Maintaining Legal Status

As an international student, you are responsible for maintaining their F-1 or J-1 legal status throughout your studies by understanding and complying with the rules, regulations and restrictions associated with your student status.

Immigration regulations sometimes change and international students must stay informed about any new developments regarding their legal status.  Review the information below, read our important emails with reminders and deadlines, and check back here regularly for notifications and updates.

Legal Status Guidelines

Check-in upon arrival through RGLOBAL portal +

If you are beginning a program at Rutgers, you are required to check-in online through RGlobal when you arrive in the United States.

Review our Post-Arrival Guide for more information about the check in procedure, and how to prepare for the start of your studies when you arrive in the United States.

Study full-time and make normal academic progress +

As an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, you must pursue your program full-time and make normal academic progress. Visit our Full Course of Study page for more information about how this is defined.

Keep required immigration documents valid and up to date +

Your passport must be valid for six months beyond the period of your intended stay (i.e. program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019), unless your country is exempted from this requirement. If your passport will be expiring soon, you may renew your passport within the United States at your country’s embassy or consulate—most countries have a consulate in New York City.

Check the U.S. entry stamp in your passport and your Form I-94 to ensure you were properly admitted to the United States. In particular, your entry stamp and I-94 should show your “Class of Admission” as F-1 or J-1 and “Admit Until” date as D/S (meaning “duration of status”).  If there is an error on your entry stamp or I-94, contact an international student adviser for assistance.

Review all the information on your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 for F-1 students or DS-2019 for J-1 students) and memorize your program end date. Your I-20 or DS-2019 must accurately reflect your degree level, program, and funding information.  If you need to make an update to your I-20 or DS-2019, or you will not be completing your program before your program end date, visit our Academic and Status Changes page to learn the procedures.

Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services is not responsible for maintaining any of your personal immigration documents. We recommend that you make copies or scans of all of your legal documents (I-20, passport, I-94, tax forms) and keep them in a safe place. 

Keep your contact information updated in MyRutgers portal +

Log into your MyRutgers portal to update your local US address, US cell phone number, non-Rutgers email address and emergency contact information within 10 days of any changes.

If you live on-campus, your address is automatically updated. For students living off-campus, a manual update through your MyRutgers portal is required.  Your U.S. address must be reported in the Local Address section using this format:

Address 1: Street number followed by street name with no punctuation

Address 2: Apartment number (if any)

If you work on campus, you must update information in your student (not university employee) profile.

Be prepared for international travel +

Before departing the United States, make sure you have the documents that you will need to re-enter the country:

  1. Valid, up to date I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature
  2. Passport, valid for six months beyond the period of your intended stay (i.e. program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019), unless your country is exempted from this six month requirement
  3. Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (if your visa has expired you will need to apply for a new one at a U.S. embassy or consulate before your return)

For more information on preparing for travel and what to expect, visit our Travel and Visa Information page. 

If you will be conducting research outside of the United States or participating in a study abroad program, please visit our Research or Study Abroad page for more information. 

We understand emergencies happen and situations may arise that require you to take an unplanned break from campus or from your academic work. If an emergency requires you to travel outside of the United States, contact an academic dean or your graduate program director and an international student adviser about the situation before leaving the United States. Visit our Leave of Absence or Withdrawal and Returning to Rutgers pages to find out how this may impact your legal status and how to prepare for your return.

Get work authorization before starting any jobs +

As an international student, you must acquire work authorization before starting any paid or unpaid employment.

Visit our Employment page for information about types of work authorization for F-1 and J-1 students, eligibility requirements, and how to apply.

File your U.S. Taxes +

All international students and their dependents are legally required to report presence in the United States to the International Revenue Service (IRS) each year—even if you did not work or earn income—by submitting Form 8843.

If you have earned income in the United States, you may need to file federal and state tax returns. 

Please note that Rutgers Global cannot advise on tax issues.  If you have questions that are not covered by the information provided, please contact a tax professional. 

Plan for leaving Rutgers +

Whether you are graduating, taking a leave of absence, transferring to a new institution, or changing to a new nonimmigrant status, please follow the correct procedures to report your plans. Do not leave Rutgers without informing International Students and Scholar Services about your departure.

Know about your “grace period” +

When you complete the requirements for your degree/program, international students are automatically granted a “grace period” (60 days for F-1 students or 30 days for J-1 students). You may not study or work during the grace period, but you may plan for next steps. Before the end of the grace period, you must:

Please note that you may travel within the United States during your grace period, but you cannot reenter the United States with your F-1 or J-1 visa. 

Concerned about being "out of status"? +

If you are concerned there may be a problem with your legal status, contact an international student adviser as soon as possible to discuss your situation and learn about ways to regain good legal standing, if necessary.