Maintaining your F-1 status means you are complying the regulations set forth by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for F-1 Student Visa holders. It is critical that you maintain your F-1 status. If you do not comply with the F-1 visa regulations, you no longer have legal immigration status, and you could have serious problems with USCIS. It could compromise your ability to get another U.S. visa, enter the U.S., or receive work authorization in the future.
The ISS Office is happy to provide you with the information and advice you need to maintain your status. However, maintaining your status is ultimately your responsibility.
1. Maintain a valid I-20 - Always be aware of the expiration date on your I-20, and do not let your I-20 expire. Be sure to get a travel signature from the ISS Office before departing the U.S. You will also need to get a new I-20 if you change your degree level, your major, or your anticipated graduation date. Timing can be critical for all of these changes, so start the process early.
2. Enroll Full-time - You must enroll in, attend, and complete a full course of study. Undergraduate students at Univeristy of Dallas must enroll in at least 12 credit hours each fall and spring semester. Graduate students at University of Dallas who have been admitted to the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts must enroll in at least 9 credit hours each fall and spring semester. Graduate students at University of Dallas who have been admitted to the Satish & Yasmin College of Business must enroll in at least 9 credit hours each fall, spring, and summer trimester. Important: Please note that only one of your classes may be online.
3. Seek the appropriate Work Authorization - Except for on-campus employment, you must receive authorization from either the ISS Office or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) before you begin working. Additional information regarding working in the U.S. can be found here.
4. Keep a valid passport - You must have a valid passport at all times. If your passport will expire while you are in the U.S., you need to contact your embassy to find out how to renew it. Your passport should be valid at least 6 months into the future.
5. Be aware of your Grace Period - You have a 60-day grace period following the completion of your academic program or Optional Practical Training (OPT). This is the period of time before you are required to leave the U.S. You have several options during this period, but if you have not taken action by the time your grace period is over, you must depart the United States immediately.
6. Report a Change of Address - Report a change of address to the ISS Office within 10 days of the change so that your SEVIS record can be updated.
The Department of Homeland Security has additional information regarding how to maintain your F-1 status on its Study in the States website.
If you violate the immigration regulations you will lose your F-1 status and benefits (e.g employment authorization).
There are two options to regain your F-1 visa status:
1. Re-enter U.S. - You can obtain a new I-20 (with a new SEVIS number), leave the U.S. and re-enter as a new F-1 student. You will be considered a new student immigration-wise.
2. Apply for a Reinstatement with USCIS - The ISS Office recommends students work with a reliable and reputable immigration attorney when filing a reinstatement application. Reinstatement is an application submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by a student who has violated their F-1 status to request return to legal student status. A reinstatement application costs $370 and can take approximately five months to be processed by USCIS. If approved, the student is reinstated and will resume active F-1 status.