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Maintaining your immigration status

Immigration status refers to the immigration classification you are given by the U.S. government when you enter the United States. This status is listed on your I-94.

The International Center can help you maintain your status, but it is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations that apply to nonimmigration students and their dependents. If you are not sure whether an action is legal, please contact an adviser before taking that action. It is in your best interest to follow the regulations.

If you violate immigration regulations, you will not be able to work on or off campus, engage in practical/academic training or transfer to a different institution until your status has been reinstated. You may first be required to leave the United States. Refer to the reinstatement guidelines for more information.

How to maintain your status

Keep your documents up to date

  • I-20/DS-2019: Do not let this document expire. If you need an extension of the completion date on your I-20/DS-2019, please contact the International Center at least 10 days before it expires. Should your I-20/DS-2019 expire before you graduate, you will be out of legal status. If you change educational levels or programs of study, or would like to transfer to a new school, you must contact the International Center (or the issuing agency/institution) to update your I-20/DS-2019. It is important to keep every I-20/DS-2019 issued to you for your records.
  • Passport: Do not let your passport expire. It should always be valid for at least six months into the future. You can renew your passport at your country's embassy in the United States or while on a trip home.
  • I-94: You will need to access your I-94 online and print it to apply for benefits within the U.S. (e.g., driver's license, Social Security number, etc.). If you have difficulty printing your I-94, please contact your international student adviser.
  • Visa: It is OK for your visa to expire while you are in the United States; however, you may need to renew the visa if you travel abroad or plan to re-enter the United States. Pay attention to the number of entries into the U.S. you are allowed on your visa. If you transfer between schools in the U.S., it is acceptable for your visa to have another school's name on it. Please contact the International Center for information about going to Mexico or Canada with an expired visa. Also, do not enter the U.S. on a visitor (B) visa, the visa waiver program or on a border-crossing card. If you do, you will no longer be on a student visa and will lose all student visa benefits, including work authorization.
  • Address: You must update the International Center of any physical address changes (post office boxes are not acceptable for reporting purposes). Reporting your change of address through myZou (local address) will fulfill this requirement as the university will forward the updated addresses electronically to the International Center. The center will then report your new address through SEVIS. Please be sure to update your local address within 10 days of moving. You should also maintain a permanent address outside the U.S. to which you intend to return.

Maintain full-time enrollment

You must pursue a full course of study by enrolling in enough credit hours. Review the enrollment guidelines for more information.

Obtain work authorization

Work authorization for on-campus and off-campus employment is required based on your visa status. Review the employment information for requirements and processes.