Basic Information for Students in F-1 Status

Maintaining Your Status as an F-1 Student

As an F-1 student, you were admitted to the United States for "Duration of Status" (D/S). This means you are permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status by fulfilling the requirements pertaining to F-1 students. Please keep in mind that there is an important difference between your F-1 VISA and your F-1 STATUS.

Your F-1 visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and is granted for entry purposes only.

F-1 status is granted when you enter the U.S. and is regulated by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Even if your entry visa is valid, you can lose your legal F-1 status if you do not comply with immigration laws regulating your stay in the U.S.. If you fail to maintain your legal student status, you will need to apply for reinstatement, or in some cases, be required to leave the country.

Below are some government regulations you must follow in order to maintain your legal F-1 status. This information is not meant to be exhaustive.

  • Maintain a valid passport at all times, unless exempt from passport requirements.

  • Attend the college or university the USCIS has authorized you to attend (this is indicated on your I-20).

  • Complete an official transfer whenever you change educational institutions. An immigration transfer must be completed within 30 days of the beginning of classes during your first quarter/semester at the new school. It is very important to note that an immigration transfer is a completely separate process from transferring academic credit from one school to another. An immigration transfer is not complete until a Designated School Official (DSO) from the school to which you are transferring endorses your I-20, authorizing the transfer.

  • Complete a full course of study during normal enrollment periods. You are not required by the USCIS to enroll in classes during the summer sessions; however, you may want to check with your department to see if they have any requirements for the summer.

  • Apply for an extension of your program if you cannot complete your degree by the ending date listed on your I-20. You can apply for an extension 30 days before the expiration date.

  • Obtain a new I-20 whenever you make a change in degree levels. This would include changing from a bachelor's degree to a master's degree, from a master's degree to a doctorate, from Optional Practical Training to a new degree program, from one level of degree to another of that same level (e.g., bachelor's degree in chemistry to a bachelor's in biology), etc.

    Before traveling outside the U.S. you must have a Designated School Official (DSO) endorse the back of your current I-20 authorizing you to travel.

  • Report a change of address to the Center for International Education office within 10 days of the change. You must also report the change to your department and the Registrar's office.

  • Do NOT work off-campus unless you have first received authorization from the Center for International Education and/or the USCIS. On-campus work does not require authorization, but is limited to part-time (20 hours or less per week) during normal enrollment periods and requires a Social Security Number (SSN) which must be obtained from the Social Security Administration. On-campus employment may be full-time (more than 20 hours per week) during the summer and official school breaks. When you work on campus, you must maintain your full-time student status or your employment will become illegal. Please notify the Center for International Education if/when you accept on-campus employment.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact the CIE staff  or visit our office at the Fuller House.