Maintaining Your F-1 Status

Your Legal Obligations

It is essential to remember that you must take full responsibility for maintaining your status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). That is, you are responsible for finding out, knowing, and following pertinent regulations. 

If you take time early on to familiarize yourself with your obligations to USCIS, you should find it easy to maintain your legal status. If, however, you allow yourself to fall "out of status", it may be extraordinarily difficult to reinstate your F-1 status with USCIS.

The best resource to assist you in maintaining status is the staff of the Office of International Student Services (OISS).   Every effort has been made to provide reliable and accurate information on rules that govern student immigration classifications. When regulations change - as is frequently the case - the OISS will have current information.  It is important for students to check their webmail accounts, as the staff will send out important messages. 

A Few Words of Advice for Students

If you are the least bit uncertain about your status - for example, whether your program will be full-time, whether your permission to stay is valid, or whether you can be paid for an assistantship - check with the OISS immediately. Students who do not meet the full-time or normal progress requirements may have problems restoring their status. Therefore, if you believe your circumstances warrant extraordinary consideration, it is extremely important that you make an appointment with your International Student Advisor. We are here to help you and advise you.

 

Immigration Regulations and the Role of an F-1 Student

F-1 students are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with all laws and regulations set forth by the US Department of Homeland Security. Violation of these laws can seriously affect your immigration status as well as your academic career. To make you more aware of these issues, it is extremely important that you read and fully understand all of this information.


Full Time Study

Maintain a full course of study each semester for the duration of your program.

U.S. federal regulations [8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)] require you to pursue a full course of study each Fall and Spring semester until completion of your degree. (Graduate students – 9 credits, Undergraduate – 12 credits per semester.) Only one on-line course can count toward the full course of study requirement each semester. If you cannot register full time you must see an advisor in OISS before classes begin or prior to dropping below full time during the semester. There are very limited exceptions to the full course of study rule, and you must obtain permission from OISS before dropping below full time. Failure to comply is a violation of your F-1 status.


Employment

Abide by U.S. Federal Employment Regulations.

F-1 students may work no more than 20 hours per week on campus when classes are in session and 40 hours per week during official university breaks [8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)]. You cannot work off-campus (including credit-bearing internships off-campus) without PRIOR authorization from OISS and U.S. Immigration.


Travel

Bring your I-20 to OISS for a travel signature before traveling abroad.
Students must receive a travel signature on page 3 of the most recent I-20 prior to traveling outside the United States. It is recommended that you obtain a new travel signature each semester, if traveling. If you are traveling abroad AND need to renew your F-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad, you must visit our office at least one month before you travel to review the appropriate documents. It is okay to have an expired F-1 visa in your passport if you remain in the U.S. and do not travel abroad. A valid F-1 visa is only required for re-entry into the U.S.

You should have the following documents to reenter the U.S. after traveling:

·         Most recent SEVIS I-20 with current signature on page 3 by an International Student Advisor
·         Valid passport – valid for at least six months from date of return to US
·         Unexpired F-1 visa in your passport
·         Proof of financial support (sometimes requested at the Port of Entry)
·         Proof of registration for current or upcoming semester (if possible)


Records
                          

Report Address and Name Changes within 10 days to OISS.
OISS is required to provide a valid address and other student data to the federal government electronically in SEVIS. No other university office is authorized by the federal government to process this data.

Report Changes in Program to OISS.
Students must notify OISS whenever there is a change in their academic program, program dates or level of study. If you change your major or switch to a Master’s program from a Bachelor’s program, for example, you must be issued a new I-20.

Keep ALL I-20s
You may receive many I-20s throughout your studies in the U.S. (for CPT, OPT, change of major, transfer, etc.) Never throw any of them away!

Check your FDU Email Account
You will receive notices from the Office of International Student Services through your FDU webmail account. These messages are very important, often announcing important changes in immigration regulations that could affect you directly.


Program Completion

Upon completion of your academic program you must do one of the following:

·         Depart the U.S. within the 60 day “grace period”
·         Apply (or have already applied) for OPT
·         Transfer your SEVIS record to a new school
·         Enter a new academic program at FDU
·         Apply (or have already applied) for a Change of Status with USCIS

Note the completion date listed under #5 on your I-20.

The program completion date on your I-20 is an estimated end date.  Your actual program completion may extend beyond or end before the I-20 end date. Once you complete your program you will need to take one of the above steps even if you have additional time on your I-20.  In addition, if you cannot complete your studies by the date listed on your I-20, you must visit IOSS before this date to file for an extension.

 

**This information is not exhaustive and may change without notice.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding your legal status in the United States, please make an appointment to meet with an advisor. **