The International Programs Office is glad to advise you on maintaining your legal student status, and we welcome questions you have regarding your visa requirements. However, students are ultimately responsible for maintaining legal student visa status. 

F-1 Student Visa Maintenance

Listed below are the basic requirements to follow in order to maintain your F-1 student visa:
  • Keep your passport valid at all times.
  • Have your Form I-20 signed each time you travel internationally by a Designated School Official (IPO staff). It is essential that you keep all versions of your Form I-20 for your records and to apply for Occupational Practical Training (OPT) upon graduation.
  • Maintain full-time enrollment (12 credit hours or more) every fall and spring semester. Full-time enrollment is not required in the interim or summer terms.
  • You are legally required to notify the IPO of changes to your address (including change of residence hall room) or phone number within 10 days of the change. Please complete this form to do so.
  • Complete graduation requirements by your program end date on the Form I-20. If you need more time, you must contact the IPO before your end-date to extend your program. 
  • Notify the IPO immediately of any planned or unplanned breaks or interruptions in your studies. Such breaks in study can impact your ability to stay in the U.S. and/or apply for immigration benefits in the future.
  • Do not begin any employment without legal work authorization from the International Programs Office or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. We must update your Form I-20 before you are allowed to begin work. See International Student Employment information for more details.
  • Notify the IPO if you change your major, address or phone number. 
  • You are allowed to be in the United States on an expired visa as long as your Form I-20 is current. If you leave the United States, however, you will need to have time to apply for a new visa before you will be allowed re-entry. Please check your visa expiration date before making plans to travel outside of the U.S.
  • Departure Grace Periods: All F-1 students have a 60-day grace period after the completion of the program or degree. During the grace period, students may remain in the U.S., transfer to another school, or apply for OPT. Students who travel outside of the U.S. cannot reenter the U.S. on their original student visa.
  • Program Extension: In rare circumstances, students need an additional semester to complete their program. If you need additional time, please consult the IPO as soon as you believe you might need an extension. This must be done prior to the program end date listed on you I-20.
Sponsored Students on J-1 Visas (Form DS-2019):
Please visit with your sponsor advisor for questions related to maintaining your J-1 student visa. 

We encourage international students to take opportunities to travel whenever possible so you can visit more of South Dakota and the United States. Often it can be confusing to know what documents are needed both for travel within the United States, as well as for re-entry into the U.S. once you've left the country during your course of study. 


Travel within the United States

Once you have initially arrived to campus and you are making plans to travel within the U.S, it is important to know that you are required by law to have documents available to present if needed. While you may not need them, it is advisable to carry your valid passport, Form I-20 and Form I-94 when you travel within the U.S. Remember to keep photocopies of these documents in a safe place on campus so you have back-up copies if needed. 

Travel outside of the United States and Re-entry

Anytime you leave the U.S. while you are in current legal student status, be prepared to have specific, updated documents with you in order to gain re-entry into the United States.  While you may not be required to present all of these documents, we recommend carrying with you the following upon re-entry: 

  • Passport valid for at least six months after re-entry and valid student visa
  • Form I-20 signed within the last year for F-1 visa students. Be sure to have it signed by IPO staff before you leave Augustana if it hasn't been signed within the last year. (Form DS-2019 with valid travel signature for sponsored J-1 visa students.)
  • Current or upcoming term class schedule
  • Financial evidence
  • Form I-94 printout
  • EAD card (only if you are currently on OPT)

If you intend to travel or be away from campus for more than five months, you must visit with your International Student Advisor or IPO staff to discuss this process in order for you to be eligible to re-enter or return to your studies when you intend. Absences for longer than five months will require additional authorization and/or preparation.