F-1 Students

How to maintain your F-1 status

  1. Report to the OIS within 30 Days of I-20 Start Date
    It is REQUIRED BY LAW that you complete the check-in process when you first arrive at UMB whether it is your first time in the United States or if you are transferring from another U.S. institution. If you are transferring to UMB, see the Transferring Schools page for more information.

  2. Always Enroll Full Time
    F-1 students must maintain full-time enrollment each semester. For undergraduate students, a full-time credit load is 12 or more credits each semester; students enrolled at the graduate level should learn what constitutes as full time in their program. No more than one class or 3 credits offered online will count toward full-time status. In certain academic and medical circumstances, the OIS may authorize part-time enrollment. You must have authorization from the OIS before dropping below full time. See Submitting requests in Sunapsis for details on how to request authorization for a reduced course load.
     
  3. Update Your Local Address
    Immigration regulations require you to update your local residential address within 10 days of moving within the United States. You must do this by updating your local address in your SURFS Account. You are required to use a physical residential address and not a P.O. box or a department address.
     
  4. Keep your Immigration Documents VALID and CURRENT
    You should make photocopies of your immigration documents and keep the copies and originals in a safe place.

    Keep photocopies of:
    • Your passport pages with your personal information and picture
    • The passport page containing the U.S. visa stamp
    • Your I-94 print out, or both sides of your I-94 card (if applicable)
    • Your I-20, pages 1-2

    Keep your passport valid
    You should keep your passport valid for at least six months into the future while you are studying in the United States. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the United States to renew your passport. You can find the contact information for your country's embassy at http://www.embassy.org/

    F-1 Extension
    The end date of your F-1 student status can be found in Section #5 of your I-20 (not the end date of your visa stamp). If you are unable to complete your course of study by that time, you must apply for an extension before the I-20 date of expiration. If you do not complete the extension before that date, you will be out of status. See Submitting requests in Sunapsis for details on how to request an extension.

    Change of Degree Program or Level
    If you are changing degree levels within the University of Maryland, Baltimore, the OIS will issue a new I-20 for you once you have been admitted to the new program and have provided evidence of sufficient financial support.

    Discuss Transfer Plans with your OIS Advisor
    If you plan to transfer to another institution during or after your program at UMB, the OIS will need to assist you with transferring your F-1 SEVIS record. Please visit the OIS during walk-in hours BEFORE the end of your program to discuss the transfer process.
      
  5. Never Work Without Prior Authorization
    International students are limited to two types of employment: on-campus and off-campus employment.
     
    Students may not work on campus without prior approval from the OIS. International students who are maintaining a full-time course of study can work WITH approval from the OIS part time (20 hours a week) during the academic year and full time (40 hours a week) during the summer months and any periods when school is not in session. Because of the various academic calendars, please consult the OIS before working full time on campus. On-campus employment assumes that the work will not interfere with studies and that the student is maintaining good academic standing. Permission to work on-campus is given in the form of the OIS' signature on a job offer letter. IMPORTANT: If you have a Research Assistantship (RA), you are NOT ALLOWED to work an additional job. Such a position is considered, along with your class load, a full-time position.
     
    Off-Campus Employment: Off-campus employment is any type of work or service performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or any other benefit that is not on the UMB campus. Authorization from the OIS in the form of CPT or OPT is required before any off-campus work is allowed. Please contact the OIS for information regarding your eligibility. See our page on Applying for a Social Security number for more information on who is eligible for a SSN and how to apply.
      
  6. Notify OIS When You Leave the United States or Change Visa Status
    Please contact the OIS upon completion of your program in anticipation of departure from the United States. Additionally, the OIS will need to be updated if you change status during your program or while on OPT. 

  7. Traveling Outside the United States
    Please visit our Travel Information page.

F-1 student employment

Employment Defined: Employment is any type of work performed or service rendered in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or any other benefit. If you receive no pay or any other benefit for the work performed and the position is normally an unpaid position, this activity is considered to be volunteer work.

Volunteering Defined: A position is considered voluntary if it is performed for a charitable nonprofit organization and is unpaid for everyone, U.S. and international students alike. There are laws that prohibit the misplacement of a U.S. worker. Volunteering is not solely based on the international's willingness to forgo compensation.

Resource: U.S. Department of Labor test to determine if an unpaid internship is considered employment.

Full Time vs. Part Time Defined: Part-time employment is 20 hours or less a week. Full-time employment is 21 hours or more a week.

