Maintaining Your F-1 Non-Immigrant Student Status
- Full Time Status for Legal Purposes
Each semester you are required by law to complete an amount of studies considered to be full-time. For undergraduate students, this usually means enrollment in at least 12 credit hours per semester. For graduate students this usually means either enrollment in at least 6 credit hours per semester or full-time academic activities, which result in full-time Continuous Enrollment status (e.g. practicum experience, internship). Audited courses (AU grades) may not count toward your full-time status.
There are exceptions to these usual “full-time” meanings. If you plan to complete less than the 12 credits (undergraduate), 6 credits (graduate) or full-time Continuous Enrollment (graduate), first contact the Director of International Student Advising to learn whether or not any of the exceptions are appropriate in your situation. If not, becoming a part-time student will result in your losing F-1 status and its benefits.
- Length of Stay in the U.S.
You are authorized to stay in the United States for a period of time called Duration of Status (D/S). Of course, you need to fulfill all of the F-1 status requirements in order to keep your F-1 authorization for D/S, but there are also specific time limits for each person’s D/S.
First, you must complete your authorized course of study by the date indicated in item #5 of the Form I-20 that you received for your initial attendance in the Carroll College program. This means you must complete all of your requirements for your degree level of study by that I-20 completion date.
If you need more time to complete that degree because of valid academic reasons, you can receive more time by applying for an extension of stay. You can do so at the Office of International Admission during the month before your I-20 completion date. This one-month deadline before the completion date is extremely important. If you apply too late for your extension of stay, you will lose your F-1 status and all of its benefits and may need to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a reinstatement to F-1 status.
Second, your D/S date may be extended also when you receive authorization for practical training upon completion of your studies at that level, or when your receive authorization for continuation of your studies into a different degree level, or when you complete the F-1 transfer procedure to another school.
Finally, when you have completed all of your authorized studies and practical training, you are authorized sixty more days to prepare for departure from the United States. Those sixty days conclude your D/S time. Unless you make some other legal arrangements, you are not authorized to remain in the United States at that time. Students who stay in the United States for 180 days longer than their authorizations may be barred from returning to the United States for three years. Students who stay in the United States for one year longer than their authorizations may be barred from returning to the United States for ten years.
- Passport Validity
You are required by United States regulations to keep your passport valid at all times, and in some cases it must be valid for at least six months into the future. The procedures for renewing a passport vary from country to country, and procedures for each country can change from time to time. For correct information, contact your country’s Embassy or Consulate in the United States. Some countries have agreements with the United States, which assure that their passports will be considered valid for return to that country for six months beyond their expiration dates. You need to plan in advance to renew your passport when necessary.
- Informational Requirements
The federal regulations require Carroll College to keep certain records about you. We collect most of this information during the regular admission and enrollment process. However, we are also required to keep a photocopy of your I-20-ID, which we can receive only from you. Therefore, you are required to bring your I-20-ID to the Office of International Student Admission to be photocopied for your file.
In addition, please be sure that the Office of International Admission always has correct records for your address, telephone number, major field and level of study, expected date of completion, and legal status in the United States. Please notify this office promptly also if you change your name, nationality, or other basic data.
- Leaving and Re-entering the United States
If you are planning to depart from the United States temporarily, you should contact the Office of International Admission three weeks before departure in order to receive the appropriate advice and documents, such as a new Form I-20 or endorsement of your I-20-ID to re-enter the United States.
- School Transfers and changes of level at Carroll College
The legal procedure to transfer from one school to another (or from one level of study to another within Carroll College, i.e. undergraduate to graduate) is convenient for a student who has maintained F-1 status. If you are transferring to Carroll College to begin this semester, bring the following four items to the Office of International Student Admission after you begin classes, but no later than fifteen days after you begin classes. This 15-day requirement is very important. You can lose your F-1 status by waiting more than 15 days. You need to bring your Passport, your I-94, your I-20-ID, and a statement of eligibility from your previous school. This statement “School Transfer for F-1 Students” is available from the Office of International Admission. A new Carroll College I-20 will then be issued to you. If you are a continuing Carroll College student but are beginning a new level of study this semester, you need to bring your passport, I-94, I-20-ID to the Office of International Student Admission. A new Carroll College I-20 will be issued to you. You must also do this within fifteen days after you start classes in order to maintain your status. If you plan to transfer from Carroll College to another school, please contact the Office of International Admission for further advice.
Director of International Education
Information and Forms