You are here: Immigration & Visa Information for Current Students

Contact Us

202-885-3350

Fax: 202-885-3354

isss@american.edu

ISSS office walk-in advising hours: Mondays: 12:00 noon - 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Contact:
Bakar, Senem S
Director, International Student & Scholar Services

Butler Pavilion, Room 410

Int'l Student / Scholar Svcs 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
410 Butler Pavilion
Washington, DC, USA 20016-8041 United States

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Immigration Responsibilities Current Students

Protecting your immigration status is one of your most important responsibilities as an international student. The advisors in International Student & Scholar Services are here to help you educate yourself about your rights and responsibilities.

F-1 Students

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) places responsibility on the student to understand and comply with immigration law. 

Below is a summary of the immigration responsibilities for F-1 students. Failure to comply with any of these responsibilities may jeopardize F-1 students' eligibility for immigration benefits and may result in the loss of F-1 status.

Passport

F-1 students must hold a valid passport at all times. Plan to renew it at your embassy or consulate in the US or back home. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not approve applications for employment or other immigration benefits unless the passport is valid or is in the process of being renewed.

Visa

F-1 students can stay in the US with an expired visa. Visas are only used to enter the US and do not determine the length F-1 students can stay in the US. However, if an F-1 student travels outside the US with an expired F-1 visa, the visa must be renewed abroad before re-entering the US.

Students with multiple visas in their passport

Never re-enter the US with another type of visa while pursuing your studies as an F-1 student at American University.

I-94 Entry Record

Each time F-1 students travel and re-enter the US, they must retrieve and save a PDF copy of their electronic I-94. The I-94 is needed to apply for benefits such as a social security number, driver's license, and employment. You can retrieve your most recent I-94 here.

Your most recent I-94 should contain correct personal information and say:

  • Class of Admission: F-1
  • Admit Until Date: DS

If you notice your I-94 is incorrect, please come to ISSS as soon as possible.

I-20

F-1 students must keep a valid I-20 at all times. F-1 students have permission to study in the United States up to the end date on their I-20.

Program completion and I-20 end date

F-1 students are expected to complete their academic program before or by the end date on their I-20. Students who finish their program earlier have their I-20 end date shortened to match their program completion date. Students who are unable to finish their program before or by the date their I-20 expires due to documented academic or medical reasons may be eligible for I-20 extension.

Once F-1 students have completed their program, they have 60 days to:

  • travel within or leave the United States
  • change to another immigration status
  • begin a new program of study

The following are the minimum credit hour requirements per semester (Fall/Spring) for F-1 students to maintain full time enrollment:

Undergraduate or Undergraduate Certificate
12 credit hours
Graduate or Graduate Certificate
9 credit hours
Master of Business Administration
9 credit hours
Master of Laws (LLM)
8 credit hours
Juris Doctor (JD)
12 credit hours
Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD)
8 credit hours

Summer Enrollment

F-1 students are not required to register for any academic credits during the summer break, unless summer is the first semester of enrollment.

Online Classes

F-1 students are permitted to take 1 online class as part of their full time enrollment requirement. Please contact ISSS for more information.

Exceptions to Full-time Enrollment

Under certain circumstances, F-1 students may be authorized to enroll for less than a full course of study and still meet the immigration regulation requirements for maintaining status.

  • Reduced Course Load Form (PDF): If you meet one of the criteria listed on the Reduced Course Load form, then the form must be presented for review by ISSS, with the appropriate academic advisor signature and/or medical documentation. Failure to speak with an ISSS advisor and receive this approval will jeopardize the student's immigration status.
  • If you are a graduate student engaged in Doctoral Dissertation, Doctoral Continuing Enrollment, or Master's Continuing Enrollment, please see your academic advisor to discuss eligibility for Graduate Continuing Enrollment Course Registration.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

  • Undergraduate students minimum GPA is 2.0
  • Graduate students minimum GPA is 3.0

By completing the required immigration check-in at the beginning of each semester, F-1 students are verifying to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that they:

  • Are enrolled full time at American University
  • Have a valid US address and contact information
  • New/Incoming students must complete immigration registration in their first semester at AU.
  • Current/Returning students must complete immigration check in at the beginning of every semester.

