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About Your F/J Student Status

As an international student at Cornell, you have two statuses: an academic status in your college or school of enrollment, and an F-1 or J-1 immigration status. The Office of Global Learning is here to answer your questions and help you maintain your immigration status while you are at Cornell.

You obtain an immigration status in the United States through admission at a port of entry or by approval of an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Your status is also referred to as visa status or nonimmigrant status.

Once you have your status, you need to be aware of what to do—and not do—to maintain your legal status. It is important not to violate any of the provisions of your status, so you can keep your focus on your studies at Cornell.

What’s the difference between my visa and my status?

Your visa is the entry stamp in your passport that allows you to enter the United States.

When you enter, you present your passport with the entry visa. An officer at the port of entry admits you in a status that matches the visa in your passport. This is your visa status.

Find out more.

Unlawful Presence

Unlawful presence is time an international student spends in the United States after violating his or her immigration status. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services starts counting days of unlawful presence the day after an F or J status violation occurs.

If you violate your status as an F-1 or J-1 student, any amount of time you spend in the United States after the violation counts as unlawful presence.

If 180 days of unlawful presence accumulate, you can be barred from the United States for three years. If one year of unlawful presence accumulates, you can be barred from the United States for 10 years.

Unlawful presence begins one day after …

  • You cease to pursue your course of study without an authorized leave of absence.

  • You cease to pursue your authorized F-1 or J-1 activity before the program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019.

  • You engage in any unauthorized activity. This includes but is not limited to working without authorization or dropping below full-time enrollment without permission.

  • Your I-94 arrival record expires. Always check your electronic I-94 record after entering the country. If you were not admitted for “D/S” (duration of status), contact us for guidance.
  • An immigration judge orders you to be excluded, deported, or removed. 

Grace Period

You may not need to leave the United States immediately after completing your program. It depends on your visa status!

F-1 and J-1 students are allowed a grace period of a specified number of days after completing a program, including any authorized F-1 practical training or J-1 academic training.


60-day grace period following completion of a program of study as indicated on an I-20 or expiration of authorized F-1 OPT


30-day grace period following completion of a program of study as indicated on a DS-2019

Grace Period Restrictions

  • You may not reenter the United States in F-1 or J-1 status during this time.
  • You may not apply for a program extension.
  • You may not work or study.

Next Up: Maintaining Your F/J Status