Maintaining Student Status

International students are subject to visa requirements during the duration of their program at Anna Maria College. It is the student’s responsibility to maintain their nonimmigrant status. However, the International Programs Office (IPO) is here to help guide you.

Maintaining Student Status


New F-1 students must register their arrival with the IPO as soon as possible after arrival in the U.S. and no later than 30 days after the program start date on their Forms I-20. The IPO must report F-1 arrivals to the government within 30 days of the start date.


While studying in the United States, international students must:

  • Attend and pass all your classes. If school is too difficult, speak with your DSO immediately.
  • If you believe that you will be unable to complete your program by the end date listed on your Form I-20, talk with your DSO about requesting a possible program extension.
  • You must take a full course of study each term; if you cannot study full-time, contact your DSO immediately.
  • Do not drop a class without first speaking with your DSO.

Annual Vacation

F-1 students must complete at least one full academic year at an SEVP-certified school to be eligible for annual vacation. Additionally, students must intend to register for classes in the academic term following their annual vacation. Please note that during an annual vacation, students can take as many, as few or no courses as they want. SEVP considers all study during an annual vacation incident to status.

Work Authorization

On-campus employment:
F-1 & J-1 students may work up to 20 hours per week on campus while school is in session, and full time during major school breaks.

Off-campus employment:
Off-campus employment during or after studies requires pre-authorization in the form of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 students, and Academic Training (AT) for J-1 students. There are specific rules regarding when and how you can apply for these types of authorizations. The CISS offers information sessions on these types of work authorizations throughout the academic year. Please see the “Employment” tab at the top of this page for recordings of information sessions, and detailed information about eligibility and processes.

Working off-campus without prior authorization is a violation of your immigration status and could result in termination of your visa status, bars against re-entering the U.S., and serious consequences for future visa applications.

Upon Program Completion

International students must take action to maintain legal status or depart the United States after completing their program of study.

Once you complete your program of study and any authorized period of practical training, F students have 60 days after completion of your program (the program end date on your Form I-20) to leave the United States. If you wish to extend your stay in the United States, talk with your DSO to learn more about doing one of the following:

  • Transfer to another school.
  • Change your education level (e.g., bachelor’s to master’s).
  • Apply to change status to another visa status (e.g., H-1B temporary worker; O-extraordinary ability in science, art, or business; P-athlete).

Reporting Obligations

  • Address
  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Change your major/minor
  • Add major/minor
  • Apply to change your status

You must notify the IPO by email or in person within 10 days if you change your:

Valid Passport

Students are required to keep their passports valid for six months into the future at all times.

In-Person Study Requirements

Do I need to take a full course load?Yes, new and returning international undergraduate students must remain enrolled in a full course load to maintain F-1 status. This means 12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students. Exceptions to this rule include students with pre-authorized reduced course loads and special student relief, and students in their final semester completing all remaining degree requirements. If you have remaining questions about your ability to take a full-time course load, please contact the International Services @

Can I take online or hybrid classes? – Undergraduate StudentsWhile undergraduate courses briefly shifted to an online format due to COVID-19, undergraduate courses are now in-person on campus. Accordingly, all international undergraduate students will be expected to attend in-person classes on the anna Maria College campus.

Can I take online or hybrid classes? – Graduate StudentsWhile some of Anna Maria Colleges graduate classes are offered in a hybrid format (with in-person and online class sessions), new and returning international graduate students will be expected to attend the majority of their classes in-person to maintain F-1 status. This means that you can take your full course load fully in-person each semester OR, if you choose to do so, only one of your courses (3 credits) towards your full-time requirement may be taken fully online. We recommend that students in hybrid courses with optional in-person class sessions track their in-person attendance using an Attendance Verification Form. (JH to Provide PDF)

Can I study remotely from my home country?No, you cannot study fully remotely from your home country or the U.S. (e.g., from another state) and maintain F-1 status. While remote study was temporarily allowed for specific groups of students during the COVID-19 pandemic, Anna Maria College has returned to normal operations and students are therefore expected to study on campus. If you are a new graduate student unable to travel to the U.S. due to personal, visa, or travel-related difficulties, please contact Graduate Admissions for more information on deferring your enrollment.

Leave of Absence Procedure

Leaves of Absence (taking time away from your studies) have implications for your visa status, require you to leave the U.S., and may re-start the one year eligibility requirement for F-1 work authorization. Please see here for further information about taking or returning from a Leave of Absence. You should also email International Services for information about how your leave will affect your visa status.

International students returning from Leaves of Absence may only be readmitted at the start of a fall or spring semester. Prior to the semester you decide to resume studies at Anna Maria College , you will need to be officially readmitted by following the above-linked process.

Once you have received notice that you been officially approved to be readmitted, you will need to send to International Services

  • Copies of updated sponsor letters and/or bank statements showing ability to pay for the re-admit year
  • A copy of your passport biographical page
  • Information about your SEVIS release date (only if studying at another U.S. institution during your leave from Anna Maria College).

International Services will then create a new I-20/DS-2019 for you, which you may need to use to obtain a new F-1 or J-1 visa, depending on your particular circumstances

Dropping Below Full Time

International students are required to maintain a full course load (12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students) during the academic year in order to comply with visa-related regulations. There are a few exceptions to this regulatory requirement.

  • Final Semester: If you are in your final semester and taking all of your final courses needed to graduate, you are automatically eligible to take only the classes needed, even if you will be under the 12 or 9 credit requirement as mentioned above. However, you must make sure your program end date listed on page 1 of your form I-20 reflects that it is your final semester so that the CISS is aware that you are automatically authorized. If you need to make a change to your I-20 end date to reflect this, see the below section on Graduating Late/Early.
  • Pre-Authorized Reduced Course Loads (RCLs) for Academic or Medical Reasons: In rare circumstances, students who are not in their final semester are authorized to drop below full time. To reduce your course load below full-time status, you must request authorization in advance from our office. An RCL can only be authorized on a semester basis. You must resume a full course of study in the semester immediately following your permitted period of reduced course load. RCLs may be issued for the following reasons: Illness or medical condition; Initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements; Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods; Improper course-level or temporary Special Student Relief for nationals of certain countries. Please contact for further information about the process. Do not drop below full time

without pre-authorization from the Office of International Programs and Services.

Incomplete Courses

You must complete all work and receive a final grade for any incomplete courses by the end of your final semester of study. If your graduation/degree completion date changes for any reason, you must contact the International Programs and Services Office to amend your I-20 or DS-2019 form to reflect this change.

Please refer to the below section on Graduating Late/Early.

Visa and Travel Requirements
for New & Returning Students

Consulate & Embassy Closures

Many U.S. consular posts suspended routine visa processing temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many consulates and embassies have since re-opened and resumed visa processing. Unfortunately, the CISS does not have detailed information about when individual U.S. embassies and consular posts will resume processing student visas.

CISS will continue to issue and send I-20s to admitted students so that you are prepared to initiate your visa application as soon as the consular posts reopen. You should check your embassy or consulate’s website frequently for appointment availability. You can find more information about obtaining a visa to study in the U.S. on the Incoming Students section of our website.

What are the current quarantine, testing, and vaccination requirements?

CDC’s Amended Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic ceased to be in effect as of 12:01a.m. EDT on May 12, 2023. This means that noncitizen nonimmigrant air passengers no longer need to show proof of being fully vaccinated with an accepted COVID-19 vaccine to board a flight to the U.S. For more information, see the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Things to check before you step away from the immigration official at the port-of-entry

  • Check the entry stamp in your passport — be sure that the officer has written F1/DS in the stamp. This is the official record of your entry into the US; this information is also recorded in the US Customs and Border Protection database as your I-94 information. You can check your I-94 information online here.
  • Make sure that your I-20/DS2019 and passport have been returned to you. A paper I-94 card may be issued if you enter the US via a land border.

The International Services Office and the Health and Counseling Office continues to advise that students and scholars continue to travel cautiously. Remember to carry:

  • Valid unexpired F-1/J-1 visa in passport
  • Passport (valid at least 6 months from date of re-entry)
  • Most recent I-20/DS-2019 with travel signature signed within last 12 months for students (6 months for OPT/STEM OPT)
  • OPT Applicants: EAD Card (or I-797 Receipt or Approval Notice

*Citizens of Canada or the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda do not need an F-1 visa stamp; admission is granted based on the student’s valid I-20.

More Visa Information

Duration of Status & Visa Renewal

F-1 & J-1 students are admitted to the U.S. for “duration of status.” This means that you are permitted to remain in the U.S. in your current status as long as you hold a valid I-20 or DS-2019, and are otherwise following the regulations and meeting the requirements of your program.

If you maintain F-1/J-1 student status and have a valid I-20 or DS-2019, you may remain in the United States after your F-1/J-1 visa has expired. However, if you are returning home or traveling to a country where automatic visa re-validation does not occur (i.e. Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island) you must renew your visa in order to re-enter the United States. Visit the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website to learn more about how to apply for a visa. The process for applying for visa renewal is similar to when your first obtained your visa. An interview may or may not be required depending on your consular post. Requirements for visa renewal are consulate-specific, but generally you will need to fill out a DS-160 application form, provide accompanying documentation and fees, and present them to the consular post for review. We recommend obtaining an enrollment verification or status letter from the Registrar’s office to prove your continued enrollment, an updated I-20 or DS-2019

with a travel signature from the CISS, as well as updated financial documents to prove ability to continue to pay tuition and living expenses.

