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Maintaining Status

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tracks and monitors international students electronically through SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. Colleges and universities are now required to report certain events through SEVIS.

With these requirements, it is very important that you understand and abide the regulations for international students. Whenever you have a question, contact the international student services office.

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 

  • Remember to check the expiration date regularly.

Make sure that you always enter the U.S. with your I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel and student visa.
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 to attend.

  • If you are transferring to Nicholls, an immigration transfer must be completed within 15 days of the beginning of classes of your first semester at Nicholls. Please note: An immigration transfer is a completely separate process from transferring academic credit from another school. An immigration transfer is not complete until international student services processes the transfer and international student services issues a Nicholls  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 (or 6 hours as a graduate assistant). You are not required to enroll in courses during the summer. If you need to drop a course, you must obtain authorization from international student services 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 international student services 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 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.

Report a change of address directly to international student services within ten days of your move.

  • International student services 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 violation of status

Off-campus employment is only authorized under certain conditions. Check with international student services before considering any off-campus employment. This includes off-campus internships, 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 international student services before they begin. On-campus work is limited to part-time (20 hours or less per week) during the fall and spring semesters.

Have your documents checked by international student services 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

  • When outside of Thibodaux. Carry the originals when traveling within the U.S. outside of Louisiana.

Depart from the U.S. within the grace period allowed

  • After you complete your program (60 days after completion for F-1 visa holders and 30 days after completion for J-1 visa holders) or immediately if you have terminated your program for some other reason.
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