Maintaining Your Legal Status in the US

You are responsible for knowing and following all immigration regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations can have serious consequences for your ability to study, seek employment, or remain in the United States.  

Make sure your immigration documents are valid and unexpired 

  • Your passport must not expire
  • Your I-20 must be valid and issued by the school you are attending
  • If your F-1 visa has expired during your stay in the US [your valid I-20 keeps you legal], you will have to obtain a new visa to re-enter the US after traveling
  • Apply for an extension of your I-20 BEFORE your document expires if you need more time to complete your program

Register for and complete a full course load every semester 

  • Undergraduate students must complete at least 12 credits every semester;  graduate students must complete 9 credits 
  • Students must make normal, full-time progress toward degree completion

Do not accept any employment without authorization from the International Office 

  • Full-time students may accept on-campus employment of no more than 20 hours per week during the school year, or full time during vacation periods
  • Off-campus employment requires the authorization of the International Office and USCIS

Report any change of address to the International Office and change your address in NJCU's GothicNet within 10 days of your move 

  • F-1 students are required to report their U.S. address to the International Office within 10 days. Changing your address at NJCU's GothicNet DOES NOT satisfy this requirement.

Contact the International Office IMMEDIATELY if there are any changes in your personal or academic situation or items that need to be updated on your I-20, such as: 

  • Change of name
  • Change of school, major or degree level
  • Withdrawal or termination due to academic or medical reasons
  • Departure or Withdrawal for a personal leave of absence
  • Transfer to another institution in the U.S.

For more information on maintaining your student status, visit Study in the States 


Everyone in the United States has legal rights and protections, regardless of your immigration status. The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) offers guidance on protecting your rights when dealing with police or immigration authorities. View the ACLU's Know Your Rights web page for more information.