Maintaining F-1 Status

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Maintaining Your F1 Visa Status

Congratulations! You’ve been issued your F-1 visa and you are an official student in the USA. With this victory comes big responsibility. Now that you are in the US, you must maintain your F-1 visa. To remain in legal F-1 visa status, you should follow these guidelines very carefully:

Check in with the NWOSU International Student Office within 30 days of your arrival
You will be required to provide your local address, phone number, and email address in order to keep your SEVIS records up-to-date. If you change your local address at any time during your stay, you will need to notify them.

Keep your passport valid
Your passport should be valid at least six months into the future. Passports can be renewed by your home country’s consulate or embassy.

Maintain full-time enrollment
Students who are studying in an undergraduate programs are required to enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester during the academic year. If you are unable to enroll full-time, or wish to withdrawal from a course that would put you under full-time, you will need authorization from the International Academic Advisor before doing so. The International Academic Advisor will only allow this under extenuating circumstances as lined out by SEVP.

Graduate students are required to be a minimum of nine (9) credit hours to be considered “full-time”. Again, you will need to receive authorization from the International Academic Advisor before you are allowed to drop below full-time and will only be considered under extenuating circumstances as lined out by SEVP.

Maintain "Presence on Campus" 

F-1 students are required to be seen on campus. They are not allowed to take a full course of study in online/ITV courses.  Only 3 credit hours of online/ITV courses can count towards your minimum credit hour requirement.  Undergraduate students must enroll in 9 credit hours of traditional courses before they may enroll in a 3 credit hour online OR ITV course. Graduate students must enroll in 6 credit hours of traditional courses before they may enroll in a 3 credit hour online OR ITV course.  There are very limited exceptions to this rule.  Please contact the International Academic Advisor for specification.

Extend your I-20 as needed
If your program will require more time that originally granted, you will need to notify your International Office at least 30 days prior to the end date in Section 3 of your Form I-20, in order to allow enough time to obtain the necessary documentation to maintain your F-1 visa.

Apply for a new I-20 as needed
If you are beginning a new program, you must apply for a new I-20 at least 60 days before the completion of your first program. Evidence of funding may be required.

Obtain special permission to work
WORKING OFF-CAMPUS WITHOUT PERMISSION IS A SERIOUS VIOLATION OF YOUR F-1 VISA AND COULD RESULT IN YOUR DEPORTATION! The visa you have obtained is listed as a Student visa, which means you are in the U.S. to study, not to work. For this reason, you are required to prove Financial Support that will allow you to study without having to work. Should you wish to obtain employment while you are at NWOSU, F-1 students are very limited on your options.

F-1 students are allowed to work part-time on-campus. It is the student’s responsibility to find a job on-campus. Once employment is obtained, the student will need to apply for a Social Security card. The International Office can assist in this step by providing the necessary items to apply for a Social Security card. Transportation to the Social Security office can be obtained by completing at Travel Request Form and paying the transportation fee.

Information regarding your other employment options can be found HERE. For security purposes, it is advised that you keep the International Student Office informed of any employment you have obtained to alleviate any concerns.

Carry your immigration documents with you at all times
It is advised for you to carry your passport, I-94, and I-20 with you, especially when you are traveling. You will need to be able to prove your legal F-1 visa status in the US. It is also recommended that you carry proof of enrollment (e.g. current course schedule) for further evidence of your valid status.

If you will be traveling outside of the U.S., you must have the International Advisor authorize your travel by signing the second page of your I-20 BEFORE your departure.

Change your status or depart the US in a timely manner
F-1 students generally have 60 days to depart the US after the completion of their program. As long as you maintain your F-1 visa status, you may be eligible apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), or you may be able to switch your immigration status. Be sure to apply for these changes prior to your program completion date.

Pay debts in a timely manner
It is customary to pay all debts, to Northwestern , to the Alva Community, or to anyone else you may owe within a reasonable time frame. Failure to do so can effect your ability to attend other schools or apply for future visas.

By following these steps, you will be able to maintain your F-1 visa and prepare yourself for any changes that may occur during your academic program. Retaining your legal F-1 visa status is extremely important to remain in the United States as an international student, or to obtain any future Visas

 For more information on maintaining your F-1 Visa, click here.