Important information for all F-1 students
Rules to know and follow
Students in F-1 status must observe a number of rules in order to remain in legal status throughout their time in the U.S. Failure to do so can have very significant consequences in both the short- and long-term. The following are some of the most important things to remember:
- No study without status: Those who enter the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa are not allowed to study until their status has been officially changed to F-1.
- Reporting to school for the first time: New students in F-1 status must report to their school within 30 days of the program start date listed on their I-20.
- Documentation of your status: Always maintain a valid I-20. It is also very important to maintain a valid passport at all times.
- Study at public primary/secondary schools: Students on an F-1 visa may not attend public primary schools or publicly funded adult education programs. Attendance at public secondary schools is limited to twelve months or less, and the school system must be repaid in full for the unsubsidized per capita cost of providing the education.
- Taking a reduced courseload: Students must obtain permission from their Designated School Official (DSO) if they wish to reduce their course load. A DSO may grant authorization to a student for a reduction in course load for a limited number of reasons. Even when authorization is granted, half-time enrollment is usually required.Generally, the course load may be reduced only once unless there is a medical reason for the reduction. Even with a medical reason, the reduction may last only 12 months. Students may also reduce their course load during their final term.
- Working off-campus: Students may not hold an off-campus job except in certain special circumstances. (For more information, see Working in F-1 status).
- Withdrawing from school: Students who wish to withdraw from their school must first gain permission to do so, and then must leave the U.S. within 15 days.