Important Information Regarding Immigration Status
As an F-1 visa holder, you are responsible for maintaining your immigration status and complying with immigration regulations of the United States. Students are tracked via the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) – a comprehensive database system under the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State for which the I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status) is electronically based.
The Office of International Education is responsible for maintaining the SEVIS I-20 database and complying with all U.S. immigration regulations as they pertain to the F-1 Visa category.
Students, therefore, must report the following information to the Office of International Education within 10 days of a change which includes but is not limited to:
- The physical address of where you live, at all times while in the U.S. No P.O. boxes are acceptable.
- Change in your overseas address
- Any changes affecting your academic program; i.e., change of degree program (major), change in financial situation...etc.
It is important to understand that holding an F-1 student visa has certain benefits as well as limitations.
A few benefits
- You may work on-campus immediately upon starting your academic program. Contact your International Student Advisor if you do not yet have a Social Security Number, which is required to work in the U.S.
- You may work on-campus up to 20 hours per work week during the fall/spring semester; 29 hours per work week during the summer and qualified academic breaks.
- You have the right to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) following graduation (off-campus work), providing you have met the one-year academic program requirement and other criteria.
A few limitations
- You may not work off-campus at any time while you are an F-1 student during the period you are enrolled in classes unless you have documented evidence of severe economic need.
- You must maintain adequate financial resources to support your academic studies in the U.S.
- OPT is limited to one year unless you are in a highly specialized, unique field of study (i.e. STEM majors).
The university’s responsibility lies in reporting in SEVIS the student’s progress in his/her academic program, change of name, change of address as submitted by the student, positive or negative changes in the student’s schedule, unauthorized work off campus, curricular or practical training, completion of program, request for OPT, and any other substantial information relative to F-1 student visa issues and the I-20.
Maintaining F-1 Student Status
The following must be met in order to maintain your immigration status. If you do not maintain your immigration status, your SEVIS record could be terminated and you would need to depart the United States and work with your International Student Advisor to discuss your options.
- Check in to the OIE within the first week of each semester to indicate you are present on campus.
- Maintain 12 credit hours (minimum) of undergraduate coursework in the fall and spring semesters.
- Do not withdraw (W) or drop (D) coursework that puts a student below the 12 credit hour minimum per semester.
- Do not withdraw or drop any courses without prior approval from your International Student Advisor. Note that U.S. immigration has strict rules regarding a reduced course load for one semester. Please speak with the OIE before dropping or withdrawing a course.
- Enroll in no more than 3 credit hours of online coursework during the fall and spring semesters.
- Do not engage in any unauthorized off-campus employment.
- Keep your passport valid at all times.
- Keep health insurance coverage in place at all times (obtain & print out your health insurance card at the beginning of each semester).
- Keep your I-20 valid at all times.
- Update OIE within 10 days of any change of the address where you live.