What is the difference,
and why is it important?
What is a visa?
Permission to apply for entry to the U.S.
A Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) is…
Granted by a U.S. consular official at a U.S. embassy or
consulate outside the U.S. (cannot be obtained or renewed
within the borders of the U.S.)
A “permit” which allows a foreign national to board a
conveyance (ship, plane, train, etc.) and present him or herself
for inspection at a Port of Entry. It does not guarantee
admission to the U.S.
A colored, digital, machine readable, decal affixed to the
foreign national’s passport.
Valid for one, several, or multiple (M) entries.
Valid for a particular period of time (does NOT govern the
period of admission to the U.S.)
What is status?
Permission to remain in the U.S. for a specific period of time.
An F-1 Student…
…is admitted to the United States for a period known as “Duration
of Status,” which is recorded on his or her entry documents (I-94
and I-20) with the notation “D/S.”
Duration of status refers to the period that a student is pursuing a
full course of study, plus any optional practical training authorized
following completion of the course of study.
A student’s valid I-20 determines the initial parameters of his or her
duration of status, because those dates reflect the estimated length
of the course of study.
A student can be admitted to the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the
report date on Form I-20 and may remain up to 60 days after
completing the course of study or optional practical training.
What if the visa expires?
The F-1 student visa is used only at the Port of Entry to
request admission to the U.S.
Once in the U.S., the validity of the visa is unimportant as
long as the student maintains status.
If the student travels outside the U.S., a valid visa is
required to re-enter the country.
An exception is made for brief trips (less than 30 days) to
Mexico and Canada. Re-entry to the U.S. may be granted
with an expired visa in these cases.
How is status maintained? Students must…
Report to the Designated School Official / International Office for SEVIS registration
upon arrival at the school.
Attend the school that they are authorized to attend.
Pursue a full course of study or engage in authorized practical training following
completion of studies.
Make normal progress towards completing a program of study.
Apply for a timely extension of stay.
Obtain a new Form I-20 for a change in academic program, funding, or level of
Follow transfer procedures if applicable.
Abide by the F-1 grace period regulations.
Report change of address to the DSO within 10 days.
Abide by any special requirements such as Special Registration (NSEERS).
Maintain a valid passport.
Not engage in unlawful employment.
Depart the U.S. at the right time.
How is status lost? Through…
Failure to report to the school for SEVIS registration
Failure to enroll for a given academic term
Failure to make normal progress
Failure to attend the authorized school
Failure to complete the transfer out and transfer in processes
Failure to file a timely change of status
Failure to obtain a program extension prior to program end
Failure to notify the DSO of an address change within 10 days
of the change
Failure to depart from the U.S. at the right time.
How can status be reinstated?
The US Customs and Immigration Service may consider approving a student's
reinstatement application if the student can demonstrate that he/she is eligible for
reinstatement. ALL of the following must be true. The student:
Has not been out of status for more than 5 months prior to filing for reinstatement
Does not have a record of repeated violations
Is pursuing a full course of study
Has not engaged in unauthorized employment
Is not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation for which
reinstatement is being requested
The status violation resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control
If the violation relates to a reduced course load without prior authorization from
the DSO, the course load reduction must have been of a type that would ordinarily
have been approvable by the DSO if it had been requested in a timely manner
Must provide evidence of extreme hardship if application for reinstatement is not
Travel vs. Reinstatement
A student may travel and re-enter the U.S. with a new I-20
rather than filing an application for reinstatement.
The DSO must terminate the student’s record in SEVIS and
create an initial I-20.
It may be difficult for the student to obtain a visa abroad, or if
the student has a valid visa, the Port of Entry official may ask
questions about the student’s prior history in the U.S.
The student’s status will be viewed as a “new” entry in F-1
status upon return to the U.S. Therefore, the student would
not be eligible for any type of off campus employment until
he/she completes an academic year in F status.
Check all documents regularly for expiration dates
Know the implications of expired documents
Know what happens if status is lost
Apply for reinstatement or travel and re-enter if
Consult with the Office of International Student Services
when in doubt