Status Maintenance and Unlawful Presence Policy

Maintain your F-1 or J-1 Immigration Status!

The new USCIS Policy Creates Much Stricter Penalties for Violations of U.S. Immigration Regulations

This current revision of the “unlawful presence” policy is a major change to the enforcement of visa regulations for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars. Under the new guidelines, if you fail to follow the correct compliance procedures and therefore violate the terms of your immigration status, you can be deported and barred from returning to the U.S. for a long period of time.

Effective Date: August 9, 2018

What is the policy?

  • When an international F-1 or J-1 student or J-1 scholar (or their dependent) violates immigration regulations, the number of days from status violation will be counted.  This is called “unlawful presence.”

  • You can be barred from the U.S. for 3 years if you accumulate 180 days of “unlawful presence.”

  • You can be barred from the U.S. for 10 years if you accumulate 1 year of “unlawful presence.”

When will the days of “unlawful presence” start to be counted?

  • “Unlawful presence” will start to be counted from August 9, 2018 if it is a newly discovered violation that started in the past.

  • “Unlawful presence” will start on the date the violation starts if it is on or after August 9, 2018.

  • If it was a previously discovered violation and you were previously accumulating unlawful presence, that accrual will continue even if it was before August 9, 2018.

How can I avoid violating my immigration status?

  • Follow all of the regulations that pertain to your immigration status.  See a list of regulations you must follow HERE.

  • Pay close attention to all emails from International Student and Scholar Services and Outreach (ISSSO) regarding immigration reminders and updates.

  • Submit any required information, reports, updates that ISSSO requests.

What should I do if I think I may have violated my immigration status?

  • Contact ISSSO at and speak to an advisor.

  • There are some things we can do to help you navigate a status violation once we know about it; however, there are problems we will not be able to solve if you accrue too much “unlawful presence” time.  It is your responsibility to maintain your status at all times.

Does this new policy differ from the previous policy?

  • Yes. Congress enacted the unlawful presence provisions more than 20 years ago, but until now F-1 and J-1 students and scholars would only start accumulating days of “unlawful presence” in very limited circumstances (upon notice of deportation or denial of a benefit that resulted in no longer holding valid status in the U.S.).

  • Under the new policy, F-1 and J-1 students and scholars are subject to the revised start dates of accruing unlawful presence, and increased monitoring of immigration regulation violations.

Here is the USCIS policy: