The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for F-1 students and the Department of State for J-1 students each have regulations regarding how to maintain visa status. As long as you continually meet these obligations, you will be considered in status or "maintaining your visa status". The staff in International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) are available to assist you with maintaining your status; however, it is your responsibility to know the regulations. You are strongly encouraged to regularly read your ONID e-mail account in order to receive announcements and updates on immigration and related issues.
Acquiring a Student Visa
You must have a valid passport in order to obtain a visa for the United States. Before visiting the U.S. Consulate for your visa, please read carefully the instructions on the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019 form) issued for your studies at Oregon State University. Students with an I-20 will apply for an F-1 student visa. Students with a DS-2019 will apply for a J-1 exchange visitor visa. Contact your closest US Embassy or Consulate to get the procedures for applying for a visa. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) has published information sheets describing what to expect when applying for a student visa and at a U.S. Port of Entry. Please note: Canadian citizens do not need a visa stamp, though they must have all the other documentation.
The paragraphs below provide basic information about the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and maintaining your student visa status. You will also find links to ISFS forms available in .pdf format. For more information or to discuss your particular situation, please schedule an appointment with an international student advisor by calling 541-737-6310.
SEVIS: An Overview - the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System
Paying the SEVIS fee and getting a US visa
Paying the SEVIS Fee
Applicants for F-1 and J-1 visas need to pay a SEVIS fee, prior to submitting the visa application. A brief description and instructions about how to process the SEVIS fee payment can be found on OSU's SEVIS Fee Payment Information sheet and by visiting the more comprehensive US Immigration and Customs Enforcement website. At the time of your visa interview, you will need to provide documents certifying the amounts and sources of financial support for your studies. Keep copies of these documents to present to the US Immigration official at the Port of Entry.
Maintaining your F-1 and J-1 Visa Status: An Overview (pdf)
As an international student, you must register for and complete a full course of study each term during the academic year. Full-time status for graduate students is 9 credits per term (12 or 16 credits for graduate students with assistantships). Summer and vacation periods normally do not require registration as long as you are a continuing student. It is very important NOT to withdraw from or audit any classes that will result in less than a full course load. If you have serious academic or medical concerns, you will need to make an appointment with an international student advisor for possible exceptions prior to dropping below full-time status. Undergraduate students may apply for a "reduced course load" at the start of their final term if they have less than 12 credits remaining to complete their degree. Graduate students who have completed all required coursework and all requirements listed on their specific graduate program of study may apply for a "reduced enrollment". Reduced enrollment may be approved for up to 4 terms for a master's student or 6 terms for a doctoral student. Both forms are available on the ISAS website and in the International Programs and ILLC lobbies.