Rice Unconventional Wisdom

Maintaining Status

Remember, maintaining your status is your responsibility. By signing your immigration documents, you are indicating the following: “I have read and agreed to comply with the terms and conditions of my admission and those of any extension of stay as specified on page 2. I certify that all information provided on this form refers specifically to me and is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I certify that I seek to enter or remain in the United States temporarily, and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study at the school named on page 1 of this form.”

Below are some of the main points to remember:

  • Be a full-time student each semester. You must complete (not just register for) a full course of study during the fall and spring semesters. To maintain your status, undergraduate students must complete 12 hours and graduate students must complete 9 hours per semester. Note: Some degree programs may require more hours for academic reasons. Check with your department. You are not required by the Department of Homeland Security to enroll in classes during the summer session, unless summer is your first semester in the U.S.
  • If you need to drop a course, make an appointment to see an international student advisor BEFORE you drop the course. See procedures for dropping below hours for graduates or undergraduates
  • Make normal progress towards completing the course of study. You need to apply for an extension if you cannot complete your study before the completion date on your I-20. There is no extension allowed after the expiration date of the I-20, and you will have to apply for reinstatement with the Department of Homeland Security if you stay beyond the expiration date without an extension granted on time.
  • Keep Form I-20 current. Don’t let it expire and make sure all the information on your I-20 is accurate and valid. Obtain a new I-20 whenever you make a change in education levels or programs of study. This includes changing levels at the same school or a new one (for example, from bachelor’s to master’s degree) or beginning a new degree at the same level (for example, from master’s to a second master’s degree).
  • Attend only the school listed on your current I-20. To attend another school, you must transfer to that school or request a concurrent enrollment letter from an OISS advisor. An I-20 transfer (not the same as transferring academic credit) must be completed to attend the new school.
  • Maintain a valid passport at all times, unless exempt from passport requirements. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future.
  • Obtain a travel endorsement on your I-20 or DS-2019 from the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) before traveling. The endorsement for travel should be done during the current semester. It is not necessary if you are returning home permanently. An I-20 or DS-2019 is no longer valid for reentry once you complete the degree listed on your I-20, even if it has not expired.
  • Report a change of address within 10 days of the change by updating your local address in the Mailing Address field in ESTHER and your foreign address directly with OISS by sending an email with your name, student ID number, and new foreign address to oiss@rice.eduNOTE: You may use the Permanent Address field in ESTHER to reflect any address you choose.  Rice Payroll uses that field as the address where they will send you your tax forms.  If you do not have a Mailing Address field to update, please email registrar@rice.edu for assistance in creating one.  Incorrect addresses will result in a registration hold being placed on your account.
  • Never work off-campus unless you have received current work authorization from the Office of International Students & Scholars or the Department of Homeland Security. See Work Authorization
  • Do not engage in criminal activity.
  • Abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirements.
  • Report any life event that may affect your immigration status such as birth of a child, marriage, change of legal name, divorce or death.
  • Report your program completion so that OISS may close your SEVIS record. Be sure to submit a Departure Form

For additional resources regarding your immigration status, please contact OISS.