Maintaining F-1 Status

Every F-1 student must be aware of his or her immigration responsibilities and obligations. Failure to abide by the United States Immigration Regulations can result in deportation.

Your passport is an international travel document. United States law mandates that you have a valid passport throughout your stay. Your government should extend your passport at least six months prior to its expiration date.


A visa is the stamp or seal placed by a U.S. Consular Officer in your passport. This is a permit to enter the United States. The visa will indicate the purpose of your visit, the number of times you can enter the U.S. and the last date you can enter the country.

Form I-94

This is a record of your non-immigrant status and permission to stay in the United States. It is a small white card known as the I-94 card-stapled into your passport by an immigration officer when you enter the United States. It shows your immigration status, the date and port of your arrival in the U.S., and the date until which you have permission to stay. The notation D/S, indicating “duration of status”, refers to the completion date on the certificate of eligibility (the I-20 or DS-2019) given to those who wish to enter the United States in student status. The form I-94 is also called the Arrival/Departure form because each time you enter the U.S. you receive a new form, and each time you leave the country you surrender your I-94. The I-94 is an important form; we recommend that you make a photocopy of both sides of the form to keep separately in case you need to replace it.

To Maintain F-1 Status You Must

  • Have a valid passport and I-20 at all times (this also means that if you intend on leaving the country for winter and/or summer break, you must get your I-20 signed by a Designated School Official before each departure).
  • Maintain full-time student status. For undergraduates, a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester.
  • Never work off campus without written authorization. You must obtain employment authorization from the USCIS through the Office of International Programs before you begin any employment activity.
  • Never work more than 20 hours per week and only on campus while school is in session.
  • Make sure that the I-20 matches the school you are attending.
  • Notify the Registrar and the Global Education Office whenever there is any change in your academic program; this includes a change of major, a change of program level a change of university (transfer), or a leave of absence.
  • Extend your immigration documents in a timely manner; check the expiration date on your I-20; if necessary, you must renew this document at least 30 days before the date of expiration.
  • Process school transfers with the Registrar and the Global Education Office. If you are transferring from one university to another, you must report to your new foreign adviser within 15 days at your new school.