Maintaining F-1 StatusInternational students are subject to regulations depending on your visa and status assigned when you entered the US. Most international students at Concordia have I-20 forms and F-1 student status, and the information here can help you understand and maintain your student status. A few students have a DS-2019 and J-1 status, and you should receive information directly from your sponsoring organization about maintaining J status.
F status is granted to students entering the US to attend colleges, universities, and other academic schools. Rather than have a specific end date, it is usually granted for the period D/S (this should be written/stamped in your passport and on your I-20). D/S means Duration of Status, and that means as long as you follow the student regulations and maintain your student status you may remain in the US. If you fail to maintain status you lose your legal authority to be in the country and are required to leave. Concordia can assist you by providing information and keeping the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a government database of international students, updated with your changes to help you properly maintain your F-1 status.
US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (USICE) maintains a helpful page of frequently asked questions about student status. Although they are technical, you can read the regulations themselves – please choose 8CFR, part 214, then section f on that page. Here are the most common things to keep in mind:
Enroll Full Time
You should be registered for a full load of classes (at least 12 Concordia semester hour credits each semester). In certain circumstances, such as academic difficulty when you first arrive, a medical condition, or in your last semester permission can be granted for a student to have a Reduced Course Load (usually at least 6 registered semester hour credits). You should discuss your situation with the International Student Advisor and obtain permission before dropping below 12 semester hour credits. To learn more or apply for permission to be enrolled in less than a full load of study please contact us and use the reduced course load form.
Change of Address
You should report your U.S. physical address when you first arrive, and please notify the International Student Advisor of any change in address within 10 days. Even if you change rooms within the same residence hall, you should report this change of address. Also, you must keep us notified of your address in your home country and any changes to it. Contact us and fill out an address form.
Change of Major
If you change your major or minor, or add a major or minor, you should notify us of this change. Please contact us and fill out the major/minor change form.
You are allowed to work on campus, up to 20 hours per week, while school is in session. There is no DHS limitation on the number of hours per week you can work on campus during breaks, but your campus employer may have policies regarding this. Please check with your employer.
If you wish to transfer to another school please contact us and fill out a transfer form.
Extending your Graduation Date
If it will take you longer than the time indicated on your I-20 to graduate, please contact us and fill out an extended graduation form. This change must be noted in SEVIS before the end date listed on your I-20. You are responsible tp monitor your program completion date and graduation date.
Keep a Valid Passport
You should keep a valid passport at all times, unless exempt from the passport requirement. If you lose your passport or your passport will expire, please apply to your embassy for a replacement.
Always assure you have a fresh signature on page 3 of your I-20 at least once each year and before traveling out of US if you will return to Concordia for your studies. This signature indicates you are maintaining status and will be required when you re-enter the US. The signature can most usually be completed by Sonja Paulson, Joy Navratil, Elizabeth Maleki, or Don Buegel.
Leaving and Re-entering the United States
If you wish to leave and re-enter the United States, you should have these documents at the time you re-enter:
- Valid passport
- Valid F-1 visa. If your current visa is expired you will need to obtain a new visa while outside the US. Please plan for this. Most visa renewals for students are going quite well these days, but please remember it can be a lengthy and difficult process, and the outcome is ever uncertain. In most cases, you will need to obtain your visa in your home country.
- Properly endorsed I-20 form with a signature within the current semester
Disclosure of Convictions
You should abide by rules prohibiting criminal activities and requiring disclosure of criminal convictions. Please do not engage in any criminal activities, and please contact us if you have been convicted of a crime and fill out the crime report form.
If you have any questions about maintaining lawful F-1 status, please contact Intercultural Affairs at 218.299.3927.