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Maintaining Your Status

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Maintaining Your Status

Legal Rights & Responsibilities

The US constitution guarantees certain rights to all people, not just US citizens and lawful permanent residents. Non-immigrants in the US receive many of the same constitutional protections as US citizens; at the same time, non-immigrants are subject to US federal immigration laws that do not apply to US citizens.

Your Legal Rights

International students enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, and other rights included in the US constitution.

Non-immigrants are protected against discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, color, and national origin. Federal, state, municipal, and university rules exist to protect citizens and non-immigrants from most forms of discrimination. The University of Oklahoma Office of Equal Opportunity is responsible for investigating situations where OU students or staff believe that an OU employee has treated them unfairly because of their race, religion, or national origin. The Office of Equal Opportunity is responsible for enforcing university rules about sexual harassment. Click here for more information on the duties of this office.

Your Immigration-Related Responsibilities

US federal regulations require all F-1 and J-1 students to report a change of address within 10 days. You must update your address in One. The OU ISS office will then be automatically notified of your address change.

Access your OU email account as soon as possible after being admitted. Go to New Account Setup to activate your account. You will receive periodic emails from the OU ISS office; this is our main method of updating students regarding important immigration regulations. We cannot send emails to personal email accounts.

You must maintain a valid passport at all times.This is a requirement of your student visa status while in the US.

Students must notify the OU ISS office whenever there is a change in their academic program (for example, a change of major, a change of degree level, or an extension of stay).

Change of Major or Degree Level form        Extension of Stay form


Students must apply for an extension of stay before Form I-20 or DS-2019 expires. It is not possible to extend the I-20 or DS-2019 after it has expired.

Extension of Stay form

Students must request the transfer of the SEVIS record (I-20 or DS-2019) prior to transferring to another institution. You must transfer your SEVIS record to maintain your immigration status.

Transfer Out form

You must obtain a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 before departing the US. Failure to do so may cause issues when you attempt to return to the US. Travel signatures are valid for 6 months. Visit our office during regular office hours to receive a travel signature.

F-1 students: You must depart the US within 60 days of the I-20 expiration date or your program end date, whichever is earlier, unless you have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT). If you are on post-completion OPT, you have a 60-day grace period following the completion date of your OPT.


J-1 students: You must depart the US within 30 days of the DS-2019 expiration date or your program end date, whichever is earlier, unless you have applied for Academic Training. If you are on post-completion Academic Training have a 30 day grace period following the completion date of your Academic Training.

On Campus

F-1 students in valid status may work a maximum of 20 hours per week on campus during the semester. During Spring, Summer, and Winter breaks, students may work up to 28 hours per week.

Off Campus

Off Campus employment requires authorization from ISS. Review the Jobs for Students section for details.


Unlawful Presence

Effective August 9, 2018, USCIS made fundamental changes to its policy as to when international students and exchange visitors (in F, M, or J status) who have violated immigration status begin to accrue unlawful presence under the reentry bar provisions of INA 212(a)(9)(B). This has the potential to then lead to “bars,” or restrictions, on returning to the U.S. for three years, ten years, or even permanently.

Under the new policy, USCIS starts counting days of unlawful presence the day after a status violation occurs. Prior policy did not count unlawful presence until a USCIS official or immigration judge made a formal finding of a status violation.

If you have questions about how this policy applies to your individual situation, we recommend you consult an experienced immigration lawyer.

Additional information about the Unlawful Presence rule can be found here.