Legal Rights

Your Status

What is my legal immigration status? Everyone who enters the U.S. is given an immigration status. For most students this is an F-1 or J-1 visa status. This status is noted at the U.S. Port of Entry on the Form I-94.

Benefits of Your Status

The benefits of being an F-1 or J-1 student include the ability to:

  • Change to another immigration status;
  • Change degree level;
  • Change program of study;
  • Transfer to another College or University;
  • Extend your status, if more time is needed to complete your degree;
  • Sponsor dependent (Spouse or Child(ren)) to join or accompany you;
  • Obtain employment (under restricted conditions & only with specific approval);
  • Travel outside the U.S. and reenter to continue study (with a valid VISA).

If you wish to discuss any of these benefits you should make an appointment with an Advisor, or attend the appropriate seminar at the Slutzker Center.


Duration (Length of Stay): How long may I stay in the U.S.? You may remain legally in the U.S. as long as you are maintaining your status and engaged in valid full course of academic study (plus any authorized periods of practical or academic training). When you have completed you degree or post-graduation or training you must take one of the following actions (F-1 students have 60 days and J-1 students have 30 days to complete these actions):

  • Change to another immigration status;
  • Change degree level;
  • Change program of study;
  • Transfer to another University;
  • Return to your home country.

Violations: What happens if I violate the rules described above? If you do not comply with all of the rules described above, all of the benefits of your status are cancelled. Resolution of your violation will depend on your specific situation. Contact the Slutzker Center for an appointment with an Advisor, who will consult with you about your options

Overstay: What happens if I stay beyond my authorized stay in the U.S. or fail to maintain my status? This is a type of serious violation. You may be prevented from returning to the U.S. for up to 10 years. Contact the Slutzker Center for further information.

What to do if You are Stopped by the Police

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published a card, “What To Do If You Are Stopped By The Police.” It contains a list of do’s and don’ts in several situations:

-If police come to your home
-If you are stopped for questioning
-If you are stopped in your car
-If you are arrested and taken to a police station

The card is available in pdf format.