Time Considerations

Expiration Date of Entry Visa
The validity period shown in a non-immigrant visa relates only to the period during which it may be used in making application for admission into the United States; it does not indicate the length of time one may spend in the United States. Some visas are valid for several years, others are valid only for a few months or weeks. The visa in your passport allows you to enter the United States and may expire after your arrival in the country. Once you have entered the United States to begin your studies, you will be concerned with this particular expiration date only when you expect to travel outside the U.S. If you wish to re-enter the country and your visa has expired, you must apply for a new entry visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad (except when traveling to Canada. See note about Travel to Canada). You must consult with the Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Office (RO) before traveling outside of the United States (see Travel Abroad).

D/S: Duration of Status notation

The F-1 or J-1 individual is admitted to the United States for "duration of status," noted as "D/S" on both Form I-94 and possibly Form I-20 or DS-2019. Duration of status means the period during which the student is pursuing a full course of study in any educational program (e.g., BA) and any periods of authorized practical training, plus sixty days (F-1) or 30 days (J-1) grace period within which to depart from the U.S. or apply for a change of status.  After May 2013, if you arrive in the U.S. by land from Canada or Mexico you are still issued a paper I-94; you should always keep that in your possession and when you depart the U.S. give it up to the airline or immigration official (except for travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean).  If you flew into the U.S. after May 2013, you no longer complete a paper I-94 but you still should print up the electronic copy from this site.  The Form I-94 should be kept in the student's passport at all times, since it indicates the purpose of admission and the length of time for which his or her stay is authorized. Students should also always have with them their Form I-20 ID or DS-2019, particularly when they travel, even within the United States, since this is their personal identification and carries their SEVIS record information.  A non-immigrant who remains in the U.S. beyond the period for which he/she has been granted permission to stay may become subject to deportation. 

There is no Grace Period (mentioned above) if a student is suspended from or withdraws from Carleton without authorization, or violates his or status in other way. 

Extension of Stay
All international students should pay attention to their approved length of stay in the U.S. The length of authorized stay for F-1 and J-1 individuals is indicated on the Form I-94 as D/S (duration of status), and refers to item 5 on the I-20 and to item 3 on the DS-2019. People who need additional time to complete their degree requirements must consult with the Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) at least 30 days prior to the expiration of their authorized length of stay. The completion date on forms I-20 and DS-2019 might differ by a few weeks from the actual end date of the study program (last day of final exams), please be advised that the actual end date is the legal date.

Transferring Schools within the U.S

Transfer Students in F-1 Status Attending Carleton College
The student musty first notify his or her current school of intent to transfer and must indicate the school to which he or she intends to transfer. Transferring students must let the PDSO/RO know as soon as possible of their intent. Upon notification by the student, the current school will update the student's record in the SEVIS as a 'transfer out' and indicate the school to which the student intends to transfer, and a release date. The student is required to contact the Designated School Official (DSO) of the transfer school within 15 days of the program start date.

Transfer Students in J-1 Status Attending Carleton College
In general, an exchange visitor may transfer from one program sponsor to Carleton College sponsorship if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which the J-1 student was admitted into the United States. The original sponsor must be in agreement with the transfer.

J-1 students must inform OIIL Staff of their plans at least 60 days prior to transfer.  In either case student or visiting scholar must complete a SEVIS Transfer Form.

Immigration Status

Maintaining Proper Immigration Status
Forms I-20 and DS-2019 indicate the type of status, length of authorized stay, and name of the authorized institution or school, which the student will attend. Students are required to maintain lawful immigration status at all times. It is the student's responsibility to keep track of immigration matters. In order to maintain proper immigration status, F-1 or J-1 students must:

  • Register for a full-time course load every semester. Failure to register for a full-time complement of courses is an automatic breach of lawful status.
  • F-1 and J-1 students may not study part-time, and are required to attend classes
  • Remain at Carleton College for the complete duration of the program of study (Bachelor of Arts). Students wishing to transfer to another institution before completion of this course of study will need to receive proper authorization from both Carleton College and the transfer institution.
  • Not perform any unauthorized employment, either on or off-campus, while in F-1 or J-1 status.
  • Apply for an "Extension of Stay" if studies will take longer than the prescribed duration of status, well in advance of the completion date on Form I-20 or DS-2019.

