Maintaining Status: F-1 & J-1 visas

Additional Resources

Find specific information about maintaining F-1 student statusJ-1 student status, J-1 student intern status.

About Visas

Have questions about visas—what they are, how to get one, how to keep your status and more? You’re in the right place.

Here we’ve compiled the information you will need related to visas. First, we share some information for both F-1 and J-1 status students, then we break it down into the specifics for F-1 status students and J-1 status students.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to email us at or stop by Tomlinson Hall, Suite 143, to talk to us in person.

For All International Students

Maintaining Status

Nonimmigrant F-1 or J-1 status indicates a legal condition granted to a visa holder by an immigration officer at the port of entry into the U.S. F-1 and J-1 visa holders maintain this status by following DHS regulations that detail the responsibilities unique to their status. The immigration documents (I-20 and DS-2019) issued to you to first establish your eligibility to apply for a U.S. visa now serve as a proof of the responsibilities with which you must comply to remain legally present in the U.S. Maintaining a valid I-20 or DS-2019 in your possession at all times is a significant part of maintaining status; without a valid document, you have no legal means to be in F-1 or J-1 student status.

After arriving in Cleveland, there are some steps to ensure that you get off to a smooth start. These steps are mandatory in order to properly maintain your F-1 or J-1 student visa status, so be certain to review them all carefully.

F-1 Student Status

An F-1 student is considered to be maintaining status if he/she:

  • is properly registered in SEVIS
  • is maintaining full-time enrollment status
  • is making normal progress toward completing his/her course of study
  • has not engaged in unauthorized employment
  • is not deportable on any grounds

Tips to maintain your status:

  • Report your address
  • Keep your documents current and valid
  • Enroll full-time every fall and spring
  • Work only with permission

F-1 students: Need more information?

Visit our F-1 Students page

J-1 Student Status

J-1 students will be issued a DS-2019, either from CWRU or their sponsor, depending on the terms of their exchange program.

Whether the DS-2019 is issued by CWRU or a sponsor, a J-1 student is considered to be maintaining status if he/she:

  • Reports their address
  • Keep their documents valid
  • Enrolls full-time every fall and spring
  • Maintains health insurance that meets the minimum requirements
  • Works only with permission

For students who are in possession of a DS-2019 issued by CWRU, International Student Services (ISS) will be responsible for certain tasks to maintain their visa status.

For students who are in possession of a DS-2019 issued by a sponsor, the sponsor, not ISS will be responsible for certain tasks to maintain their visa status. ISS is happy to serve as a resource for all students; however, it will be necessary to consult with the sponsor on all matters pertaining to visa status such as registration, work authorization, DS-2019 extensions, etc.

J-1 students: Need more information?

Visit our J-1 Students page

J-1 Student Intern Status

In order to be eligible, for the J-1 Student Intern subcategory, prospective interns must:

  • be enrolled in and pursuing a degree program at an accredited post-secondary academic institution outside of the United States
  • be in good academic standing with their home institution
  • return to the home institution to resume studies upon completion of the CWRU internship
  • possess English language skills sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis i the internship environment
  • have sufficient funding to support themselves during the entire stay
  • comply with the requirement of having health insurance while participating in the J-1 program

Internships must also meet a number of specific criteria outlined by federal regulations.

J-1 student interns: Need more information? 

Visit our J-1 Student Interns page

Having a Visa

A visa is a sticker stamped on a page in your passport by a consular officer. Once you have a visa stamped in your passport, you need it only when you’re entering the U.S. The dates on the visa determine when it may be used to enter the U.S. It’s essentially like a key that opens a door for a defined period of time. If you leave the U.S. and then wish to return, you must have a valid, unexpired visa stamped in your passport. If your visa has expired, you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. consular office abroad before being allowed to gain re-entry to the U.S.