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F-1 Immigration Regulations

Basics of Maintaining F-1 Status

Below is a summary of F-1 regulations and a list of commonly used immigration terminology. Familiarize yourself with these basic principles and terms to avoid violating your immigration status. You can find detailed explanations of these regulations in the sections that follow. Use the navigation bar on the left to select a topic.

Maintain the validity of your passport: 
Your passport should be valid at least 6 months into the future. If your passport will expire soon, contact your embassy. Once you have updated your passport, submit a copy of your new passport page to ISSS.

Keep your address, phone, and emergency contact information updated: 
We are required to have this information on file at all times. Update your address within 10 days of any move and at least once a year. Local U.S. addresses should be updated through Porches. Students will receive an email reminder each semester with detailed instructions on how to update this information.

Maintain full-time enrollment: 
F-1 students must be enrolled full-time each fall and spring semester (if your program start date is in the summer, you must also be full-time). Enrollment in summer sessions is not required, unless a student begins a program of study in the summer.

Get approval from ISSS before leaving the University of Dayton:
If for some reason you cannot study, you must receive approval before dropping your courses or leaving the US.

Attend the school noted on your I-20: 
You must have a current, valid I-20 from the school you are attending. If you transfer from another school to the University of Dayton, the transfer process must be completed before the semester begins.

Keep your I-20 valid at all times:

  • If necessary, request an extension of your I-20 30 days before the expiration date.
  • Request a new I-20 if you change your degree level, major, source of funding, or number of F-2 dependents.
  • Request a travel signature from ISSS prior to traveling outside the U.S. Travel signatures are valid for one year (exception for students on OPT). Request travel signatures at least three weeks before your departure. F-2 dependents also require travel signatures.
  • If you decide to study elsewhere in the U.S., request a transfer of your SEVIS record via before beginning studies at your new school.
  • Note: It is your responsibility to keep all of your I-20s from each of the schools you attend in the U.S. Do not throw any of your I-20s away. When you travel, bring all I-20s with you.

Work only with authorization: 
F-1 students must have permission before working. There are only two work categories for F-1 students, they are 1) on-campus and 2) off-campus with prior approval.

  • F-1 students are automatically eligible to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week total while school is in session. During vacation periods (spring, summer, and winter breaks), you may work full-time on campus.
  • To work off-campus, you must apply for and receive authorization before beginning to work. See the sections on CPT and OPT for more information.
  • F-2 dependents may not work.

Attend to grace periods: 
Be aware of the grace periods associated with your status:

  • You have a 60-day grace period following the completion of your degree program and following the completion of Optional Practical Training (if applicable).
  • If you are dismissed from the university, you have a 21-day grace period beginning the day you are dismissed.
  • If you receive authorization from ISSS to withdraw from all classes, you have a 15-day grace period, beginning on the date of the withdrawal, during which you must depart the U.S.
  • If you withdraw from all classes without first receiving authorization from ISSS, you have no grace period and must depart the U.S. immediately.


F-1 students and their dependents should be familiar with these terms and concepts:

Full Course of Study.
In your initial semester of study and every semester thereafter, except for vacations, you are required to 1) register for a full course of study and 2) make normal progress toward the completion of your educational objective. Note: “Full-time registration”, “full-time enrollment” and “full course load” are synonymous with “full course of study”.

Graduate student. A student fully engaged in a graduate program. If you are still taking IEP courses, you are not considered a graduate student for enrollment reporting purposes.

Grace period. F-1 students may remain in the U.S. for 60 days following the completion of their final degree requirement (the date of graduation in the relevant term) or at end of OPT. During the 60 day grace period:

  • You may not re-enter the U.S. in your current F-1 status
  • You may not apply for a program extension.
  • You may not work or study.

I-20. A document issued by a college or university certifying that an international student has been admitted to a program of study and has demonstrated sufficient financial resources to stay in the U.S. The I-20 is officially titled the "Certificate of Eligibility" because with it, you are "eligible" to apply for an F-1 student visa.

I-94. An electronic document used to track the travel history for non-immigrant visitors entering the United States, specifically the most recent entry. I-94's can be accessed by visiting and should be printed after each entry into the United States.

Intensive English Program (IEP) student. A student taking any number of IEP courses.

Visa. A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the US generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport. The visa has no bearing on your ability to the stay in the US; it’s only use is for entry into the US. After you enter the U.S., maintenance of your status determines your ability to stay.

SEVIS. SEVIS is a web-accessible database that collects, tracks, and monitors information regarding exchange visitors, international students and scholars who enter the US on F, M or J visas. SEVIS is managed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

SEVIS record. This is the electronic representation of your I-20. It is synonymous with I-20.

Status. Your status is the official U.S. government designation and authorization of your stay in the U.S. as a non-immigrant student.

Termination. The termination of a SEVIS record invalidates your F-1 status. Terminations are a result of a status violation(s).

Undergraduate student. A student fully engaged in an undergraduate program. If you are still taking IEP courses, you are not considered an undergraduate student for enrollment reporting purposes.

International Student and Scholar Services

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