Maintaining F-1 / J-1 Visa Status

Helpful Links:
- J-1 & J-2
- F-1 & F-2
- J-1/J-2 Mandatory Health Insurance Requirements
There are basic requirements for maintaining F-1 and J-1 status in the United States. If you are an international student, it is very important to follow the guidelines below to ensure that you remain in good standing with federal immigration law.  Students are ultimately responsible for maintaining their own legal visa status.

  • Keep your passport valid at all times.
  • Attend the school noted on your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Maintain full-time enrollment every fall and spring semester. Full-time enrollment is required in the summer term only if you are a new or transfer student beginning studies at the University of South Carolina.
    • Full time for Graduate Students: 9 credit hours; 6 credit hours if you have a graduate assistantship
    • Full time for Undergraduate Students: 12 credit hours
  • Studies should be completed by the completion of studies date on the I-20 or DS-2019. However, if more time is needed, a program extension may be obtained from International Student Services before the completion date has passed. Documents cannot be extended after they expire.
  • Notify International Student Services immediately of any breaks or interruptions in your studies, such as taking a semester absence from the University. Breaks in study can impact your ability to stay in the U.S. and/or apply for immigration benefits in the future.
  • Do not begin any employment without legal work authorization from International Student Services or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Do not engage in any illegal activities.
  • Report a change of address or phone number to International Student Services through (Self Service Carolina).
  • If you have changed your major or degree level, request a new I-20 document from International Student Services.  

According to S.C. State law, students must maintain legal visa status throughout their program to be eligible to enroll at the University. Additional Guidelines for J-1 Visa Status:

  • J-1 visa holders must have prior approval from their program sponsor before changing major, degree level, or transferring to another university.
  • To work during your study, contact your sponsor for employment authorization prior to beginning work.
  • J-1 and J-2 visa holders are mandated by law to have adequate health coverage for the duration of study. Click here for detailed information about the health insurance requirement and a list of possible health insurance providers.
  • Approval of a waiver of a 212e two-year home residency requirement should be discussed with International Student Services, as this will eliminate any possibility for document extensions needed to complete a program of study.