Maintaining Your F-1 Status

As an F-1 student, there are several regulations that you must follow to maintain your student status. Most students on an F-1 visa were admitted for D/S, which is stamped or written on your I-20 or I-94. This means you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for the Duration of Status until the date on line 5 of your I-20. It is your responsibility to maintain this status and understand the regulations set forth by the United States Customs and Immigration Services. Even if your visa is valid, you can lose your legal F-1 status by not complying with the following regulations. As an F-1 student you must:

  • Not let your I-20 expire (line 5 of your I-20)
    • If you need additional time to complete your program, please contact our office.
  • Maintain a full time class schedule of at least 12 credit hours (9 credit hours if your first term is in the summer).
    • If you receive a W or AU grade, your full time status may be jeopardized.
    • To see if you qualify under the DHS guidelines for a reduced course load, please visit our office.
    • Take no more than 3 credit hours of online course work per term toward your full time requirement.
    • Notify our office within 10 days of a change in address.
    • Not work in the U.S. without authorization.
    • Make academic progress toward your program of study.
      • Please review the Academic Standards of Progress
      • Obtain a new I-20 whenever you make changes in your program of study or in degree levels. This includes changing from language studies to an associate's degree, changing optional training program to a new degree, from one level of degree to one of the same level (associates to a second associates degree), etc.

Please note the differences between F-1 visa and F-1 status. The visa is a stamp or sticker placed on 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 U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

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