Maintaining Student Status

The term "status" refers to your permission to enter and study in the US.  You were issued a STUDENT visa, so your status comes from being a student in good standing.

top priorities

Education

Your visa is a STUDENT visa. Being a student in good standing is your #1 priority.

  • Enroll, attend and pass all your classes.
    • This is called "normal progress." You have a certain amount of time on your I-20 or DS-2019 to finish your degree. You must make progress each semester in order to be finished with your degree before your I-20 or DS-2019 is finished.
  • You must take a full course of study each semester: 10 classes for ESL, 12 credit hours for Bachelor's, 9 credit hours for Master's.
    • Online classes: Bachelor's students must have a minimum of 9 credit hours of face-to-face classes. Additional classes may be online. Master's students must have a minimum of 6 credit hours face-to-face. Additional classes may be online.
  • When you withdraw from a class after the start of the semester, we will be notified by the UNA Registrar.
  • If your Program End Date is near and you aren't finished with your degree, talk with Sarah Stevens as soon as possible to request an extension.

Communication

  • Keep in regular contact with your DSO or ARO. This person is your international advisor and they are the only staff members on UNA's campus who can advise you on your status. Learn about your DSO or ARO below.
  • Check-in and have Orientation as a new student.
  • Report in at the start every semester.
  • Read your UNA email.

Legal Work

Do not work without authorization. If you want to work in the United States, talk with your DSO or ARO about your options. If you choose to work without authorization, your I-20 or DS-2019 will be terminated and you will have to leave the United States within 15 days.

Learn more about what type of work is legal for your visa status.

Your Form I-20 or DS-2019 was issued by UNA by authority of the US Department of Homeland Security. You used it to apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa. Always keep the original document. You will need it to get service in the USA like a driver license, working and international travel.

Read more about the parts of the Form I-20. 

After your visa appointment at the US Embassy or Consulate in your country, you may be issued a visa stamp. The visa is put on a page in your passport. The visa is used for travel only to ask for permission to cross the US border. It tells the officer at the airport that the US Department of State has pre-approved you for admission to the US. The final decision is with US Customs and Border Protection, the officers at the airport.

Your visa can expire while you are in the USA. That is okay. Your status comes from an active I-20 or DS-2019. The visa is used for travel only. If it expires while you are in the US, just remember that the next time you leave the USA, you will need enough time to have another visa interview.

Every time your enter the USA the officers at the airport scan your passport and check your documents. From this process, they issue an Admission (I-94) Record Number. This is done electronically. You must go to the I-94 website to get a copy. You should download copy each time you return to the US. Make sure it has the correct information.

Steps

  1. Go to https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/ (or just Google “I-94”.)
  2. Click “Get Most Recent I-94”
  3. Click “Consent & Continue”
  4. Enter the information exactly as it appears on your passport.
  5. Click “Next”.
  6. Click “Print” to print.

We suggest that you also print to a PDF. Simply click “Print” and change the Printer to “Adobe PDF” or something similar. Then you can save or email the document.

What should it say?

All the information should match your personal information. The most important pieces of information are “Class of Admission” and “Admit Until Date.”

  • The “Class of Admission” should match your visa (example: F-1 or J-1). Your Class of Admission determines which benefits you have while in the USA.
  • The “Admit Until Date” should always say “D/S”. This stands for Duration of Status and it means you are admitted to the USA for as long until the Program End Date on your I-20 or DS-2019. It should never say a specific day.

All schools who bring international students to study in the U.S. are required to have staff members to assist the students. These staff members are called Designated School Officials (DSO, PSDO) for F visa students or Alternate Responsible Officers (ARO, RO) for J visa students. DSOs/AROs create and sign the I-20s or DS-2019s, give advice about maintaining your student status and report information to the US government each semester. While benefits like employment or driving are available to you in the United States, you need authorization before enjoying them. All DSOs/AROs are in the Office of International Affairs in Powers Hall.

Speak to your DSO/ARO before doing any of the following:

  • Working in the United States
  • Applying for a driver’s license
  • Applying for a Social Security number
  • Changing your major or degree level
  • Transferring to a new school
  • Taking a long absence from classes
  • Taking a vacation
  • Traveling outside the United States
  • Moving to a new address
Cala Flippo Sarah Stevens
Cala Flippo, DSO, ARO
Student Success Coordinator
cflippo@una.edu
256.765.6735
Sarah Stevens, DSO, ARO
SEVIS Coordinator
sstevens2@una.edu
256.765.4406
Email us at oiaservices@una.edu