Maintaining F-1 Visa Status

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Maintaining F-1 Visa Status

Get Help Maintaining F-1 Visa Status With A Chicago Visa Attorney

This is a significant time in your life. You have been accepted into a school in the United States and have been approved for an F-1 visa, and it should be period of excitement. As you prepare to come to the United States and start your educational program and while you are here, you should be keep in mind that it is important to maintain your F-1 visa status.

Maintaining your status is crucial to continuing your education in the United States. Be aware of what the requirements are and what you need to do if changes need to be made. The following are some pointers on how to maintain your status.

  • Plan to enter the United States 30 days or less before your program begins.
  • Contact the designated school official (DSO) to inform him or her of your arrival in the country.
  • Contact the DSO when you arrive at the school, prior to the start of the program of study.
  • Remain a full-time student throughout the length of the program of study. For an undergraduate course of study, a full-time student needs to take at least 12 credits every semester. For graduate programs, check with your school for the requirements to be a full-time student.
  • Attend all your classes and pass them.
  • If you are having difficulty with your program, need to drop a class or find that you are unable to be a full-time student, contact your DSO as soon as you can and explain your circumstances. From there, you can figure out what your options are.
  • If you anticipate that more time is needed to complete the program, talk to your DSO to obtain a new I-20 Form so that you can file an extension. Be sure to be prompt in addressing this situation.
  • If you plan on starting a new program of study, you need to file a new I-20 Form. This should be done 60 days or more in advance of the completion of your current program.
  • If you must work, make sure that you obtain the proper authorization. You may choose to work as part of curricular practical training or optional practical training. Speak with your DSO about which would be the right option for you.
  • Other than what’s already been mentioned, you need to talk to your DSO to:
    • Change majors or programs,
    • Transfer to a new school,
    • Take time off for medical or other reasons,
    • Travel outside of the country, and
    • Change addresses.
  • Once you have completed your program of study, you need to leave the country within 60 days of program completion. Applying for optional practical training or changing your visa status will allow you to remain in United States.

Maintaining your F-1 status is essential. If there are any situations that arise, address them with your DSO first. You may also consult an experienced immigration attorney to figure out what your options are.