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Maintaining F-1 Status

Regulations

To maintain your status, please be aware of these regulations.

Carrying Registration Documents

Federal law requires you to carry "registration" documents at all times, including your I-20 and I-94 card. For day-to-day purposes, we suggest that these documents be kept in a secure location. However, if you are traveling within the U.S. you should carry these documents with you. If you are traveling by air, train, bus or ship, you may be required to produce these documents before boarding. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location in the event your documents are lost or stolen.

Passport

Your passport must be valid at all times. Keep your passport and other important documents in a safe place. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police, as your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country's consulate in the U.S.

Visa

The visa is the stamp that the U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. The visa permitted you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1 student, and need not remain valid while you are in the U.S. Further information on Visas can be found here.

I-20

Issued by your school, this document allows you to apply for a visa, enter or re-enter the U.S., and make certain other requests to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Your I-20 must remain valid at all times. Request a new form prior to its expiration date. Keep every I-20 for your permanent record. Do not discard the old ones.

I-94 Record

When you entered the U.S. an electronic I-94 record was created for you. The I-94 records the date and place you entered the U.S., your immigration status (for example, F-1 or F-2), and authorized period of stay (usually written simply as "D/S", meaning "duration of status"). Your I-94 can be retrieved here.

Duration of Status

Your admission to the U.S. is for the time during which you are pursuing a full course of study and making normal progress toward your degree, or engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies, plus 60 days to prepare to depart the U.S.

University reporting requirements

Saint Mary’s University is required to report to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement through SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). The following information for F-1 students is required to be reported by the school:

  • Whether a student has enrolled at Saint Mary’s University or failed to enroll within 30 days of the start of the semester.
  •  A change of the student or dependent's legal name or address.
  • Any student who graduates prior to the end date listed on the I-20.
  • Academic or disciplinary actions taken due to a criminal conviction.
  • Whether the student drops below a full course of study without prior authorization from their international student adviser.
  • SEVIS record termination date and reason for termination.
  • Other data generated by standard procedures such as program extension, school transfer, change in level of study or major, employment authorization, or reinstatement.
  • Any student who fails to maintain status or complete his or her program.

Program extension

If you are unable to complete your course of study before the completion date noted in item 5 on your I-20, you will need to contact your international student adviser to ask for a new I-20 to be issued. The new I-20 must be issued before your current I-20 expires.

School transfer

You must register full-time at the school that issued the I-20 you used to enter the U.S. If you later decide to transfer to another school, contact your international student adviser prior to completing your semester or OPT at your current school for information about school transfer procedures.

Change of level

If you complete your current program of study and plan to continue at Saint Mary’s in another program (for example, changing from a bachelor's degree to a master's degree), this change must be reported to immigration, new financial documents must be obtained and your I-20 must be updated. Contact your international student adviser before completing your current program for procedures.

Change of major

If you change your major (for example, from Management to MBA), report this change to your international student adviser, and a new I-20 will be issued to you.

Change of funding

If your sponsor or amount of funding changes, report this change to your international student adviser and a new I-20 will be issued to you.

Full-time requirements

A "full course of study" is 12 or more credits per semester for undergraduates, and 6 or more credits per semester for graduate students. Your international student adviser in the Office of Student Services may allow exceptions to the full-time requirement, as listed below:

  • You may take fewer credits for valid academic reasons. Less than full-time enrollment due to documented academic reasons is only allowed one semester per degree level. This must be approved in advance by your international student adviser.
  • You may reduce or interrupt a full course of study because of a documented medical condition.
  • In your final semester you may take as few credits as required to complete your degree as long as you register for at least one credit.

Do not register for fewer than the required number of credits or withdraw from a course without first receiving permission from your international student adviser in the Office of Student Services. Part-time studies could jeopardize your stay in the U.S. and make you ineligible for F-1 benefits.

Summer Semester

If you have completed one full academic year (fall and spring semester), you are not required to attend school during the summer semester. Please let your international student adviser in the Office of Student Services know if you will be taking the summer off for vacation. If you begin Saint Mary’s in the summer semester, you will be required to register as a full-time student.

Employment

Employment off-campus must be authorized in advance and in accordance with specific procedures outlined in the federal regulations.

Returning to the U.S. after a temporary absence

At the port-of-entry you must present:

  • An unexpired I-20 endorsed for travel within the last six months by your international student adviser in the Office of Student Services.
  • Valid F-1 visa.
  • Valid Passport.
  • Evidence of finances.
  • Copy of your transcript and current course schedule. (suggested)
  • Students outside the U.S. for more than five months and those on "practical training" may have additional requirements. Please contact the your international student adviser.

Dependents

Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 may be eligible for F-2 "dependent" status. Contact your international student adviser for procedures to invite a dependent to join you in the U.S.

Change of address

Any change of address must be reported to Immigration within 10 days. Update your local address in WebTools, and your international student adviser will be automatically notified and will update your file with Immigration. If you are on OPT, email your international student adviser with your new local address. To update your permanent foreign address, email your international student adviser.

Change of name

If you change your name, you must fill out a Change of Name Form (PDF), send it to the Office of the Registrar and provide legal documentation that reflects the name change. You must also notify your international student adviser and provide documentation of the name change. Should your dependents have a name change, you must provide documentation of the name change so the I-20 can be updated.

University Dismissal or Withdrawal from All Courses

If you need to withdraw from classes, or are asked to leave the university, you must report this to your international student adviser. If you report this prior to your withdrawal or dismissal, you will have 15 days to leave the United States. If you do not report this to your international student adviser, your status ends immediately.

Regaining F-1 status: Reinstatement

If you violate the immigration regulations you may be reinstated to lawful status if you have not been out of status more than five months, do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of immigration regulations, are currently pursuing or intending to pursue a full course of study, have not engaged in unauthorized employment, and establish that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control (for example, serious injury or illness, a natural disaster, or inadvertence on the part of an international student). For more information, please contact your international student adviser.

Graduation

Please notify your international student adviser in the Office of Student Services at least one semester prior to your graduation date so we may give you appropriate information concerning practical training, school transfer, travel and other procedures.