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Center for International Education and Programs
Bldg B, Room B105, ECC Campus
Tel: +1-847-214-7809
Fax: +1-847-931-4897

Prospective Students

Current Students

Maintaining F-1 Status

Here are some regulations you must know and follow:

  • You must maintain valid non-immigrant documents at all times while in the U.S. This includes your passport and your Form I-20 document. Complete any necessary extensions of your documents well before they expire. Keep your passport valid at all times, and renew at least six months before expiring.
  • You must always maintain a full-time credit load during the academic year. For undergraduates, this means you must register for and complete a minimum of 12 credits each fall and spring semester. Please note that no credit is granted if you withdraw from a course. SEVIS regulations also require that only ONE online or distance learning course (maximum of 3 credits) can be counted toward the full-time enrollment requirement each academic term.
  • You are eligible for “annual vacation” during the summer term only if you intend to register either at the same school or transfer to another school for the following fall term. If the summer term is your first term of attendance, you must enroll as a full-time student (6 credits) during the first summer. If you are in the Intensive English Program, you must register for at least 18 clock hours of non-credit instruction. You also must be making normal progress toward completing a full-course of study.
  • USCIS regulations only provide for very limited exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement. These exceptions include a) “academic difficulties”, b) serious illness or medical condition, and c) if you have fewer than 12 credits remaining to complete your degree requirements (final semester before graduation only). All exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement must be documented and approved by the international student advisor before you drop to less than 12 credits.
  • You must report any changes of your legal name or address to the International Office within 10 days of any change.
  • You must notify the International Office at your current school if you intend to transfer to another school. This must be done within 60 days after completing your studies at your current school.
  • You must not work without legal authorization. During the first year in F-1 status, you are eligible to work on-campus only. After you have completed one full year of academic study (two semesters), you may also apply for immigration permission to work off-campus in a position related to the major indicated on your I-20. However, you must obtain specific employment permission from either the International Office or from USCIS to accept ANY off-campus employment, even if it is for a co-operative education or internship experience required for completion of your degree. Any type of unlawful employment may jeopardize your eligibility for future USCIS benefits such as Practical Training and adjustment to other types of non-immigrant or immigrant status.
  • You must submit U.S. Income Tax forms every year. All international students are required to file certain U.S. income tax forms every year even if you had NO U.S. source income.
  • When there are five months or less before the completion date on your I-20, seek the advice of the International Office. There are certain time periods that you must abide by to remain in legal status upon completion of your program.
  • Whenever you plan to travel outside of the U.S., you must take your I-20 to the International Office so it can be signed by a Designated School Official. You should do this within 30 days of your travel date. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! You may not be able to reenter the U.S without the signed I-20. Refer to the F-1 Travel Checklist for more information (link to F-1 Travel Checklist)

This information provides only a general overview of your legal responsibilities as a non-immigrant F-1 student in the United States. Your lawful non-immigrant status is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Failure to comply with immigration regulations regarding your F-1 status may seriously jeopardize your eligibility for future benefits granted by USCIS. It is extremely important for you to maintain your status while in the U.S. Failure to maintain the terms and conditions of your F-1 status is a ground for removal from the United States (deportation). Sign your I-20 and keep it in a safe place with your other important documents.

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