Center for International Programs

International Student Services

Maintaining Status for F-1 Students

As a student in F-1 status it is very important to remain “in status” at all times.  Here is a list of ways to make sure you maintain your status.


  1. Pursue a full course of study at Saint Joseph’s University, which means always carrying at least 12 credits for undergraduates or at least 9 credits for graduate students in the Fall and Spring semesters.  You must get approval in advance from CIP to be enrolled less than full time, and can only do so under very limited circumstances.  The very limited circumstances to get permission for a Reduced Course Load are:
    1. Student having difficulty during the first semester with the English Language or American teaching methods
    2. Incorrect Course Level Placement
    3. Medical Condition (physical or mental) documented by a licensed health care professional
    4. Concurrent enrollment at another university (documentation required)
    5. Completion of Course of Study in your final semester
  2. Notify CIP of a change in your local address within 10 days of moving so we can update your SEVIS record
  3. Apply for a new I-20 before changing your academic program from one degree level to another (Bachelor’s to Master’s) or from one major to another (Undeclared Business to Marketing)
  4. Attend the school that you are authorized to attend, as indicated on your I-20
  5. Maintain a passport valid at least 6 months into the future
  6. File U.S. tax forms for each year you are present in the United States, even if you have had no U.S. income
  7. Apply for a Program Extension (if needed) at CIP before the completion of studies date in Item #5 of your I-20 Form
  8. Apply to transfer your I-20 before beginning classes at a new institution
  9. Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week when school is in session
  10. Refrain from off-campus employment without prior written authorization from CIP
  11. Possess proof of health and accident insurance which includes a medical evacuation and repatriation benefit
  12. Continue to make adequate academic process each semester
  13. Do one of the following within 60 days of completing your academic program or your post-completion optional practical training:

    1. Leave the United States
    2. Gain admission to another academic program and transfer your immigration status with the intention of enrolling in the next available term
    3. Apply for a change of status to another nonimmigrant status on Form I-539

Failure to Remain In Status

An F-1 student is considered to be “out of status” when, intentionally or not, that student has violated the regulations governing F-1 student status.  Once a student is out of status he or she loses F-1 benefits, including all types of work permission.

In order to re-gain valid status a student may do one of two things. You can remain in the country and submit an application for Reinstatement to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Or you can exit the country and re-enter in a new student status.