Click on the topics below to learn more details about each aspect of maintaining F-1 status.
- Passport–The legal document of identification required by law to be carried by persons residing
or traveling within a country
- This must not expire. If your passport is expiring, you will need to travel home or check with your U.S. consulate for renewing options at least 6 months in advance.
- I-20–The legal document that allows someone to apply for a student visa for an academic purpose for an approved amount of time.
- This must be accurate. Ensure that any updates to your major, program end dates, or other academic information are accurate and have been approved by your DSO.
- Visa–The document issued by the U.S. embassy as a seal in a passport, which indicates
that student/scholar is eligible to apply for entry to the U.S. in a specific immigration
- This may expire. If you plan to depart the U.S. you will need to obtain a new visa. Your visa must
be valid for re-entry to the U.S.
- Exception: visiting Canada, Mexico, or adjacent Caribbean Island (except Cuba) for less than 30 days will allow you to re-enter the U.S. (unless it is your home country).
- This may expire. If you plan to depart the U.S. you will need to obtain a new visa. Your visa must be valid for re-entry to the U.S.
- SEVIS record–The record which maintains information about F-1 students studying in the U.S. The
status in your SEVIS record reflects your visa/immigration status, i.e the legal permission
to remain in the U.S. under specific conditions as defined by the F-1 document.
- Learn about the different SEVIS statuses here.
- I-94–The Arrival/Departure Record that shows the terms of your admission, including your
legal status, length of time you may stay and expected departure date, which is issued
upon your admission to the United States at a port of entry.
- This is a record of your entry. Ensure you have been admitted as an F-1 student for the Duration of Status (D/S). You may print it here.
- If you notice an error on your I-94, contact your DSO immediately.
- Passport–The legal document of identification required by law to be carried by persons residing or traveling within a country
- Ensure that your local U.S. address is updated every semester. Visa law requires you to report your current U.S. phone number and U.S. address.
Log into your Banner Web account and clicking the Personal Information menu. Select View Address and Phones and click the link to update your contact information. Complete the fields online and click the Submit button.
Or a student may make the changes by completing a Change of Address/Name form and submitting it to the Office of the Registrar.
- Undergraduate full-time = 12 credit hours
- Only ONE online course (3 credits) may count toward full-time enrollment each semester.
- Any credits beyond the minimum full-time (12 hr) requirement may be online or in person (in-person is strongly encouraged).
- Students must actively attend all scheduled classes.
- Withdrawing from one or more courses may cause a student to drop below the minimum full-time enrollment requirements. Always speak to the DSO before making the decision to withdrawal.
- Summer is considered an official break. Students are not required to take any classes during the summer. (The only exception is if the Summer semester is the student’s first semester in F status.)
- Students may count classes that take place during a minimester/term B toward their full-time enrollment. The student must have been enrolled full-time for the entire semester by the end of the semester in order to maintain status. Example: An undergraduate student may enroll in 3 courses (9 credit hours) that take place during the whole semester, and 3 courses (3 credit hours) that take place during the minimester/term B, for a total of 12 credit hours overall in that semester.
- Regarding concurrent enrollment, in some situations students may be able to have courses taken at other SEVIS-approved institutions count toward their full-time enrollment at EGSC on a limited basis. Contact the DSO for more information.
If you need to take fewer credit hours than the minimum required because of valid reasons (listed below) and are currently holding an F-1 visa, you may request a Reduced Course Load (RCL). There are four valid reasons for an RCL:
- If a student is in their final semester and less than a full course load is needed to complete student’s program of study
- Academic Difficulty due to a) initial difficulty with English language or reading requirements, and/or b) unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods (first semester students only)
- Improper Course Level Placement
- Documented Medical Condition
See Reduced Course Load information below:
- During authorized RCL, you must be enrolled in at least one course which requires physical presence in order to remain in F-1 visa status.
