Download a copy of the 2013-2014 International Student Handbook »

Under current U.S. immigration law, students must "maintain their visa status." This means that a student is following the rules that apply to F-1 visas. If a student does not maintain status, the consequences can be serious. The U.S. government considers students who do not maintain their status to be "unlawfully present" (illegally present) in the United States. If students become "out of status," assisting them is very difficult.

Stay in Status

  • Maintain a valid I-20. Look in section 5, where it says "complete studies no later than (date)." This date must not expire. If you need an extension, contact the International Student Advisor in the Office of Admissions. It is your responsibility to ensure that your I-20 is valid at all times.
  • Keep your passport valid at all times. To renew passports that will expire while in the United States, contact your embassy or consulate in the U.S. for instructions. This process can take several months – start applying for a renewal six months before it expires.
  • Maintain full-time enrollment during the fall and spring semesters. Undergraduate students must take at least 12 credit hours each semester. Graduate students must take at least 8 credit hours each semester. Summer enrollment is not required, except in certain circumstances. (Rare exceptions exist, but you MUST contact your International Student Advisor BEFORE dropping below these credit-hour limits.)
  • NEVER work without authorization. Contact your International Student Advisor to receive work authorization before accepting employment. It is illegal to work without proper authorization.
  • Maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage for yourself and all dependents.


SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created this internet-based system to maintain current information on nonimmigrant students, exchange visitors, and their dependents. SEVIS tracks F-1 students from the time they receive their I-20 until they complete their programs of study. You can learn more about SEVIS by visiting the USCIS SEVIS information pages.

Why was SEVIS created?

Institutions have been required by law for many years to keep records on F and J students. SEVIS was created to comply with a 1996 federal law and to automate the collection of required data.

How will SEVIS affect me?

All F-1 students have a SEVIS record with a SEVIS number – this number is in on the right side of your I-20, above the barcode. Your International Student Advisor is responsible for updating your SEVIS record. SEVIS will keep track of certain information about all students; institutions (such as Indiana University Southeast) are required to report the following:

  • Full-time enrollment
  • Failure to enroll
  • Dropping below a full-time course load without prior authorization from an international advisor
  • Any failure to maintain student status or complete program
  • A change in legal name or address
  • Student's graduation prior to the expected program end date
  • Start date of student's next session
  • Transfers
  • Program extensions
  • Off-campus employment authorization
  • Any other major changes to a student's program

What is the SEVIS fee?

This one-time fee supplements the federal administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

How much is the SEVIS fee?

For current rates, visit the USCIS SEVIS Fee information page.(Scroll to the bottom of the page).

How do I pay the SEVIS fee?

A variety of payment options are described on the USCIS SEVIS Fee information page.