Upon entry to the United States, an F-1 student must maintain status. The F-1 regulations begin immediately upon entry and continue until final departure.
F-1 students must comply with the following requirements in order to maintain lawful status:
- Report to the Office of International Services (OIS) within 30 days of the date that appears on the SEVIS I-20 form.
- Be registered full-time, i.e., taking all required courses and attending all required classes. Consequences of not keeping a full course load at all times could result in severe consequences. If you have questions or special situations, please contact OIS.
- Obtain a new Form I-20 for a change in educational level of study.
- Abide by the F-1 grace period regulations (see below).
- Report change of address to OIS within 10 days of the change.
- Maintain a valid passport.
- Make satisfactory progress towards completing a program of study.
- Apply for a timely extension of stay if applicable.
- Depart the United States in a timely manner.
After a student has completed a course of study, he or she has 60 days in order to depart the United States, transfer programs or schools, or file for change of status.
A student who has been authorized by OIS to withdraw from classes has 15 days to depart the United States.
Students who terminate/withdraw from a course of study without prior approval from OIS are not granted any grace period.
Dropping to Part-Time Enrollment without Prior Approval
Students will not be able to drop below a full course of study without prior authorization from OIS. If a student drops below a full course load without specific permission from OIS prior to dropping the course(s), that student will be reported as out of status immediately and may then be subject to reinstatement and/or deportation.
Leave of Absence
If a student intends to take a leave of absence for more than 15 days from his or her normal school work during the Spring and/or Fall semester, the student must seek approval from OIS. If the leave of absence is for medical reasons, the student has the option to return to his or her home country or remain in the United States to receive medical treatment for up to one year; otherwise, the student must leave the United States within 15 days from the approval.
If a student intends to depart the United States for more than five months during anytime of year for non-academic reasons (personal or family leave, non-academic employment), he or she must contact OIS 15 days before departure. The student’s current I-20 will become invalid. The student must contact OIS to issue a new I-20 form two months before he or she returns to the United States.
Before leaving on a trip outside the US, check the expiration date of your visa and the number of entries you are allowed. If your visa is expired or will expire while you are abroad, you may need to renew it while you are abroad.
There are other matters that may affect students’ F-1 status, such as change of immigration status, withdrawal from a registered program of study, and transferring to another school. Always consult OIS on such matters.
Failure to Maintain Status
Examples of failure to maintain status include but are not limited to:
- Dropping from full-time to part-time enrollment without prior approval from OIS
- Attending a school other than the one a student is authorized to attend
- Failure to apply for a timely transfer of I-20 extension or change in level of study
- Unauthorized employment
- Failure to report a change of address
All students’ records will be automatically updated with SEVIS each semester. Students who fail to maintain status will lose the privileges of their student status and become subject to deportation.