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Immigration Law Resources

Information for International Students in F-1/J-1 Status

NOTE:  International Student & Scholar Services should be your primary point of contact for any issues or questions related to student visas at DePaul.  They have experts on staff who are available to assist you, as well as a wide variety of helpful resources. 

In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that students in F-1 visa status remain vigilant about properly maintaining their visa status. U.S. federal law requies F-1 students to do as follows:
  • Ensure that the university has your current contact information

  • Maintain valid personal documents (Passport, I-20, I-94)

  • Maintain a full-time course load during the academic year

  • Do not work for the university or any other individual or organization without proper authorization

  • Follow all applicable rules if you decide to transfer to another institution

  • File the proper U.S. tax forms every year, even when you have not worked in the U.S.

For more information, please review the Maintaining F-1 Status Handout prepared by ISS, and contact ISS to schedule an appointment with your advisor. 

International Student and Scholar Services has identified the following key steps to properly maintaining a student's J-1 status:
  • Ensure that the university has your current legal name and contact information
  • Maintain valid personal documents at all times (Passport, DS-2019, I-94)
  • Maintain a full-time course load during the academic year
  • Maintain health insurance coverage
  • Obtain authorization from ISS before traveling abroad
  • Do not accept any employment without proper authorization
  • File U.S. income tax forms, even when you had no U.S. income
  • If applicable, be careful to comply with the 2-year home residency requirements (or obtain a waiver from DHS/USCIS)
For more detailed information, please review the ISS Rules for Maintaining Lawful J-1 Status Handout, or schedule an appointemnt with your international advisor. 

Please review the ISS Change to F-1 Status Handout for information about adjusting from another visa status to F-1. We generally advise anyone interested in changing their immigration status to consult an experienced immigration attorney.  

Foreign nationals in student visa status have the same rights as American citizens when interacting with the police or other law enforcement, such as the right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer represent them.  

To learn more, please review the Know Your Rights informational resource (available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Arabic, Haitian Creole, and Punjabi).

H-1B, TN, and other Employment-Based Visas

The H-1B visa is a common employment-based visa available for “skilled foreign workers” who come to the U.S. to work in a “specialty occupation” on a “temporary basis.” USCIS defines a specialty occupation as one that requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specific field (for example, a BS in Computer Science). In addition to looking at the position, USCIS will also look at the employee’s qualifications. In order to qualify as a “skilled foreign worker,” individual must have earned the specific degree required, or its equivalent. 
  • Duration of StayThe H-1B visa is a temporary status only. The period of H1B employment may be valid for an initial term of three (3) years and may be extended for another three (3) years. An individual may spend a total cumulative period of six (6) years. 
  • Dual-Intent Visa. The H-1B visa is considered a “Dual Intent” visa.  While it is a temporary status by design, it also permits the visa holder to have an intent to immigrate to (or permanently stay in) the United States. This means that unlike most other visa types, the H-1B allows an employee to pursue lawful permanent resident status, which has huge benefits. 
  • AvailabilityAcross most industries, H-1B visas are subject to a cap of 65,000 per year, plus an additional 20,000 reserved for individuals with advanced degrees obtained in the U.S. USCIS has a well-established lottery system, whereby H-1B applications must be submitted by April 1 of each year.  Those selected are notified on or around October 1. Higher education institutions and affilated medical centers are exempt from the statutory cap.  This means that these organizations may freely hire employees who require H-1B sponsorship, without having to worry whether or not their application will be selected in the annual lottery. 

TN Status or a TN visa is a unique benefit available to foreign employees who are citizens of Canada and Mexico that is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. TN status is a non-immigrant status, meaning that an individual in TN status cannot apply for lawful permanent residency or citizenship. It is most appropriate for an employee who does not intend to stay and work in the US permanently.

Lawful Permanent Residence (a "Green Card")

Lawful Permanent Residence is a status that permits a foreign national to permanently live and work anywhere in the United States, without restriction.

There are various paths to lawful permanent resident status, including sponsorship by a spouse, a family member, or by an employer.

There are many benefits to having Lawful Permanent Residence status:
  • May live permanently anywhere in the United States
  • May work for any employer in the United States, and freely change employers, without restriction
  • May own real estate anywhere in the United States
  • May enroll in degree programs and receive Federal financial aid
  • May become eligible for Federal benefits, including Social Security and Medicare
  • May join the United States Armed Forces
  • May become eligible to apply to become a U.S. citizen after 5 years

Resources for Undocumented Students

The Monarch Butterfly Scholarship. DePaul University Student Government Association in collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Student Success presents a scholarship opportunity for returning FAFSA-ineligible, immigrant, undergraduate students. Student selections will be based on financial need, academic performance, extracurricular activities and community service.

