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U.S. Government Regulations

One of the main functions carried out by ISS is to assist international students at UMD in maintaining their non-immigrant status in the United States. This office issues non-immigrant documents required by the U.S. government for persons with F-1 visas.

ISS also prepares documents for travel, dependent travel, change of degree program, transfer of schools, extension of stay, and employment options. Please note, however, that the ISS Office is not an office of the Department of Homeland Security.

This site provides general visa information. For detailed questions, make an appointment with ISS staff.


As a foreign national entering the U.S., you must have the following documents as evidence of your legal status: a passport, an I-94 form and an I-20. These documents are necessary for your stay in the U.S. and for temporary departures and re-entry. Have a Designated School Official (DSO) sign your I-20 before you temporarily leave the U.S. Your I-20 form can be endorsed by the following staff members:

Be sure to keep your documents in a safe place!

You should keep copies of all your documents in case they are lost or stolen. Whenever you get a new passport or visa, please give a copy to ISS or come to the office so they can make one for you. If you would like, you can also give ISS copies of any new I-94 you receive (include the front and back of the I-94, even if it is blank). Having copies of your documents will save you a lot of time and frustration in getting documents replaced or will allow you to access them easily when you are applying for benefits such as Optional Practical Training.


You should keep your passport valid at all times. Your passport is your government's permit for you to leave and re-enter your own country. Check the expiration date of your passport. The U.S. government requires that holders of F-1 or J-1 visas keep their passports valid for at least 6 months beyond the date they enter the U.S. A few countries are exempt from this requirement. Federal law does not allow a F-1 visa holder to enter the United States or to be employed in the United States if the passport is expired.

Renewing your passport

Contact your own consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. Only your consulate or embassy in the U.S can grant passport extensions. The officials there will tell you what forms and fees, if any, are required. You can find out the contact information for your embassy by going to the U.S. Department of State.

Form I-20

The school sends the student an I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility), indicating the date by which the student should arrive at the institution. The student then takes this form to the U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for an F-1 visa if he/she can demonstrate adequate financial support. The I-20 is issued for the program and level of study you are presently pursuing. If you graduate before the completion date indicated on your I-20 you are considered to have completed your program of study and your I-20 is no longer valid. The third page of the I-20 contains spaces for information about your employment authorization and travel signatures by a Designated School Official (DSO).

I-20 DOs and DON'Ts



  • Keep all of your I-20s.
  • Check to make sure the travel signature on page 3 is valid before leaving the U.S.
    **Signed within 12 months of re-entry
    **Signed within 6 months for students engaged in Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Contact ISS any time you have made a change to your situation (change of major, finances, etc.). You most likely will need an updated I-20.
  • Give ISS copies of any new government documents you receive (passport, visa, etc.)


  • Lose your I-20s.
  • Travel outside the U.S. without an up-to-date travel signature. 
  • Wait until the last minute to request new documents or resolve problems.

  • You will be responsible for arranging express mailing of replacement I-20s. The average charge for sending overseas by Federal Express is $60-$100. 

Document processing takes time.  Please plan ahead as much as possible. 


The visa stamp is obtained at a U.S. consulate abroad. It indicates that the holder is eligible to apply for admission to the U.S. Permission to enter is granted only at the point of entry. The official at your point of entry will determine the length of time you will be permitted to stay in the U.S. It is okay if your visa expires while you are in the U.S., but it must be valid to enter the U.S. To determine how long you can stay in the U.S., check your I-20 form, item number 5. You must be enrolled as a full-time student in order to maintain your status.

Renewing your U.S. visa for re-entry:

It is not possible to renew an F-1 visa while you are in the U.S. If the visa has expired and you are planning on traveling outside the U.S., it is necessary to apply for a new visa before you return. Click here for information on applying for a visa (note that steps 1 and 2 do not apply to returning students unless you have been out of the country for more than 5 months).

Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)

**Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin the I-94 automation process on April 30th, 2013 for people who enter the U.S. via air or sea. After automation, F-1 students will no longer receive a paper I-94 card in their passport when they enter the U.S. Instead, the passport will be stamped and include information on the date of entry, port of entry, class of admission, and status expiration date. I-94 numbers will be able to be downloaded from the CBP I-94 website. ISS will update with more information as we receive it.**

The I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record) is a white card, which is issued to you upon arrival. It is stamped by a government official and stapled into your passport at your port of entry into the U.S. The I-94 form shows that you are lawfully admitted to the U.S. for a specific period of time. The United States Government requires that you carry your I-94 with you at all times. If you loose your I-94 card, it is expensive and can take up to 6 month to replace. (See United States Citizens and Immigration Services for more information). It is recommended that you have International Student Services keep photocopies of this document in your file. U.S. government regulations require all F-1 students to register for a “full course of study”. Undergraduate students must be registered for 12 credits each term during the academic year. Graduate students must be registered for 6 credits.


