Immigration Status

Becoming a nonimmigrant student at IU

As an international student at IU, you’ll most likely have one of two types of nonimmigrant status: F-1 or J-1. All full-time students qualify for an F-1 visa. However, depending on your situation, you may also qualify for a J-1 visa.

The Office of International Services is a resource for you throughout your stay. Ask us any questions you have, and we will do our best to help you.


Nonimmigrant student restrictions

As a nonimmigrant student, you will face certain restrictions:

  • You are limited in what you can do while in the United States.
  • You will have to follow certain regulations to maintain your legal status.
  • You will have a date by which you must leave the country or apply for further privileges.
  • You must have a home outside the United States to which you intend to return.

What is the difference between a visa and visa status?

Your visa

The F-1 or J-1 visa is a stamp placed in your passport by the U.S. embassy or consulate. You show this visa stamp at the U.S. border to request entry for F-1 or J-1 status. The only purpose of the visa is to present at the border to request permission to enter the country.

The expiration date of your visa does not determine how long you can stay in the United States for study. You can stay in the United States to study even if your visa stamp expires, as long as you’re meeting your F-1 or J-1 status requirements.

If you travel outside the United States after your visa expires, you will need a new visa stamp to return to the United States.

Your visa status

Your F-1 or J-1 visa status (also known as your immigration status) is what allows you to remain legally in the United States, even if your visa expires. This means you can stay in the United States as long as you continue to maintain a valid I-20 or DS-2019 and you continue to maintain your status requirements.

Your stay in the United States ends after you have completed your degree program as listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. If you apply for OPT or academic training, this can extend your status stay in the United States for that work experience.

Technically, while you are outside the borders of the United States, you have no U.S. status.

Can I change my status?

Maybe. If your circumstances change, you can sometimes switch to a different nonimmigrant status.