Steps to complete the immigration registration/check-in


  1. Log in to the MyAU Portal
  2. Click on the Academics tab
  3. Click on iEagle and log in to iEagle using your MyAU Portal credentials.
    New students: select new student from the menu on the left to start your immigration registration process
    Returning students: select current student from the menu on the left to start your immigration check-in process

F-1 students are required to report any changes to their contact information within 10 days. Contact information updates are entered through the MyAU Portal.

Steps to update your student profile


  1. Log in to the MyAU Portal
  2. Click on Academics tab
  3. Click on Contact Information (current student)
  4. Select what you would like to update: home country/permanent information, US current information, or emergency contact. 
  5. ISSS will send your new information to SEVIS

Travel Signature

F-1 students must have their I-20 signed before traveling abroad. Please bring your original I-20 to ISSS to obtain a travel signature. Travel signatures are usually valid for one year (or 6 months if student is on OPT). If you are unsure you need a travel signature, please consult with ISSS before you leave the US.

Employment Authorization

Students must always obtain written employment authorization from ISSS and/or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service before beginning any employment, including on- and off-campus employment. This includes internships, independent studies, or course work for which you receive any compensation (including salary, tuition, books, supplies, food, or transportation).

Please contact ISSS with any questions about employment options. More information is also available in the Employment section of this website.

J-1 Students

Below is a summary of the responsibilities placed on students in J-1 status by the United States Department of State. For more information, please consult with ISSS and/or the Responsible Officer of the J-1 program that issued your DS-2019. 

Failure to comply with any of these responsibilities may jeopardize J-1 students' eligibility for immigration benefits and may result in the loss of J-1 status.

Passport

J-1 students must hold a valid passport at all times. Plan to renew it at your embassy or consulate in the US or back home. 

Visa

J-1 students can stay in the U.S. with an expired visa. Visas are only used to enter the U.S. and do not determine the length J-1 students can stay in the U.S. However, if a J-1 student travels outside the U.S. with an expired J-1 visa, the visa must be renewed abroad before re-entering the U.S.

Students with multiple visas in their passport

Never re-enter the U.S. with another type of visa while pursuing your studies as a J-1 student at American University.

I-94 Entry Record

Each time J-1 students travel and re-enter the U.S., they must retrieve and save a PDF copy of their electronic I-94. The I-94 is needed to apply for benefits such as a social security number and driver's license. You can retrieve your most recent I-94 here.

Your most recent I-94 should contain correct personal information and say:

  • Class of Admission: J-1
  • Admit Until Date: DS

If you notice your I-94 is incorrect, please come to ISSS as soon as possible.

DS-2019

J-1 students must keep a valid DS-2019 at all times. J-1 students have permission to study in the United States up to the end date on their DS-2019.

Program completion and DS-2019 end date

J-1 students are expected to complete their academic program before or by the end date on their DS-2019. Students who finish their program earlier have their DS-2019 end date shortened to match their program completion date. Students who are unable to finish their program before or by the date their DS-2019 expires due to documented academic or medical reasons may be eligible for DS-2019 extension.

Once J-1 students have completed their program, they have 30 days to:

  • travel within or leave the United States
  • change to another immigration status
  • begin a new program of study

The following are the minimum credit hour requirements per semester (Fall/Spring) for J-1 students to maintain full time enrollment:

Undergraduate or Undergraduate Certificate
12 credit hours
Graduate or Graduate Certificate
9 credit hours
Master of Business Administration
9 credit hours
Master of Laws (LLM)
8 credit hours
Juris Doctor (JD)
12 credit hours
Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD)
8 credit hours

Summer Enrollment

Coursework is optional during the summer vacation (May-August), unless summer is the first semester of enrollment.

International Accelerator and American Access programs have specific summer requirements, please contact their offices for more information.

Online Classes

J-1 students are not recommended to take online classes. Please contact ISSS for more information.

Exceptions to Full-time Enrollment

In some cases, exceptions to full time requirement may be granted for valid academic and medical reasons. Consult with your J-1 Responsible Officer before registering or dropping a course that places you in part-time status.

