Maintaining Status

Your immigration classification is based on your primary purpose in the U.S. Whether that purpose is to study, to conduct research, or to teach, there are things you need to be aware of and steps you need to take to maintain your lawful immigration status throughout your stay at BU.

It is important for you to understand the requirements that govern your specific immigration classification and to communicate with the ISSO prior to taking part in activities that may negatively impact your legal status in the U.S. If you violate the terms of your status, you may need to take steps to regain legal status through an application for reinstatement or through making a new entry to the U.S.

Your SEVIS Record

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, known as SEVIS, is a real-time electronic system used to maintain records for individuals in F or J status. Every F-1 student and J-1 exchange visitor has a unique SEVIS record. This record was created by the ISSO prior to issuing your immigration document. You can find your SEVIS number in the upper right corner of your immigration document.

New F-1 students, J-1 students, and J-1 scholars entering the U.S. for the first time in F-1 or J-1 status must pay a SEVIS fee.

Read on for more information.

Full-Time Enrollment Requirement

If you are an F-1 or J-1 student, you must register for and complete at least 12 credit hours each Fall and Spring Semester to maintain your immigration status. Please note that additional credit requirements vary depending on the school/program to which you were admitted; in some cases, the required credit hours for your degree program may exceed the 12 credit hours required for immigration purposes. Full-time enrollment will also be required if you begin or end your program during a the summer.  Dropping below 12 credits without prior authorization by the ISSO is considered a violation of your F-1 or J-1 immigration status and will result in a negative SEVIS record termination.

Read on for more information.

SEVIS Registration

Federal regulations require BU to update the Department of Homeland Security about every F-1 student each academic semester. We send information through SEVIS for new students once they have completed Initial ISSO check-in and have registered for classes. For continuing students, we update SEVIS records at the beginning of each semester based on academic class registration.

Program Extension

Your initial BU immigration document was based on the anticipated dates of your program or affiliation at the University. Your anticipated completion date can change for many reasons—students may change majors or programs, or research can take unexpected (yet exciting) turns. This is normal in academia. If you need additional time to complete your studies or affiliation at BU, the ISSO can advise you on your options and the required paperwork.

Read on for more information.

Change of Program/Appointment Information

Your immigration documents should accurately reflect the details of your BU affiliation at all times. Whether you are a student changing education level or degree program, or a scholar whose appointment terms are changing, the ISSO must be notified in advance to assess whether the change will affect your current immigration status.

Read on for more information.

Leave of Absence

Are you planning to request a leave of absence for non-medical reasons or a medical condition? Are you being suspended or under review for suspension? Are you planning to withdraw from your classes? Do you have personal issues in your home country that require you to take some time away from BU? These are just some of the situations where you may need to interrupt your studies or affiliation with BU.

Read on for more information. 

Change of Address or Other Personal Information

Your immigration documents and records should always be accurate. Whether your local address, name, citizenship, funding, or other personal information has changed, it is important to inform the ISSO and follow any required procedures.

Read on for more information about changing your address. 

Read on for more information about updating your personal information. 

J-1 Bars and Restrictions

To preserve the intended purpose of the J program, there may be restrictions on your eligibility to return to the U.S. and/or change to another immigration status in the U.S. Not all exchange visitors become subject to these bars and restrictions; several factors are taken into account, including country of citizenship or legal permanent residence, field of study or research in the U.S., source of funding, current and/or prior J category, and the length of time you have been in the U.S. as a J-1.

Read on for more information.

Health Insurance for J-1 Exchange Visitors

If you are a student or scholar under the J-1 classification, you must comply with minimum health insurance requirements to maintain your legal J status in the U.S. These minimum requirements also apply to any dependents who have accompanied you in J-2 status. This is in addition to general health insurance requirements.

Public Charge

Public Charge is a general term for an individual who is indigent or sick person who must be taken care of at public expense. Liable to become a Public Charge is the term used in the United States to classify prospective immigrants who are denied entry due to their lack of sustainable living means.

Read on for more information.