Maintaining Legal Status

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Basic U.S. Immigration Regulations for F-1/J-1 Students

Valid Passport and I-20/DS-2019. Keep your passport valid and your I-20/DS-2019 up-to-date at all times. Note: Your visa is allowed to expire while you are in the U.S., but you will need to renew it if you travel outside the U.S. and need to re-enter.

Full-Time Enrollment. If you are a student, maintain your full-time enrollment during the academic year (Fall and Spring). Enrollment in the summer session is not required. Full-time means a minimum of  20 clock hours for ELP students, 12 credits for undergraduates, and 9 credits for graduate students each semester. Graduate students who are doing a graduate assistantship or working on thesis credits are only required to be enrolled in 6 credits per semester to be considered a full-time student.

Authorization Required for Reduced Course Load: Although limited, there are a few scenarios in which a visa authorization to drop below full-time may be granted by ISSS. Authorization for a reduced course load (RCL) must be granted by ISSS prior to the student dropping below full-time. Students may request an RCL from ISSS for (and only for) the following documented reasons:

  • Difficulty with English language or reading requirements (may be used only once).
  • Unfamiliar with American teaching methods.
  • Improper course level placement.
  • Less than a full course load is needed to complete the degree program.
  • Documented medical reason for requesting a less than full-time schedule.

Change of Address. File a change of address to both the Registrar’s Office and International Student and Scholar Services office within 10 days of moving. Failure to do so may result in termination of your student status. Always make sure that the International Student office has your current address and cell phone number.

Change of Major. If you change your major, make an appointment with the ISSS office. Your major will need to be updated in SEVIS and you will need a new I-20 reflecting the new major.

Changes/Issues to Report to ISSS. Contact International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) for the following reasons:

  • If any of your documents (passport, visa, I-20/DS-2019, I-94 card) are stolen, lost, or damaged.
  • If your name or source of funding changes.
  • If you will be leaving the University of Wisconsin-Platteville permanently or temporarily (withdrawing, transferring to another school, or stopping out for a semester or more).

Online Course. No more than one fully online course (3 credits) per semester may be counted toward the full-course of study requirement by F-1 or J-1 students.

Travel. If you are traveling outside the United States, you need a valid travel signature from the Designated School Official (DSO) in the ISSS office on your I-20 or DS-2019. Do not TRAVEL outside the United States even briefly without the proper documents and signatures on those documents. Travel signatures for an I-20 (page 2) are valid up to 12 months, and travel signatures for a DS-2019 (page 1) are valid for 6 months.

Employment Authorization. Do not accept employment unless the employment is officially authorized or is routinely permitted for people in your immigration status (such as on-campus employment for F-1 students). F-1 students may not work off-campus without prior approval for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) from ISSS, and J-1 students may not work off-campus without Academic Training (AT) authorization. This includes internships, co-ops, and other unpaid curricular training programs. Students must have a written job offer to apply for a social security number.

Program Extension. You must file a program extension before the end date on your I-20 or DS-2019 if you need more time than allowed on the I-20 or DS-2019 to complete the program of study. F-1 students: You are eligible for an extension if you have been maintaining your nonimmigrant status, if you have been making normal progress toward completion of your degree, and if academic dismissal or probation has not delayed your completion.

Filing Taxes. International students are required to file a federal tax form for each year they are in the USA, whether or not they have any income. As mandated by United States laws, international students must file the following tax forms:

  • If you worked in the United States during the previous calendar year: Please file Form 1040-NR or Form 1040-NR-EZ, and Form 8843.
  • If you didn't work: Please file Form 8843.

Completing Your Program. If you are about to graduate or otherwise complete the activity for which you came to the U.S. and you want to remain in the U.S. for further study or some other activity, apply BEFORE you complete your current activity for whatever authorization you need to remain here. If you plan on leaving the U.S. permanently, fill out a departure form at ISSS.

Grace Period. Abide by grace period rules (Duration of Status):

  • F-1 - you have a 60 day grace period from the program end date on your I20. During this time you can make arrangements to return home - move to another immigration status - apply for 'post-completion Optional Practical Training' or transfer to a new degree/program/University.
  • J-1 - you have a 30 day grace period to prepare for departure after the end date on your DS-2019.

Rights and Responsibilities. All persons in the United States, including foreign nationals, have certain basic rights that must be respected by authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local police. For more information about your rights and responsibilities when stopped by Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI, please click here. Also, please access the Wilberforce Pamphlet online for more information about the rights and protections for temporary workers in the U.S.

Print 2 copies of your Form I-94 from each time you re-enter the U.S. from overseas and bring one copy to the ISSS Office in Royce Hall. It is important to note that if you leave and re-enter the U.S. during your authorized program, your previous Form I-94 will be overwritten and a new automated record will be created. The I-94 website will provide arrival and departure date information for a passport number for the past five years; hence, it is especially important for you to print out a copy of your I-94 each time you enter the U.S. if you do not frequently leave the U.S. during your program of study.

Visa Revocations for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). According to Guidance Directive 2016-03 (9 FAM 403.11-3 – VISA REVOCATION): In cases of a DUI arrest/conviction, consular officers may prudentially revoke the visa of an individual even if he or she is physically present in the United States. If a student or scholar's non-immigrant visa is revoked, the Department will usually revoke any F-2 or J-2 dependents’ visas as well. What does this mean for exchange visitors? If an exchange visitor is in the United States, the revocation of their visa does not override the J-1 status granted by Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) at the time of their entry or their ability to stay in the United States (except in extremely rare instances). However, the visa is no longer valid for future travel to the United States. An individual whose visa has been revoked and who departs the United States must receive a new visa (i.e., reapply for a visa and demonstrate eligibility) before seeking to reenter the United States. Therefore, after the individual’s departure from the United States, sponsors should terminate his or her program status in SEVIS.

