Maintaining Your F-1 Status

· Maintaining Your F-1 Status
Maintaining Your F-1 Status 2019-10-08T09:14:39+00:00

As an F-1 student, you were admitted to the U.S. for “duration for status,” (D/S). This means that you are allowed to stay in the U.S. while you complete your academic objectives and as long as you maintain your status by fulfilling the requirements of your F-1 visa.

It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the immigration requirements related to your F-1 visa. A violation of the immigration regulations jeopardizes your F-1 status and legal stay in the U.S.

Maintaining your status means:

  • Fulfilling the purpose for why the Department of State issued you your visa (study).
  • Following the regulations associated with that

Following the guidelines below will help you to avoid violation of your F-1 status. Don’t jeopardize your chance to remain at NSU!

How to Maintain your F-1 Status

  • Make sure your passport does not expire

Your passport must be valid at all times. Keep your passport valid for at least 6 months into the future.

Report your arrival to the International Student Resource Center

You must report to the Designated School Official (DSO) at the ISRC within one week after your arrival. We will need to copy your 1-20, 1-94, VISA, & Passport. We will also need the physical address of where you will be living while enrolled at NSU.

Attend the school noted on your I-20

You must have a current, valid I-20 from the school you are attending. If you transfer from another school to NSU, the transfer process must be completed before the semester begins. If you have any questions about this process, please visit or e-mail the ISRC.

Do not let your I-20 expire before you complete your program of study

Be familiar with the Program End Date on page 1 of your I-20. If you need additional time to complete your program of study, make sure to request a Program Extension from the ISRC before the end date located in the first page of your I-20. Allowing the I-20 to expire before you complete your academic program is a violation of F-1 status.

IMPORTANT: Possessing a valid visa does not necessarily mean you are in legal F-1 status. If you do not comply with immigration laws regulating your stay in the U.S., you will fail to maintain your legal student status.

  • Extend your I-20 as needed

Apply for an Extension of Program if the completion date on your I-20 will expire within the next 30 days and you need more time to complete your program of study. The completion date can be found on page one of the I-20 form under “Program End Date”.

Maintain full-time enrollment

Each fall and spring you must be registered full-time as follows:

  • Undergraduate Students: 12 credits (credit hours) per semester. At least 9 of the 12 credits must be face-to-face.
  • Graduate Students: 9 credits (credit hours) per At least 6 of the 9 credits must be face-to-face.

Only 3 hours of online classes may be taken each semester to count towards full time enrollment.

Do not register for fewer than the required number of credits or withdraw from a course without first receiving permission from the ISRC. Part-time studies could jeopardize your stay in the U.S. and make you ineligible for F-1 benefits.

Get an approval from the International Student Resource Center before dropping below a full-time course load

If due to strenuous circumstances you must withdraw from your program or drop below full- time, you are required to have approval from the ISRC before doing so.

  • If you need to resign from school during the semester you must inform the Designated School Official at the International Student Resource

Update the ISRC with any change in your program of study

Updates include a change in your major, degree level (bachelor’s to a master’s degree at NSU), and graduation date.

Keep your local address and personal information updated

You must report any changes in your local address, phone number, financial information,

and any change in your legal names.

Get proper employment/ Internship authorization:

  • international students can work on-campus for 20 hours or less during the school year, and more than 20 hours during regularly scheduled breaks such as winter break, and summer vacation. For all off-campus work, F-1 international students must get authorization in
  • On-campus employment: Limit employment to 20 hours per week during the academic year. Employment on-campus may be full-time in the summer (if summer is not your first or last semester of enrollment) and vacation periods. No special work permit is required.
  • Off-campus employment: Work permission must be approved through the ISRC for Curricular Practical Training and the USCIS for Optional Practical
  • You need the ISRC authorization on your I-20 before starting an internship.

If you are caught working off-campus illegally, you are subject to deportation proceedings.

Get a travel endorsement

Before your departure from the U.S., request a travel signature for re-entry from the ISRC. The officer will sign page 2 of the I-20 for this purpose. The signature is valid for one year, but it is recommended to obtain a new signature every 10 months. A new signature is required every 6 months while on OPT.

Be aware of your grace periods

You have a 60-day grace period at the end of your F-1 program. The grace period ends when you depart the U.S., or no later than 60 days after the end of the I-20 or your EAD card (if on OPT), whichever comes first.

Obtain a SEVIS transfer before transferring to another US school

Make sure you request the transfer of your I-20 within the 60 day grace period after your program end date.

An F-1 student may remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days after:

  • the completion of the program of
  • the completion date of any authorized post-completion

File a federal income tax form every year you are in the U.S., even if you did not work

  • Renew your visa as needed

The visa permitted you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1 student, and need not remain valid while you are in the U.S. (Canadian citizens are not required to have a visa.) Visas can only be obtained outside of the U.S. at a U.S. consulate.

If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., and you are still maintaining an active F-1 status, you do not have to leave the country for the sole purpose of renewing your visa. You may remain in the U.S. on an expired F-1 visa as long as your I-20 is current and you maintain an active F-1 status.

After your visa expires, the next time you travel abroad you must obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S.


If you have questions, stop by the International Student Resource Center & Study Abroad. We are located in Russell Hall 227