Immigration – F–1 Status – VISA

Maintaining F–1 Status

As An F–1 Student, you were admitted to the United States for “D/S” which stands for “Duration of Status”. D/S is found on the white I–94 card in your passport and possibly on your I–20. This means you are permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status. By fulfilling the requirements of being an F–I student. Keep in mind that there is an important difference between F–1 Visa and F–1 status. The visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport by a U.S. embassy or consulate and is granted for entry proposes only. F–1 status is granted when you enter the U.S. and is regulated by INS. Even if your visa is valid, you can loose your F–1 student status if you do not continue to comply with immigration laws regulating your stay in the U.S. Keeping the following regulations is extremely important. Penalties for violating student regulations vary from (1) possible cancellation of your visa, (2) The necessity of reinstatement, (3) Voluntarily leaving the U.S., (4) Removal from the U.S., and or (5) Facing 3 or 10 years, barred from returning to the U.S.

Maintaining Your F–1 Student Status in the U.S.

  1. Maintain a valid passport at all times.You must maintain a valid passport at all times, unless exempt from passport requirements. Our office can assist you in obtaining the address and phone number of your country’s consulate or embassy.
  2. Attend the correct school.You must attend the university that the INS has authorized you to attend. When you are entering the U.S. for the first time as an F–1 student, you must attend the school whose I–20 you used for initial entry into the U.S. The school listed on the I–20 should also match the school noted on your visa. If you fail to report to this school and decide to attend another school, you will probably have to apply for reinstatement with the INS. Once you have completed at least one semester at this initial school, you may transfer to other schools for subsequent semesters. Specific immigration transfer procedures must be followed. Visas do not need to be changed to match the name of future schools as long as you complete proper transfer procedures or change schools by using the new school’s I–20 for a new entry into the U.S.
  3. Follow correct procedures when changing schools.You must complete an official immigration transfer whenever you change educational institutions. An immigration transfer must be completed within 45 days of beginning of classes of your first semester at the new school. Please note: An immigration transfer is a totally separate process from transferring academic credit from another school. An immigration transfer is not complete until an International Student Counselor in our office places a stamp in the upper right corner of your I–20.
  4. Maintain full–time hours each semester (summer excluded).You must complete a full course of study during the Fall and Spring semesters (12 hours per semester for all undergraduate students; 9 hours for many students in a Master’s program; 9 hours for students in PhD programs). You are not required by INS to enroll in classes during the Summer Session, unless Summer is you first semester in the U.S.; however, check with your department to see if they have any requirements for the Summer. If you believe that you need to drop a course, make an appointment to see the Dean of Students BEFORE you drop the course.
  5. Apply for a program extension if necessary.
  6. Obtain a new I–20 when changing your degree level.
  7. Only work when authorized.
  8. Be sure your I–20 is endorsed for reentry before exiting the U.S.
  9. Do not commit a visa overstay.
  10. Report all changes in address and phone number to the Dean of Students Office.
  11. Stay in touch with the Dean of Students Office to learn about changes in U.S. Law.

Federal regulations that govern your stay in the U.S. can change very rapidly. Regularly visit our Immigration Alerts page.

NOTE:

  • If you have violated your status, you should make an appointment to see the Dean of Students, by calling (580) 745–2080.
  • If you need reinstatement of your status, call (580) 745–2684 or send e–mail to cphelps@se.edu.
  • If you need to change your status, visit the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services web site.