While GEO is here to help, your immigration status is just that: yours! Take ownership of this responsibility and be proactive to avoid problems. Always check with GEO before doing something that could jeopardize your status.
Created by Customs & Border Protection (CBP) when you enter the U.S., the I-94 is official documentation of your immigration status. There are two types of I-94 records:
Make sure it lists your correct visa status upon initial entry into the country. If “D/S” is listed on your record, that means you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for "duration of status," i.e. until your current program end date as long as you maintain active immigration status.
You are required to be enrolled full-time (12 hours for undergraduate students and 9 hours for graduate students) during the academic year. All students may take a one-semester vacation after two consecutive semesters of full-time enrollment, usually enrolled fall/spring with a vacation during the summer.
Exceptions to the full-time enrollment rule may be granted for the following reasons:
All of the above require advanced approval from GEO. If you need to drop below full-time, schedule an appointment with a GEO immigration advisor to discuss your options.
Do not begin any type of employment - job, internship, volunteer work, or otherwise - without first checking with GEO and receiving authorization. Violating this rule will jeopardize your ability to legally stay in the U.S. and continue your studies. Learn more about employment opportunities available to international students on the work authorization page.
It is your responsibility to monitor expiration dates on your immigration documents. Take note of the program end date listed on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, and the expiration date listed on your visa, and set calendar reminders. Ask GEO how to renew or extend your documents before the expiration date, or you will go out of status.
F-1 students have a 60-day grace period to depart the U.S. upon program completion; whereas J-1 students have a 30-day grace period. Other options to extend your stay include, but are not limited to:
Plan ahead and contact GEO if you wish to pursue any of these options.
If a DSO learns you have violated your immigration status in any way, they must take appropriate action, which may include the termination of your Form I-20. Common termination reasons include:
Violations leave a permanent, negative mark on your immigration record and may complicate future interactions with USCIS. If you go “out of status,” inform GEO immediately to discuss your options for regaining status.