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Maintain F1 Status

As a student on an F1 visa, you accept certain responsibilities in exchange for the ability to study in the U.S. To maintain your F1 status, it is important to understand and carry out these responsibilities. Not doing so may jeopardize your status and, thus, your right to stay in the U.S. The following is a summary of your responsibilities.

    1. Keep your passport valid at all times - Web sites of many foreign embassies in the United States.)

    1. Keep all previously issued I-20 from all schools attended including Columbus State Community College, copy of I-94 record from, copy of your visa stamp, and any other forms or correspondence to or from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    1. Maintain full-time enrollment status. You must be scheduled for a minimum of 12 credit hours or more two consecutive semesters per year. You are entitled to one vacation semester each academic year usually summer.  Do not take more than 3 credit hours of online/web courses per quarter. See international student advisor for details.
      Do not drop below 12 credit hours at any time during any term without permission of an International Student Advisor. Please be aware of the following concerning this regulation:
        1. You must have the permission of International Student Advisor before dropping below 12 credit hours at anytime during any quarter.
        2. It is not permitted to schedule 12 or more credit hours, and then drop a class, bringing the total hours of enrollment before 12 credit hours.
        3. The USCIS recognizes the following situations as justifying enrollment at lower than the 12 hour minimum. If you feel any of this may apply to your situation you must consult with an international student advisor to receive an appropriate recommendation.
          • Having initial difficulties with the English language.
          • Having initial difficulties with reading requirements.
          • Experiencing initial unfamiliarity with American teaching methods.
          • Inappropriately placed in a course.
          • In the final term and enrolled for less than 12 credit hours needed to complete the program of study.
          • Concurrently enrolled at another SEVIS approved school. Enrolled in the equivalent of a full course of study through combined enrollment.
          • Ill or has a medical condition. You must submit medical documentation from your licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist with the request for reduced course load (RCL.) Reduced course load for medical conditions can be granted for no more than 12 months in the aggregate during any one course of study and must be reauthorized the RCL each quarter.
        4. Be sure to plan your course schedule in such a way each quarter that you will be able to maintain the full-time enrollment requirement all the way until graduation. (It does not meet the USCIS full-time requirement to take an overload of general education course work early in your studies, and then have only a few hours of technical course work left to take each quarter at the end of your studies.)

      1. Please be aware that your academic advisor and representatives of other college offices may not know about the full-time requirement. Be sure to make them aware of the requirement when discussing course registration options.

    1. Make a normal progress towards completing the course of study, by completing studies before the expiration of the program completion date on Form I-20.

      Complete your course of study by the program completion date in SEVIS. You will be considered to be “out of status,” unless you qualify for a program extension. Your SEVIS record must be updated with the program extension prior to the program completion date on your current Form I-20.

      Mandatory reduction in course load following poor academic performance would be viewed as a failure to pursue a full course of study, unless it could be authorized under one of the reduced course load provisions. Academic probation or suspensions are not acceptable reasons for program extension, unless other “compelling academic or medical reasons” exist to support the extension request.

      Student suspension by the school as a result of academic performance (preventing the Student from enrolling in a full course of study) is viewed by USCIS as a failure to make normal progress toward his or her educational goal.

      Failing courses in consecutive terms is an indication of student not making normal progress and maintaining status.

    1. Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for extension of stay. (See international student advisor for more information prior to completion date of study on I-20.)

    1. Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for change in educational levels or programs of study. (See international student advisor for more information.)

    1. Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for transfer of schools. (See international student advisor for more information.)

    1. 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.

      Grace periods
      • An F-1 student may remain in the United States for up to 60 days beyond either the completion date on Form I-20, or the completion of the program of study, if earlier than the date on Form I-20, to prepare to depart the United States or to transfer schools.
      • An F-1 student who has been granted an authorized withdrawal by an international student advisor may remain in the United States for up to 15 days following the withdrawal noted in SEVIS, to prepare to depart the U.S.
      • An F-1 student who fails to maintain status, or withdraws from school or otherwise terminates or interrupts his or her course of studies without first obtaining international student advisor approval in SEVIS, the student is not eligible for any grace period, and would be considered under the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) regulations to be out of status.
    2. Report a change of address to the international student advisor within 10 days of the change, so that SEVIS can be updated. An international student advisor will update your SEVIS record within 21 days as required which satisfies your obligation to notify DHS of the address change. You must also submit a change of address to student central.
    1. Abide by rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition on criminal activity.

      As an F-1 student, you are required to disclose fully and truthfully all information requested by DHS immigration bureaus, regardless of whether the information requested was material. Students are also required, as a condition of their admission, to obey all federal and state laws that prohibit the commission of crimes of violence.

      Abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirements (NSEERS). Failure to register under NSEERS when required is considered a status violation. For the current status of the Special Registration Program, check the USCIS Web site at:
    2. Do not work off-campus without authorization. (See international student advisor for more information.)


D/S (duration of status)
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)
DHS (Department of Homeland Security)
USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)
NSEERS (National Security Entry-Exit registration System
USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)

NAFSA Adviser’s Manual

For more information:
Columbus State Community College
International Student Services
550 East Spring Street
Columbus OH 43215