students), you will be out of F-1/J-1 status. If you completely withdraw from a semester, you will be out of status. In order to regain status, you might need to apply for a reinstatement.

If it is your last semester, you only need to take the credits necessary to graduate even if it is less than a full load. You will need to fill out a Request for Authorization for Reduced Course Load.

If you are ill and cannot attend school, you will still need to submit a Request for Authorization for Reduced Course Load to CGPS verifying that you are unable to attend classes. You will also need to notify your department and if you are a graduate student, the Graduate College.

Other valid academic reasons for not maintaining full-time status are: initial difficulties with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods, or improper course level placement.

If this is the case, you will need to submit a Request for Authorization for Reduced Course Load to CGPS. You will need an online recommendation/approval from your Academic Advisor (for undergraduate students) or Dr. Mary Martin (for graduate students) stating the reason for your reduced course load.

Academic Advising is also another office that may recommend taking a reduced course load. If you are having problems with the English language, you may take a reduced load of regular classes as well as language classes at the English Language Institute upon the ISSS Advisor's approval. In the case of graduate students, you will need approval from Dr. Mary Martin. In all cases, you will need to fill out a Request for Authorization for Reduced Course Load.

If you have lost your passport or need to extend your passport, you must contact your country's embassy or consulate. Unlike visas, passports can usually be extended while you are in the U.S. Most countries have consulates in Washington D.C. or New York City. Specific information on this can be found on the website of your country's embassy or consulate.

Contact CGPS with your I-20/DS-2019 at least one week BEFORE your departure of the U.S. For more information on travelling, please check the CGPS Travel & Visas webpage.

In order to maintain your valid F-1 or J-1 visa status, your "Mailing" address in UDSIS must be up-to-date with your local home U.S. address at all times.

If you move, you must update your mailing address information in UDSIS within 10 days.

To update this address, please follow the instructions below.

  1. Log in to UDSIS

  2. Click on “Personal Information”

  3. Click on “Addresses”

  4. In the “Mailing Address” section, note the following:

  • Country: “United States”
  • Address 1: Put the Street # and Street Name (ex: 471 McFarland Drive)
  • Address 2: Apt/Building/Dorm #, if applicable
  • City, State, and Postal Code: All required information


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why am I required to report my U.S. address?

A: Per federal regulations, students on F and J visas are required to report address changes within 10 days. Please update your U.S. address through UDSIS by updating the “Mailing” address. The information provided in the mailing address will be used to update your SEVIS record. Find detailed UDSIS_Address_Updates instructions on how to update your address in UDSIS. If you have any questions, please contact

Q: I do not have a U.S. address yet. Can I use CGPS or my lab as my address?

A: We recommend that you update your physical U.S. address as soon as possible. However, you may use our address (26 E. Main Street, Newark, DE 19716) or your on-campus address temporarily. When you do find a place to live, you must update your Mailing address in UDSIS.

Q: Should I change my mailing address to my home address if I go home for a break?

A: NO. Please use one of the other address types for your address in your home country. The “foreign” address should always be a non-U.S. address. You may choose to use the diploma address or home address for your foreign address. The mailing address should always be a U.S. address.

If you are a full-time student in good standing (2.00 GPA or above for undergraduates and 3.00 GPA for graduate students) you may work 20 hours per week on-campus. Before becoming employed on-campus, you must get written permission from CGPS.

F-1 students may apply for optional practical training which is directly related to your major area of study. Optional practical training is limited to 12 months. You may take the practical training during summer vacations, while school is in session not to exceed 20 hours per week, after completion of course requirements, or after graduation. You must apply 90 days before graduation or no later than 60 days after graduation.

J-1 students may apply for academic training that is directly related to your major area of study. Academic training is limited to 18 months.

Do not work off-campus without authorization and limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week when school is in session. If you have employment authorization or curricular practical training and you are transferring schools, discontinue working until you have new work authorization from your new school and/or USCIS. Remember that even work for which you are not paid is unauthorized without prior approval. Many students assume that "volunteering" their time and services does not require them to get authorization, but this is incorrect. ALWAYS contact CGPS before you engage in work or volunteer activities.

Read more on the CGPS Employment webpage.

If you receive any type of public assistance from federal, state, county, or local government agencies, you may have violated your student status. In the U.S., citizens and permanent residents are sometimes eligible for social benefits such as public cash assistance for income maintenance or long-term institutional care at the government’s expense. As a non-immigrant, you are typically NOT eligible to apply for or receive these benefits. 

Non-immigrants are prohibited from becoming a “public charge” in the U.S.  i.e., a person who is primarily dependent on the government for financial support. For more information, see the USCIS Public Charge. If you are having trouble supporting yourself or your family, or finding care, please contact CGPS and we will be happy to help you look for options that allow you to maintain your status in the U.S.

Upon completion of your program, you have a grace period during which you can stay in the U.S.

F-1 visa holders have 60 days after the completion of the program end date or your Post-completion OPT period to plan to depart the U.S., transfer your SEVIS record or change educational levels. For more information, see SEVP Understanding your Grace Period.

J-1 visa holders have 30 days after the completion of the program end date to plan to depart the U.S. You may no longer continue and/or complete exchange activities, nor work, during the grace period. If you wish to transfer to another school, you must do this BEFORE the program end date on your DS-2019. For more information, see DOS Travel Grace Period.

If you stay in the U.S. past your status end date or authorized grace period, you may accrue “unlawful presence” time. If found to be unlawfully present for 180 days or more but less than a year, you will be subject to a 3-year bar for entry into the U.S. If you accrue unlawful presence of one year or more, the bar for reentry is 10 years.

Health insurance is mandatory for all students and scholars at UD. If you are a student, you will automatically be enrolled in the UD Health Plan. Coverage may be obtained for dependents at Students may apply for a waiver of the insurance if they are able to show proof of comparable medical insurance. Waiver forms must be completed and submitted with proof of insurance online at University Health Plans website.

Find more information on the CGPS Healthcare & Insurance webpage.


  1. Do not take even a short trip outside the U.S. until you have checked with the Center for Global Programs & Services.

  2. Be aware of immigration laws.

  3. Maintain a full-time course of study.

  4. Pay U.S. and Delaware taxes if you are required to do so.

  5. Keep your passport valid.

  6. Inform the Center for Global Programs & Services if you have changed departments or degree levels.

  7. Do not accept public benefits from federal, state, county or local public service agencies, such as Medicaid, food stamps, federally subsidized housing, etc. as doing so may jeopardize your non-immigrant status in the U.S. about immigration matters.


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ISSS Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is provided as a service to international students, faculty, staff, employees, and administrators at the University of Delaware, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of official counsel. For assistance on your immigration status, we encourage you to contact an ISS advisor for specific guidance at