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Maintaining Status

On January 30, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began tracking international students electronically through SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.

Colleges and universities are now required to report whether or not students are enrolled, full-time or part-time, working on campus, etc. Certain events require notification of SEVIS, for example if an international student drops below full-time without prior authorization of the Center for International Education (CIE).

With all these requirements, it is therefore, very important that you understand and abide by all the regulations for international students. Whenever you have a question, ask the staff at CIE.

It is our responsibility to know the rules and explain them to you, but it is your responsibility to follow the regulations. You may be confused by the many forms, numbers, and deadlines, but if you understand and meet the following requirements, you will be able to maintain your legal status in the U.S.:

  • Keep your passport valid at all times.
  • Make sure that you always enter with your I-20 or DS-2019 and student visa if you are planning to enroll in school. If you enter the U.S. on a tourist visa, you cannot enroll in a degree program or as a full-time student.
  • Attend the school that you are authorized you to attend. If you are transferring to Loyola, an immigration transfer must be completed within 15 days of the beginning of classes of your first semester at Loyola. Please note: An immigration transfer is a completely separate process from transferring academic credit from another school. An immigration transfer is not complete until CIE processes the transfer on Loyola’s I-20.
  • Complete a full course of study during the fall and spring semesters (12 hours per semester for an undergraduate student and 9 hours per semester for a graduate student unless otherwise defined by your department). You are not required to enroll in courses during the summer. If you need to drop a course, you must obtain authorization from CIE before you drop the course.
  • Apply for an extension of your program if you cannot complete your degree by the ending date listed in item five on your I-20. Apply to CIE for an extension of stay prior to the expiration date on your I-20.
  • Obtain a new I-20 prior to changing degree levels. This includes changing from English language studies to a university degree, from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree, from Optional Practical Training to a new degree, from one program to another at the same level (bachelor’s to a second bachelor’s degree), etc.
  • Work off-campus ONLY if you have first received authorization from CIE. This includes internships off-campus whether paid or unpaid.
  • On-campus work does not require authorization for F-1 students, but J-1 students must request authorization for on-campus work from CIE before they begin.  On-campus work is limited to part-time (20 hours or less per week) during the fall and spring semesters. On-campus employment may be full-time (more than 20 hours per week) during the summer and official school breaks. When you work on-campus, you must maintain your full-time student status or your employment will become illegal.
  • Have your documents checked by CIE before leaving the United States for any travel outside the country. The travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 must be less than a year old when you are entering the U.S. or you will not be allowed to reenter.
  • Carry copies of your passport, I-20 or DS-2019 and I-94 with you at all times in New Orleans. Carry the originals when traveling within the U.S. outside of New Orleans.
  • Report a change of address directly to CIE or to the university through LORA within ten days of your move. CIE will then notify DHS of the change, via SEVIS, within 21 days as required by the regulations. Failure to notify the university of a change of address is a deportable offense.
  • Depart from the U.S. within the grace period allowed after you complete your program or if you have terminated your program for some other reason.

Transferring Out of Loyola

If you would like to transfer from Loyola to another school, you will need to have your immigration record transferred.  

Once you decide which school you will be attending, contact the school to find out what you need to do to transfer your SEVIS immigration record.  Usually, the school will require you to fill out a transfer-in form.

You are also required to fill out a request here at Loyola in order to transfer your SEVIS record:  you need to fill out our Loyola transfer-out form and email it to or bring it by the Center for International Education in Mercy 301.

Please, also email the letter of acceptance from your new school to

Check with Student Records regarding the academic transfer process.

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