Maintain Your F-1 Status
Under U.S. law, you are fully responsible for abiding by the rules governing your F-1 status. International Student and Scholar Services will do its best to help you understand these rules, but you are required to follow the rules and responsibilities of student status explained below.
For F-1 student questions, please contact [email protected].
Rules & Responsibilities for F-1 Status
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is required to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in SEVIS regarding F-1 students' fulfillment of the following conditions of status:
Enroll for and complete a full course of study every fall and spring semester.
F-1 Graduate Students must enroll in at least 9 credits. Of these 9 credits, one course, worth up to 3 credits, may be online or distance learning. Any courses taken above this requirement may be online or on campus. For example, if a student is enrolled in 3 courses worth 3 credits each for a total of 9 credits, 2 courses must be on campus and 1 course may be online. If a student is enrolled in 4 courses worth 3 credits each for a total of 12 credits, 2 courses must be taken on campus and 2 courses may be online.
F-1 Undergraduate Students must enroll in at least 12 credits. Of these 12 credits, 1 course, worth up to 3 credits, may be online or distance learning. Any courses taken above this requirement may be online or on campus. For example, if a student is enrolled in 4 courses worth 3 credits each for a total of 12 credits, 3 courses must be on campus and 1 course may be online. If a student is enrolled in 5 courses worth 3 credits each for a total of 15 credits, 3 courses must be taken on campus and 2 courses may be online.
F-1 Certificate Students must enroll in at least 6 credits. Of these 6 credits, 1 course, worth up to 3 credits, may be online or distance learning. Any courses taken above this requirement may be online or on campus. For example, if a student is enrolled in 2 courses worth 3 credits each for a total of 6 credits, 1 course must be on campus and 1 course may be online. If a student is enrolled in 3 courses worth 3 credits each for a total of 9 credits, 1 course must be taken on campus and 2 courses may be online.
Students in their final semester may be eligible to enroll in less than the required number of credits if first approved by the Academic Advisor and by ISSS. If approved and taking less than the required number of credits in the final semester, students must maintain their on campus presence by enrolling in the correct number of on campus courses. If you have one course remaining, it must be on campus. If you have two courses remaining, one is permitted to be online and the other must be on campus. If you have three courses remaining, two must be on campus and one may be online.
Swapping courses or making changes to schedules:
*Students taking the minimum number of credits required who wish to swap one of their courses for another should add their new course to their enrollment prior to dropping the course they do not wish to take. This will allow you to make changes to your schedule without violating your immigration status. This does not apply to students who are taking 12 (for Graduate students) or 15 (Undergraduate students) credits or more.
*Please note that 'hybrid' style courses and CPT Practicum courses are considered online enrollment.
Please review enrollment requirements and sample schedules on our F-1 Student Enrollment Webpage.
First-semester graduate students are encouraged to read about the English Language Proficiency policy and guidance regarding the English Language Communication courses.
If you do not believe you will be able to fulfill the full-time requirement for any reason, contact the ISSS before you withdraw from or stop attending class. There are a few limited exceptions to this requirement for which you might qualify if you obtain permission in advance.
Read about Applying for a Reduced Course Load.
Individuals with F-1 status may work on-campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and full-time during official school breaks. These 20 hours include the sum of all hours you work on campus, even the work you do for an assistantship, if you have one. In order to work in a paid or unpaid off-campus job, you must get permission from the ISSS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Any remuneration (free housing & meals, etc.) you receive for work is considered payment. Never work without authorization.
ISSS' Travel Information Webpage explains all rules related to F-1 domestic and international travel.
Your program completion date on your I-20 must always reflect (to the best of your knowledge) the date you will finish your studies. If you do not think you will be able to complete your program by the completion date on your I-20, even if there is just a slight chance of this occurring, you must apply for a program extension before the completion date expires and get an updated I-20; it is not possible to extend your F-1 program after your I-20 end date. If you expect to complete your program earlier than the program completion date, you must get an updated I-20 before you complete your program. To apply for a program extension, you will need to read the information and submit the documents listed on the Program Extension Webpage.
If you plan to transfer to another U.S. school, college, or university (besides Stevens), you must notify the ISSS and be “transferred out” in SEVIS before your status ends. Please see the Transfer-Out Request Webpage, and contact ISSS for more information.
If you have been admitted to a new program of study at Stevens (for instance, you are completing a master’s and beginning a Ph.D. or just starting a new program at the same level, like a second master’s), you must obtain a Form I-20 for your new program before you complete your current program of study. Please follow the directions on the Change of Level Webpage, which will guide you to the other forms that you need.
If you have completed your program of study, you must depart the U.S. within 60 days if you are in F-1 status. Likewise, if you have completed your post-completion Optional Practical Training and have no further plans to study or change your immigration status, you must depart the U.S. within 60 days of your Employment Authorization Document’s (EAD’s) end date.
An Authorized Early Withdrawal will result in a non-violation termination of your record, and you will have only 15 days to leave the United States. If you plan to take a leave of absence, ISSS will assist you in preparing the documents you’ll need to return to the U.S., which may include a new I-20 and visa, depending on how long you’ll be gone. Please see the Request to Depart the U.S. Early, and contact ISSS for more information.
You must always have a valid passport. If your passport is going to expire, contact your country’s embassy or consulate in the United States to renew it. If you are leaving the U.S. and returning (for instance, during summer vacation), make sure your passport will be valid for at least six months into the future when you return.
Address, telephone or name changes should be reported to ISSS or to SEVP within 10 days of the change.
Current students may update their address or telephone number via the ISSS Intranet.
Students on OPT or STEM OPT may update their address using their SEVP Portal Account or via the ISSS Change of Address PDF. The PDF should be emailed to [email protected] for processing.
If you change your name, you must first get your passport updated before ISSS can update your SEVIS record and I-20.
Notify ISSS if there are any changes in the information on your Form I-20, such as name, citizenship, degree level, major, or funding, and get an updated Form I-20.
The F-2 visa and I-20 allow dependent(s) to travel to the U.S. and reside with an F-1 student while s/he is completing his or her studies, post-completion OPT, or OPT STEM extension. To apply for a dependent I-20, you will need the F-2 Dependent I-20 Application Information and Checklist, Request for Dependent Form, and if applicable, the Financial Information and Affidavit of Support.
If you lose your I-20, you will need to complete the Document Replacement Request form and submit it to ISSS in order to receive a replacement.
If any immigration documents (such as your I-20, passport, visa, etc.) are lost or stolen, report this to the proper authorities.