Family and Friends Visiting in the U.S.

Family members and friends who are planning to visit you in the U.S. for a period of less than 6 months should apply for a tourist visa (B1/B2 visa). Applicants must apply for a B-1/B-2 visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. For more information on how to apply for a visa, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Anna Maria College University cannot assist with the tourist visa process, but below are some helpful documents that you can provide to your loved one as they prepare to apply for the visa to come visit you.

Enrollment Verification Letter (to confirm your student status)To request an Enrollment Verification, visit the Registrar’s website

Bank Statement/Other DocumentationVisa applicants may be asked to provide proof of sufficient funds to support themselves while visiting the U.S. This could be a letter verifying employment or a bank statement. You may also need to submit Form I-134 Affidavit of Support if you will be funding your relative.

Proof of Intent to Return HomeDocuments that support the intent to return home include evidence of a job, property, business ownership, immediate family members who remain back home, or any strong ties to their home country. Copies of the return airline ticket or reservation will also be helpful.

Support Letter (from you)Invitation letters are not required for tourist visas. However, you may choose to write a statement in support of your friend or family member’s plan to visit you. Your letter may specify: the duration of the visitor’s planned stay in the United States and the purpose of the visit (for example, if the visa applicant is traveling to the U.S. to attend your commencement ceremonies). Please note that the CISS does not issue invitation letters, and according to guidance from the Department of State, invitation letters are not necessary for issuing visitor visas. If you choose to provide one anyway, you may download the CISS Invitation Letter template for help.

Commencement Information (for graduating students)Please visit Anna Maria Colleges commencement website for further information about dates and details.

J-1 Exchange Students and Visiting Scholars

The primary purpose of the J-1 visa is an exchange relationship between the visitors’ home country and the United States. The Form DS-2019 is the principal document that verifies your legal status within the United States. The form contains a machine-readable section that will be used for visa applications at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad and while entering or exiting the United States.

J-1 Exchange Visitors at Anna Maria College include exchange students (studying for a semester or academic year based on an exchange agreement between Anna Maria College and your home university), degree-seeking students (studying in the U.S. for the entirety of their degree), and J-1 scholars (including short and long-term research scholars and post-doctoral fellows).

The J-1 visa differs from the F-1 student visa with regard to its purpose and eligibility criteria. If you have questions about status maintenance, J-1 work authorization, health insurance requirements, departmental sponsorship for incoming scholars, or other visa-related questions, please contact

Grace Periods

Visa-specific regulations allow for F-1 students to remain in the U.S. for as long as 60 days following completion of your program/ I-20 end date. J-1 students, in contrast, have a 30 day grace period. You can use this grace period to make travel plans to depart the U.S., pack your items and take care of final items prior to departure, or to travel within the U.S.

You are not permitted to leave the U.S. and re-enter the country in F-1/J-1 status during your grace period.

If you have arranged for a transfer of your F-1/J-1 record, have applied for OPT, or applied for a change of status, you are not subject to the grace period limit, and are eligible to remain in the U.S. pending transfer or your application result.

The grace period is not available to students who do not complete their program of study due to suspension or withdrawal.

Graduating Late / Early

If you are completing degree requirements before or after the program end date listed on page 1 of your form I-20, please follow the below steps to request a modification to your program end date. There are several steps that you must complete before using the online form:

Step 1: Schedule an appointment with Academic Services to confirm your academic plan.
Step 2: If you need your I-20 end date EXTENDED past the date currently listed:
• Have your Academic Advisor fill out the Academic Services Certification Form. Keep a copy of this form to upload in Step 3.

• Obtain proof of extended financial ability (bank statement/ certification). If you are extending your program for a semester, obtain a bank statement or certification and, if necessary, a sponsor support document showing ability to pay for a semester of tuition and living expenses. If you are extending your program for a year (or more), please provide bank statements and, if necessary, a sponsor support document showing ability to pay for an academic year (two semesters) of tuition and living expenses. Keep copies of these documents to upload in Step 3.

If you will be graduating before your current I-20 program end date, and need your I-20 SHORTENED:

• Please notify your academic advisor and the Registrar of your plans. They will communicate this with the International Programs and Services Office.
Step 3: Once you have completed steps 1 and 2, fill out this web form to request an I-20 modification from International Programs and Services (needs a SLATE form)