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Maintaining F-1 Status

Every F-1 student must comply with the following guidelines in order to maintain his/her legal status. Failure to maintain status can result in severe consequences. Please note: "STATUS" is a function of physically being in the US. When leaving the US for breaks, vacation, study abroad, etc. the student has no "status," but will be granted F-1 status upon reentering the US with an F-1 visa. (See exception to F-1 visa requirements below in section on traveling outside the US.)

While the International Student Office is here to help offer guidance and assist students, maintaining status is ultimately the student's responsibility.

You may wish to keep this handout with the basic available for reference: Maintaining Legal F-1 Status (Summary)

  1. Enroll in Authorized School - This means that in order to attend the University of Dallas full-time as an F-1 student, you must have a valid I-20 issued by the University of Dallas.

  2. Maintain full-time enrollment (and comply with on-line enrollment constraints) - This means you must register for, attend and complete the minimum credits listed below each academic term:
    1. 12 credit hours per academic term for undergraduate students (Fall and Spring) (9 credit hours must be in on-ground classes)
    2. 9 credit hours per academic term for graduate students (Fall and Spring for graduate liberal arts students; 2 consecutive terms for graduate business students) (6 credit hours must be in on-ground or hybrid classes)
    3. Reduced Course Load (RCL) permitted for medical reasons and limited academic reasons.
    4. Vacation policies: F-1 students are permitted an annual vacation (usually a period of 3+ months) once each calendar year. For undergraduate and graduate liberal arts students on a traditional calendar, summer is the annual vacation. For graduate business students on the trimester calendar, an annual vacation is permitted (but not required) after the student has been full-time enrolled for two consecutive academic terms.
    5. Enrollment during one's final term: During the last term of your academic program, less than full-time enrollment is permitted.
  3. Check the Program End Date on your I-20 (listed in the third box titled “Program of Study” in the center column).  If you are unable to finish all degree requirements before the Program End Date listed on your I-20, you must submit a Program Extension Request BEFORE your I-20 expires.
  4. Comply with employment and practical training regulations - This means do not exceed 20 hours per week of work when employed on campus during your academic term. Do not work off campus without getting proper work authorization through the International Student Office.
  5. Get your I-20 signed on the last page before departing the US for a temporary absence in order to reenter the US. Get this signature in the International Student Services Office. Your passport must be valid to enter the US - see next item.  Generally speaking, to reenter the US after a temporary trip abroad, your F-1 visa must also still be valid. See page on Automatic Revalidation for exceptions to this rule.
  6. Keep your passport valid - Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future at all times. If your passport is about to expire, contact your embassy in Washington for instructions to extend the validity or to get a new passport. Click here to find the website of your embassy.
  7. Report address changes within 10 days of moving - To have your address updated in SEVIS, please use the OPT Reporting Form.
  8. Request a new I-20 if your program changes - If you change your major or change your degree objective, request a new I-20  from International Student Services Office. 
  9. Apply for extensions of your I-20 before it expires - If your program of study is going to take longer than the time provided on your I-20, make an appointment in the International Student Office to get it extended.
  10. Comply with departure grace periods - Students who have completed their programs have 60 days to depart the country after the program end date or after the end of their Optional Practical Training. Students who drop out of their programs of study in the middle of an academic term for whatever reason with the approval of the International Student Office have 15 days to depart the country before their SEVIS records are terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal. Students who drop out without giving prior notification to the International Office AND the university are expected to leave the US immediately and their SEVIS records will be terminated for Unauthorized Withdrawal.