Maintaining F-1 Status

What does it mean to be "in status"?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considers you to be in valid F-1 status if you fulfill all of the conditions of your F-1 visa. The conditions are:

  • Attend the school whose I-20 you used to enter the U.S.
  • Maintain good academic standing
  • Maintain sufficient financial resources to avoid becoming a "public charge"
  • Enroll each semester as a full-time student
  • Work no more than 20 hours per week on-campus while classes are in session
  • Work off-campus only with specific written authorization from International Student and Scholar Services or USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services)
  • Complete the F-1 transfer procedure to change schools within the U.S.
  • Extend your stay in your degree program before the completion date on your I-20
  • Complete the change of level procedure when changing from one educational degree level to another (within 15 days of changing educational degree level)

When does DHS consider me to be "out of status"?
DHS considers you to be "out of status" if you do not fulfill the conditions of your F-1 visa.

What are the consequences of being "out of status"?
If you are out of status, you lose the following privileges and benefits:

  • Eligibility for employment, on- and off-campus work
  • Automatic visa revalidation for trips to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands except Cuba (not available to citizens of some countries)
  • Extension of program through the notification procedure
  • Transfer to or from another university in the U.S. through the SEVIS procedure
  • Change from one educational level to another through the SEVIS procedure
  • Practical training
  • Visa stamp may be considered cancelled

How do I get back in status?
To get back in status you must do one of two things: apply to USCIS for reinstatement within the U.S. ($290 fee), or leave the U.S. and be readmitted with a new I-20. Students who have worked since becoming out of status in the U.S. are not eligible for re-instatement in the United States. For more details, please consult the handout on reinstatement or see an International Student and Scholar Services  advisor.

When does my F-1 status end?
Your F-1 status ends either on the date listed in #5 on your I-20, or when you complete the last requirement for your program of study, which ever comes first.

How long can I stay in the U.S.?
You may stay in the U.S. for 60 days after completion of your program. You may not work during those 60 days. If you do not complete your program, you may only stay for 15 days, if approved by an international advisor before dropping school.

See Change of Level and Transfers for deadlines in these situations.