Keys to Maintaining F-1 Visa Status
Duration of status refers to the period during which a student is pursuing a full course of study, plus any optional practical training authorized following completion of the course of study. Associated with duration of status are three "grace periods" that determine how soon a student can be admitted to the U.S. to begin studies, and how long the student can remain in the U.S. following the completion of studies or optional practical training.
Although maintenance of status is principally the responsibility of the student him or herself, the Designated School Official (DSO) has certain duties to help maintain the student's SEVIS record, and is charged with understanding the F-1 rules and regulations. The DSO at Salisbury University and the international student advisor is Ms. Agata Liszkowska, email@example.com
Maintaining the F-1 status
- For the very first entry for initial school attendance, the school listed on the visa stamp and on the I-20 must be the same, and that is the school you must intend to attend.
- Report to the DSO to have your SEVIS record registered in SEVIS in a timely fashion. DSO must register you in SEVIS no later than 30 days after the program start date (for new students in Initial status), and each semester thereafter, no later than 30 days after each next session start date (for continuing students). If you are a transfer student, you must report to the DSO within 15 days of program start date.
- Pursue a "full course of study" at the school listed on the currently valid Form I-20 during every academic session or semester except during official school breaks, or unless approved under a specific exception, in advance, by the DSO. Full course of study is:
- Undergraduate students: 12 credit hours
- Graduate students: 9 credit hours
- Graduate students with graduate assistantship: 6 credit hours.
- Make normal progress towards completing the course of study, by completing studies before the expiration of the program completion date on Form I-20.
- If you decide to withdraw from the University, follow proper withdrawal procedures.
- Keep Form I-20 valid by following proper procedures for extension of stay, for changes in educational levels or programs of study, and for transfer of schools.
- Keep your passport valid at all times (for additional passport information, please read passport validity), and do not let any other immigration documents expire.
- Do not work, either on- or off campus, unless specifically authorized under the regulations at 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(10).
- Abide by the cumulative unemployment rules while on post-completion OPT (Students on post-completion OPT may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment under the initial 12-month period of OPT. Students granted a 17-month OPT extension may not accrue an aggregate of more then 120 days of unemployment during the total 29-month OPT period. Aggregate is defined as a cumulative or combined total over the entire period).
- Abide by the F-1 grace period rules.
- Report a change of international and local addresses to the DSO within 10 days of the change, so that SEVIS can be updated.
- Abide by rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition on criminal activity.
- Abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirement, if applicable.
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- The 30-day period before program start date
F-1 students may be admitted to the United States no more than 30 days before the "report date or program start date" indicated in SEVIS and on Form I-20. Recognizing that students may need to arrive on campus earlier in order to attend orientation, or to begin research projects, the regulations provide guidance on selecting a start date: When determining the report date on the Form I-20, the DSO may choose a reasonable date to accommodate a student's need to be in attendance for required activities at the school prior to the actual start of classes. Such required activities may include, but are not limited to, research projects and orientation sessions. However for purposes of employment, the DSO may not indicate a report date more than 30 days prior to the start of classes.
- The 60-day post-completion grace periods
An F-1 student who has completed a course of study and any authorized practical training following completion of studies will be allowed an additional 60-day period to prepare for departure from the United States or to transfer to another school in accordance with paragraph 214.2(f)(8). These two provisions allow an F-1 student to remain in the United States for up to 60 days beyond:
- the completion date on Form I-20, or the completion of the program of study if earlier than the date on Form I-20; and
- the expiration date of any authorized post-completion OPT
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Activity During 60-Day Post-Completion Grace Period
The regulations state that the 60-day period may be used to "prepare for departure" from the United States or "to transfer," so these two activities are clearly permissible during the 60 days. Students who graduated may also apply for Optional Practical Training during that time
- The 15-day grace period after authorized and approved withdrawals
An F-1 student who has been granted an authorized early withdrawal by a DSO may remain in the United States for up to 15 days following the withdrawal date noted in SEVIS, to prepare to depart the United States. The regulations refer only to "preparation for departure" as an activity permissible during the 15-day period following a withdrawal authorized by a DSO. No employment is permitted.