Maintaining International Student Status

Maintaining Valid F-1 Status in the U.S.

Although you are not likely to have much direct contact with USCIS, you should be fully aware of the primary conditions imposed by the USCIS for you to retain your F-1 status. If you “fall out of status” for any reason, you will lose your student status, no longer be eligible to apply for work permission or other benefits afforded by your visa status. In some cases, your visa will be canceled and the only option to returning to your home country. Always talk to instructors, counselor/ISP office, check with the Designated School Official (DSO) about your options. Although other situations not mentioned here may lead to the loss of status, following these guidelines will help you to avoid many unnecessary problems.

Basic Guidelines


Full-time enrollment is to enroll and complete 12 units each semester. Summer school is optional. For immigration purposes, students should not drop below 12 units per semester (note: W’s do not count towards the 12 units). Only 1 online or 3 credits can be taken online.

Academic Counseling

See a Counselor in general counseling, at least, once per semester for academic, career, or personal counseling.

SEVIS I-20 Form Document Expiration and Validity

If F-1 students cannot complete the education program by the program end date on page 1 of the I-20 form, request an “Extension of Stay (EOS)” 60 days prior to expiration date (allowable if doing normal academic progress). Extensions cannot be granted once date has passed. Submit your educational plan and request to the International Student Program.

On-campus employment

Student-help employment no more than 20 hours per week during academic year while full-time. If dropping 12, stop work. Visit International Student Program and see your Designated School Official (DSO).

Off-campus employment

Do not work off campus. Off campus work permission for F-1’s (F-2s cannot work) are rarely given unless authorized by a DSO or USCIS.

Attend the school noted on SEVIS I-20 Form

You must only attend college named on your current I-20 form. Any other concurrent registration (i.e., CRC, ARC FLC) must have prior approval. If you Transfer in or Transfer out to another school, work closely with both schools.

Transferring schools

When transferring out, apply for International Admissions/I-20 at new school/college. Work closely with International Student Advisors at both schools, making sure you have “ARC Release Date.” This usually may be end or last ARC semester day.


Keep pasport valid all times. If your passport will expire within the next six months, check foreign consular offices in United States

or to renew your passport.

Notice of Address

When new F-1 students arrive in the United States
(U.S), they must report current U.S. address to their DSO. It is the responsibility of all F-1/F-2 students to notify any change of address within 10 days to the International Student Program and ARC Admissions and Records (e-Services). The DSO will update SEVIS with your new address.