Links to additional scholarship options for undocumented students are available here

At DePaul University we affirm the dignity of the individual. We value diversity and culture because these are part of our core values and traditions as a Catholic, Vincentian, and urban university. DePaul University has decided to take a strong and public stand for supporting undocumented students, and DREAM Act legislation. We believe supporting undocumented students is smart policy that will yield significant benefits for our university, city, state, and nation. We also know these young people who enter our doors are part of the next great generation who will build our collective future. It is for this reason that DePaul admits students regardless of their citizenship status. Because we welcome these students, it is incumbent upon all members of the DePaul community to understand DePaul’s position on assisting undocumented students, realize the value that they bring to our university, and support their success as we support all of our students.

This statement appears in the University Catalog and is publicly available here

External Immigration Assistance and Immigrant Rights Organizations

Organization Services Contact
National Immigrant Justice Center Advocacy, DACA, Representation for Unaccompanied Children, LGBT Immigrants, Human Trafficking Victims, Asylum Seekers, & General Immigration Services 208 S. LaSalle St., Suite 1300,
Chicago, IL 60604
Legal Aid Foundation (LAF) Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), U-Visa, T-Visa, & Migrant Agricultural Workers 120 S. LaSalle St., Suite 900,
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 341-1070
Alliance for Immigrant Neighbors DACA, Family Petitions, Green Cards, Citizenship, Representation & Consultations 382 S. Mount Prospect Rd.,
Des Plaines, IL 60016
(244) 443-0113
Catholic Charites DACA, Visas, Work Permits, Green Cards, Citizenship St. Vincent Center
721 N. LaSalle St.,
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 655-7700
Additional Locations: Chicago, Des Plaines, Cicero, 
Blue Island, Waukegan
Chicago Legal Clinic Representation, Family-based Immigration, Deportation Defense, Pro-Bono Services 1914 S. Ashland Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 226-2669
DePaul University College of Law - Asylum & Immigration Clinic Representation for Deportation Defense, Immigration Applications, DACA, Family-based Immigration, Juvenile Immigrant Status, T-Visa, U-Visa, VAWA petitions 25 E. Jackson Blvd., Suite 1050 (O'Malley),
Chicago, IL 60604
Erie Neighborhood House Children & Youth Education, Adult Literacy, ESL, Workforce Development, Citizenship & Immigration Consultations, Education, & Workshops 1347 W. Erie St.,
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 666-3955
Family Focus  Citizenship, Family-based Immigration, & DACA 550 Second Ave.,
Aurora, IL 60505
(630) 844-2550
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Civic Engagement Policy Work, Referrals, Community Education, Healthcare Information, SNAP Assistance, Prison Reform 228 S. Wabash, Suite 800,
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 332-7360
Justice for Our Neighbors
Advocacy, Community Education 2120 N. Mozart St.,
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 609-4401
Additional Locations: Aurora & Rockford
Life Span VAWA petitions, U-Visa, Immigrant Battered Women's Project 70 E. Lake St., Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 408-1210
Additional Location: Des Plaines
RefugeeOne Resettlement Services, English Language Training, Workforce Development, Wellness Program, Youth Program, Women's Services, Immigration Assistance 4753 N. Broadway, Suite 401,
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 989-5647
Resurrection Project
La Casa Student Housing, Financial Wellness, Home Purchasing, Foreclosure Prevention, Safety Programs, Health Programs, Education Programs, Community Organizing, Immigration Services (DACA, Application Support, Counseling) 1818 S. Paulina St.,
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 666-1323
The Immigration Project Consultations & Referrals, Application Support, Citizenship, Crime Victim Assistance, DACA, Provisional Waivers for Immediate Relatives of US Citizens 211 Landmark Dr., Suite B3A
Normal, IL 61761
(309) 829-8703
The Young Center Unaccompanied Children Representation, Advocacy 6020 S. University Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 702-9560
World Relief Consultations, Adjusting Statuses, Family Reunification, Citizenship, VAWA, U-Visa, Conditional Residency Removal, Translations, Fiance Petition, Green Cards 191 S. Gary Ave., Suite 130,
Carol Stream, IL 60188
(630) 462-7566
Additional Location: Aurora

For a longer list of Organizations, please visit ICIRR's Immigration Services Directory