Maintaining Legal Status

Students entering the United States using an I-20 Form should be admitted in F-1 status. As such, they must follow specific Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations that pertain to the F-1 category. Students are legally responsible for maintaining their own status by understanding and complying with these regulations. If you are unsure how to maintain your status, consult with your International Student (IS) Advisor

Upon arrival in the United States, F-1 students should verify that their documents were properly processed by the DHS inspector at the border:

  • The inspector should review the I-20 Form and return it to the student
  • The inspector should review the passport with the F-1 visa
  • The inspector should issue an entry stamp, write "F-1/DS", and return it to the student
  • The student should print a copy of the electronic entry record after each entry to the United States:  www.cbp.gov/i94.

These forms indicate the type of status, the length of authorized stay in the country and the authorized school of attendance. Keep these documents in a safe place with your passport throughout your stay in the United States.  

To maintain legal status, F-1 students must:

  • Check with OGS within 5 days of the I-20 start date or use the Student Portal for the required Immigration Document Review 
  • Attend the mandatory Immigration & Compliance Sessions
  • If transferring a SEVIS record, report to OGS within 15 days of the I-20 start date
  • Notify the IS Advisor with any change in the academic program, including changes in program level, major or leave of absence.
  • Register as a full-time student every required semester: 

    •       Undergraduates -  minimum of 12 credit hours each term
    •       Graduate students -  normative full-time credit load on file with the U.S. Government
    •       Any reduction in the full-time courseload must have prior approval from the IS Advisor in OGS
  • Do not exceed a maximum of 20 hours/week of on-campus employment during the academic year.
  • Obtain appropriate authorization BEFORE engaging in any off-campus employment or internships – paid or unpaid!
  • Monitor the end date on the I-20 Form. Extension of stay must be approved prior to the end date of the I-20 Form.
  • Notify the IS Advisor with any change in the academic program, including changes in program level, major or leave of absence.
  • Update the local address and phone number in MyAccess anytime there is a change (within ten days).

The U.S. Government considers students who violate F-1 regulations "out of status." Penalties for violating status can be serious and may affect not only a student's entire academic career, but also future applications for U.S. visas or other immigration benefits.