Immigration Procedures

How to Maintain Your Legal Status In the U.S.

The consequences of failing to maintain legal status in the U.S. are becoming increasingly severe. It is relatively easy to stay in status if you observe the following rules:

  • Keep your passport valid at all times
  • Attend the school you are authorized to attend, as indicated on your SEVIS I-20
  • Pursue a full course of study (full-time course load) each semester
  • Maintain registration each semester until graduation or transfer to a new school
  • Follow required procedures for moving from one educational level to another, transferring from one school to another, and extending immigration documents
  • Do not work off-campus without required authorization
  • Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week when classes are in session
  • Notify the Registrar’s Office of address changes within 10 days

If you have any questions about maintaining your status, please come to talk with an International Student Advisor.


  • Basic Travel Documents
  • A valid passport (except Canadians)
  • Valid visa
  • Valid F-1 (you should keep all copies)
  • Current SEVIS I-20 with a valid signature (see I-20, page 3)
  • I-94 Card (which is given to you at port of entry)
  • Proof of financial support
  • Transcript showing full-time enrollment and good academic standing

You should make photocopies of your travel documents and keep the copies and originals in a safe place.

Visas and Passports

The visa stamp in your passport was obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The visa shows the latest date on which you can enter the U.S.. It does not show how long you can stay here. When arriving at a U.S. port of entry, the immigration inspector examines your passport, your visa, and your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20), and determines whether you are admissible to the United States. A visa functions only as a key to enter the U.S.. However, you do need a valid visa to reenter the U.S. from abroad.

Renewing Your Visa

If you and/or your dependents need to renew your visas in order to re-enter the U.S., you must apply in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation:

  • Visa application and required fees
  • Valid passport
  • Current passport size photographs
  • Valid Form I-20
  • Proof of financial support
  • Transcript showing full-time enrollment

Renewing Your Passport

Consult your country’s consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. Embassy World has information about where to locate your country’s consulate or embassy.

Automatic Revalidation

Antioch University New England international students with an expired U.S. visa may be granted an automatic revalidation to enter the U.S. after visiting Canada, Mexico, or contiguous territories if:

  • Their visit does not exceed 30 days
  • They have maintained lawful F-1 status and intend to continue doing so
  • They present a valid passport containing I-94 marked D/S (duration of status)
  • They present a Valid I-20
  • They present Proof of Financial Support

However, according to a new U.S. Department of State regulation, any F-1 student who chooses to apply for a new visa while in contiguous territory will not be eligible for the automatic revalidation benefit during the course of that trip, but would rather have to wait until the visa is granted in order to re-enter the U.S. Students may encounter longer than usual delays when getting the visa. In addition, citizens of state sponsors of terrorism (currently Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba) are no longer eligible for the automatic revalidation benefit under any circumstances. The benefit remains unchanged for individuals who are not citizens of a state sponsor of terrorism and who do not apply for a visa while in contiguous territory.

Canadian citizens
Canadian citizens are not required to have a passport (if entering the U.S. from within the Western Hemisphere) or visa, but must present an I-20, proof of Canadian Citizenship, and proof of funding at the port of entry.

Immigration Status
Immigration status is granted at the U.S. port of entry. Most of you have F-1 student status. In most situations, your visa type and immigration status are the same, unless you have changed your immigration status after entering the U.S.

To maintain your legal status in the U.S., check your certificate of eligibility (I-20, not the visa stamp in your passport). For F-1 students, check the ending date under item 5 on your I-20 form.

Re-entering the U.S. After a Temporary Absence

To re-enter the U.S., you need to have the following documents:

  • Valid passport (except Canadians)
  • Valid F-1 or F-2 visa
  • Current I-20 with a valid signature (see I-20 Endorsement to be eligible for revalidation)
  • Each signature is valid for 12 months
  • Proof of financial support
  • Transcript showing full-time enrollment and good academic standing

F-1 Student Status

It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to F-1 students. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits granted to F-1 students or you may lose your valid student status.

F-1 students must maintain full-time status each semester, until they receive their degrees. Full-time means you must register and complete at least 8 credits each semester or the equivalent as determined by your department. There are some exceptions to this requirement, such as: documented health conditions, English language difficulties in the first semester which prevent a full-time course load, or during your last semester if you need less than 8 credits to finish your degree – as long as these are approved in advance by an advisor in the Admissions Office. Please talk to the staff about these or any other problems about your status. International students will lose their immigration status by taking a leave of absence from their studies while staying in the U.S.

I-20 Endorsement

You need to have a valid signature from the designated Admissions Office staff member on your I-20 in order to re-enter the U.S. Each signature is valid for one academic year.

F-1 Program Extension

The completion of studies date (item #5 on the I-20 form) is the date you are expected to complete your studies. If you are unable to complete your course of study by that date, you must apply for a program extension before the I-20 completion date expires. Contact an advisor in Admissions well before your I-20 expiration date to initiate a program extension.

F-1 Transfer Schools or Change of Degree

All students transferring from one school to another or advancing from one degree level to another must receive a new I-20 and complete an immigration transfer process to maintain their legal status in the U.S. You must complete the procedures at the Admissions Office within 15 days after the start date on your I-20. The transfer procedure may also be completed by leaving and re-entering the U.S. on an I-20 form from the new school.

F-2 Dependents

The spouse or child of an F-1 student enters the U.S. in F-2 status. Any student wishing to bring a spouse and/or child to the U.S. should visit the Admissions Office for information on proper channels. Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible for employment, and cannot take classes full time (except children enrolled in elementary or secondary school).