Find here information on how to ensure you can stay in the U.S., plus information on Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

How to Maintain Your Status


During your POST-completion OPT period (Including STEM OPT) ALL students on OPT are required by law to report their address and employment information to the OISS  within 10 days of any change. Please fill out the appropriate reporting forms to update our office regarding your employment.

If you have not reported an employer within 90 days of the start date of your approved OPT, your F-1 status will be automatically TERMINATED in the SEVIS system and you will lose your F-1 status and OPT! 



Employment must be directly related to your field of study and includes volunteer work and internships.

Total employment must equal at least 20 hours per week (you are allowed to have more than one job, as long as all of the jobs are related to your field of study)!  Keep records of each employment.

Students on post-completion OPT may NOT accrue more than 90 days of unemployment during the 12-month period of OPT (indicated on the EAD card). These 90 days include weekends, and the time starts accruing the date your OPT starts. 

You MUST report if you change your visa status (ex. H1B) or decide to leave the U.S. and not use your OPT. If you have not reported an employer and do not report your change in status or departure you will have a “failure to report employer” termination permanently on your immigration record!





EXTENDING YOUR I-20 (F-1) OR DS-2019 (J-1)


You MUST request your I-20 or DS-2019 extension with the Office of International Students and Scholars PRIOR to the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019 form or you will lose your immigration status!

If you do not complete your educational program within the time period indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019 form,  you are required to file a program extension with the OISS PRIOR to the expiration of your immigration form. You must demonstrate that you are currently a full-time student in good standing and have a legitimate academic reason for the delay such as a change in major or research topic or unexpected research problems.

In order to extend your I-20 or DS-2019 form you will need to submit the following:

  • Email or letter from your department chair, faculty advisor, or Dean of your school which states that you are a full time student in good standing, your new expected graduate date and the valid academic reason(s) for your delay.  If your department is providing funding they should include this in the email/letter. Your completion date is your graduation date (unless you are finishing in the summer session in which case it is the end date of your summer session). Dissertation/thesis students: Your completion date will be your defense date including any revisions. If you defend in the middle of the semester and have a assistantship in your department, your completion date will be the end of the semester.
  • Proof of finances for the amount of time you will be extending. Living expenses are set at approximately $2000 per month. Cost per credit for the credits you have remaining should be found on your student account or ask the OISS. Documents can be submitted by email or in person at the OISS. It will take 1-2 weeks for your form to be extended and you will receive an email from the OISS when it is ready.

What if my visa in my passport has expired?

Your visa in your passport is an ENTRY permit. You are allowed to stay in the U.S. if your visa has expired, however the next time you leave the U.S. (with the exception of Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean) you must go to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to apply for a new visa. For more information, please visit OISS.

Grace Period After Completion of Studies

As an F-1 student you are allowed 60 days to remain in the United States after your completion of studies date. J-1 students and scholars are allowed 30 days. During this time you are no longer allowed to work, study or re-enter the US. Note that the 30 or 60 day period is from the day that you complete your studies, NOT necessarily the expiration of your I-20 or DS 2019 form if you have finished earlier than your form indicates.  If you have applied for F-1 Optional Practical Training you can remain in the U.S. while your OPT is pending or until the start date of your OPT.


Many people already living in the United States must change their visa status in order to become a full-time student or once they have completed their studies, choose to change to a tourist or worker status. If you are in the U.S. in F-2 (spouse or child of an F-1 student) or B-2 (tourist) status you CANNOT begin your studies until your change of status is approved by the Immigration Service. Those on other visa statuses, please consult with our office as to your eligibility for study under your current status.

Changing immigration status can be done two different ways:

  • Traveling abroad and applying for a new visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate OR
  • Filing a change of status application while remaining in the U.S. This process usually takes about 60 days, so you must plan accordingly if you are required to change your status prior to beginning your studies. As long as you file before you current status expires, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. until you receive a response from the Immigration Service. Please note that the next time you travel outside of the country, you will still need to apply for a new visa stamp at the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.


Typical Changes of Status Examples

Change from B-2 Visitor to F-1 Student

It is not recommended to come to the U.S. on a B-2 visitor’s visa if you are planning to attend school full-time. The Immigration Service often will deny the applications for changes from B-2 to F-1 if they feel that the person falsified his or her intentions when entering the U.S. and simply entered on the visitor’s visa to avoid the hassle of applying for an F-1. Please note that you CANNOT come in on the Visa Waiver Program and change to F-1.

