How to Maintain F-1 Status


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What does it mean to be "in status"?

The Department of Homeland Security considers you to be in valid F-1 status if you fulfill all of the conditions of your F-1 visa. 

  • 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)

You are "out of status" if you do not fulfill the conditions of your F-1 visa.

If you are out of status, you lose the following privileges and benefits:

  • Eligibility for employment on and off campus
  • 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 cancelled

To Correct Status:

If you are currently under a terminated SEVIS record, you will need to take action in order to get back into good immigration status. This process is known as Correction of Status.

There are two options to correct your immigration record:

  • Travel/Re-Entry or
  • USCIS Petition/Reinstatement. 

To go over your Reinstatement and Re-Entry options, please meet with a Senior Immigration Advisor by making a Reinstatement Appointment on our website. It is required you meet with a Senior Immigration Advisor in order to proceed with the correction of status process.  Reinstatement appointments have specific time slots and are more complicated cases. Please only make a Reinstatement appointment and not a regular Immigration Advising appointment unless told so by the advisor you are currently working with.

If you wish to read more about this process you can check out Study In the States

F-1 status end date

F-1 status ends on the date listed in #5 on your I-20 or when you complete the last requirement for your program of study, whichever comes first.

How long can I stay in the U.S.?

  • Up to 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 pending approval from an International Advisor.

F-1 Status FAQs

How might I lose my F-1 status?

Your F-1 status is terminated after a status violation. You might lose your F-1 status in several ways.

For example:

  • By failing to extend your F-1 student program before your I-20 expires.
  • By failing to notify immigration of your change of degree level before the deadline. You must request this change of level at the ISSS office inside of 15 days after it occurs.
  • By failing to maintain full-time academic registration without a documented reason acceptable to immigration.
  • By failing to complete all procedures for approval of concurrent enrollment by the 12th class day. This includes proof of registration at the second school.
  • By working in violation of F-1 status, e.g. more than 20 hours per week while registered for study, by working off-campus without authorization, or working while registered for less than a full-time load without authorization. Employment violations can only be corrected by travel. See an advisor.
  • If you are a transfer student from another U.S. school, by failing to apply to International Student and Scholar Services to complete the transfer notification within 15 days of classes beginning.

What are the consequences of being out of status?

Students who are out of status are not eligible for any of the benefits of F-1 status, including permission to work or eligibility for practical training. You do not have a legal status to stay in the U.S., which can cause a host of risks and issues for you.

How can I get back into valid F-1 status?

There are two ways to regain valid F-1 status:

  1. You can obtain a new I-20 (with a new SEVIS number), leave the U.S. and re-enter as a new F-1 student. You will be considered a new student immigration-wise.
  2. If you have lost status as a result of any of the reasons listed above EXCEPT by working in violation of F-1 status, you may apply for reinstatement within the U.S. You must apply within 5 months of the infraction. When you are reinstated, you must be in a valid status situation. For example, you must be a full-time student. If you lost status as a result of working in violation of F-1 status, please consult an advisor.