Maintaining F-1 Status
Maintaining F-1 student status is crucial to remain in compliance with the regulations set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Student and Exchange Visitor Information Program (SEVP). By adhering to the requirements outlined below, you can ensure that you maintain your F-1 status throughout your academic program:
Full-Time Enrollment: Enroll as a full-time student and maintain a course load that meets the requirements set by your academic program. At Saint Peter’s University full-time enrollment is 12 credits for undergraduate students. Full-time enrollment for graduate students in semester-based programs is 9 credits. Full-time enrollment for graduate students in trimester-based programs is 6 credits. No more than one course or 3 credits of on-line instruction can count towards your full-time enrollment requirements.
Valid Program of Study: Maintain enrollment in a valid program of study that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate at an accredited educational institution. Make sure to follow your academic program requirements and progress towards the successful completion of your studies.
Authorized Employment: Adhere to the regulations concerning employment as an F-1 student. Typically, F-1 students are eligible for on-campus employment, Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), Economic Hardship, or employment with an international organization. Obtain proper authorization from the CGL or the USCIS, and ensure compliance with the specific employment restrictions and limitations.
Valid Form I-20: Keep your Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) up to date. Keep in mind that your Form I-20 has an expiration date, which indicates the anticipated completion date of your program. F-1 students have a 60-day grace period upon completion of their program to do one of the following:
- Be admitted to a new program of studies
- Apply for Post-Completion Practical Training, if eligible
- Apply for a change of status to a different non-immigrant classification, such as H1B or B1/B2
- Transfer their SEVIS record to another SEVP authorized institution of higher education
- Exit the U.S.
You are also required to inform the CGL about any of the following changes by submitting a request for an updated I-20 through the International Student Portal:
- Program or Major Changes
- Change in Degree Level
- Name Change
- Change in Country of Citizenship
- Change in funding sources
Valid Passport: Maintain a valid passport at all times. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months into the future. If your passport is close to expiration, contact your embassy or consulate to renew it.
Change in Address: Report any changes to your place of residence within 10 days of the change to the CGL. This includes changes in your local address, permanent address, or any other address provided on your Form I-20. To report a change in address, complete the Contact Information Update form through the International Student Portal.
Financial Requirements: Ensure that you have sufficient financial resources to cover your educational and living expenses while studying in the United States. Maintain accurate records of your financial support and be prepared to provide documentation if requested by USCIS.
Health Insurance: Maintain health insurance coverage as required by SPU. Familiarize yourself with the specific health insurance requirements and ensure that your coverage remains active throughout your F-1 status.
Authorized Leave of Absence: If you need to take a temporary leave of absence from your academic program, obtain proper authorization from the CGL in advance by submitting a request through the International Student Portal. Failure to obtain authorization prior to withdrawing from your program will result in a violation of your F-1 status.
Reduced Course Load (RCL) Authorization: If you encounter academic difficulties or other eligible circumstances that require a reduced course load, obtain proper authorization from the CGL before dropping below full-time enrollment by completing the Reduced Course Load Request through the International Student Portal. The CGL will assess your situation and issue an updated Form I-20 reflecting the approved reduced course load.
Program Completion or Authorized Withdrawal: If you complete your program of study earlier than expected or if you decide to withdraw from your academic program, inform the CGL about your program completion or authorized withdrawal. This allows us to update your student record and complete your F-1 status appropriately.
If you intend to depart the United States for an extended period of time, please notify the CGL. Your F-1 status may be terminated if:
- You are not registered as a full-time student during a required term
- You are outside of the United States for five months or more for non-academic reasons (personal / family leave, non-academic employment)
Students who will be outside of the United States for an extended period of time for data collection, fieldwork, and research-related reasons may retain F-1 student status but must maintain full-time registration during required terms. Registration during the summer is not required.
Compliance with USCIS Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the regulations and guidelines set by USCIS for F-1 students. Stay informed about any updates or changes in immigration policies that may affect your status. Adhere to all USCIS requirements and guidelines to maintain your F-1 student status.
It is important to consult with the CGL for specific guidance regarding maintaining F-1 status. We can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information based on your individual circumstances and the policies of your educational institution.