Immigration Regulations

We’re Here to Guide You

Maintaining close contact with your advisor in the Office of Global Engagement will help you understand the immigration regulations and benefits of your F-1 student status.

Maintaining F-1 Status

It is very important for every non-immigrant to maintain legal status (F-1) while in the United States. Your advisor can support your achievement of the following:

  • Register SEVIS confirmation of attendance within 30 days of the program start date (for initial students) or each school’s semester start date (for continuing students) thereafter
  • Register full-time for each semester (minimum of 9 credits for graduate students and minimum of 12 credits for undergraduate students)
  • Do not work off-campus without checking your eligibility for employment with the Office of Global Engagement and proper authorization from USCIS.
  • Notify the Office of Global Engagement of an address change within 10 days of moving to the new address; failure to do so will violate your F-1 status.
  • Travel endorsement on your I-20 is required before you travel outside the United States
  • Apply for a program extension in a timely manner and seek advice from your advisor immediately if you think you are facing a possible academic completion delay.
  • Transferring out without completing one semester with Rivier University will require authorization and proper SEVIS transfer out documents. Transferring out without notifying your advisor will be in violation of your F-1 status.

If you think you might have violated any of the above F-1 rules and regulations, see your advisor to discuss applying for reinstatement to return to your legal status. Without reinstatement, the benefits of being an F-1 student will be forfeited. Reinstatement applications do not always guarantee an “approval” from USCIS.

If you have been issued a SEVIS I-20 and do not plan to enter the U.S. before your program start date, notify the Office of Global Engagement to discuss deferring your attendance to a specific future start date.

Full Course of Study

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires all individuals in F-student status to pursue a full course of study for the duration of their status. An F-1 student must register as a full-time student during the fall and spring semesters. For undergraduate students, a full course of study is a minimum of 12 credits and for graduate students the full course of study requires nine credits.

Maintaining Your Passport

If your passport expires, you should contact your country’s embassy or consulate to apply for renewal of your passport. Many of the world’s embassies are located in Washington D.C. as well as other major U.S. cities including Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. Remember that your passport should be valid for at least six months into the future when applying for a visa or when traveling in and out of the United States. Contact the Office of Global Engagement for advice.

Maintaining Your Visa

While it is legal for your F-1 visa to expire while you are in the United States as long as your SEVIS Form I-20 and I-94 are valid and you maintain status as a full-time student, you cannot enter the United States on an expired or cancelled visa. You will need to renew your visa the next time you are outside the United States, except for short visits to Canada and Mexico. Check with the United States Consulate in your home country for application procedures specific to your home country and to see if an appointment is required.

Duration of Status (D/S)

An F-1 student will be admitted to the United States for “duration of status,” which is noted on your Arrival Form I-94 and SEVIS Form I-20 A-B by United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Duration of status means the period during which the student is pursuing a full course of study or engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies.

Electronic I-94

Foreign visitors to the U.S. arriving via air or sea no longer need to complete paper Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Form I-94 or I-94W. Those who need to prove their legal-visitor status—to employers, schools/universities or government agencies—can access their CBP arrival/departure record information online.

CBP now gathers travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will still issue a paper form I-94 at land border ports of entry.

If travelers need the information from their Form I-94 admission record to verify immigration status or employment authorization, the record number and other admission information, they are encouraged to get their I-94 Number.

Upon arrival, a CBP officer stamps the travel document of each arriving non-immigrant traveler with the admission date, the class of admission, and the date that the traveler is admitted until. If a traveler would like a paper Form I-94, one can be requested during the inspection process. All requests will be accommodated in a secondary setting.

Upon exiting the U.S., travelers previously issued a paper Form I-94 should surrender it to the commercial carrier or to CBP upon departure. Otherwise, CBP will record the departure electronically via manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP. For more information, visit US Customs and Border Protection Agency.

SEVIS Transfer Process

If you arrived in the United States using a different I-20 for F-1 visa and want to attend Rivier University, you must notify your school of your intent to transfer. View information on the SEVIS transfer process.


Out-of-status may result from one of the following situations:

  • Failure to report to the school for SEVIS confirmation within 30 days from the start date of each semester.
  • Failure to enroll full-time (with the exemption of the last semester prior to degree completion) for each academic session.
  • Failure to seek program extension in a timely manner
  • Failure to file a change status or leave the country, in accordance with USCIS regulation following completion of studies.
  • Working without appropriate authorization.

A student who has failed to maintain status may apply for reinstatement if the student has been out of status for five months or less. Our staff can assist you with this process.

Employment in F-1 Status

F-1 students are allowed to work, provided they have been authorized to do so. In order to maintain your F-1 status, required employment authorization must be secured before starting any type of employment, with the exception of on-campus employment. View information on employment for F-1 students.

Bringing Spouse or Child to the United States

If you have active F-1 status, you may be able to bring your spouse and/or children to the United States as dependents. You will be asked to submit an additional financial statement for your dependent(s) before a DSO issues a new SEVIS Form I-20. You must meet with your advisor to request SEVIS Form I-20 for your dependents and discuss eligibility for F-2 status. The Office of Global Engagement will need the names, dates of birth, the places of citizenship and relationship to the dependent(s). Each dependent will be issued a SEVIS Form I-20 under his/her name in addition to the student’s name. The dependent(s) must understand that family members are sometimes denied the F-2 visa and are unable to join the student in the United States.

Full-time study by F-2 spouses is prohibited and full-time study by F-2 children is limited to elementary and secondary schooling. F-2 dependents are permitted to engage in part-time vocational or recreational study. An F-2 spouse or child desiring to engage in full-time study other than that allowed must apply for and obtain a change of non-immigrant classification to F-1, J-1, or M-1 status. An F-2 spouse or F-2 child violates his or her non-immigrant status by engaging in full-time study.

Travel Abroad and Re-Entry

Consult your advisor if you plan to make a trip outside the United States to another country or your home country. Complete the Travel Request Form prior to meeting with an advisor. Your advisor will endorse page three of your SEVIS Form I-20 form, verifying that you are maintaining a full course of study and that you are eligible to continue to study at Rivier upon your return to the United States. Please consult your advisor when planning to travel while on Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Visiting another country may require a visa: inquire with their consular offices. Please make sure that the following documents are available before traveling:

  • Valid passport for at least six months
  • Valid F-1 visa (if your visa has expired, you must apply for renewal in your home country before re-entry to the United States.; meet with your advisor to discuss application of F-1 visa abroad)
  • Valid SEVIS Form I-20 with an approved stamp and endorsement by your advisor

For more information about traveling to Canada, Mexico and other adjacent islands (except Cuba) such as Saint Pierre, Miquelon, The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, The Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique or other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea, contact the Office of Global Engagement and schedule an appointment with your advisor before you plan to travel.


Office of Global Engagement