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Maintaining Your F-1 Student Status

F-1 Students are responsible to know and follow all immigration regulations.  Failure to maintain your status, or comply with these regulations, may have very severe consequences for your ability to study, seek employment, or even remain in the United States.  Please carefully review the list below of requirements and contact the International Student Advisor if you have any questions about these regulations.  We suggest that you review this page each semester to refresh your memory, as these regulations are very important to follow.

  1. Keep your immigration documents valid.
    As an international student, you should have the following forms of identification:
    • Form 1-20 
      • Always keep information on your I-20 valid and up to date. 
      • Make sure the school name on your current I-20 is the same as the school you are currently attending. 
      • Make sure your I-20 program end date does not expire.  You may apply for a Program Extension 84 KB if you need more time to complete your degree.
      • Notify the International Student Advisor of any changes in financial information, name, address and major. 
      • Complete the Request for I-20 Travel Signature 56 KB and bring it to the International Student Advisor at least 2 weeks prior to traveling outside the U.S. 
    • Passport 
      • Always keep your passport valid at least 6 months into the future (passports can be extended while you are in the U.S. by contacting your home country’s embassy consulate).
    • I-94 Card
      • Your I-94 card is the white card that was stamped “F-1 D/S” and stapled in your passport when you entered the county.  This is a very important document, as it is proof that you are in F-1 status.  This card will be removed from your passport when you travel home, and you will receive a new one when you re-enter the U.S.  (If you are traveling to Canada for less than 30 days, the I-94 should not be removed).
    • F-1 Visa
      • Canadian students will not have a visa stamp.  If you do have an F-1 visa, before you plan to travel outside the U.S. and re-enter, you need to make sure that your visa is not expired.  If it is expired, you need to renew your visa before re-entering the U.S.  You do not need a valid visa in order to stay in the United States. 

  2. Register for and complete a full-time course load (at least 12 credits) every Fall and Spring semester.
    • All students are required to make normal, full-time progress toward degree completion.  If you feel that you cannot handle taking 12 credits during the semester consult with your International Student Advisor to see if you qualify for a Reduced Course Load 83 KB.  DO NOT drop or withdraw from any classes if you will fall below 12 credits until talking with your Advisor about the consequences.
    • Only 3 credits of these 12 may be taken as online courses.  If you have at least 9 credits on campus you may take more than 3 credits online.  Be careful!  Online classes may be harder.
    • Attendance in all classes is mandatory.
  3. DO NOT accept any off-campus employment without authorization from the International Student Advisor and/or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    • Full-time students in valid F-1 Status may accept ON-Campus employment of no more than 20 hours per week (part-time) while school is in session, or may accept full-time employment ON-Campus during vacations.
    • Students must request and have employment authorization approved BEFORE beginning to work off-campus!  If a student would like to participate in a paid internship they should contact the International Student Advisor to apply for Curricular Practical Training.  All other forms of Off-Campus employment require USCIS approval which may take up to 3 months to process.  Please review our Employment Opportunities page to learn more about employment opportunities for F-1 Students.

  4. Contact the International Student Advisor if there are any changes to your personal or academic situation.  Notify your Advisor, for example, if you…
    • Change your address 59 KB (within 10 days of moving)
    • Change your name 59 KB (within 10 days of change)
    • Change your major 63 KB (within 10 days of change)
    • Plan to transfer to another U.S. college (within 60 day grace period)
    • Plan to depart 32 KB the United States (within 10 days of leaving)
    • Change your immigration status (within 10 days of change)

SEVIS: What it is and what it means to you!

SEVIS is the acronym for Student & Exchange Visitor Information System.  It is an online tracking system for International Students and their dependents.  Through SEVIS colleges and universities enter and update various data regarding the International Students who have been issued a Form I-20 by their institution.

This means, that the information about you and your F-1 visa status will be updated regularly in this SEVIS database.  Therefore you must tell the International Student Advisor any time you: have a change of address, change of name, change of major, wish to drop below full-time enrollment, or wish to engage in practical training or employment.  The International Student Advisor must also enter information about illegal employment or any other violation of your F-1 status.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has complete access to your information via SEVIS.  This department works with the college to assist you in properly maintaining your F-1 status.  While Genesee Community College and the USCIS do our parts, you must also make sure that you are maintaining your F-1 status properly.

Please refer to the International Student Handbook 598 KB for full details on maintain status!