Never throw away or lose your I-20 or DS-2019, even after you have completed your program. Make copies of all of your immigration documents and store them in a separate place away from your originals, in case something happens to your original immigration documents. If you ever decide to apply for future immigration benefits in the U.S. (such as OPT, H-1B visa, etc.), you will need to submit copies of ALL of your past I-20s and/or DS-2019s.

Limitations for J-1 Visa HOlders

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Not to be confused with the “Two-Year Bar”, the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement (as set out in Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ) requires J-1 exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement to "reside and be physically present" in their "home" country for an aggregate of two years before being eligible for certain immigration benefits.

Who is subject to the Two-Year Home Residence Requirement?

A J-1 Exchange Visitor may be subject to the two-year home residence requirement for one or more of the following reasons:
• Skills List- The education, skill, or training that you are pursuing in the United States appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List for your home country; or
• Government funding- You received funding from the United States government, your home government, or an international organization, specifically in connection with participation in the Exchange Visitor Program; or
• Foreign medical graduates

How does the Two-Year Residency Requirement Affect You?

If the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement is notated on a visitor’s DS-2019, s/he is:
• Ineligible for an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (immigrant/green card) status;
• Ineligible for an H visa (temporary workers and dependents), an L visa (intracompany transferees and dependents), or a K visa (fiancé and dependents);
• Ineligible to change his/her nonimmigrant status within the United States from J to any other nonimmigrant category except A (diplomatic), G (international organization), or U (victims of qualifying criminal activity) statuses

Twelve-Month Bar:

A foreign national is ineligible to participate in the J-1 professor/research scholar category if he or she has held any J nonimmigrant status within the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of the exchange program. This Twelve-Month Bar applies to J-2 dependents as well as principal J-1 non-immigrants.  The following three exceptions exist:
• J-1 transfers to UW-Platteville without any gap
• Prior presence in J status in the U.S. was of less than 6 months duration
• Presence in J status as a Short-Term Scholar

Maintaining Legal Status - Intro

Important Note

Like all other countries of the world, the United States has laws and regulations governing foreigners who are temporarily within its boundaries. These regulations are often complex, and they change periodically. Violating any of these regulations will result in your falling out of status and may subject you to serious consequences such as the loss of future immigration benefits or even deportation.

As an F or J visa holder, it is your responsibility to know and abide by these U.S. immigration regulations.

Update Your Address/Phone Number

Update Your Address/Phone Number

According to U.S. immigration regulations, students on F or J visas must update their address with the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office within 10 days of moving. International students on F and J visas must also notify ISSS of their most up-to-date U.S. phone number. Please log in to PASS to update your address and/or phone number. Within 10 days, ISSS will update your SEVIS record and online ISSS account with your new address and/or phone number.

Update Address/Phone Number

Instructions - Updating Address

Instructions - Updating Phone Number

Contact - PDSO/RO

Contact your PDSO/RO

Donna Anderson
Principal Designated School Official (PDSO)
Responsible Officer (RO)
Director, International Programs
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
1 University Plaza
Platteville, WI 53818
Tel: 608.342.1726

What is a Principal Designated School Official (PDSO)?

At schools authorized to receive international students, one or more Designated School Officials (DSOs) are chosen by the school as official representatives to the U.S. government and authorized by the government to issue F-1 class non-immigrant student visa-related documents. Each government-approved school must choose one PDSO who will be responsible for all the DSOs at the school, who will maintain the official government records for international students, and who is authorized to make changes in the DSO team.

What is a Responsible Officer (RO)?

All government-approved J-1 exchange visitor program sponsors appoint an RO to administer the program according to the regulations and to represent the sponsor to the U.S. government. Program administration refers to the daily operation of the program and includes selecting participants, providing pre-arrival and orientation information to participants, issuing Form DS-2019, overseeing the general activities of the participants, communicating with the U.S. Department of State, and maintaining records on the program.



Need a Travel Signature?

The following staff members are DSOs (Designated School Officials) and AROs (Alternate Responsible Officers) at UW-Platteville. DSOs and AROs are authorized to give F-1 and J-1 students/scholars travel signatures and make updates and grant other requests/authorizations in SEVIS.

  • Donna Anderson                
  • Nina Elskamp                
  • Jane Auge
  • Rebecca (Becky) Trefz                   

What is a DSO and PDSO?

At schools authorized to receive international students, one or more Designated School Officials (DSOs) are chosen by the school as official representatives to the U.S. government and authorized by the U.S. government to issue F-1 class non-immigrant student visa-related documents. Each government-approved school must choose one Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) who will be responsible for all the DSOs at the school, who will maintain the official government records for international students, and who is authorized to make changes in the DSO team.

What is an ARO and RO?

Alternate Responsible Officers (AROs) and the Responsible Officer (RO) are authorized by the U.S. government to issue J-1 visa-related documents to J-1 exchange visitors, provide pre-arrival and orientation information to J-1 participants, oversee the general activities of the participants, communicate with the U.S. Department of State, and maintain the SEVIS records of J-1 program participants. Each government approved school must choose on RO who will be responsible for all of the AROs and administer the program according to the regulations and to represent the sponsor to the U.S. government.