"Out of Status"
Failure to comply with immigration regulations will retroactively place you "out of status" and in violation of U.S. immigration laws. Students who fall out of status must apply for reinstatement and will likely be asked to leave the country and re-enter with new documentation. They also may be barred from re-entry for a period of three years or longer if an immigration judge or the service finds them in violation.

Immigration Problems
If an international student has not maintained lawful immigration status, s/he may face difficulties with and possible legal action from the ICE. Some immigration problems can be resolved simply; others can be complicated and require months of effort by many offices to resolve.

It is imperative that F-1 and J-1 students contact the PDSO/RO immediately if there appear to be any problems related to the student's immigration status.

In some instances the student may be required to exit and re-enter the United States in order to rectify a problem related to lawful status. Sometimes students have problems which are complicated enough to require the services of an immigration attorney. Students are urged to consult the Director of International Student Programs before contacting an immigration lawyer, lest they be required to pay for expensive legal services unnecessarily.

Travel Abroad

Travel Outside the United States

Whenever a student plans to leave the U.S., s/he must consult with the DSO or RO and either obtain new documents or have the current ones endorsed (signed) for travel at least two weeks before the travel date.  The DSO or RO signature on the I-20 or DS-2019 is normally valid for one (1) year from when it is signed, however regulations may change so please check.  If you leave the U.S. without having a valid signature form the DSO or RO you may not be allowed to return to the United States.

In addition to having a valid signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, you must be in possession of a valid visa (apply for new one if needed before you return to the U.S. as F, J, or other visas CANNOT be renewed while in the U.S.) and passport (must be valid for at least 6 months from your date of entry).  It is also a good idea to have copies of your acceptance or attendance at Carleton and proof of your financial support from your family and/or Carleton.  If you passport will expire while you are in the U.S. you should apply for a replacement as soon as possible. 

Proper Documents for Travel: F-1 & J-1

  • Valid passport
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa affixed in the passport
  • Complete Form I-20 or DS-2019 signed by the Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) (signature valid for no more than 12 months from date it was signed)
  • Evidence of financial support

If the F-1 or J-1 entry visa stamped in your passport has expired, then you must visit a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad and obtain a new entry visa before your return to the U.S. YOU CANNOT OBTAIN A NEW ENTRY VISA WITHIN THE U.S. When you arrive at the port of entry to the United States, present your travel documents for inspection.

The immigration inspector may staple a new Form I-94 into your passport (if you enter via land crossing), noting your original admission number from your Form I-20 and your SEVIS number."  Otherwise, if you enter by air or sea, it is good practice to print up and keep a copy of your the electronic I-94.

Travel to and from Canada, Mexico and Neighboring Islands

You SHOULD ALWAYS CHECK with the nearest Canadian, Mexican or other country to see if citizens from your country need to apply for a visa.  If you are taking a trip of fewer than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or neighboring islands (Bermuda, Bahamas, and all Caribbean islands except Cuba), you may reenter the U.S. even if the F-1 or J-1 Entry Visa in your passport has expired. Please check with the Associate Director of OIIL before departure as regulations may change.      

Special Registration

Currently the Special Registration system is not active, the information provided below is for reference but should be verified before your departure if you fit the criteria.  Special Registration is a system that lets the U.S. government keep track of non-immigrants that come to the U.S. every year. Some of the approximately 35 million non-immigrants will be required to register with immigration authorities either at a port of entry or a designated immigration office in accordance with special registration procedures such as personal interviews and fingerprinting.

Males between the ages of 16 and 45 from the following countries may be affected by special registration: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria. But anyone can be required to "special register" by the Port of Entry official.

Special registrants also have to register their departure from the U.S. Anyone who fails to do so may be denied reentry into the U.S. There are also specially designated "ports of departure & entry." Please consult the PDSO/RO if you are leaving the U.S.