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Center for Student Support & Advocacy


How to Maintain Your Status

Colorado State University Pueblo, a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) approved institution, can support you in maintaining your immigration status. However, it is ultimately up to you to make sure you are meeting all of your immigration requirements. If you have any questions, please contact Victoria Ruiz at

  • Enroll full-time for Fall and Spring semesters (and Summer for those whose first or final semester is Summer)
  • Updating your contact information in PAWS, including phone number, email, and address changes
  • Following the rules for student employment
  • Keeping your I-20 updated
  • Making normal progress toward your degree completion
  • Ensuring your passport is valid
  • Having a valid travel signature when traveling internationally
  • Following the rules of grace periods after program completion
  • Filing U.S. taxes

    Full-Time Enrollment

    In order to maintain your immigration status, you must be enrolled in a full-time course load and making satisfactory progress toward your program’s completion. All students must successfully complete each semester of coursework as a full-time student and be making normal progress toward degree completion. You will need to work with your academic advisor to ensure you are enrolled in the correct courses each semester.

    Undergraduates: 12 credits minimum
    • F-1 Students: 9 or more must be on campus
    • J-1 Students: 12 or more must be on campus
    Graduates: 9 credits minimum
    • F-1 Students: 6 or more must be on campus
    • J-1 Students: 9 or more must be on campus
    If you are unable to be enrolled full-time or need to withdraw from a class mid-semester, please connect with the Center or a DSO about how best to maintain your immigration status. Speak to your DSO before dropping a class.

    Additional Information
    Online Courses
    • F-1 students may only count 3 credits (or 1 course) of online/distance learning per semester toward their full course of study requirement.
    • J-1 students may not count any credits toward their full course of study requirement.
    Sponsored, Exchange, or Scholarship Students
    • You may have additional enrollment expectations or requirements.
    • It is your responsibility to check in with your sponsor, home institution, or scholarship provider to identify if they have minimum credit requirements to maintain your status in these programs.
    Graduate Students
    • Certain graduate programs have different full-time enrollment agreements. Please check with your academic advisor to ensure you are enrolled full-time for your program type if you are pursuing a graduate degree in one of these programs.
    When in doubt, reach out! If you have any questions or concerns about your minimum full-time enrollment requirements, please connect with us. We are happy to help! 

    Student Employment

    International students must follow employment regulations and are urged to meet with an immigration advisor before accepting or beginning any off-campus employment.

    Failure to receive the proper authorization is a serious violation of your immigration status and can result in the loss of your F-1 status. Protect your immigration status, and do not expose yourself to penalties caused by unauthorized/illegal employment. 

    F-2 dependents are not permitted to accept employment under any circumstances.

    • An F-1 student may work on-campus at Colorado State University Pueblo as long as the student is in good academic standing and maintains their immigration status.
    • On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours total per week during the Fall and Spring semesters, but there is no limit during official University vacation periods.
    • It is your responsibility as the student to track your hours, working more than 20 hours per week could result in a violation of compliance and loss of your F-1 status.
    • On-campus employment ability ends when you finish your studies and/or transfer out your SEVIS record. For graduate students, your completion of studies date will be determined by the semester you defended your thesis and/or coursework, regardless of when the degree will be conferred, per 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C).
    Additional Information 
    • Graduate Research and Teaching Assistantship hours are counted as on-campus employment and are limited to the 20 hour per week limit while classes are in session.
    • GRA’s and GTA’s can increase their work hours during official university vacations. Some key facts to know are the F1 Student Employment Timeline, the F1 STEM Extension Timeline and knowing all important numbers as an F-1 student.
    • All other work for any kind of compensation (free housing, groceries, laptops, etc.) is considered to be employment and is not authorized unless the student has approved work authorization under Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training.For more information on OPT or CPT please reach out to a DSO.
    Severe Economic Hardship: Students facing financial difficulty that is unexpected and unforeseen should meet with an immigration advisor to see if they qualify to apply for Severe Economic Hardship employment authorization through USCIS. This benefit is very limited by USCIS and not a guarantee that applying will result in approval.

    Keeping Your I-20 Updated

    F-1 students must have a valid I-20 in order to continue studying at CSU Pueblo and be eligible for employment and other immigration benefits our international students utilize. 
    This includes:
    • Making sure that your program end date listed on your I-20 has not passed.
    • Following the correct procedure to update your program if you choose to change major by communicating with a DSO.
    • Submit an Out of Country request while you participate in research or study abroad opportunities and have a travel signature for international travel with an accompanying Travel Signature Request Form.

    Update Your Information

    Students must inform a DSO of any changes to their circumstances and update their PAWS accordingly. It is your responsibility to update your DSO if you:
    • Plan to change your major, program, or degree level
    • Drop a class
    • Change your education level
    • Plan to transfer to a new school or take a leave of absence 
    • Plan to take a break from school
    • Travel outside of the U.S.
    • Move to a new address
    • Wish to request a program extension
    This is a key component to maintaining F-1 status.

