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What does it mean to be in F-1 student status?

You entered the U.S. with an F-1 visa
You entered the U.S. with a different visa and subsequently applied for
and were granted a change-of-status to F-1 by the U.S. Citizenship &
Immigration Services (USCIS).
THEREFORE, your primary purpose for being in the United States is to study.

How do I remain in lawful F-1 student status?

To maintain your F-1 status, you must comply with ALL of the following requirements:

  • Keep your passport valid at all times.
    While you are in the U.S., you must always have a valid passport. In addition, you may be required to have six months’ validity remaining on your passport for re-entry to the U.S.
  • Attend the school you are authorized to attend. This means that you must report to the school whose I-20 you used to enter the U.S. or to which your last school transfer was authorized.
  • Remain a full-time student and make normal progress toward your degree.
    • Register for 12 credit hours each semester (except during summer vacations).
    • Register for 9 credit hours each semester if you are a graduate student who holds an assistantship.
  • Have a valid and accurate I-20. Check section 5 of your I-20. The date of expected completion of studies must not have passed. If the expiration date is approaching and you have not finished your program, you must apply for an “Extension of Stay” before the expiration date.
    To re-enter the U.S., you must get a travel signature on page 3 of your I-20 every year.
    Exception: Students on OPT must get a new signature on page 3 of their I-20 every six months.
    Note: Only Designated School Officials (DSO’s) are eligible to sign your I-20.
  • Not work without proper employment authorization
  • Notify your international student advisor, Nancy Ellison of a change of address within 10 days of your move. If you are on OPT, you must report your change of address.

Are there any EXCEPTIONS to the full-time course registration requirement?

There are some exceptions to the full-time course registration requirement:

  • During winter break and summer vacation
  • During your final semester if you need fewer than 12 credits to finish your degree requirements and graduate
    Note: You must obtain prior authorization from a Designated School Official to reduce your course load.
  • One time per degree level due to difficulties with the English language or reading load, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods or improper course placement
    Note: You must obtain prior authorization from a Designated School Official to reduce your course load. ISSS also requires a written recommendation from your advisor or professor.
  • While suffering from a medical condition or illness
    Note: You must obtain a written recommendation from a licensed medical professional (e.g. physician, osteopath or psychologist) and authorization from a Designated School Official to reduce your course load. The medical recommendation must include the reason for the recommendation, the number of courses you may take, and the length of time such a reduction is necessary.
    PLEASE NOTE: A Medical Leave of Absence is different from a “Leave ofAbsence.” If you take a Leave of Absence from the University, you must depart the United States, whereas a Medical Leave of Absence (when approved by a Designated School Official) allows you to remain in the U.S. and maintain your status.

Failure to comply with these requirements is a violation of your F-1 status, which may result in serious consequences, including your termination in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitors Information System), inability to reenter the U.S., and arrest, detention and deportation from the U.S. Please direct all questions regarding your F-1 student status to Nancy Ellison, International Student Advisor, 107 Jerry Beasley Student Center.

Created on Nov 18, 2011. Report incorrect information.