Most international students at Duke hold F-1 or J-1 status.

It is the student’s responsibility to maintain their nonimmigrant status, to exit and reenter the United States appropriately, and to refrain from unauthorized work. Students who fail to comply with their immigration responsibilities may lose legal nonimmigrant status and will not be eligible for work or immigration benefits or to continue in their academic program.

Immigration Documents

Non-Immigrant ClassificationImmigration Documents

I-94 record showing F-1 status.
Form I-20.

J-1I-94 record showing J-1 status.
Form DS-2019.

It is the student's responsibility to:

  • Keep passport valid.
  • Read and understand the information on their I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Keep visa documents safe and keep an extra copy of all visa documents.
  • Apply for work permission, extensions, and transfers in a timely manner.
  • Replace lost or stolen documents promptly.

Address Reporting

United States law requires all foreign nationals to report a change of address within 10 days of any move. Enrolled Duke students must report this change through their DukeHub accounts. For more information, please visit our Change of Residential Address webpage.

Registration, Attendance, Course Load, Extensions, and Transfer Requirements

Registration and Attendance

F-1 and J-1 students must register full time for classes each Fall and Spring semester. If a student wants to take courses at a different school, transfer to a different school, change majors, or advance to another degree level, they must receive permission in advance from their Duke Visa Services (DVS) advisor.

Course Load

Students must register for a "full course load," “full course of study,” or “prescribed course of study”. The number of required course hours varies depending upon level of study and academic program. The following are guidelines for the student's specific situation:
  • Undergraduate Students must register for at least 12 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester. At Duke, the usual course load is 4 courses per semester. In some cases, students may register for fewer courses but they must receive special permission from DVS in advance.
  • Graduate Students Who Have Not Completed All Coursework Requirements must register for the number of hours that the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) of your department considers to be a full time course load.
  • Graduate Students Who Have Completed All Coursework Requirements and are working on a thesis or dissertation must be registered for continuation.
  • Professional School Students must register for a full time course load as defined by their school.
  • Visiting Students in a Prescribed Course of Study must engage in full time study and related activities as described in their program objective.
Exceptions to the full course load requirements: Students may carry less than a full course load if they will complete all degree requirements by the end of that semester or if DVS approves a reduction in course load. Reasons for reduced course load may be for initial difficulties with English language, initial improper course-level placement, or for illness or other medical conditions.

Transfer In or Out

F-1 and J-1 students are permitted to transfer in or out of Duke. Students must discuss the transfer well in advance with the international offices of both schools and coordinate the transfer for a specific date.

Completion of Program

Upon completion of the program, students have a grace period during which they can remain in the United States. F-1 students have 60 days and J-1 students have 30 days. Students may not work during the grace period.

F-1 or J-1 Extension Information

If the student is unable to complete their studies by the completion date on the I-20 or DS-2019, an extension request must be filed within 30 days before the completion date. Instructions can be found on our F-1 and J-1 Student Extension of Stay webpage.


On-Campus Employment

Students may work on campus for up to 20 hours per week. They must fill out appropriate documents in DVS before beginning work. Students must limit all employment, combined, to a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session. Full time employment is allowed only during official vacations and holidays.

Off-Campus Employment: Economic Necessity

Students may be eligible for employment based on unforeseen economic necessity. Students cannot get this kind of work permission just because they “need a little extra money.” This type of work permission requires a serious change in circumstances such as the devaluation of currency or death of a financial sponsor.

Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1)

F-1 students may engage in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and/or Optional Practical Training (OPT). J-1 students may engage in Academic Training.

Holidays and Vacations

During official school holidays and vacation periods, including summer vacations, students may remain in the United States and will be considered to be maintaining lawful F-1 or J-1 status provided:

  1. They are registered for the next school term.
  2. The I-20 or DS-2019 will not expire before resuming studies.

If a student will be outside the United States for more than normal vacations and holidays, they must contact DVS before leaving.


Within the United States

While students are traveling within the United States, they must carry with them a valid passport, I-94 record, and other visa documents. Students do not need to carry these documents in the local area, but are required to carry them for domestic travel. For more information, please visit our Registration and Domestic Travel webpage.

Outside the United States

When students leave the United States, it is their responsibility to ensure they have proper documents required to enter other countries. A departure may affect pending applications or petitions. Students are encouraged to ask DVS before they exit the United States.

For very important details about traveling abroad and returning to the United States, please refer to our Travel Abroad and Reentry into the United States webpage. Instructions on how to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 for travel is also provided.

Dependents and Family Members

F-1 and J-1 students may have spouses and/or children under 21 in the United States as dependents in F-2 or J-2 status provided they show adequate funds for their support. F-2 and J-2 dependents must obtain separate I-20 or DS-2019 forms.

Family members, other than spouse or children, must qualify for their own tourist visas or other temporary status.

Children who will turn 21 while in the United States will need their own visa status at age 21. Contact the DVS at least 9 months before the 21st birthday.

Information Sharing

If students experience changes in their personal or professional life that might affect their lawful status, they must speak to DVS before making any changes.

In general, DVS keeps student information confidential unless given permission to share it. If students want DVS to discuss their situation with other people, they must give us written authorization to do so. For more information, please see the Authorization to Release Information form.