Students in Rec Room

Basic Requirements for Maintaining F-1 Status

  • New students should report to the DSO for SEVIS Registration upon arriving at the school before program starts.  If the registration is not completed within 30 days after program begins, you may loose your F-1 status.
  • Carry a full course load every semester.  Reducing course load in any semester needs to be approved.  Check with the DSO if you need to take a reduced course load. A reduced course load is usually allowed in the last semester of your study, but you are still required to fill out an application.
  • Maintain sufficient health insurance coverage.  Each semester you will be automatically enrolled in and billed for NDNU’s health insurance program when you register, unless you show proof of sufficient health insurance coverage of your own.  To avoid the health insurance charges, you need to fill out the health insurance waver form once a year.
  • Make normal progress towards completion of program.  If you become disqualified from school, you lose your F-1 status.  Check the University catalog for conditions of academic and other disqualifications.
  • Keep continuity in the program of study.  In general, an absence from the U.S. or any other academic break for more than 5 months terminates F-1 status, except for authorized study abroad program.
  • Extend program in a timely manner. Your I-20 lists the normal duration of study in your program.  If you have to extend it, you are required to submit an application.
  • Retain all legal documents carefully.  For example, the I-94 (the small white card stapled in your passport upon entering U.S.) will be taken away when you leave U.S.  If you lose the I-94 card, you might not be allowed to board the plane.  You should also retain all I-20 forms, expired or not.
  • Return in proper F-1 status when traveling abroad.  You should make an appointment to see the DSO before you make your travel arrangement. The DSO may need to sign your I-20 before you travel. You should return in F-1 status, otherwise, you may break the continuity requirement and it may not be legal for you to enroll in classes.  On your return, you should carry with you the financial support documents, in addition to a valid passport, a valid F-1 visa, a signed I-20, and a copy of class registration if available.
  • Keep your passport valid for six months into the future.  If you plan to travel outside U.S. and return to continue your study, you should have your passport valid for six months beyond the date of your entry unless your country has special agreements with the U.S.  You should also obtain a new F-1 visa if the old one has expired.
  • Always update your address with the DSO.  You must report any change of address to the DSO within 10 days of the change.  Failing to do so may cause you to lose your F-1 status.
  • Refrain from unauthorized work.  You have employment options, but you are not permitted to work at will in any job you choose.  All F-1 employment must be approved either by the DSO or by the USCIS, depending on the kind of employment.  Any unauthorized work is a serious violation of status and can make you ineligible for normal benefits attendant to F-1 status.
  • Apply for optional practical training (OPT) 90 days before completion of degree.  If you have been in lawful status as a full-time student for at least one full academic year, you may submit the optional practical training (OPT) application.  If you are applying for the post-completion OPT, you should submit the application around 90 days before completing your program.  The other option of OPT is the pre-completion OPT.  Any application sent in after graduation will not be accepted.  Please discuss with the DSO if you need more information.
  • Social security number is needed for employment.  Almost all types of employment require that you have a social security number.  Check with the DSO for the procedure if you are applying for a job.
  • Transfer with a valid status.  To transfer, you must not only have a new school to attend, but you also must be eligible to transfer based on having maintained status at the current school.
  • File all requests and changes timely with the DSO.  Please remember that your DSO needs time to process your requests.  In general, you should submit requests at least 5 working days in advance.