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Maintaining Your F-1 Student Status

Maintaining Status

You are responsible for maintaining your legal status, and we will give you the information you need.

"Maintaining status" means you are following the rules to stay in the United States legally. It is critical that you stay in legal status.

If you fall out of status, you are no longer in the United States legally. If that happens, you could have serious problems with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). You could compromise your ability to get a U.S. visa or even enter the United States in the future. You must also be in status to receive employment authorization.

ISO is happy to provide you with the information and advice you need to maintain your status. However, maintaining your status is your responsibility.

How to Maintain Your F-1 Status


Maintain a Valid I-20

Always be aware of the expiration date/program end date on your I-20, and do not let your I-20 expire. Be sure to get a travel signature before departing the United States. You will also need to get a new I-20 if you change your degree level, your major, your funding source, or the number of F-2 dependents you have. Timing can be critical for all of these changes, so start the process early.

Most of these actions can be requested through iStart. Please call 270-745-4857 to make an appointment with an advisor if you have questions about maintaining a valid I-20.

Enroll Full Time

To maintain your status as an F-1 student, you must enroll in a full load of classes each fall and spring semester. Undergraduate students must enroll in at least 12 credit hours each semester. Most graduate students must enroll in at least 9 credit hours. Learn the exceptions to this rule.

Work Only with Authorization

For the different types of work you must receive authorization from the ISO or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) before you being working. Learn more about your employment options.

Keep Your Address and Phone Number Updated

You are required to update your address and phone number within 10 days of any change or move, even if it is only temporary. Learn about changes of address.

Keep a Valid Passport

Your passport must be valid at all times. If your passport will expire while you are in the U.S., you need to contact your embassy to find out how to renew it.

Abide by Grace Periods

You have a 60-day grace period after the completion of your program or your OPT. You have several options during this period, but if you have not taken action at the end of that time, you are required to leave the United States. Learn more about completing your program.


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 Last Modified 1/6/17