Skip to content

Maintaining legal status in the U.S.

This page provides general guidance on maintaining your legal status in the U.S. Visa-specific guidance is provided on our visa-specific pages.

It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms of your visa during your stay in the U.S. A violation of the immigration regulations (for example, unauthorized work) could have serious consequences. Review this information carefully, and contact ISO if you have questions.

Registration Documentation

U.S. law requires foreign nationals 18 years of age and older to carry “registration” documentation with them at all times. For individuals in a nonimmigrant status, evidence of registration is your most recent  I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. If you were issued an electronic I-94 Record, the stamp in your passport is your registration document.

Report Changes of Address

Anyone on a UW-sponsored visa must report changes in their residential address to the appropriate agency. Different visa types have different address reporting requirements:

  • J-1 exchange visitors must report a change in their residential address to ISO within 10 days of moving; ISO will report this to SEVIS. Failure to report a change of address may result in revocation of your exchange visitor status.
  • H-1B and other nonimmigrant visa holders must report a change in residential address directly to the Department of Homeland Security.

Don’t Let Your Visa Status Expire

Pay close attention to the end date of your UW-sponsored visa. When you enter the U.S. after international travel, check your I-94 Record to make sure that the end date hasn’t changed. Work with your unit to extend your visa status on the following timeframes:

  • If extending your J-1 status, start the extension process 3 months in advance
  • If extending your H-1B status, start the extension process 7 months in advance

Note that changes from one visa type to another, or from one appointment title to another, may take longer.

Don’t Let Your Passport Expire

Your passport must be valid at all times. Keep it and other important documents in a safe place. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police, as your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country’s consulate in the U.S. While in the U.S., always carry a photocopy of your passport’s identity page, and a photocopy of your DS-2019 or I-797 (as applicable), and most recent I-94 Record.

Work Only with Authorization

In general, your UW-sponsored visa status only allows employment by UW under the circumstances and at the locations reported to the U.S. government. Check your DS-2019 or the I-129 petition filed for your employment visa to see where, in what title, and for what UW unit you are authorized to work.

Depart the United States at the End of Your Visa Status

When your UW-sponsored visa status ends, you should plan to depart the U.S. unless you have changed to another visa status. Some UW-sponsored visas may have a grace period that allows you to remain in the U.S. beyond the end date of your visa status; please check the page for your visa type for that information. Failure to depart the U.S. at the end of your visa status can result in serious legal consequences, including deportation, bars on return, and ineligibility for some immigration benefits.