F-1

F-1 Students: How to Maintain Status

Maintaining Your F-1 Immigration Status

New Students MUST Check in at the Office of International Student Services (ISS)!Newly Arriving International Students MUST check in to the ISS no later than 30 days after the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. If you do not check in at the ISS, you may lose your valid immigration status in the U.S.
To check in, come to the ISS at RM 119 Blackburn Building and bring with you:

  • Your passport
  • I-94 card
  • I-20 or DS-2019

To stay in legal F-1 visa status in the United States as an F1 student, you must remember
 these important requirements:

Report to the ISS within 30 days of I-20 start date

Always enroll FULL-TIME during the academic year

Update your local address within 10 days of moving

Keep your immigration documents VALID and CURRENT:

 -KEEP YOUR PASSPORT VALID
- Apply for an EXTENSION at the ISS BEFORE the "completion of
  studies" date in Item 5 of your I-20
- Be sure your I-20 states the correct degree program and level in Item 4
- If you plan to transfer to another school, come in to the ISS to discuss the
  immigration status transfer.

NEVER work off-campus without PRIOR authorization

Notify the ISS when you leave the U.S. or change visa status

If you TRAVEL outside the United States, be SURE to have the proper re-entry documents

Report to the ISS within 30 days of I-20 start date
 It is REQUIRED BY LAW that you come to the International Students and Scholars Office when you first arrive at Howard whether it is your first time in the U.S. or if you are transferring from another U.S. institution. If you are transferring to Howard, you must complete the transfer procedures at the ISS within 15 days after classes start. The ISS will register you in the SEVIS database as having completed the transfer process.

Always Enroll Full Time
F-1 students must maintain full-time student status every semester. For undergraduate students, full-time means you must register and complete at least 12 credits each semester; as a graduate student, for immigration purposes, there is no minimum credit requirement, you must simply be registered. Graduate students DO have academic requirements for minimum credits dependent on your particular program, so you must discuss dropping courses with an academic advisor. Please talk to the ISS staff BEFORE you drop below full time enrollment or take a leave of absence.

Update your Local Address
The immigration regulations require you to update your local residential address within 10 days of moving within the U.S. You must do this by updating your local address in "Just the Facts" AND notifying the ISS. You are required to use a physical residential address and not a PO Box or a Howard department address. As of December 2, 2003, "Special Registrants" who are in F status may also update addresses directly with the ISS and no longer have to fill out the Form AR-11SR.

Keep your Immigration Documents VALID and CURRENT 
You should make photocopies of your immigration documents and keep the copies and originals in a safe place.

Photocopy:

The passport pages with your personal information and picture

The passport page containing the U.S. visa stamp

Both sides of your I-94 Form

Your I-20, pages 1-3

Keep your passport valid
You should keep your passport valid for at least six months in to the future while you are studying in the U.S. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. You can find the contact information for your consulate at: www.travel.state.gov.

 


 


New Students MUST Check in at ISS!

Newly Arriving International Students MUST check in to the ISS Office no later than 30 days after the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. If you do not check in at ISS, you may lose your valid immigration status in the U.S.

To check in, come to ISS at Rm-119 Blackburn bldg and bring with you:

  • your passport,
  • I-94 card and
  • I-20 or DS-2019.

How to Maintain Your F-1 Immigration Status in the U.S.

(click here for J-1 student status requirements)

To stay in legal F-1 visa status in the United States as an F1 student, you must remember these important requirements: (click here for J-1 student status requirements)

  1. Report to ISS within 30 days of I-20 start date
  2. Always enroll FULL-TIME during the academic year
  3. Update your local address within 10 days of moving
  4. Keep your immigration documents VALID and CURRENT:
    -KEEP YOUR PASSPORT VALID
    - Apply for an EXTENSION at ISS BEFORE the "completion of studies" date in Item 5 of your I-20
    - Be sure your I-20 states the correct degree program and level in Item 4
    - If you plan to transfer to another school, come in to ISS to discuss the immigration status transfer.
  5. NEVER work off-campus without PRIOR authorization
  6. Notify ISS when you leave the U.S. or change visa status
  7. If you TRAVEL outside the United States, be SURE to have the proper re-entry documents

Notes on Visa Stamps and Visa status, click here.

1. Report to ISS within 30 days of I-20 start date
It is REQUIRED BY LAW that you come to the International Students and Scholars Office when you first arrive at Howard whether it is your first time in the U.S. or if you are transferring from another U.S. institution. If you are transferring to Howard, you must complete the transfer procedures at ISS within 15 days after classes start. ISS will register you in the SEVIS database as having completed the transfer process.

2. Always Enroll Full Time
F-1 students must maintain full-time student status every semester. For undergraduate students, full-time means you must register and complete at least 12 credits each semester; as a graduate student, for immigration purposes, there is no minimum credit requirement, you must simply be registered (for graduate students, "in absentia" registration DOES count as full time enrollment). Graduate students DO have academic requirements for minimum credits dependent on your particular program, so you must discuss dropping courses with an academic advisore. Please talk to ISS staff BEFORE you drop below full time enrollment or take a leave of absence.

3. Update your Local Address
The immigration regulations require you to update your local residential address within 10 days of moving within the U.S. You must do this by updating your local address in "Just the Facts" AND notifying ISS.

