Full-time status at UMass Lowell is determined as follows:
If you are requesting a new Initial Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 and will require a change from another non-immigrant status to “F” or “J” student status, the ISSO strongly advises that you travel to your home country to petition for a change of status. The process of changing one’s status within the U.S. can take 5-7+ months. Students who are in the U.S. in a different visa status are encouraged to contact the ISSO as soon as possible to initiate the proper discussions as other immigration-related complications may apply.
UMass Lowell does not support Reinstatement petitions for incoming, new international students. An international student who has failed to maintain valid non-immigrant status in the U.S. prior to the issuance of their first Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 from UMass Lowell will be required to apply for Reinstatement through travel. We urge you to discuss this with an immigration attorney. ISSO is happy to recommend an immigration attorney at your request.
Please also be sure to discuss accrual of Unlawful Presence Time with an immigration attorney. Unlawful Presence carries severe legal consequences, which may include 3 and 10 year re-entry bars to the U.S., among other penalties. Please note that filing a Reinstatement request in and of itself does not stop the unlawful presence clock. If a Reinstatement request is denied, the unlawful presence started the day the non-immigrant fell out of status.
All non-immigrants must have a valid status at all times while in the United States. USCIS monitors maintenance of status for all non-immigrants in all non-immigrant visa categories. Accumulation of 180 days of unlawful presence will result in a three-year re-entry bar to the U.S. Accumulation of 180+ days of unlawful presence will result in a ten-year re-entry bar to the U.S. There are also other legal ramifications to falling out of legal status. Please note that filing a Reinstatement Request in and of itself does not stop the unlawful presence clock. If Reinstatement request is denied, the unlawful presence started the day non-immigrant fell out of status.
Attention students on an F-1 or J-1 visa: It is your responsibility to continually maintain full-time registration (9 credits for graduate students, 12 credits for undergraduate students).
Please keep this in mind as you plan your course registration / sequencing.
Inappropriately dropping a course that may affect subsequent course selection (pre-requisites), or an unexpected cancellation of a course MAY put you below full-time registration, thus causing you to violate your visa status. MBA students, specifically, should be reminded that you must maintain full-time registration throughout a semester, even if a Term II course is dropped or cancelled.
Should this occur, you must work with academic advisor and the ISSO to register for credits sufficient to continue to maintain aforementioned full-time status.
We urge you to contact your academic advisor when planning your course schedule, as well as conferring with them before dropping any courses to avoid any potential academic or immigration-related issues. Please contact the ISSO with any questions regarding the maintenance of your F-1 or J-1 status.
The International Students and Scholars Office is required to report on the situations listed above through an electronic database tracking system, known as the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). We also report changes in personal and home country address, as well as changes in citizenship, academic level, academic discipline, etc.
At the beginning of each semester we are required to register each international student on the SEVIS system to verify that they are physically enrolled as a full-time student, confirm their US address and the school’s semester start and end dates as well as the next semester’s start date. Failure to do this automatically cancels the student’s immigration status. This means that students should be physically present in the U.S. at the start of the semester for us to be able to process their SEVIS registration.