The Basics of Staying Legal

"At Louisiana Christian University, we want to make sure that you are taken care of - that includes making sure you remain legal. "

Throughout this document, DSO refers to a Designated School official. A Designated School official is available to help you find answers to your immigration concerns. For the Louisiana Christian University DSO, contact the office of Admissions.

Failure to comply with the directions below will cause you to be “out of status” (illegal).

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  1. Make sure your I-20 issued by LCU was “activated” by the Border Patrol officer when you entered the US. Your I-20 should state the date of entry, your status (F-1), and D/S (duration of sttus). The I-20 indicates your status as an F-1 nonimmigrant here for the sole purpose of full-time study.
  2. Make sure your passport is always valid. It must be valid at least six months in advance anytime you re-enter the US. Contact your nearest consulate or embassy for passport renewal questions.
  3. Always have an I-94 card that is marked F-1 and D/S. Upon entry to the US, the border patrol officer processes the I-94 (arrival/departure record) and returns part of the small white card to you. You should keep this with your passport at all times.
  4. Attend required orientation/registration meetings on the specified date at the beginning of each new semester. You will not be registered in SEVIS OR at Louisiana Christian University without physically appearing to the DSO and completing the registration data sheet. Get the Registration Data Sheet.
  5. Make sure all information on your I-20 remains correct. If anything changes, you are responsible for notifying the DSO within 21 days of the change (changes include name, US address, citizenship, major, source/amount of funds). Get the I-20 update form.
  6. Make sure you contact the DSO if you will complete your program earlier or later than the program end date listed on your I-20. If you need longer to complete the program, you must visit the DSO at least one month before the completion date listed to apply for an extension. Get the program extension application.
  7. Register for and remain enrolled in at least 12 credit hours every semester. You must be enrolled as a full-time student every semester; one exception is the semester you graduate, for which you must apply in advance to drop below a full course load. See DSO for other exceptions based on illness or specific academic difficulties.
  8. Get the reduced course load authorization form.
  9. DO NOT WORK OFF CAMPUS under any circumstances without legal authorization. Any off-campus work must be applied for in advance and then authorized by the DSO and the Department of Homeland Security. Engaging in unauthorized employment will not only put you “out of status” but may also lead to other serious consequences, including deportation. Get the employment handout.
  10. Contact the DSO before you transfer to another school or take a leave of absence. Get the transfer handout.
  11. File a federal income tax form every year you are in the US, even if you have no income (in which case use Form 8843). Additional resources may be available at the NAFSA website.
  12. On-campus work must be limited to 20 hours per week except during official school breaks.Get the employment handout and the Social Security Number instructions.
  13. After completion of your program, you have a 60-day grace period during which you may
    • remain in the US to prepare for departure
    • transfer to another school or degree program
    • apply for a change of status
    • NOT travel outside the US and re-enter using your I-20 from LCU
    • NOT be employed (unless OPT has already been authorized)
  14. A student who has failed to maintain status may apply to be reinstated to lawful F-1 status (to be decided by USCIS based on sufficient evidence). Consult with the DSO if you require reinstatement.
  15. Maintain health insurance as required by Louisiana Christian University.See an LCU Admissions Counselor for details.
  16. In order to re-enter the US after a temporary absence, you need a valid passport (good for at least 6 more months), a valid, unexpired, multiple-entry F-1 visa, and a valid I-20 with a current DSO travel signature. When traveling to Mexico , Canada , or Caribbean islands for less than 30 days, do NOT give up your I-94 card at the departure port. Your visa will be automatically revalidated upon return. Get the travel and re-entry handout.
  17. If you have children or a spouse accompanying you (those in F-2 status), their requirements are as follows: maintain separate I-20’s (their Duration of Status is same as yours); may travel abroad and re-enter without you but must obtain travel signature from DSO; must have health insurance; may NOT be employed within the US; may NOT enroll in a degree program; may enroll in part-time study for recreational, non-credit purposes only (i.e. continuing education classes, lessons, hobbies, etc.).
  18. Always read emails and notices from the DSO to ensure you are up-to-date on federal regulations and campus policies regarding international students. It is your responsibility to maintain status, and you will be held accountable.

Some consequences of falling out of status:

  • Required to leave the US (or apply for reinstatement if available)
  • May not be employed (even on campus)
  • May not be granted any immigration benefits such as OPT, transfer, extension, etc.
  • May not change status in the US
  • May never adjust to permanent residence in the US unless married to a US citizen (some other exceptions may also apply)

Contact Information

For more information on the international student program at Louisiana Christian University, please contact the office of Admissions.

Louisiana Christian University Admissions office
Attention: International
1140 College Drive
Pineville, LA 71360 USA
Telephone: 318.487.7340
Fax: 318.487.7755

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