There should be a date stamped on the I-94 indicating the date that you arrived in the U.S. You should also see that "D/S" is written below the date stamp. This "D/S" indicates "duration of status" which means that you are admitted for the length of your program of study, plus any period for Optional Practical Training, plus 60 days.

Program Extension for F-1 Students

Program Extension is required if a student is unable to complete all degree requirements by the date noted in Item 5 of the SEVIS I-20.

Program Extension application must be submitted to and approved by the International Student Adviser before the I-20 expiration date.

Failure to process a Program Extension before the expiration of the I-20 results in the loss of legal status and the ability to work on the campus.


  • Student must be in a legal F-1 status.
  • I-20 must reflect student’s current program of study
  • Student must possess valid passport
  • Delays in completion must be caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as:
    • Changes of major or research topics
    • Unexpected research problems
    • Documented illness
  • Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for a Program Extension.

Students unsure of their eligibility for a Program Extension should consult with the International Student Adviser. Students who are not eligible for a Program Extension should make every effort to complete their program of study before their I-20 expires.


  • Academic Reasons for Program Extension: Obtain a letter from academic adviser that contains the following information:
    • A detailed reason for the delay in completion.
    • Where the student currently is in his/her program
    • When student will be expected to complete all degree requirements.
  • Medical Reason for Program Extension:
    • Obtain letter from Physician verifying:
      • Illness prohibited the student from completing their program by the original I-20 end date.
      • Dates of illness.
    • Obtain letter from Academic Adviser that states when student is expected to complete all degree requirements.
  • Reduced Course Load Form (if needed)

Approval Process

  • Submit the documentation noted under “Application” to the International Student Adviser.
  • Approval of the Program Extension will result in the issuance of a new I-20 that reflects a new completion date. Student will receive an email when the new I-20 is ready for pick up.

Students on University Payroll

A new Form I-9 must be completed by University Payroll. Bring your passport, I-94 and new I-20 to the Department in which you are employed. Salary will be withheld until the new I-9 is processed.

Full Course Load Requirements

It is required by the U.S. government that international students on F-1 Visa carry a full course load (12 credits for undergraduates and 6 credits for graduates) during the academic year. See Anna Gilmore, International Student Advisor, if you plan to drop below the minimum course hours. Dropping below a full course load without prior authorization can cause you to fall out of legal status. You will need to complete a Reduced Course Load form. Please note, international students can only take a maximum of 3 credits in online courses to count towards their full course load.

International Student Summer Enrollment Requirements

Change of Status to F-1

To change from your current status to the F-1 status while in the United States, you must apply to USCIS. See directions.

Tax Information

All nonresident F and J visa holders are required to file a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ (U.S. tax forms), regardless of whether they have income from a U.S. source. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publications and form are available in January.

The forms you are required to file:

  • Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition (required of all F-1 students).
  • Form 1040NR-EZ, (if you have U.S. income) U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens with No Dependents OR Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return

Forms and instructions can be found at:

Students who have been employed on and/or off campus will receive a form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from each employer. The forms will be sent to your mailing address. The W-2 form is required in order to complete tax forms. Scholarship recipients and students from certain countries who earn wages in the U.S. may receive a form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding. The form 1042-S is required for completing tax forms for scholarship recipients.

When and Where to File

The due date for filing tax forms is April 15. The Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ and Form 8843 must be sent to the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Austin, TX 73301-0215.

More Information

See the SEVP Travel FAQ:

3.A. Can I stay in the United States if my student visa has expired?

Yes, as long as you are student in good standing and have not violated your status, you may legally remain in the United States with an expired F-1 visa.

3.B. Can I renew my student visa while in the United States?

No. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at

And F-1 info on State Dept site:

How long may I stay on my F-1 student visa?

When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in the United States. For a student who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time in the U.S. before departure:

  • F-1 student - An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.
  • M-1 student - An additional 30 days to depart the U.S. (Fixed time period, in total not to exceed one year). The 30 days to prepare for departure is permitted as long as the student maintained a full course of study and maintained status. An M student may receive extensions up to three years for the total program.

As an example regarding duration of status, if you have a visa that is valid for five years that will expire on January 1, 2009, and you are admitted into the U.S. for the duration of your studies (often abbreviated in your passport or on your I-94 card as "D/S"), you may stay in the U.S. as long as you are a full time student. Even if January 1, 2009 passes and your visa expires while in the U.S., you will still be in legal student status. However, if you depart the United States with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one, applying at an Embassy abroad, before being able to return to the U.S. and resume your studies.



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Last modified on 04/03/15 06:20 PM
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