Maintaining Status


SEVIS Compliance (F-1 & J-1 Visas only)

All F-1 and J-1 students and scholars are part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) tracking and monitoring database. It is important that you understand what this means. You are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with the U.S. laws and regulations that apply to you. If you fail to do so, you could be deported from the United States and barred from returning for an extended period of time. We want you to successfully complete your program at the University of Cincinnati.


Enroll in Courses Full-Time

International students are required by federal regulations to be enrolled full-time each semester.

  • For undergraduate students, this means 12 credit hours
  • For graduate students, it means 10 credit hours

You are allowed to enroll for online distance education courses. However, there is limit to how many credit hours you can use of online courses to fulfill your full-time enrollment requirement. International students may count only the equivalent of one class or three credits per semester toward the full course of study requirement. You are not limited in the number of online distance education courses you can take, you are only limited in the number of credit hours you can count toward fulfilling the full-time enrollment requirement. For example, if you are an undergraduate student you would need to be enrolled for at least 9 credit hours of traditional courses. You could then use one class (or three credit hours) of online distance education courses to reach the full-time enrollment threshold and, if desired, enroll for more online classes to increase their overall credit hours.


Report Address Changes

You are required to report any address change to the University within 10 days of the address change. This includes address changes of any of your dependents as well. You can do by completing our Change of Local U.S. Address eForm at iBearcatsGlobal. If you have any questions about reporting changes of address, please see the Address Change tab.


Report Departure Date and Reason

Sometimes, and for a variety of reasons, students and exchange visitors leave the University early or unexpectedly. Some of these reasons include early graduation, leave of absence, suspension, expulsion, or family emergencies. You are required to inform UC International Services if you plan to leave the University before the program completion date on your I-20 or DS-2019 immigration document and the reason for doing so. You can do this by completing the Departure Certification eForm at iBearcatsGlobal.


Abide by Employment Regulations

Students may work no more than 20 hours per week on-campus while school is in session. These 20 hours include the work you do for your assistantship if you have one. You are not permitted to work off-campus without receiving prior authorization from the U.S. Federal Government and/or UC International Services depending upon your visa status type.

Employment possibilities are very limited. Scholars are permitted to work as stipulated on the DS-2019 for the University of Cincinnati or Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. You are not permitted to work anywhere else while in the United States. This includes being paid for a lecture or speech without written authorization from the UC International Services. If such opportunities arise, please schedule an appointment with a UC International Services advisor.


Report Transfers to Another School

You are currently authorized to study or conduct research at the University of Cincinnati. If you decide to study or work at another school in the U.S., you must notify UC International Services of your intent to transfer and what school you plan on transferring to. You can do this by completing a SEVIS Transfer Out eForm Request at iBearcatsGlobal. UC International Services will then enter a "Release" date in SEVIS. After this date is reached, the new school can issue you a SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019. You will then have to report to the Designated School Official/Responsible Officer at the new school within 15 days of the program start date.


Apply for an Extension of Program

You must apply for an extension of your program prior to the expiration date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019 if you cannot complete your program by that date. Requests for extensions should be submitted prior to the expiration date of the Form I-20 or DS-2019 so the extension process can be completed prior to the expiration date on the document F-1 or J-1. Students must submit an Extension of I-20 or DS-2019 Document eForm at iBearcatsGlobal. Research scholars must have their host departments submit the request for an extension.


Get Authorization Before Traveling

You must notify UC International Services prior to traveling outside the U.S. so that the Form I-20 or DS-2019 can be endorsed for travel, or a new form can be issued, if required. Students and scholars must complete and submit a UC International Services Request for a Travel Signature eForm at least 5 days prior to the anticipated travel date, although you are strongly encouraged to submit the form even earlier. The form can be found at iBearcatsGlobal.


Adhere to Your Grace Period

Your grace period depends on your visa classification. After the end-date on form DS-2019, a J-1 student has a 30-day grace period following completion of their program. After completing a program of study, an F-1 student has a 60-day grace period. During the grace period, you are expected to depart the U.S., transfer to another institution (F-1 students only, J-1’s must transfer prior to starting a grace period), or change to another non-immigrant status (if eligible). Failure to adhere to the grace period requirement is a violation of status.


Provide Documentation of Your Dependents

You must notify UC International Services of any accompanying dependents in F-2 or J-2 status and provide biographical information (e.g., full name, address, country of birth, etc.) and immigration information (e.g., passport information, visa information, etc.) regarding those dependents using the UC International Services Add a New Dependent eForm found at iBearcatsGlobal. Each dependent will then receive his/her own I-20 or DS-2019 to apply for the appropriate visa.

Duration of Stay

The length of time you may remain in the United States on exchange visitor status is determined by the general limitations for the category and the length of time needed to complete the objectives outlined by your visa type. However, the expiration date on your visa is not the date that you need to leave by; it is the last date in which you can enter the U.S. In general, 

  • Exchange Visitors in the Professor or Research Scholar category have a maximum stay of five (5) years.
  • Short-Term Scholars have a maximum stay of six (6) months.
  • Specialists have a maximum stay of one year.
  • Non-degree students have a maximum stay of (2) two years.
  • Degree Students do not have a maximum stay limitation.  They are permitted to extend for as long as necessary to complete the program of study provided they are studying full time and making good academic progress.

When do I need to leave, specifically?

You can determine the date when you must leave by viewing the Form I-94 online. You must exit the U.S. on or before the departure date listed on the I-94.

Grace Period

Certain visa statuses have a grace period following their duration of stay. For example, F-1 students have a 60-day grace period, and J-1 visa holders have a 30-day grace period. This means that J-1 students have thirty days past the "Duration of Stay" date on their DS-2019 to leave the country.