4. Keep your Immigration Documents VALID and CURRENT
You should make photocopies of your immigration documents and keep the copies and originals in a safe place. Photocopy:

  • the passport pages with your personal information and picture
  • the passport page containing the U.S. visa stamp
  • both sides of your I-94 Form
  • your I-20, pages 1-3
  • Keep your passport valid
    You should keep your passport valid for at least six months in to the future while you are studying in the U.S. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. You can find the contact information for your consulate at: http://travel.state.gov.

  • F-1 Extension
    The end date of your immigration status is written on your I-20 as the "completion of studies" date, in item #5 (not the end date of your visa stamp).* If you are unable to complete your course of study by that time, you must apply for an extension BEFORE the I-20 completion date. If you do not complete the extension before that date, you will be out of status. Pick up an F-1 Program Extension packet from ISS to begin the process.

  • Change of Degree Program or Level
    If you are changing degree levels within Howard University, the graduate school or the professional school who admitted you will produce a new I-20 for you once you have been admitted and have provided financial support statements to them.

  • Discuss Transfer Plans with an ISS advisor
    If you plan to transfer to another school or to go on to another school after you graduate from Howard, ISS will need to complete the immigration transfer procedure. Come in to ISS to discuss the transfer process.

5. Never Work Off-campus Without Prior Authorization
Employment opportunities for international students in the U.S. are restricted by law. In general there are two types of employment: on-campus and off-campus employment.

  • On-campus Employment: Enrolled F-1 students are permitted to work on campus for 20 hours per week during academic year and 40 hours per week during summer and winter breaks.
  • Off-campus Employment: Off-campus employment is any type of work or services performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit that is not on the Howard campus. A work permit is required BEFORE any off-campus work is allowed. See the staff in ISS for advice and assistance.

6. Notify ISS When You Leave the U.S. or Change Visa Status
When you finish your program and leave the U.S. permanently or you change to another visa status (for instance if an employer plans to do an H1B visa application for you after you graduate or finish your OPT), come to ISS or email us to notify us of your plans.

7. Traveling outside of the United States

 

Re-entering the U.S. after a Temporary Absence

To re-enter the U.S., you need to have the following documents:

  • valid passport (except Canadians unless entering from outside the Western Hemisphere)
  • valid F-1 or F-2 visa stamp (except Canadians)
  • current I-20 with a valid signature (see I-20 Endorsement)
  • proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid or TA/RA letter)
  • proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript). You can obtain a certificate of enrollment from the registrar’s office or, if you have an SSN, you can download the certificate from the registrar's web site.

Traveling to Canada

Before traveling to Canada, come to ISS to check visa requirements and to pick up a Canadian visitor visa application if one is required (or on the web at http://cicnet.ci.gc.ca). You can re-enter the U.S. from Canada with an expired U.S. visa stamp if ALL of the following apply to you:

  • You have a valid passport with an expired non-immigrant visa stamp, a valid I-20 or DS-2019, and you keep your I-94 card when leaving the U.S. and entering Canada
  • Your visit to Canada will be less than 30 days
  • You do NOT apply for a U.S. visa stamp while in Canada
  • You are NOT a national of one of the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, or North Korea.

Renewing Your Visa Stamp

If you or your dependents need to renew your visa stamps in order to re-enter the U.S., you must apply in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation:

  • valid passport
  • current passport-size photographs
  • valid Form I-20 (complete three-page form)
  • proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid or TA/RA letter)
  • proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript). You can download a certificate of enrollment from [INSERT HU ENROLLMENT FORM HERE].

I-20 Travel Endorsement

You need to have a valid signature from ISS staff on your I-20 in order to re-enter the U.S. The signature is valid for 12 months.

I-20 Travel Endorsement for Canadians or students on OPT

Canadians and students on Optional Practical Training need a signature from ISS staff within the last six months to be valid for re-entry to the U.S..


Other Immigration Issues

F-2 Dependents

The spouse or child of an F-1 student enters the U.S. in F-2 status. Any s tudent wishing to bring a spouse and/or child to the U.S. should visit ISS to have the necessary documents prepared. People in F-2 status are not eligible for employment and may not enroll in a course of study. For traveling and re-entering the U.S., F-2 dependents need all the same documents as the F-1 would need as outlined above including an I-20 that is produced with the F-2's biographical information.

**Notes on Visa Stamps and Immigration Status

Visa Stamp

The visa stamp in your passport was obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and is used for entering the U.S. The visa stamp functions as a key to enter the U.S. Once you are here in the U.S., you do not need to keep your visa stamp current. It is only when you are leaving the U.S. and need to return that you must be sure that you have a valid U.S. visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. [Note: Canadian citizens are not required to have a passport (if entering the U.S. from within the Western hemisphere) or visa stamp, but they must show their I-20 and proof of Canadian citizenship at the U.S. port of entry.]

Immigration Status

Immigration status is granted at the U.S. port of entry (or by application to change status through an immigration service center) and is stated on your I-94 card by the port of entry officer (or immigration service center). Most of you have F-1 student status. In most situations your visa type and immigration status are the same, unless you have changed your immigration status after entering the U.S. For instance, some F-1 students have changed their status to F-2 (the dependent of F-1 student) or to another temporary immigration status. If you do change your status within the U.S., the next time you travel out of the U.S., you would need to go to a U.S. consulate, apply for and obtain a new visa stamp which matches your new immigration status. To maintain your legal status in the U.S., check your I-20 (not the visa stamp in your passport). For F-1 students, the "completion of studies" date under item 5 on your I-20 Form is the end date of your immigration status.