Current F-1 Student Services

Like many nations, the United States has very specific and detailed laws governing nationals residing temporarily within its borders. You may be confused by the many forms, numbers and deadlines, but if you understand and meet the following requirements, you will be able to maintain your legal status in the United States.

It is important for all F-1 holders to understand the regulations and benefits of their visa status. This will allow students to make informed decisions that will positively impact their academic standing and lawful stay in the United States. The below list is to remind you of the basic requirements to maintain your visa status. However, additional policies will apply if you are working in the United States, changing your visa status, transferring between schools or if you have another unique situation.

Ten Things to Remember

  1. Keep your passport valid for 6 months at all times.
  2. If your travel signature has expired, you will need a new I-20 and travel signature before returning to the US. Submit an I-20 Travel request via MyISSS. Travel signatures are valid for twelve months for current students, and six months for students on OPT or STEM OPT. 
  3. Do not work without written authorization from the USCIS or the ISSS office, as required.
  4. If authorized to work, submit required tax forms and pay any taxes due.
  5. Report a change of address within 10 days of your move to the ISSS office so we can update your information in SEVIS system. You can update your address within MyISSS by following the steps listed in the MyISSS Student Handbook. If you'd like to update your address for other USF offices, students can go into their myUSF account. Note the address information in myUSF will not appear in SEVIS or be used by the ISSS office. 
  6. Register and complete each semester as a full-time student (12 units for undergraduate students and 6 units for graduate and doctoral students). Students might need to take more units each semester in order to complete program requirements within their I-20’s required timeframe. 
  7. Make sure to register for at least the minimum number of in-person units. International students are limited to one class, up to 3 units, of online or remote courses towards their full-time requirement. International students can never be enrolled in only online classes during required terms.
  8. Contact the ISSS office before dropping below full-time.
  9. You are expected to complete your program by the program end date listed on your I-20. If you need a program extension, you will need to apply to the ISSS office for an extension of your program at least 45 days before your document (I-20) expires.
  10. Maintain good academic standing (2.0 grade point average for undergraduate students, 3.0 grade point average for graduate students, and 2.3 grade point average for JD students).
  11. Contact the ISSS office if you need to transfer to another institution or change your status.

Consequences of Violating Your Status

Once you violate your status you are considered “out of status” and no longer eligible for F-1 benefits, such as employment authorization. Your authorized period of stay in the U.S. ends immediately and you will need to take immediate action to regain your status. ISSS will help you with regaining status by explaining your options and assisting you with getting the needed documentation. However, regaining status can be very inconvenient, require international travel, and be expensive.  ISSS does not recommend violating your status, but if you do, make an appointment to talk with an ISSS advisor immediately.

If you do not contact ISSS to take immediate action to regain your status, there can be lasting consequences. You may be considered a “visa overstay” or “unlawfully present” and subject to the following penalties:

  • Cancellation of visa
  • Restriction on future visa applications
  • 3-year bar to readmission to the U.S. if unlawfully present for more than 180 days
  • 10-year bar to readmission to the U.S. if unlawfully present for 1 year or more