Maintain Your Legal Status in the US
It is your responsibility to maintain your legal status as an international student in the US. Do not rely on friends or media for accurate visa information.
Direct your questions to:
Associate Director of International Programs
Primary Designated School Official (PDSO)
- You must be enrolled as a full-time student taking at least 12 credit hours worth of classes each fall and spring semester. Contact the DSO for details about summer enrollment.
- You may not withdraw from classes without advisor approval.
- You must notify your advisor before you leave Heartland for either a short-term or long-term absence. They will help you complete any required documentation so you can safely re-enter the United States.
- You must complete proper transfer procedures if you change schools. You must submit a transfer out form to the DSO, obtain a new I-20, and report to the new school within 15 days of the program start date.
- You must notify the DSO before enrolling in online courses. Only 3 credits hours of online classes can apply towards your full-time enrollment requirement.
- You must notify the DSO before enrolling at another school while attending Heartland.
- Please contact the DSO and complete a travel form if you plan to leave the Bloomington-Normal area for more than one day. You must contact the DSO to make sure your I-20 and visa are up to date if you plan to travel outside the USA.
- Make travel arrangements early. Remember to schedule return travel before classes resume (AELP students: you must be present to attend the AELP Orientation the last Wednesday before classes begin each semester).
- Anticipate delays at consulates and ports of entry.
- To re-enter the US after a temporary absence, you must have the following documents:
- a valid passport
- a valid visa
- current I-20 with a valid travel authorization signature
- a verification of enrollment letter
- F-1 students are only allowed to work on Heartland's campus. Student employment opportunities are limited and competitive.
- You may not work off-campus in the USA without prior approval from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- If you need work experience in your field of study, ask the DSO about Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) approval. OPT and CPT provide opportunities to pursue internships and work experience opportunities in jobs that relate to your major.
- You must not accept off-campus employment even if the employer states that it is allowable, unless you are approved for OPT or CPT and the employment is related to your field of study.
- You must report any changes in your US or home country addresses to the DSO within ten days to submit a change of address form.
- You must notify the DSO if there are any changes in the information listed on your current I-20. Examples of changes include:
- sponsor or financial information
- your college major
- your name
- any other I-20 information
- Do not let your I-20 expire. If you need more time to complete your studies, contact the DSO to apply for an extension at least 30 days before your form expires.
- You must maintain a passport valid for at least six months into the future.
- You must keep track of your visa expiration date. If needed, you must make certain to apply for a new one on your next trip home so you are able to return to the US.
- Before you travel outside the US, your DSO must sign the travel endorsement signature on your I-20. You may not be allowed to re-enter the United States without a travel endorsement. This signature is valid for 1 year.