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Maintaining F-1 Student Status: Things You Need to Remember

  • Passports must be valid at all times and should be renewed at least six months prior to the expiration date.
  • You must be enrolled and attend the school that issued your visa document (I-20)
  • You must carry a full course load throughout the academic year, except during summer break, and maintain satisfactory academic progress. (A full course load is 12 credit hours for undergraduate students)
  • Always consult the Office of International Student Services (OISS) before dropping your course load to part-time or withdrawing from all your courses. If not, you jeopardize your LEGAL status.
  • If you change your major, you must contact the Office of International Student Services at 718-289-5100 ext. 3406.
  • After your first semester, you may work on campus up to 20 hours per week. (You will need to come to OISS for a work authorization form).
  • Prior to seeking employment off campus, you must get permission from the OISS and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • If you move, you must give OISS the new address within 10 days.
  • If you are travelling outside the United States, be sure to have a valid passport, visa and endorsed I-20.

Duration of Status
This allows all F-1 student who are pursuing a full course of study to complete any educational level (or series of educational programs) and any practical training, and also have 60 days either to depart from the U.S. or apply for a change of visa status.

Extension of Stay
Request an extension of stay at least 30 days before the expiration date on your I-20 if your studies will not be completed within the allotted period of time. Locate the specific date on your I-20. OISS will not grant an extension if the student did not apply for an extension until after the program end date noted on the SEVIS I-20AB. You will be required to submit documentation of financial support. To gain a program extension, students must show satisfactory progress toward the degree. Unacceptable reasons for extending one's program include suspension or not maintaining full-time status.

A student who has failed to maintain status may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but only under limited conditions.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is legal F-1 employment authorization; it enables work experience for students before or after completion of studies. OPT must be both recommended by the International Student Advisor and authorized by the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before beginning work or re-entering the U.S. from another country after graduating.

Economic Hardship Employment
A student may be authorized for off-campus employment under the following circumstances:

  • Severe, unforeseen economic necessity
  • Internship with an international organization
  • Employment based on the Special Student Relief program

The forms for off-campus employment must be recommended to SEVIS by the designated school official (DSO), and adjudicated and approved by USCIS, which issues an employment authorization document (EAD) card evidencing the employment authorization. A student cannot begin the off-campus employment until he or she receives the EAD from USCIS.

Click here for the application for employment authorization.

Change of Status
The Office of International Student Services will provide assistance with the process of applying to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of your nonimmigrant status to F-1 student. Your international student advisor is available to advise you about if changing your status is the right thing for you, and about USCIS requirements and procedures.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has published the final rule regarding the SEVIS fee. This fee has been mandated by Congress to cover the cost associated with the continued operation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Funds raised from the fee will be used to administer and maintain the SEVIS database, support compliance activities, and establish liaison personnel to serve as local resources for schools and students.

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