Maintaining Legal Status
Students entering the United States using a Form I-20 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 dedicated IS Advisor.
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.
1. Verify Documents Upon Arrival
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 Form I-20 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 the passport to the student
- The student should print a copy of the I-94 entry record after each entry to the United States.
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.
2. Report to the Office of Global Services (OGS) in order to activate the SEVIS record.
- Check with OGS within 5 days of the Form I-20 start date
- Use the Student Portal for the required Immigration Document Review
- Attend the mandatory sessions at International Orientation
- If transferring a SEVIS record, report to OGS within 15 days of the I-20 start date
Notify your dedicated IS Advisor with any change in the academic program, including changes in program level, major or leave of absence.
3. Register as a full-time student every required semester. Any reduction in the full-time courseload must have prior approval from OGS.
- Undergraduates: minimum of 12 credit hours each term
- Graduate students: normative full-time credit load on file with the U.S. government and the Graduate School of record
- Graduate students registered for Thesis Research (or a combination of credit hours and Thesis research) also meet the full-course-of-study requirement
Please review the part-time enrollment eligibility information for a list of complete requirements.
4. Do not exceed 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!
5. Monitor the program end date on the Form I-20
F-1 status requires completion of degree requirements within a rigid timeframe, and justification for an F-1 extension must meet strict conditions. An F-1 extension must be approved before your current I-20 end date.
6. Report any changes of address within 10 days of moving
Via MyAccess for current students or via the SEVP Portal for alumni on Post-Completion OPT and STEM OPT.