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Staying Legal

Maintaining F-1 Status

To "stay in status" follow the simple steps below:

  • Report to the DSO (Designated School Official) for Initial Registration in SEVIS upon arriving at the school
  • For the first entry for initial school attendance, the school listed on the visa and the I-20 must be the same
  • Pursue a "full course of study" at the school listed on the currently valid Form I-20 during every academic session or semester except during official school breaks, or unless approved under a specific exception, in advance, by the DSO
  • Make normal progress towards completing the course of study, by completing studies before the expiration of the program completion date on the Form I-20
  • Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for extension of stay
  • Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for change in educational levels of programs of study
  • Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for transfer of schools
  • Abide by the F-1 grace period rules, including remaining in the U.S. for no longer than 60 days after completing a full course of study, unless prior to completing the course of study the student has followed procedures for applying for practical training, moving educational levels, or school transfer
  • Report a change of address to the DSO within 10 days of the change, so that SEVIS can be updated. You must also change on CatPAWS or at Registrar's Office.
  • Abide by rules requirements, such as Special Registration requirements
  • Do not work off-campus, unless specifically authorized by the DSO

Reinstatement for F-1

Reinstatement refers to returning to legal status. If you fail to maintain legal status, you have to make an appointment with the International Involvement Center and you will guided through the following steps:

  • Conditions for approval for reinstatement
    • Have not been out of status more than 5 months prior to filing for reinstatement
    • No record of repeated violations
    • Pursuing education full-time
    • Are not engaged in unauthorized employment
    • Not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation for which reinstatement is being requested
    • Status violation resulted from either:
      • Circumstances beyond control
      • Failure to apply in a timely fashion for a reduced course load authorized by the DSO, but only if the violation would have been within the DSO's authority
  • Procedures for applying for reinstatement
    • Provide the DSO with all the documents necessary to issue a new Form I-20
    • Write a letter of explanation addressed to BCIS
    • Complete and sign Form I-539
    • $195.00 fee

Part-Time Enrollment Authorization

You may enroll part-time IF:

  • You are a freshman in your first semester and you are having difficulty with English.
  • In your last semester before graduation and are taking all required classes to complete your degree.
  • Illness or Medical Condition.
For further questions contact your DSO

Inviting Parents, Other Non-Dependent Relatives, and Friends to Visit the U.S.

You are welcome to invite people to see you. If they need to obtain a visa prior to coming to the United States, you will need to come to the International Involvement Center Front Desk and give the staff the following information typed on paper:

  • Person's name
  • Relation to you
  • Country of departure
  • Date of arrival
  • Date of departure (must be less than the max. visa length allowed for your country)
  • Reason for visit
Sign up for Relatives visit request form

The letter can be picked up the following business day at the Front Desk.

Remember: An invitation letter from the International Involvement Center is NOT permission to the United States. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country will first decide if your guest can get a visa. This is normally a Tourist or B-2 Visa. The Port of Entry (i.e. Immigration Official in the Airport/Border) will determine if they will accept the visa.

Program Extension

If you have an I-20 and the program completion date (In item 5 on your I-20) is before the date you will graduate, you need to extend your program (aka: Extend my I-20). Please come to the International Involvement Center before the date on your I-20 and ask to have your program extended. You will need to schedule an appointment for this meeting.

  • Requirements to be eligible for extension of program:
    • Contact DSO and update SEVIS before program completion date
    • Continually maintained status
    • The delay in completion is "caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses"
  • Academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension

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