Maintaining Legal F-1 Status
As an F-1 student, you must meet certain obligations in order to maintain legal immigration status. Maintaining status is necessary in order to receive the benefits of F-1 status such as employment and program extension, and can be crucial to a successful application for a change or adjustment of visa status in the future. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S.
To maintain lawful status, an F-1 student must:
- Attend the university you are authorized to attend.
- Complete immigration school transfer procedure when necessary.
- Be in good academic standing and make progress towards an academic program.
- Extend your I-20 prior to its expiration date if you are unable to complete your academic program by the original expiration date.
- In the event of change of academic program or level, inform ISS who will update your I-20 in a timely fashion in accordance with immigration regulations.
- In the event of change of address and phone number, inform ISS who will update SEVIS record in a timely fashion in accordance with immigration regulations.
- Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year.
- Undergraduate students must enroll 12 credit hours per term while graduate students must enroll for 6 credit hours (or number of credit hours defined by the specific graduate program) per term.
- Suspension, dismissal, enrollment withheld, expulsion, or any other similar action which prevents enrollment may have effect on legal immigration status. Connect with an ISS advisor should this apply to you.
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during academic year.
- May not be employed without specific pre-authorization
- Keep your passport valid at all times. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future on the day you return to the U.S. from a trip abroad.
- Maintain health insurance coverage. U.S. Health insurance is not an option - it is a requirement.
When an F-1 student successfully completes their academic program or Optional Practical Training, there is a 60-day grace period during which the F-1 student and any F-2 dependents may stay in the U.S. During the grace period you may not work, or reenter the United States in F-1 status.