How to Maintain your F-1 Status
The US federal government considers you to be in valid F-1 status if you fulfill all the conditions of your F-1 visa. Here is a list of actions you can take to help ensure that you maintain your status:
- Do not let your I-20 expire before you complete your program of study
Be familiar with the Program End Date on page 1 of your I-20. If you need additional time to complete your program of study, make sure to request a Program Extension from ISS before the end date on your I-20. If your I-20 expires by even one day, you have lost your F-1 status.
- Update ISS with any change in your program of study
Updates include a change in your major, a change in your financial information, any change in your legal names, or a change in degree level. Check our Applications & Forms page for the appropriate form.
- Maintain a valid passport
Check with your home country consulate or embassy in the United States if you need to renew your passport while you are here.
- Enroll full-time each fall and spring semester
Full-time enrollment is required for all international students. In general, full-time is 12 credits for undergraduates and 8 credits for graduate students. Summer semester is optional, except for international students who start or end their program of study in summer. Learn more about full-time enrollment requirements here.
- Work only as you are authorized to do so
F-1 international students can work on-campus for 20 hours or less during the school year, and more than 20 hours during regularly scheduled breaks such as spring break, winter break, and summer vacation. For all off-campus work, F-1 international students must get authorization in advance.
For more information regarding work for F-1 students, check here.
- Inform ISS about any change in your U.S. or foreign home address within 10 days
Update your address information in your MyUW Student Center. If you do not maintain your address information, your Student Center account will be put on hold.
When does my F-1 status end?
Your F-1 status ends either on the Program End Date listed on page 1 of your I-20, or when you complete the last requirement for your program of study, whichever comes first. If you are considering reducing your enrollment below full-time, withdrawing from your program, or if you may be dropped from your program, please consult an ISS advisor prior to taking these actions as they have serious ramifications on your visa status.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT MAINTAIN MY IMMIGRATION STATUS?
You will no longer be eligible for any of the following benefits:
- On-campus and/or off-campus employment
- Extension of program through the notification procedure
- Transfer to or from another university in the US through the notification procedure
- Change from one educational level to another through the notification procedure
- Automatic visa revalidation for trips to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands except Cuba
- Your visa stamp may be considered cancelled by the Department of Homeland Security
If you fall out of status, you may have to depart the US and may not be able to complete your studies.
How do I get back in status?
To get back in status you must do one of two things: apply to the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for reinstatement within the US or leave the US and re-enter with a new I-20. The ability to apply for a reinstatement is extremely limited. For details, please consult with ISS. You will not be able to obtain a reinstatement if you have been out of status for five months or more, or if you have worked since becoming out of status.