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Maintaining Your F-1 Status

  • Do you want to enjoy your stay in the U.S. and avoid immigration problems? Here are rules that you have to follow as an international student.

    Rules to Follow

    • Passport and Visa: Keep your passport valid for at least six months into the future. If you need to extend your passport while in the U.S., you should contact your country's embassy or consulate in the U.S. Your visa must be valid for entry into the U.S. only. If your visa expires while here, you can remain as long as your I-20 is valid.
    • Address: Notify the Office of International Education of your local address when you arrive at IUP and about any change in address within 10 days of moving. Please follow instructions on how to update your U.S. address in MyIUP.
    • Full course of study: To remain a full-time student, you must take 12 or more credit hours if you are an undergraduate student or nine or more credit hours if you are a graduate student during each academic semester (fall and spring). Before you drop a full course of study, you must get approval from the international student advisor in the Office of International Education. Students are not permitted to take a semester off. Please complete the Reduced Course Load Form and return the form to the OIE.
    • Employment:
      • Off-campus: It is a serious violation of your status to work off campus without prior authorization from the Department of Homeland Security.
      • On-campus: You are allowed to work on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session. These 20 hours include work for an assistantship. Students are permitted to work 40 hours per week on campus during breaks (summer, winter, and spring).
    • Extension: If you have valid academic or health reasons, you can request for more time to complete your program at IUP than that which is authorized on the IUP I-2 or DS-2019. The request to extend the program must be done before the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019. Please complete the Program Extension Form.
    • Completion of Study: If you have completed your studies or practical training and did not change to another immigration status, you must leave the U.S. within
      • Sixty days: F1 students
      • Thirty days: J1 students
    • Departure: Any earlier departure from IUP, before the end date on your I-20 or DS-2019, requires you to inform the Office of International Education about the date and reason for doing so.
    • Travel: If you plan to leave the U.S., please let OIE know of your departure. You must have the following documents with you to re-enter the country:
      • Valid passport
      • I-20 with a valid signature. The signature is valid for 12 months.
      • U.S. visa stamp in your passport must be valid for your return to the U.S. If it has expired or will expire, you need to obtain a new student visa abroad—it cannot be renewed in the U.S.
      • Proof of enrollment. You can request a letter from International Education stating that you are valid as a student at IUP.
    • Students traveling outside the U.S. who fall under “special registration” must have an exit interview with immigration officials at the airport from which their international flight departs. If you travel within the U.S., International Education recommends that you carry your passport, I-94 card, and I-20 or DS-2019 form.
    • Academic Program or Degree Level Change: If you plan to change your academic program or degree level, you must inform International Education. You will receive a new I-20 or DS-2019, which has to be produced within 15 days of beginning the new program or degree level.
    • Attending Another School (Transfer): If you decide to attend another university, you must notify International Education of your intention. According to DHS, International Education must transfer your record in SEVIS to your new school. After that, the new school can issue you a new I-20 or DS-2019. Please complete the SEVIS Transfer Form.
    • Dependents: You must notify International Education of any accompanying dependents in F-2 or J-2 status and provide biographical information (e.g. full name, address, country of birth, etc.) and immigration information (e.g. passport information, visa information, etc.). You can do this using the Request for Spouse and Children Form. For traveling and re-entering the U.S., F-2 and J-2 dependents need all the same documents as the F-1 and J-1.

    Failure to Maintain Legal Student Status

    Following are consequences you may face if you fail to maintain your legal student status:

    • You lose the privileges of your student visa (tuition waiver, work, practical training, etc.).
    • You are considered illegally present and can be subject to removal by the U.S. government.
    • Possible denial of request to re-enter the U.S.
    • Possible denial of request to change your non-immigration status.
    • Possible denial of future visa application.

    Helpful Forms

    All forms are available in the Office of International Education as well as online:

    See the Office of International Education online calendar for immigration workshop dates.