Requirements to Maintain F-1 and J-1 Student Status

  1. Enroll full time each fall and spring semester.
    • Nine hours for graduate students.
    • 12 hours for undergraduate students.
    • F-1 students may only enroll for one online course per semester to meet their full-time status.
    • International Student cannot audit courses to maintain their full-time status
  2. Maintain good academic standing at all times
    • 3.0 GPA for graduate students.
    • 2.0 GPA undergraduate students.
  3. Update your new address in myNIU within 10 days of a change.
  4. Never let your I-20 or DS-2019 expire.
  5. Receive work authorization from ISSS before working, volunteering or serving in an internship off campus.
  6. Maintain a valid passport at all times.
  7. Update ISSS with any change in your program of study.
    • Updates include, for example, a change in major, financial information or legal names
  • Your I-20 and DS-2019 has a program end date listed on page 1. This date is the final semester when you will be expected to complete your studies. An F-1 or J-1 student who is unable to complete a full course of study by the program end date must apply for a program extension before the completion date.
  • An ISSS advisor may grant a program extension. To qualify for an extension of a program, you must have continually maintained status and prove that the delays were caused by a compelling academic or medical reason. If you need to apply for an extension of stay, you should begin the application process no later than 40 days before the completion date on the I-20 or DS-2019.
  • To receive your extension, you must:
    • Complete an Extension Request Form
    • Provide new financial documentation covering the period requested
    • Current yearly cost, which can be found at the Office of the Bursar.
    • Set up a meeting with one of the NIU immigration advisors to discuss and/or approve an extension

      If you have not maintained student status, you must apply for reinstatement. Consult with an ISSS immigration advisor about the process.

If you plan to temporarily discontinue your studies to leave the US, you may be eligible for a leave of absence. You must contact an ISSS advisor to walk you through the process of securing a leave of absence.

If your leave of absence will be less than five months, your Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) record will be terminated with an authorized early withdrawal and will be re-activated for your return. You will be able to restart your studies under your current I-20 your studies with your current I-20. If your leave of absence will be more than five months, you will have to go through a new visa interview, as a new SEVIS record must be created.

After graduation from NIU, you have several options to consider.

  • Apply for work authorization through Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (for J-1)
  • Remain in the US during your grace period
    • F-1 students have 60 days
    • J-1 students have 30 days
    • Once you leave the U.S., you will not be able to re-enter
  • Continue at NIU in a different degree program
  • Transfer to a different institution for another degree program

Provide ISSS advisors with proof of admissions to a new institution and a transfer form if applicable. 

Contact Us

International Student Scholar Services (ISSS)
Williston Hall

Phone: 815-753-1346

Staff Office Hours

8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Walk-in Appointments

No scheduled appointment needed in these hours

10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.