Maintaining Status

As an F-1 international student, you are required by the Department of Homeland Security to abide by the conditions of your non immigrant status. Failure to abide by the regulations will result in serious penalties, including deportation. The following guidelines will help you maintain a legal F-1 status while you are temporarily residing in the U.S.A.

  • Always be aware of the I-20 expiration date found on page 1, item #5. Do not let your I-20 expire. You may apply for an I-20 extension 30 days prior to the expiration.
  • You must attend the school that issued you the I-20 at least for one semester.
  • Any changes to your I-20 such as your name, major, education level or funding must be reported to your international student advisor.

You must maintain valid passports for you and your dependents. Your passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future. To renew your passport, contact your home country embassy in the U.S.A.

  • You must be enrolled in full time hours (12 credit hours) each semester. Exceptions to full time enrollment require the permission of an international student advisor. Exceptions can be made for initial difficulty with the English language, improper course placement, medical condition or final semester of your program
  • CLEP Exams or Credit by Exam courses cannot be used to fulfill the 12 credit hour requirement
  • Registration for all classes including fast track classes must be completed by the first day of the semester
  • Only 3 credit hours from any online class can count towards the minimum 12 credit hours. Therefore, whether you take one 3 credit hour online class or one 4 credit hour online class, you must take an additional 9 credit hours of lecture classes at Richland
Transfer and Concurrent Enrollment

Always obtain permission from an international advisor prior to taking a few classes at another campus (concurrent enrollment) or taking all classes at another campus (transfer).

Address, Phone Number and E-mail Change

Report to your international student advisor any change of address, telephone number or e-mail within 10 days of the change.


Submit U.S. tax forms every year even if you do not earn an income.


Working on campus for 18.5 hours a week while school is in session is permitted. Working off campus is not permitted unless you have been authorized for curriculum practical training, optional practical training or employment based on economic hardship.


Never leave without informing your international student advisor. You must obtain a travel signature on your I-20 ten days prior to your departure. Your passport, visa and I-20 must also be valid when you travel.

Grace Periods

A 60-day grace period exists after academic program completion. During the 60-day grace period, you may:

  • Remain in the U.S. to prepare for departure
  • Transfer to another school or degree program
  • Apply for a change of status
  • Caution: no travel abroad and U.S. reentry on the same I-20 and no employment is permitted during the 60-day grace period

A 15-day grace period exists after authorized withdrawal. During the 15 day grace period, you may:

  • Remain in the U.S. to prepare for departure
  • No employment permitted during the 15-day grace period
  • No transfer may be initiated during the 15-day grace period

A student who has failed to maintain status may apply to be reinstated to lawful F-1 status within 5 months of falling out of status. If the reinstatement is denied, the student will be asked to leave the U.S.

Change of Status

Please notify an international student advisor and provide supporting documents when:

  • You have applied/been approved for a change of status from an F-1 to permanent residency (based on marriage, political asylum, etc…)
  • You have applied/been approved for a change of status from an F-1 to an H-1B (full time work authorization)
Dependents (F-2)
  • May stay in the U.S. as long as the F-1 student is in status
  • May travel abroad and re-enter without the F-1 student but must obtain a travel signature from an international student advisor prior to departure
  • May not be employed in the U.S.
  • May not enroll in a degree program but may enroll in part time vocational/ recreational studies.