Maintaining immigration status
During your time at CSUMB, it is essential to maintain a valid F-1 or J-1 status. It is your responsibility to maintain your status. Falling out of status can result in deportation and jeopardize your ability to receive employment authorization or obtain permission to enter the U.S. in the future. You can schedule a meeting with the International Programs staff for assistance and advice.
In order to maintain your status, please ensure you meet the following requirements:
Students must ensure their SEVIS record is up to date at all times. If your address, name, major, program, program dates, number of dependents, or source of funding change, you must notify International Programs within 10 days.
To notify us of address, name, phone number, or major change, complete the Change of Personal Information Form.
If your funding sources change, please complete a new financial affidavit.
If you need to add a dependent (spouse or child) to your record, please schedule an appointment with your DSO.
International students must be aware of the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019. If students cannot complete their degree by the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019, students must request a program extension before the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who do not file a program extension in a timely manner will be considered out of status.
All non-immigrants in the U.S. are required to maintain a valid passport at all times. Passports should be valid for at least six months beyond their I-20/DS-2019 program end date when entering and re-entering the U.S. and also when applying for a visa (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Students must contact their local embassy or consulate for instructions on renewing their passport.
If your passport is currently expired, you may provide a copy of your passport application receipt as proof that you are in the process of renewing your passport.
Students whose expired passport has a valid visa are still able to use that visa if they have the old passport. Students must remember to carry and present the old passport along with the new passport when traveling.
Students may stay in the U.S. on an expired F-1/J-1 visa as long as they are properly maintaining their status by being in possession of a valid I-20/DS-2019 and an I-94 Arrival/Departure record. If students are traveling and do not plan on using automatic revalidation to re-enter the U.S., they must have a valid visa.
Visas cannot be renewed inside the U.S. Once students have made a visa interview appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, they should review the Embassy or Consulate’s website for details on the visa renewal process including required documents. Students are also able to check on the visa wait times for a specific U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the U.S. Department of State website.
The Department of State recommends that students apply for a visa in their home country. Students who must apply for a visa in a third country must remember the following:
Students cannot return to the U.S. until their visa has been issued. If a background check is required, students must wait until this is cleared and the wait could be several weeks. If the visa application is denied, students will not be able to return to the U.S. and will be required to return to their home country. If the visa application is denied in Canada or Mexico, Automatic Revalidation does not apply.
Customs and Border Protection I-94 webpage allows nonimmigrant U.S. visitors to access their I-94 arrival/departure record and their arrival/departure history.
The CBP webpage allows nonimmigrant travelers to access arrival/departure records going back five years from the request date. This electronic travel-history function means that travelers may no longer need to file Freedom of Information Act requests to receive their arrival/departure history, greatly speeding their process. Travelers will have electronic access to the date and port of entry of their arrivals and departures.
How can I get a copy of my I-94 admission record?
Visit the I-94 website to retrieve and print your electronic I-94 number. The printout from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website is an official Form I-94.
You can also retrieve your I-94 arrival/departure record number and five-year travel history by entering the required name, date of birth, and passport information:
- Click “Get Most Recent I-94” to retrieve your I-94 number, most recent date of entry, class of admission and admit-until date. The information does not reflect changes of status, extension of stay or adjustments of status granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You can print this record.
- Click “Get Travel History” to retrieve your five-year travel history based on your I-94 records, which you also can print.
You can also cancel pending Freedom of Information Act requests for travel history information — after you have received the information from the website — by adding your FOIA Request Number and clicking on “Request FOIA Cancellation” button.
If you have lost a paper form I-94 that was issued prior to the online system (April 2013) and the record is not available online, you can file a Form I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Non-Immigrant Arrival-Departure Document, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Maintain full-time enrollment during each term you are at CSUMB. You are not required to be enrolled during the summer or winter term unless you are beginning your career at CSUMB during one of those terms. Full-time enrollment is specific to your program and degree level.
Undergraduate = 12 or more units
Graduate and Certificate programs = 8 or more units
Drop, withdrawal, hardship withdrawal, on-leave status
Even though the CSUMB registration policies might allow you to drop a class, or an academic adviser or professor might recommend you drop a class, you must also consider the F-1 or J-1 rules, which are separate. Any student who drops below full-time enrollment without prior approval from International Programs at CSUMB is considered to be in violation of their visa status.
Permission to drop below full-time enrollment can be authorized if extenuating circumstances exist. Please contact the International Programs to find out about reduced course load requirements.
Exception to the full-time registration requirement
A reduced course load (RCL) for specific academic reasons
Your academic adviser or class professor must confirm that one of the following reasons apply to you. Note that the first two reasons are primarily for new students beginning their studies, since the exception reasons refer to “initial” difficulty. To request a reduced course load, please schedule an appointment.
- Initial difficulty with the English language
- Initial difficulty with reading requirements
- Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
- Improper course level placement
Your DSO adviser will evaluate whether or not a drop will be allowed, and if approved, will print a new I-20 for you. An academic RCL is only allowed one semester per degree level. You must request the RCL and receive approval from your DSO by the end of the semester in which you need the approved RCL.
A reduced course load (RCL) for a documented medical condition
You must submit documentation to your DSO from a "licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist." The doctor or psychologist must state in the letter their recommendation that you enroll either part-time or not at all for the specified semester.
