Essential Immigration Information for F-1 Students
*Please note that all USCIS and SEVIS laws, rules and regulations are subject to change. The follow information is provided only as a brief summary. For the most up-to-date information on maintaining your F-1 status, please visit: www.uscis.gov
Maintaining Legal Immigration Status
In order to remain in the U.S. you must maintain legal F-1 status. This means you must:
- Report to the Designated School Official (DSO) when you arrive on campus each semester. Your DSO is Kesha Baoua. She is located at Buhler Hall 110.
- Be a full-time student at the educational institution that the USCIS has authorized you to attend to work towards a specific degree. A full-time undergraduate student at Hendrix means that you are enrolled for a minimum of three courses per fall and spring semesters. (You are not required to be full-time if you are in your last semester before graduation and need less than a full load to graduate.)
- Make normal progress towards completing your course of study so that you complete by the completion date on Form I-20 A-B.
- Apply for an extension of your program if you cannot complete your degree by the ending date listed on your I-20.
- Obtain a new I-20 whenever you make a change in major, program, or degree level.
- Follow required transfer procedures when transferring to another college.
- Exit the US within 60 days after completing your course of study, unless you have followed procedures for applying for practical training or a school transfer.
- Keep a valid passport at all times unless exempt from this requirement.
- Report change of address to INS on Form AR-11 within 10 days of change.
- Abide by rules of disclosure of information and prohibition on criminal activity.
- Not work, on or off camps, unless specifically authorized under the regulations (see your DSO).
In rare cases, your advisor may advise you to drop below a full load for health or academic reasons. Finally, from time to time, the Bureau of United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) may permit you to drop below a full load if your financial support comes from a country in crisis. You should never drop below a full load without first consulting your advisor and your DSO (Designated School Official).
You are not required to attend school during the summer. An F-1 student is considered to be in status during the summer vacation if the student is eligible and intends to register for the next semester and if the student has completed the equivalent of an academic year prior to taking the vacation. If you plan on visiting your home country or other non-US destinations during the summer break, please check with that country’s Embassy about specific entry procedures. To re-enter the US you must have a valid passport (unless exempt), your F-1 visa (unless exempt), and either a properly endorsed I-20 ID (or a new I-20 AB) with your DSO’s certification for reentry.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between an 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 Official and is granted for entry purposes only. Status is granted when you enter the U.S. and become regulated by the USCIS. Even if your visa is valid, you can still lose your status if you do not continue to comply with USCIS laws. If you fail to maintain your legal student status, you will need to apply to the USCIS for reinstatement, or in some cases, be forced to leave the country and make a new entry with a valid visa and new I-20.