Frequently Asked Questions
How do I maintain status as a F-1 student?
You are subject to immigration laws imposed by the United States. You must keep your basic documents valid. If you entered the United States as a student, you must maintain that status by enrolling in a minimum number of credit hours (12 hours for undergraduate students and 9 hours for graduate students). Failure to maintain status will result in a loss of all F-1 benefits and may provide the INS grounds to begin deportation proceedings. For a more complete description of how to maintain your student status, see Maintaining F-1 Status.
Can I work while I am in school?
According to the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS), all F-1 students are automatically eligible to work up to 20 hours per week during the school year and full time during summer vacation and other school holidays. For more information, see On-Campus Employment.
Can I work off-campus?
F-1 students are not eligible to work off-campus without special permission from the USCIS. There are several different types of off-campus authorization, but each one requires a student to have been in the US with F-1 status for a period of at least 9 months and currently be enrolled full-time. For more information, see F-1 Student Work Authorization, or speak with the Immigration Specialist in the CIE.
What must I do when my passport expires?
Your passport allows you to leave and enter the country. You should have it renewed at least six month before it expires. You should contact your home country's embassy for specific instructions.
What if my visa expires? Must I return home or otherwise renew it?
A visa is a stamp in your passport that allows you to enter the United States. Your visa tells you what type it is and how many times you may enter the country. If your visa expires while you are a student you may or may not need to renew it while you are a student in the US. Typically, the determining factor is whether or not you plan to travel outside of the US. In the case your visa has expired and you plan to travel outside the US, you may need to return to your home country to apply for a new student visa. If your visa has expired and you have no plans to travel outside of the US, then it will not be necessary to obtain a new visa provided that you are maintaining your status as an international student.
What should I do if my I-20 expires or I need to extend it to complete my studies?
The I-20 form shows that you are a college student in the United States. The dates for school attendance should be current. If you need to extend the I-20 to allow more time to complete your studies, you should do this at least thirty (30) days before the expiration date. Please contact the CIE for more details.
Is there anything special I must do if I want to travel outside the US?
When you travel outside of the United States including to Canada and Mexico, be sure that your documents are current and valid. Check with the CIE to ensure that you will not have a problem re-entering the States. You will generally need your passport, I-94, I-20, and a visa allowing you to re-enter the U.S. Before you depart the U.S., the Immigration Specialist must sign page 3 of your I-20 to show that you are maintaining your status as a college student.
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