Maintaining your status is your responsibility. Therefore, it’s important for all F1 students to understand what this means and how to do it.
Your status refers to your non-immigrant visa status. As an F1 student, you have 'F1 Status'. This means that you are in the United States for the purpose of studying full-time. You can attend an ESL school, a college, or a university. The school you attend must be a SEVP-certified school in order to issue you an I-20.
You can arrive in the United States no more than 30 days before your program of study begins. Once you arrive, you must immediately report to your DSO. You must begin your program by the program start date listed on your I-20. If you do not report to your DSO and begin classes, your SEVIS record must be cancelled no later than 30 days after your Initial Session Start date (listed on your I-20). If your SEVIS record is cancelled, you must immediately leave the country or apply to another school for reinstatement of F1 status.
Your I-20 is your “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status”. It is important that you keep all versions and copies of this document in a safe place that you can access at any time. It is also important that you keep your I-20 up to date. In order to do this, you are required to inform your designated school official (DSO) when you do any of the following:
· Change your Name
· Change your Address
· Change your Sponsor or your Funding Source
· Decide to Extend your Program
· Change your School
· Travel Outside of the United States
· Decide to End your Program Early
It is advisable that you keep copies of all of your old I-20’s. You may need them in the future and only the most current one is available to download.
As an F1 student, you must:
· Maintain an 80% attendance rate
· Make normal academic progress
· Not work unless you have a government issued work permit
Many schools will extend your program while you are studying in the United States. In order to do so, you will need to submit a bank statement to your DSO (if you do not already have enough funding available in your SEVIS record). Once your program is extended, you will be issued a new I-20.
To gain a 60-day grace period, you must complete your program. This means if you choose a program of one year, you will need to finish your year-long program in order to earn the 60-day grace period. During your 60-day grace period, you must do one of the following (source):
Apply and be accepted to a new academic program to start within five months; or
Apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of class of admission; or
Travel within the United States and make preparations to depart by the end of the grace period.
If you choose to stop studying before your program end date, you must inform your DSO. Your SEVIS record will be terminated on your last day of attendance and you will only have 15 days to leave the United States or transfer to another SEVP-approved school.
If you have questions about your I-20 or your status at any time about your status, please contact your DSO (email@example.com).