    Update Your Contact Information Here


    Valid Travel Signatures

    All international students, Exchange Visitors, and their dependents who were issued an immigration document by CSU Pueblo are required to get a travel signature from a DSO before they travel internationally.

    Travel signatures are valid for multiple entries. However, we suggest you receive a new travel signature or review the signature each time you travel internationally.

    To receive a new travel signature, please complete a Travel Signature Request Form and bring this form to the Center in OSC 104 M-F, 8 am to 5 pm. The average processing time for travel signatures can be 2-3 business days, with additional time needed at high volume times. Our office is busiest at the beginning of each semester and around the holidays.

    Pro Tip: if you book your flights a month or more before your travel dates, check your travel signature as you book your flights!


    Active F-1 students and dependents:
    • Check page 2 of your most recent I-20.
    • Under ‘Travel Endorsement,’ is there a signature? If not, you need a travel signature.
    • If there is already a signature here, will the date be 1 year old or older upon your next re-entry to the U.S.?
      • If not, you don’t need a new travel signature.
      • If so, you will need a new travel signature.
    For example: A travel signature issued December 31st, 2022, allows re-entry to the U.S. up to December 30th, 2023.

    Graduated F-1s on OPT:
    • Check page 2 of your most recent I-20.
    • Under ‘Travel Endorsement,’ is there a signature? If not, you need a travel signature.
    • If there is already a signature here, will the date be 6 months old or older upon your next re-entry to the U.S.?
      • If not, you don’t need a new travel signature.
      • If so, you will need a new travel signature.
    For example: A travel signature issued Dec 31st, 2022, allows re-entry to the U.S. up to June 30th, 2023.

    Grace Period

    Students and Scholars who have maintained their immigration status while at CSU Pueblo are provided a grace period that starts the day after they complete their program. This date is linked to the graduation or program completion date, not necessarily the end date listed on their immigration document.

    F-1 students have a 60-day grace period that begins after they graduate from CSU Pueblo or, if participating in OPT, after their OPT authorization end date.

    What Can I Do During the Grace Period
    • Travel around the United States. Please be aware that any international travel forfeits any remaining time left in the grace period
    • Apply for Post-Completion OPT
    • Apply for a new/additional degree program at CSU Pueblo
    • Transfer your SEVIS record to a new school
    Students are required to depart the United States before the 60-day grace period has expired.

    Filing Taxes

    Income taxes are often complicated, even for those living in the United States their whole lives.  International student advisors and staff at CSU Pueblo do not have the proper training or legal authority to offer direct assistance with the completion of tax returns, but we can provide you the resources below. 

    • Almost everyone, including dependents. 
    • Nonresident aliens in the U.S. in any nonimmigrant status, including a dependent status, must file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 8843, even if no income was earned. 
    • Nonresidents who received U.S. source income in a given year must also file federal and state tax returns. Income may include wages, scholarships, fellowships, graduate assistantships, etc.  
    • For nonresident aliens, income does not include bank interest.
    • Nonresidents who received U.S. source income during a particular tax year should file Form 1040NR by the filing deadline of the following year.  
    • Individuals with tax treaty benefits or otherwise expecting to receive Form 1042-S from CSU Pueblo should wait until that form is received (usually in March) before attempting to prepare a tax return. 
    • Generally, F-1 (and their F-2 dependents) are considered tax nonresidents for the first five calendar years. 
    • J-1 scholars (and J-2 dependents) are usually considered tax nonresidents for two calendar years (if not previously exempt). 
    • H-1B employees are usually residents or dual residents after holding H-1B status for more than 183 days. 
    • If you are married to a tax resident, you may choose to be a tax resident. 

    For specific information on determining your tax residency status, see IRS Publication 519 (downloadable from For  Sprintax users, Sprintax will determine your tax residency status through your portal. 

    Sprintax is available free of charge for international students, faculty, staff, and visiting scholars who are associated with Colorado State University Pueblo at any time during the calendar year.  Sprintax is a web-based program that completes nonresident tax forms based on the information you provide. Sprintax is expected to be available starting in mid-February. 

    Sprintax is not the same as the GLACIER Online Tax Compliance software used by the CSU Pueblo Payroll Office for calculating tax withholding. Sprintax is accessed by visiting their website and entering your User ID and Password from last year (only if you used Sprintax last year) or creating a new account.

    Individuals that used Sprintax last year can use the same User ID and Password again and retrieve a copy of last year’s return. If you are new to Sprintax, you will be prompted to create your own unique username and password. Sprintax does charge a separate fee if you are also required to file a state tax return. The Center will make the common access code available by email, so please be vigilant of any emails received from our office during the Spring Semester. Please send a message to if you have any questions. Please do not share the code with individuals not associated with CSU Pueblo.

    After completing your tax forms, be sure to follow the included instructions for submitting your forms to the appropriate tax authorities. E-filing will be available through Sprintax for some individuals depending on the specifics of your tax filing situation. 

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Information contained on this page is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice. Anyone with specific tax-related questions are encouraged to seek the advice of a competent expert in the field.

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