Any Exchange Visitor wanting an extension of stay beyond the original appointment must do so prior to the expiration of their current DS-2019.

For exchange visitors who are not enrolled students, the sponsoring department must submit a "J-1 Scholar Program Extension" eForm through iBearcatsGlobal at least 5 days prior to the DS-2019 expiring. Proof of insurance (insurance card and copy of the policy) meeting the regulations must also be supplied at the time of extension for those not covered by University Benefits.

Enrolled students need to submit an "Extension of Program" eForm through iBearcatsGlobal. A UC International Services advisor will review the documents and schedule the exchange visitor for an appointment if everything is in order.

For most other immigration statuses, such a B-1/B-2, you must file a request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status before your authorized stay expires. H-1B and O-1 statuses will need a new I-129 filed. TN and TD status holders who do not wish to travel to extend their status will also need a new I-129 filed. 

If you remain in the United States longer than authorized, you may be barred from returning and/or you may be removed (deported) from the United States. Check the date on your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, to determine the date your authorized stay expires. We recommend that you apply to extend your stay at least 45 days before your authorized stay expires.

You may apply to extend your stay if: 

  • You were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa 
  • Your nonimmigrant visa status remains valid 
  • You have not committed any crimes that make you ineligible for a visa
  • You have not violated the conditions of your admission
  • Your passport is valid and will remain valid for the duration of your stay

Health Insurance

All international visitors--whether studying, working, or engaging in collaborative activities with the University of Cincinnati--are required to have health insurance coverage while in the U.S.

F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors have university and/or Department of State requirements for health insurance coverage that must be met. All other visitors are subject to coverage based on The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

It is your responsibility to understand your health insurance requirements and comply accordingly. For more information on obtaining insurance, please visit the Health & Insurance page under "Life at UC."


Health Insurance Requirements for F-1 and J-1 Students

All international students are required to carry the University of Cincinnati Student Health Insurance policy unless they can prove coverage equal to or greater than the University policy. If you are not registered for at least 6 credit hours or more, you will not be eligible for the University Student Health Insurance policy.

However, you must have insurance while in the United States. For more information on obtaining insurance, please visit the Health & Insurance page under "Life at UC."


Health Insurance Requirements for J-1 Scholars

All J-1 Exchange Visitors (and dependents) are required to have health insurance that meets Department of State Requirements. Such requirements include:

  • medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness; 
  • repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000; 
  • medical evacuation to the home country in the amount of $50,000;
  • a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • The insurance policy must be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of ‘A’ or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of ‘A-1’ or above, a Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying ability rating of ‘A-’ or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+.  Policies backed by the full faith and credit of the foreign government also qualify.

If your appointment is not covered by University of Cincinnati medical benefits, or the student health insurance plan, you will be required to provide UC International Services with proof of insurance that meets the requirements upon arrival. Failure to produce such proof of insurance will result in the termination of your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

For more information on obtaining insurance, please visit the Health & Insurance page under "Life at UC."


Health Insurance Requirements for all other International Visitors

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act - ACA) requires individuals who do not maintain “minimum essential healthcare coverage” to make an additional payment to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when they pay their taxes, unless they are exempt. The “individual shared responsibility” provision of this act can be avoided if the individual enrolls in a compliant plan by the date stipulated for the current tax year.

International visitors, which could include students who do not qualify for the UC Student Health Insurance Plan or nonimmigrant visa holders who are not UC employees, must enroll in a compliant plan or make additional payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) unless exempt.

Whether or not you are expected to carry ACA-compliant insurance or to pay the tax penalty for not carrying it is determined by your residency status for tax purposes. For more information on obtaining insurance, please visit the Health & Insurance page under "Life at UC."


Address Changes

If you move to a different address during your stay in the U.S., immigration laws require that you notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within 10 days of the change. 

F-1 & J-1 Visa Holders

If you are an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor in SEVIS, your requirement is to file your change of address with the University within 10 days.

All students and scholars who have not graduated should report a change of address to the University using your Onestop account.

  1. Go to
  2. Click on "Personal Information" in the side navigation.
  3. Click the "Update my Address/Phone" button.
  4. Sign in using your 6+2 username and password.
  5. Update your "permanent" United States address.

All Other Visa Holders

Those who do not hold F or J status should report an address change using the Department of Homeland Security form AR-11. You can complete the AR-11 in two ways: submit the AR-11 online, or download the form as a PDF file.

If downloading the form:

  1. Fill out the form online.
  2. Print to copies of the completed form.
  3. Mail one copy to the USCIS address indicated on the form.
  4. Ensure that the completed form is signed by you.
  5. Send the other printed copy to the UC International Services Office at Mail Location 0640. That will help us keep your address current here as well.


An F-1 student who has overstayed his or her authorized period of stay, or has otherwise failed to maintain F-1 student status, may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

You will need to prove the following:

  1. Are currently pursuing, or intend to pursue, a full course of study at a school which issues the student a Form I-20;
  2. Have not been employed without authorization;
  3. Establishes that your failure to maintain student status was due to circumstances beyond your control, or that failure to receive reinstatement would result in "extreme hardship";
  4. Are not deportable on any ground other than overstaying or failing to maintain status;
  5. Have not been out of status for more than five (5) months;
  6. Are not a multiple (repeat) offender.

When you can show clearly that the violation of the rules happened for reasons beyond your control or that the violation was merely technical and not serious, the USCIS is likely to forgive your violation and return you to status. You can also be reinstated if you can show that failure to regain status would result in serious hardship for you. Regardless of the facts you present to USCIS, you should include a discussion of the hardship to you if you are not reinstated.