A reduced course load due to a medical reason may be authorized multiple times so long as the aggregate period does not exceed 12 months. Regardless of the date during the semester you request the RCL, it will cover the entire semester and will subtract 5 months from your 12-month allowance. You must request the RCL and receive approval from your DSO by the end of the semester in which you need the approved RCL. We will issue a new I-20 for you authorizing the RCL.
Final semester of program
You may take as few credits as required to complete your degree as long as you register for at least one credit at CSUMB. An online class or a CPT-related credit cannot be the only class on your final semester schedule for undergraduate students. For graduate students there may be some circumstances where this could be allowed. Before changing your credit load, notify your DSO and we will issue a new I-20 for you authorizing the RCL.
Online and hybrid courses
International students can count up to 3 units of online course work towards their 12 unit minimum credit amount. Hybrid classes that are mostly online but have a physical presence requirement are not counted toward the limit for online courses.
State and Federal regulations require international students to purchase and maintain adequate health insurance during their academic program.
When transferring from one school to another school within the United States, you must carefully follow certain procedures to maintain lawful F-1 or J-1 status. Please note that in this context the term "transfer" means changing schools, either in the middle of a degree program or between degrees, regardless of academic level. For high school, undergraduate, and graduate students alike, if you are currently attending school in the U.S. and plan to attend a new school, you will likely need to request the transfer of your SEVIS record.
- The start date at your new school must be within 5 months of your "transfer out" date in SEVIS or your program completion, whichever is earlier. For students authorized for post-completion OPT, the new program start date must be within 5 months of your SEVIS "transfer out" date or the end of the OPT authorization, whichever is earlier. If the period of time between programs is longer than 5 months, your SEVIS record does not need to be transferred. Your new school will issue a new initial I-20 and new SEVIS number.
- You must currently be maintaining F-1 status.
- If you have already graduated, you must be within your 60-day grace period.
- You must currently be maintaining J-1 status.
- You must coordinate your SEVIS transfer before your current DS-2019 expires.
To transfer from the CSUMB to another school in the U.S., you must first apply and be accepted to the new school. After your acceptance:
- Submit a completed I-20 Transfer Out Request Form along with a copy of the admission offer letter or email from your new school. The "transfer out" date is the date that CSUMB no longer has access to your SEVIS record and your new school gains access to your SEVIS record. This date should be after the end date of your final enrolled semester at CSUMB. If you are unsure about your graduation, your enrollment plan, when to end your current OPT or your travel plan between transfer, please consult your DSO before submitting the Transfer Out Request.
- Allow at least one week for processing. Please note that after transfer out date CSUMB will no longer have access to your SEVIS record, so request a transfer only after your plans are certain.
- Contact your new school to arrange when and how to receive your new I-20. You may be asked to submit Transfer Verification form your new school for your DSO adviser to verify your legal status to your new DSO.
Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to a two-year home country physical presence requirement. J-1 visitors "subject" to this rule must return to their country of last legal residence for two years or obtain a waiver of this requirement before they are eligible for the H (temporary employment), L (intracompany transfer) or Permanent Residence (Green Card) categories.
This requirement does not prohibit a visitor from returning to the U.S. in any other immigration status. For example, if the visitor wishes to return as a tourist or student within the two-year period and meets the requirements for those entries, the two-year physical presence requirement does not prohibit this.
Who is subject to the requirement?
J-1 visitors and their J-2 dependents (legal spouse and children under age 21) who meet at least one of the criteria listed below are subject to this rule:
- Home Government Funding: J-1 visitors who receive funding directly from their home country's government are subject to the 212(e) requirement.
- U.S. Government Funding: J-1 visitors who receive funding directly from the U.S. government are "subject" to 212(e).
- Funding from an International Organization or Bi-National Commission: J-1 visitors who receive funding from International Organizations or Bi-National Commissions (organizations that receive their funding from government sources), such as, United Nations, NATO, or the European Community.
- The Exchange Visitor Skills List: J-1 visitors whose area of specialization has been identified as being in short supply by her/his government of legal permanent residence is considered "subject."
- Medical Education and Training: Any J-1 visitor is subject if they are a foreign medical graduate and came to the U.S. to obtain graduate medical education or training.
Are J-2 dependents subject?
If you are a dependent of a J-1 visitor who is subject to the 212(e) requirement you are also subject to this requirement. Please note that J-2 dependents must rely on the J-1 to apply for a waiver of the 212(e) requirement. J-2s may not apply for the waiver separately from the J-1.
When should you see an Advisor?
If you have a question about whether you are subject to the 212(e) requirement, or how and when to apply for a waiver, you should make an appointment to speak with an ARO at the CSUMB International Programs Office.
- Do not assume that your visa stamp or DS-2019 have been marked correctly by U.S. government agencies, especially if any of the above "subject" criteria apply. When an ARO feels the assessment has been made in error, you may submit a request for an advisory opinion from the U.S. Department of State.
- CSUMB International Programs Office advises that students/scholars do not apply for a waiver of the two-year home country physical presence requirement without first discussing the timing of the request with an ARO. Once a "No Objection" recommendation is received from the Department of State, no further extension of the DS-2019 or transfer of the J-1 program is possible.
- View detailed instructions and eligibility information of 212(e) from the Department of State website.
- Be aware that Fulbright students and scholars very rarely receive waivers.