Maintaining Student Status

International students to maintain their lawful F-1/J-1 immigration status while in the U.S. Failure to do so may have serious implications on one's stay in the U.S. and ability to return in the future.

How to Maintain F-1/J-1 Status

  • Attend only the college/university listed on your Form I-20(F-1)/ Form DS-2019 (J-1)
  • Complete check-in: new international students (including students transferring in, pursuing a second degree at Babson or who returning from a leave of absence) must complete the new international student check-in. (Babson credentials required)
  • Report a change of address/residence within 10 days of starting a program or after a change occurs using the Immigration Address Reporting Form. (Babson credentials required) 
  • Maintain a valid passport at all times and ensure your U.S. immigration documents are in order before re-entry to the U.S., including having a valid travel signature.
  • Receive the appropriate employment authorization before engaging in any employment while in the U.S.
  • Maintain adequate health insurance and documentation (J-1 & J-2 dependent requirement)
  • Follow transfer from Babson procedures
  • Apply for program extension prior to the end date on your Form I-20 (F-1) or Form DS-2019 (J-1) if unable to complete your studies by this date

Understanding your Program End Date & Grace Period

Your program completion date is the last day of final exams in your final term, as indicated in the Academic Calendar based on your education level. You are permitted to remain in the U.S. lawfully until the completion of your studies plus a designated period of time after your program completion date; this i called a "grace period."  

  • F-1 students have a 60-day grace period following the end of the program of study or after an authorized Post-Completion OPT. Upon completion of a program, students may use the grace period to depart the U.S., continue studies (transfer out or change of education level) or apply for/begin Post-Completion OPT.
  • J-1 students have a 30-day grace period following the end of their program of study or Post-Completion Academic Training (AT). Any transfer or post-completion Academic Training request must be processed BEFORE the Form DS-2019 end date.

Note: an estimated completion date may be listed on your Form I-20/Form DS-2019.

Full Course of Study

F-1/J-1 student status is granted only to students who plan to study full-time at an approved institution in the United States, which includes students studying abroad for a semester or academic year through an approved Babson program. For immigration purposes, full-time status is defined as:

  • UG, MBA, MSEL and Exchange programs: at least 12 credit hours per semester
  • MSF, MSBA and CAM programs: at least 9 credit hours per semester

Online/Hybrid Course Limitations

Only one course contributing to a full course of study for immigration purposes (as defined above) can be online. Students with only one course remaining in their final semester must be enrolled in an in-person course.

Course Modalities

Exceptions to Full Course of Study

Students may be considered to be maintaining valid F-1/J-1 status despite completing less than a full course of study in only a few circumstances. These include:

During the final semester, if a student does not need a full course load to complete his/her program of study, s/he may take less than 12 or 9 credits (as applicable based on their program). However, if the student fails or withdraws from one of these courses and must make it up the following semester, a program extension is required and the student may be considered to be out of status.

Students with only one course remaining in their final semester must be enrolled in an in-person course.

An F-1/J-1 student is considered to be in status during the annual or summer vacation if all of the following conditions are met:

  • it is not required by their program;
  • if the student was in valid immigration status during the previous semester; and
  • if the student intends to register for the next semester

If a leave of absence or reduction in course load to less than full-time is needed for medical reasons, the student must work with their Student Success Advisor (UG) or Graduate Academic Advisor (Graduate) to notify the International Student Advisor (ISA) prior to withdrawing to less than full-time. The student will be required to provide the ISA with a letter from a health-care practitioner requiring or recommending the interruption or reduction in studies.

Only available during the first semester of study in the U.S. It may be possible for a student to reduce his/her course load due to initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods, or improper course level placement. The student‘s Student Success Advisor (UG) or Academic Advisor (Graduate) must assist with any request in advance of the reduction in credits.

F-1/J-1 students who do not fall into any of the categories above, and who fail to complete a full course load each semester my be seen as failing to maintain their immigration status and may not be able to benefit from privileges associated with F-1/J-1 status, such as SEVIS Registration; travel endorsement on the Form I-20/DS-2019 needed re-entry to the U.S.; on-campus employment verification; or off-campus employment authorization (F-1 Curricular/Optional Practical Training or J-1 Academic Training); transfer of SEVIS record to another U.S. institution.

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