- A reduced course load must consist of at least six semester or quarter hours (or half the clock hours for ELP students) required for a full course of study (unless otherwise recommended by a licensed medical doctor).
- If you wish to drop any classes, you are responsible for completing this step yourself. If the Add/Drop deadline has passed, you must arrange this with the Office of the Registrar. Here are the withdrawal page for the Registrar.
- If a student fears the possibility of doing poorly in a course but their situation is not reflected by the valid reasons listed, they are not eligible for a RCL based on academic difficulty.
- Instructor/Academic Advisor/Department Head recommendation or medical documentation is REQUIRED in order to authorize reduced course load requests.
- Students should only be authorized for one RCL for the reason of final semester; however, in a situation where they genuinely have to complete additional credit hours, or they happen to fail a class during a final semester RCL for which they must delay graduation and retake the class, they can be approved for a second RCL. No more than two RCLs for final semester will be approved.
F-1 (student) visa law limits the amount of time for completing degree requirements. The program end date for F-1 students is based on the average time it takes all students to complete a particular program of study. F-1 (student) visa law limits the amount of time for completing degree requirements.
- EGSC issues I-20s for 2.5 years for undergraduate degrees to be completed which should be able to be completed with only 12 credits most fall and spring semesters even without summer enrollment.
F-1 visa law permits program extensions for most any academically justifiable reason except for poor academic performance. Two examples of valid reasons for a program end date to be extended:
- Change of major or research topic
- Documented medical condition
Program extension information is shown below:.
- For program extension requests due to academic reasons, a recommendation from you academic advisor/department chair is REQUIRED.
- For program extension requests due to a medical condition, REQUIRED documentation must be provided from a Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy or Licensed Clinical Psychologist.
- A program of study can only be extended up to one year at a time.
- Program extensions require you to show additional funding for the length of the extension, i.e. an extension for one semester would require showing financial documents that you/your sponsor can afford one semester of estimated expenses. To locate the amount of funding you need to show, please see the Required Documents for I-20 section of the “How to Apply for an I-20” page.
- Extensions must be requested before the program ending date on the I-20.
- If the program end date has passed, the program end date can only be changed within 15 days of the current program end date.
- Extensions will not be granted for the sole purpose of applying for CPT employment.
- USCIS regulations state “delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension.”
- Time to complete writing a thesis/dissertation is not a valid reason. Students in this situation will be advised to apply for OPT. Visa regulations allow students to continue work on their thesis/dissertation during OPT.
Depending on your situation, you may have a certain number of days to leave the U.S.
- Completion of F-1 Program/OPT = 60 days to depart U.S., apply for change of status, apply for OPT, or transfer to another school
- Withdrawing from classes with prior approval = 15 days after notifying our office
- Violation of Status = immediately
A travel signature is required for returning to the U.S. Get your travel signature from the DSO prior to international travel! Do not wait until the day before or day of your planned departure! You can request a travel signature by stopping by the Admissions Office in person.
- F-1 students currently enrolled: travel signature is valid for one year. (F-1 students on OPT: travel signature is valid for six months.)
- The travel signature is issued by a DSO to confirm you are maintaining your F-1 student status.
- The travel signature is located on page 2 of your I-20.
- If your current travel signature will expire before you return to the U.S., you must request an updated travel signature. Requests can be made in the ISAP Portal, and an updated I-20 with a travel signature will be sent electronically.
When traveling, make sure your other immigration documents such as your passport and F-1 visa are valid. Admissions recommends that you also take a printed class schedule (or employer letter if on OPT).
If your visa status changes, please notify the DSO immediately so the appropriate updates can be made.
AVOID UNAUTHORIZED EMPLOYMENT. The Department of Homeland Security restricts international students from working off campus. On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week (including assistantships) during the school year. Please contact the DSO for questions.
Volunteer opportunities are generally acceptable opportunities for F-1 students. For questions about whether an opportunity can be considered “volunteer work” or “employment” please contact the DSO.