Maintaining Status

How to Maintain Legal Status

Rules for maintaining F-1/J-1 student status

  • International students are required to maintain full-time status at all times;
  • Full-time status at UMass Lowell is determined as follows:
    • 9 credits for graduate students
    • 9 credits for graduate certificate students
    • 12 credits for undergraduate students
    • International students must be registered for “required” work  towards completion of degree;
    • International students may only take one online course per semester;
    • All reductions of course load must be pre-approved by the International Students and Scholars Office;
    • Student cannot exceed 20 hours of work per week during the academic semester.  The 20-hour limit refers to the combined total of both on and off-campus work;
    • All off-campus work must be pre-approved by the International Students and Scholars Office and a new Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 will be generated before a student is legally authorized to commence his/her off-campus employment.  Occasionally, additional authorization may be needed from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services;
    • Any extended leave for a period longer than one week during the academic semester (i.e., between the start and end dates of an academic term as determined by the academic calendar) must be pre-approved by the International Students & Scholars Office. This includes leaves for the purpose of travel, medical reasons, military, academic discipline, etc;

F-1/J-1 Status and SEVIS

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.