Important F-1 Regulations

In order to maintain nonimmigrant status, please follow the regulations listed below.

This information is taken from the Advisors Manual of Federal Regulations Affecting Foreign Students and Scholars, NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

  •  Reporting Obligations

    For the first entry for initial school attendance, the school listed on the visa and on the I-20 must be the same, and that is the school the student must intend to attend.

    Report to the Designated School Official (DSO) in the International and Multicultural Student Services Office (IMSSO) to have his or her SEVIS record Registered in SEVIS in a timely fashion. DSOs must Register the student in SEVIS no later than 30 days after the Program start date (new students in Initial SEVIS status), and each semester thereafter, no later than 30 days after the Next session start date (continuing students).

    Report a change of address to a DSO in the IMSSO within 10 days of the change so that SEVIS can be updated.

    Report if you change or update your legal name.

    Abide by rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition on criminal activity.

    Abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirements.

  •  Full Course of Study

    Pursue a "full course of study" at the school listed on the currently valid Form I-20 during every academic session or semester except during official school breaks. For undergraduate students, you must maintain 12 credit hours. For graduate students, you must maintain 9 credit hours. If you have a graduate assistantship, you are allowed to take 6 credit hours. You must notify the IMSSO of your graduate assistantship. Do not drop any courses without visiting with the IMSSO prior to dropping below 12 hours or 9 hours respectively.

    Dropping below a full course of study can be approved under specific and limited exceptions, in advance, by the IMSSO. 

    Students in their last semester of study and who plan to graduate at the end of that semester do not have to be enrolled full time. 

  •  Online Courses

    Students taking on-line or distance learning courses may only count one of those, 3 credit hours, toward the total required to maintain a full course of study. Other courses must be traditional, campus-based courses.

    Note: You are not limited to one online or distance learning course, but no matter how many you take, only 1 (3 credit hours) counts toward a full course of study.

  •  Make Normal Progress in your Degree

    Make normal progress towards completing the course of study by completing studies before the expiration of the program completion date on Form I-20. Generally, an F-1 student is considered to be "making normal progress" if he or she pursues and completes the full course of study before the I-20 end date.

    A student who does not complete the course of study by the program end date "is considered out of status," unless the student is eligible for and applies for a program extension with the IMSSO.

    Do not let your I-20 expire!

  •  Travel Signatures

    Before travelling internationally, obtain a travel signature from a DSO in the IMSSO on the second page of your I-20. For current students, signatures are good for 1 year.

    For students on OPT, signatures are good for 6 months.  

  •  Employment

    Do not work, either on or off-campus, unless specifically authorized under the regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(9) or § 214.2(f)(10)-(12).

    Students engaged in a full course of study are authorized to work on campus part time.

    Students with CPT or pre-completion OPT must seek separate authorization to work from the appropriate authority.

  •  Valid and Up to Date Immigration Documents

    A student should keep his or her passport valid while in the US. If it expires, the student should contact his or her country's embassy to inquire about renewal procedures. Students with expired passports cannot work.

    Keep the Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for extension of stay.

    Keep the Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for change in educational levels or programs of study.

    Keep the Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for transfer of schools.

  •  Grace Period

    An F-1 student is admitted to the United States for duration of status, defined in the regulations as the period during which the student is pursuing a full course of study at an educational institution SEVIS approved for attendance by foreign students, or engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies, plus 60 days to prepare for departure from the United States. 

    Abide by the F-1 grace period rules, including remaining in the US for no longer than 60 days after completing a full course of study, unless prior to completing the course of study the student has followed procedures for applying for practical training, moving education levels, or transferring to another school. There is no grace period following an unauthorized withdrawal or termination of studies due to a status violation.