If you must enter the U.S. before obtaining your F-1 student visa, you should apply to the U.S. Consulate for a B-2 prospective student’s visa. The Consulate usually will grant the visa if you show them an admission letter and explain why you cannot wait to receive the I-20 Form. Changes of status from this type of visa to the F-1 visa are usually easily approved in the U.S.

If you are not able to do either option and must enter the U.S. before obtaining your F-1 student or B-2 prospective student visa, you should inform the inspecting immigration officer at the port of entry of your intent of becoming a student and show some proof if possible (such as an admission letter.) The immigration officer will then write the notation on your I-94 card that you are a “prospective student.” This should allow you to change your status to F-1.

Note: You will not be allowed to enroll at BC if you are in B-2 status and waiting for your change of status to F-1. You cannot begin classes until your change of status has been approved by the USCIS and you are officially in F-1 status.

Change from F-1 Student to B-2 Visitor

As part of your F-1 student status, you have a 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S. after you complete your studies. If you wish to stay longer to be a tourist, you can apply for a change of status to B-2 visitor. You must document that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during this time since no employment is permitted on the B-2 visa. You also will need to convince United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and of your intentions of returning home after your visit. USCIS generally will only allow you to remain in the U.S. for an additional 30-day period unless you have a compelling reason for staying longer.

If you already have a valid tourist visa in your passport or you are from a country which allows you to enter on a “tourist waiver”, the change of status can be accomplished by leaving the country and re-entering as a tourist.

Change from F-1 Student Practical Training to H-1b Temporary Worker

For students who wish to continue employment after the expiration of their practical training in most cases it is possible to change status from F-1 student to H-1b temporary worker. However, unlike practical training where no job offer is required, the H-1 visa is employer and job specific. The employer must be willing to “petition” an H-1 for you. Obtaining an H-1 is much more complicated than other visa categories and involves the Department of Labor as well as the Immigration Service. Often the services of an immigration lawyer are advised.

Change from F-2 Dependent to F-1 Student

As of January 1, 2003, an F-2 dependent is required to change to F-1 status in order to pursue full time studies (except for F-2 minors studying at the primary or secondary level). If you would like to study full-time in the U.S., you must apply to USCIS for a change of status to F-1. With the application you will need to certify that you have the minimum TOEFL score and sufficient financial certification to cover your tuition and living expenses for the first year of your program. Please be aware that you absolutely CANNOT begin your full-time studies while the petition is pending. Therefore, please apply as far in advance as possible as it can take one month or more for your application to be approved.

Change from J-1 Exchange Visitor to Other Visa Categories

Students and scholars who are not subject to the two-year home residency requirement are free to change status to any other visa status for which they qualify. However, if you are subject to the two-year home residency requirement then you are prohibited from changing your visa status to that of an H-1, L-1, or permanent resident until you fulfill the requirement or obtain a waiver. Additionally, if you are subject to the requirement, you cannot change status to F-1 student within the U.S. You must leave the country and apply for the F-1 student visa at a Consulate abroad. This is most easily done in your home country. Please be aware that even if you do return to the U.S. on the F-1 student visa, you are still subject to the residency requirement and will not be able to obtain the H-1 or L-1 visas or permanent residency until you fulfill the requirement or obtain a waiver.

Exchange Visitors are also prohibited from changes in categories within the Exchange Visitor Program in the U.S. For example, you cannot change from a J-1 student to a J-1 scholar or vice versa. Usually you can leave the U.S. and begin a new program.


Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical training is employment directly related to your major(s). It is authorized by the Immigration Service as part of your F-1 visa status.  


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular practical training (CPT) authorization allows students to take part in paid or un-paid off-campus training (such as temporary employment, internship, practicum, field work, clinical) which is directly related to their major and required AND/OR for credit towards their degree program.  Upon approval of CPT, students will be issued a new I-20 form with a CPT authorization on page 2.


Have you moved or planning to move, or changed your phone number? If so, please make sure to report the change to OISS through Agora portal.

Please note that all students on F-1 and J-1 visas are required to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security within 10 days of any changes to their place of residence in the U.S. 

Once you've made the change through Agora portal, there are no other requirements as the information you submitted will be reported electronically to DHS through the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

The Form I-94 is the DHS Arrival/Departure Record that is created when a traveler enters the US. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer also stamps each traveler’s passport with the date, class of admission, and the duration of authorized stay.


Occasionally, there are mistakes on the passport stamp or the I-94. If this happens, thestudent/scholar must correct it with CBP to ensure there are no issues with their status.