Maintaining Your Status

It is very important for all non-immigrants to maintain their status for the full time that they are in the United States. Maintaining your status means that you are following all the rules. If you fail to follow the rules, even once, you may be considered by the U. S. government to be out of status. Failure to maintain status may result in loss of all benefits and possible removal from the United States (deportation) under government regulations. Maintaining status is the responsibility of the non-immigrant, NOT of the school or its officials.

Your visa and your status are not the same.

Below are the requirements for maintaining your status according to your visa category. You should also review the handout on maintaining F-1 status for further clarification.

F-1 Students

  1. Report to the Office of International Student Services to have your SEVIS record Registered in a timely fashion.
  2. For the first entry for initial school attendance, the school listed on the visa and on the I-20 must be the same, and that is the school that the student must attend (unless accepted by and transferred to another school within 30 days of entry).
  3. Pursue a “full course of study” at the school listed on the currently valid Form I-20 during every academic session or semester except during official school breaks, or unless approved under a specific exception, in advance, by the Office of International Student Services. A full course of study for undergraduate students is at least 12 hours per semester. For graduate students the full course of study consists of 8 to 9 hours (depending upon the program of study and whether the student is participating in either a Graduate Assistantship or a Graduate Public Service Internship). English Language Program students must take all courses offered at their level. No more than one online course will count towards your “full course of study” requirement. (Additional online courses may be taken over your required hours.) The summer term is considered an official school break unless it is your final term, in which case both the full course load and the on-campus requirement apply. Note: All international students must be registered for a full course load no later than two weeks from the first day of classes.
  4. Make normal progress towards completing the course of study, by completing studies before the expiration date of the program completion date on Form I-20.
  5. Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for extension of stay.
  6. Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for change in educational levels or programs of study.
  7. Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for transfer of schools.
  8. Abide by the F-1 grace period rules.
  9. Report a change of address to the Office of International Student Services within 10 days of the change, so that SEVIS can be updated.
  10. Abide by rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition on criminal activity.
  11. Abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirements.
  12. Not work, either on or off-campus, unless specifically authorized under the regulations. Part-time, on-campus employment is authorized for all undergraduate and graduate F-1 students during the school year. Full-time, on-campus employment is authorized during breaks. The summer term is considered to be a break unless it is your final term of study.

If you fall out of status in spite of fulfilling all the above requirements, have not been out of status for more than 5 months, do not have a record of repeated violations, are currently pursuing or will pursue in the next available term a full course of study, have not engaged in unauthorized employment, are not deportable on any other grounds, and have clear and compelling evidence that this was due to circumstances beyond your control, it may be possible for you to apply for reinstatement of status. If you believe that all of these are true in your case, please contact the Office of International Student Services immediately.

U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also produced a Fact Sheet on Maintaining Your Immigration Status While a Student or Exchange Visitor.

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