  • Reduced Course Load Form (PDF): If you meet one of the criteria listed on the Reduced Course Load form, then the form must be presented for review by ISSS, with the appropriate academic advisor signature and/or medical documentation. Failure to speak with an ISSS advisor and receive this approval will jeopardize the student's immigration status.
  • If you are a graduate student engaged in Doctoral Dissertation, Doctoral Continuing Enrollment, or Master's Continuing Enrollment, please see your academic advisor to discuss eligibility for Graduate Continuing Enrollment Course Registration.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

  • Undergraduate students minimum GPA is 2.0
  • Graduate students minimum GPA is 3.0

J-1 students are required to maintain the following minimum level of health insurance coverage for themselves and any dependents (spouse/children) in J-2 status:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness 
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000 
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000  
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness. 
  • Any insurance policy, plan, or contract must be underwritten by an insurance corporation with an A.M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-I" or above, a Standard and Poor's Claims Paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above. Alternatively, the sponsor may ascertain that the participant's policy is backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country.

Your J-1 program may be cancelled if you fail to meet these requirements. In addition, your Responsible Officer may request proof of this coverage each time you request a new DS-2019 or apply for employment.

Please see the State Department's Exchange Visitor Program website for further information about health insurance requirements.

Please see the AU health insurance page for more information.

J-1 students are required to report any changes to their contact information within 10 days.

  • New/Incoming students must complete immigration registration in their first semester at AU.
  • Current/Returning students must complete immigration check in at the beginning of every semester.

Steps to complete the immigration registration/check-in


  1. Log in to the MyAU Portal
  2. Click on the Academics tab
  3. Click on iEagle and log in to iEagle using your MyAU Portal credentials.
    New students: select new student from the menu on the left to start your immigration registration process
    Returning students: select current student from the menu on the left to start your immigration check-in process

Steps to update your student profile


  1. Log in to the MyAU Portal
  2. Click on the Academics tab
  3. Click on Contact Information (current student)
  4. Select what you would like to update: home country/permanent information, US current information, or emergency contact.
  5. ISSS will send your new information to SEVIS

Travel Signature

J-1 students must have their DS-2019 signed before traveling abroad. Please bring your original DS-2019 to ISSS to obtain a travel signature. Travel signatures are usually valid for one year (or 6 months if student is on OPT). If you are unsure you need a travel signature, please consult with ISSS before you leave the US.

Employment Authorization

  • You must obtain written authorization from your Responsible Officer before beginning any kind of employment whether on-campus or off-campus. 
  • On-campus employment authorization is limited to 20 hours during the fall and spring semesters; full-time during semester breaks or summer vacation. 
  • Employment is any type of work performed or services in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, room, board, or any other benefit. 

You may be eligible for the following types of employment authorization: 

  1. On-campus jobs unrelated to study or required by a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship. 
  2. Academic training (work directly related to your field of study)


2-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

As a J-1 exchange visitor, you may be subject to the 2-year home country physical presence requirement, or 212(e). In this case you must return home for a minimum of two years after completing your J-1 program before you can change or adjust your status to an H, L, or other immigrant status. 

The home country requirement applies to you if: 

  1. You received funding from the United States Government, your own government, or an international organization in connection with your participation in the Exchange Visitor Program. 
  2. The education, training, or skill you are pursuing in this country appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List for your country. 
  3. You acquired J-1 status on or after January 10, 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training.

You may petition to the US State Department for a waiver of this requirement under any of these specific circumstances: 

  1. "No Objection" from the home government 
  2. Request by an interested (U.S.) Government agency 
  3. Risk of persecution in home country 
  4. Exceptional hardship to a United States citizen (or permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor 
  5. Request by a designated State Department of Health, or its equivalent 

Please see the State Department website for information about these circumstances and the application process. Additional questions can be directed to your J-1 program Responsible Officer. 

To check on a pending waiver application:
State Department J-Visa Waiver Status on-line
Waiver Review Public Inquiry Number: (202) 663-1225
Waiver Review FAX number: (202) 663-8666