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 on the ISSS website regularly for notifications and updates. Here are some simple steps to ensure that you stay in the U.S. legally:


Attend a Staying in Legal Status Workshop  

All new students are required to attend the online Staying in Legal Status Workshop offered by ISSS. The workshop is offered through CANVAS. Please navigate to Rutgers Global – ISSS Canvas page and follow these next steps in order to complete this workshop. 

1. Login to the Rutgers Global – ISSS Canvas page.
*If you are not able to access the online workshop by clicking the link above, please submit an Online Workshop Access e-form via the RGlobal portal.
2. Watch the 3 videos for the Staying in Legal Status workshop
3. Complete the Staying in Legal Status quiz and get a 100%
If you do not plan to work on campus in the fall semester, you can stop here and complete the On-Campus Employment workshop at a later date
4. Watch the 3 videos for the On-Campus Employment workshop
5. Complete the On-Campus Employment quiz and get a 100%
6. Follow the instructions at the end of the end of the On-Campus Employment workshop to submit the appropriate e-forms to request your social security letter and/or your international payroll form
Once your forms are ready, we will send you an email with instructions on how to receive them from our office.

If you have any technical difficulty with the online workshops, please email us at

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.

Always keep your I-20/ DS-2019 valid. Extend I-20/ DS-2019 form before expiration date +

Do you need more time on the I-20 to complete your academic work? Find out how you can extend your program and stay in legal status.

Keep Passport valid at all times (at least 6 months in the future) +

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. 

Register for a full course of study every fall and spring semester +

U.S. federal regulations require F-1 and J-1 students to pursue a full course of study at all times other than designated school vacation periods. For most students at Rutgers-New Brunswick/Piscataway, this means being registered for a full-time credit load, i.e., a minimum of 12 credits if an undergraduate student, or a minimum of 9 credits for a graduate student.. Visit our Full Course of Study page for more information about how this is defined.

Work no more than 20 hours per week on-campus during the academic year +

Learn more about on-campus work employment and how to acquire the documents you need to get to work on-campus.

Do NOT work Off-campus without authorization from the ISO +

Learn more about off-campus work authorization options and instructions on how to request the option that is appropriate for you. Note that international students may not work off-campus until they have completed one-full year in F-1/J-1 status. 

Request I-20/ DS-2019 Travel Signature before leaving the U.S. +

Before departing the United States, you must ensure that you are prepared for international travel. Review our Travel and Visa Information pages: 

-- Preparing for International Travel >
-- Travel Signature Request Procedure 
-- Visa application information >

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.

Report change of address/contact information at myRutgers within 10 days of any change +

Your address, email, phone number, etc. must be correct on your MyRutgers portal. This information is required by the US government and needs to be reported to SEVIS.

1. Login to your myRutgers Portal
2. Click on "Update Phone" icon
3. Provide Emergency Contact information. You can enter more than one contact, and also provide information of contacts outside the U.S. 
4. Click on "Address Update" tab
5. Enter Home Address and Local Address
Home Address = Address in your home country
Local Address = Address in the U.S. 
(Student not living in RU residence should enter a local U.S. address. (On-Campus addresses are automatically updated)

Be sure to update the information on myRutgers whenever your contact information changes.

Report change of academic level, major or any other academic changes to ISSS through the RGlobal portal +

Your academic success and legal status go hand in hand. Changes to your academic program and your academic plan may require updates to your SEVIS record and your I-20 or DS-2019. Please review academic changes that impact your legal status and follow the instructions to receive an updated I-20 or DS-2019, depending on your situation.

Must file necessary Form 8843 and Tax forms each year +

Please review Taxes for guidance.

If you or your dependents were present in the U.S. at any time in the previous calendar year, you must file Form 8843 on or before June15, even if you had no earned income. Mailing instructions can be found on page 2 of the form. If you are only filing Form 8843, no social security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is required. Form 8843 is not an income tax return. It is an informational statement for certain non-resident aliens (including spouses and dependents of non-resident aliens). 

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

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

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: 

-- Depart the United States
-- Transfer to a new school or program
-- Apply to change your legal status (if eligible), OR
-- 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. 
-- 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
-- Apply for employment authorization (Post-Completion OPT for F-1 students or Academic Training for J-1 students). 

Plan for departing 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.

Still concerned about your legal 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.