Important F-1 Regulations

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

1. 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).

2. 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.

3. 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, or unless approved under a specific exception, in advance, by the DSO. 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.

4. 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 distance learning course, but no matter how many you take, only 1 (3 credit hours) counts toward a full course of study.

5. Make normal progress towards completing the course of study by completing studies before the expiration of the program completion date on Form I-20.  Do not let your I-20 expire.

6. Obatin a travel signature from a DSO on the Form I-20 before travelling internationally.  Signatures are good for one year. 

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

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

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

10. Abide by the F-1 grace period rules, including remaining in the U.S. 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.

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

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

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

14. 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).

15. Abide by the aggregate unemployment rules while on post-completion OPT.

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

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 approved by USCIS 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. The student is considered to be maintaining status if he or she is making normal progress toward completing a full course of study. [8CFR 214.2(f)(5)(1)]

Taken from the Advisors Manual of Federal Regulations Affecting Foreign Students and Scholars, NAFSA: Association of International Educators.