Maintaining Your F-1 Status
Regulations by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the implementation of the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) require international students and scholars in F-1 visa classification to maintain their legal status in the U.S. Now that you have entered the U.S. as a non-immigrant student, you must be aware of and comply fully with the following in order to maintain your legal status.
This information is not exhaustive and is subject to change without notice. To discuss questions or concerns about your legal status in the U.S., please contact us.
- Basic Requirements
- Change of Address or Name
- Early Departure
- Enrollment Requirements
- Form I-20
- Out of Status
- Program Extension
- Transferring Schools
- Visit OIP within the first week of classes to have your documents copied and to report your local address. You will be registered in SEVIS to remain in legal F-1 status.
- Maintain a valid passport at all times, unless exempt from passport requirements.
- Attend the college/university that USCIS has authorized you to attend.
You must be enrolled in a full course of study during normal enrollment periods. For the definition of full-time enrollment for your program and for exemptions to enrollment requirements, see Enrollment Requirements.
Always keep your I-20 current. Your I-20 has an expiration date indicated at item #5. If you need additional time beyond this date to complete your program of study, please see below for information about program extensions. If you have completed your program of study, you have 60 days to legally remain in the U.S. beyond the expiration date of your I-20 (or beyond the completion date of your program, whichever is earlier). This 60-day period is known as your "grace period." During the grace period, you can change to a new degree program, transfer to a new school, or prepare to depart the U.S.
Request a new Form I-20 when changing your academic program from one degree level to another (e.g., from bachelor's to master's level), one school to another (e.g., from the School of Medicine to the School of Business), or one major/field of study to another (e.g., from chemistry to physics). You must notify OIP as soon as you know about your program change, but not later than 2 weeks after the change has gone into effect.
You should retain all of your original I-20s. If you apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), an H-1B work visa or adjustment of status, you will be asked to produce copies of these documents.
Note: Your I-20 and your visa are two entirely different documents. While your I-20 needs to remain valid while studying in the United States, your visa does not. Your visa is an entry document to the U.S. and does not need to be renewed as long as you remain in the U.S. For more information about travel documents and visa renewal, see Travel Instructions.
Change of Address or Name
Report any change of local address or residence and/or any change of name by updating LOCUS within 10 days of the change. OIP will receive the information from LOCUS and then electronically notify USCIS of the change within 21 days, as required by immigration regulations. For more information, see Change of Address.
Notify OIP prior to traveling outside the U.S. so that the Form I-20 can be endorsed for travel or a new form can be issued, if required. If you anticipate that your absence from the U.S. will be 5 months or longer, rather than obtain a travel signature on your current I-20, you will need a new I-20 for initial attendance in order to re-enter the U.S. For more information, see Travel Instructions.
Notify OIP of any accompanying dependents who will be in F-2 status and provide biographical information (full name, date of birth, address, city and country of birth, and country of citizenship) and immigration information (e.g., passport information, visa information) regarding those dependents. OIP is required to report information to USCIS regarding your dependents and to issue a Form I-20 for each dependent. For more information, see Dependents in F-2 Status.
You are not allowed to work in the U.S. without authorization. F-1 students are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session. You are only permitted to work off-campus if you obtain prior authorization from OIP and/or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. For more information about F-1 employment regulations, see Employment Options for F-1 Students.
International students and their dependents are required to file federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms each year. Filing deadline is April 15. All F-1s and F-2s must file the 8843. If you have earned income, you are also required to file the 1040NR-EZ, 1040NR, or in a few cases, the 1040. It is also recommended that you file these additional forms, even if you are not required to, to demonstrate your compliance with federal regulations if you think you might ever wish to apply to adjust your status to that of Permanent Resident. For more information about filing fax forms, see Taxes.
Complete an official immigration transfer whenever you change educational institutions. The U.S. immigration service has set specific timeframes necessary for completing "transfer out" procedures as well as "transfer in" procedures. For more detailed information about the transfer process, please see Transferring to a New School or Transferring to Loyola.
Apply for an extension of your program of study prior to the expiration date (item #5) on your Form I-20 if you cannot complete your program by that date. Requests for extensions should be submitted at least 30-60 days prior to the expiration date of your Form I-20 so the extension process can be completed prior to the expiration date on the document. To apply for an extension, please see the more detailed Program Extension page.
Sometimes, and for a variety of reasons, students leave the university early or unexpectedly. Some of these reasons include early graduation, leave of absence, suspension, or expulsion. U.S. federal regulations [8CFR214.3(g)(3) and 22CFR62.70(a)(3)] require you to inform your OIP international student advisor if you plan to leave the university before the date on your I-20, and the reason for doing so.
If the reason for your departure from Loyola involves your withdrawal from classes and a return to your home country prior to completion of your academic program, notify OIP before your withdrawal in order to be granted a 15-day grace period to prepare to depart the U.S.
Out of Status
It is highly recommended that, if you should become out of status through circumstances beyond your control, you apply for reinstatement before 5 months has passed. It will become much more difficult to obtain reinstatement after this amount of time has passed and most likely impossible after a year. For more information, see Reinstatement to F-1 Status.