Immigration Status

What are the differences between an F-1 and a J-1 student?

  • An F-1 visa is the general student visa, used for most students. This visa program is managed by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • A J-1 student is an exchange visitor. This program is managed by the Department of State. These students are generally a participant in an exchange program, such as Fulbright, or others. They may also be supported by government funding.
  • The regulations for each are generally the same, but they do have some differences.

My visa is expiring. Do I have to go to my home country to renew it?
Technically, any U.S. consulate can issue U.S. visas. The reality may be different. Please talk to an international advisor or attorney about your case.

You can find information about visa wait times here

I am in H-4 status and am paying in-state tuition. If I change status to F-1, can I still pay at the in-state rate?
Please check with the UNT Office of the Registrar for information about residency here

Can I change status inside the U.S.?
Under certain circumstances, you can apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status. Please see Change of Status for more information.

If I change status, do I need to go home to get a new visa?
If you have changed status inside the U.S., you do not need to travel outside the U.S. to get a new visa stamp in your passport.  However, if you do travel outside the U.S., you will need to have a valid visa stamp to enter the U.S.

If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the contiguous islands, except for Cuba, there may be an exception. Please see this page for more details.

I have not graduated yet, but I am going to take a semester off and go home.  How long can I stay in the U.S.?
If you notify the International Student and Scholar Services office before you drop your courses, and if you have not been suspended or administratively withdrawn, you will have 15 days to remain in the U.S.

If you have been suspended or administratively withdrawn, you will still need to notify the International Student and Scholar Services office, but you have 0 days to remain in the U.S. You are out of status at the time of suspension or withdrawal.

I need more time to complete my program than what the end date on my I-20 allows. What should I do?
Unlike the VISA, the I-20 can be extended in the U.S. by the ISSS office. You will have to apply for the extension before the expiration of the I-20.  If you wait until after it expires, you will be out of status.

I’m graduating soon and may want to apply to graduate school, but I haven’t decided yet.  How long do I have after graduation to decide?
Immigration regulations state that you must complete your admission to the new program and have the I-20 for the new program produced within 60 days of completion of your former program.

This is advice to those who haven't graduated yet: you must plan well ahead of time so that you will be sure to maintain your F-1 status and follow the regulations.

How long can I stay in the U.S. after I complete a program?

  • 60 days for F-1 students
  • 30 days for J-1 students