It is your responsibility as an international student to understand and comply with the terms of your immigration status while studying in the United States. The U.S. Department of State issues you your visa based on your intended purpose.
If you were issued an F or J student visa, then you are in the United States for a specific educational purpose. The student should not take any action that strays from that stated purpose.
When arriving to the United States, both F and J students must:
- Enter the United States no more than 30 days prior to the program start date.
- Upon arrival, you must immediately report to the Center for International Education & Services for your mandatory immigration check-in before the program start date. Failure to complete the mandatory check-in requirement could lead to an automatic termination of the academic program and end your lawful immigration status.
|F-1 Students||J-1 Students|
|Have a valid passport at all times. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future.||Have a valid passport at all times. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future.|
|Attend the university you are authorized to attend.||Attend the university you are authorized to attend.|
|There are no restrictions on changing degrees or academic program.||A J-1 student cannot move from one-degree level to a lower degree or from a non-degree to a degree student. You must remain in the same academic program as is listed on the DS-2019 form.|
|Be registered for classes full-time (undergraduate – 12 credit hours, graduate – 9 credit hours) until reaching dissertation-only, thesis-only or final-project only. If the you are uncertain as to whether or not you fit into one of the above categories, speak to the ISS Office.||You must attend classes full-time (undergraduate-12 credit hours, graduate-9 credit hours).|
|F-1 students are not allowed to drop below full-time enrollment without receiving prior authorization for a Reduced Course Load from the International Student Services Office.||J-1 students are not allowed to drop below full-time enrollment without receiving prior authorization from the Study Abroad Office.|
|If you believe that you will be unable to complete your program by the end date listed on your form I-20, you should speak with the International Student Services Office about requesting a possible program extension at least one month before the expiration date on your form I-20.||If you believe that you will be unable to complete your program by the end date listed on the form DS-2019, talk with the Study Abroad Office about requesting a program extension.|
|Extend the form I-20 as needed/Apply for a new form I-20 as needed.||You may apply for an extension of stay if you will continue with the same research or study program. You must notify the Study Abroad Office at least 30 days prior to the expiration of their DS-2019. Extension of stay can only be approved if form I-94 shows D/S as the ending date of the authorized stay. Extension beyond the maximum duration of Exchange Visitor (EV) category is not possible.|
|The ISS Office will need to provide authorization for you to work. Working off-campus without prior permission is a violation of the F-1 visa regulations and could result in your removal from the U.S. F-1 students are allowed to work part-time on-campus but need to complete a form-I9 with the ISS Office.||Employment is limited to on-campus if you are pursuing a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship or off-campus if it is a summer work/travel exchange program.|
|You should always have your passport and I-94 card with you in order to prove legal F-1 visa status.||You should always have your passport, I-94 card and DS-2019 with you in order to prove legal J-1 visa status.|
|If you maintain your F-1 visa status, you may be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).||J-1 students may participate in Academic Training within their program or related fields.|
|You have 60 days upon completion of your program to depart the U.S. or request for a SEVIS transfer to another institution or change your visa status. You may not exit and re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status during this 60-day grace period.||You have 30 days upon completion of your program to depart the U.S. You may not exit and re-enter the U.S. in J-1 status during this 30-day grace period.|
|F-1 students can choose to buy medical insurance through The Tennessee Board of Regents or through an independent carrier.||J-1 students can choose to buy medical insurance through The Tennessee Board of Regents or through an independent carrier.|
Employment - Do not attempt employment without first contacting International Student Services so you are aware of all legal limitations for F-1 and J-1 visa holders regarding work, employment and similar legal items.