Learn more about:

Traveling outside the United States

To re-enter the United States, you need to have the following documents:
  • A valid passport
  • A valid F-1 visa
  • A current I-20 with a Travel Signature             
  • Proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid)
  • Proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript)
Renewing your Visa Stamp
If you or your dependents need to renew your visa stamps to re-enter the United States, you must apply in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation:
  • A valid passport
  • Current passport-size photographs
  • A valid Form I-20 (complete three-page form)
  • Proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid)
  • Proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript).
  • Any additional required paperwork — visit the U.S. consulate's website where you plan to apply.
Travel Signature
F visa holders are required to have their I-20s signed by the OIS before traveling outside the United States if they wish to return.
  • The signature is valid for 12 months.
  • For F-1 students on OPT, the travel signature is only valid for six months.
If you require a travel signature, please drop off your I-20 with the OIS and it will be ready for pickup after 10 a.m. the following business day.
  
Visa Exceptions
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from visa requirements. See for information on traveling with an expired visa.
  
Traveling to a Country Other than Your Country of Citizenship

Before traveling to another country of which you are not a citizen, check the United States re-entry requirements, as well as that country's travel requirements.  A list of U.S embassies and consulates can be found here. Foreign embassies and consulates in the United States can be found here.
  
Canada
Please note that you can re-enter the United States from Canada with an expired U.S. visa stamp if you meet the criteria. Check the Canadian visa requirements here. If you need a Canadian visa, you can download the application from the Canadian consulate website.

Authorization for Reduced Course Load

F-1 and J-1 students are required by law to enroll in and maintain a full course of study during the academic year. On occasion, an F-1 student may be authorized by the OIS to enroll part-time exclusively for compelling academic or medical reasons only.

An F-1 student must obtain authorization from OIS prior to dropping below a full course of study.

 

Reasons OIS may authorize a reduced course load:

  • You are in your last semester of a degree program and need less than a full course load to complete your degree requirements this semester.
  • You have a medical condition which requires you to interrupt a full course of study. A licensed physician, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist will need to complete our Medical Reduced Course Load form
  • You are in your first semester in the United States in a degree program and need time to adjust to the American classroom, the English language, or intensive reading materials.
  • Improper Course Level Placement - your academic advisor must provide further explanation on how the department incorrectly advised you regarding your registration.

Request Process

  1. If you need a reduced course load due to a medical reason, you will need to have a licensed physician, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist complete our Medical Reduced Course Load form
  2. Log into Sunapsis and click on F-1 Student Services on the leftside-menu
  3. Select the Reduced Course Load Authorization Request.
  4. Complete the form. Upload the completed medical reduced course form if applicable (note, your academic advisor will not be able to see this form). When you hit submit, an e-mail will go to your academic advisor in your academic program. You should talk to them before submitting this form.
  5. When your academic advisor submits the form, OIS will review. Please allow up to 5 business days for OIS processing after your academic advisor submits the e-form.
  6. The OIS will inform you and your academic advisor via e-mail when your reduced course load authorization has been granted. Do not drop below a full course of study until you receive that e-mail.

I-20 extensions

F-1 students are required to have a valid I-20 in their possession at all times. If you require more time to complete the requirements for your degree because of academic or medical reasons, then you may apply for an extension of your I-20. Failure to extend your I-20 by the expiration date may result in a loss of valid F-1 status. You can locate your I-20 expiration date in Section 5 of your I-20. The OIS recommends starting the extension process at least four weeks before the expiration of your I-20.

You will need to submit the "Program Extension/Change of Level I-20 Request" e-form in Sunapsis. See Using Sunapsis to Submit Requests.

Financial documentation is needed showing sufficient funds for the period of extension. A detailed cost of attendance can be found here. If you have F-2 dependents, please show an additional $7,200 per year for your spouse and an additional $6,600 per year for each additional child.

Once the OIS has received these items, the office will review your case to determine whether you meet the lawful eligibility requirements for an extension of your Form I-20. If eligible, the OIS will issue you a new, extended I-20 with a new program completion or expiration date. It will take the OIS approximately 10 business days to process extension requests.

F-2 dependents

Only the spouse and minor children (under age 21) who accompany the F-1 visa holder to the United States may receive F-2 dependent status. Their eligibility to stay legally in the United States, as well as to extend their stay, is contingent upon the F-1 visa holder maintaining their legal status and extending their program in a timely manner.

All other family members must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor’s visa to gain entry to the United States.

F-2 and Employment

The F-2 spouse and children of an F-1 student are NOT eligible for employment in the United States. However, they may do volunteer work as long as there is no compensation of any kind and the F-2 dependent is doing a job usually done by volunteers.

F-2 and School

The F-2 child may only engage in full-time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade). The F-2 spouse may study part-time. The F-2 spouse and child may also engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature.

An F-2 spouse or F-2 child (post-high school) who desires to engage in full-time college or university study must apply for and obtain a change of nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1, or M-1 status.

How to Obtain an I-20 for Your Dependent

Complete the Add SEVIS Dependent e-form in Sunapsis. See Submitting requests in Sunapsis.


For each dependent, you'll need to be able to provide:

  • An additional $7,200 in U.S. funds for a spouse and/or $6,600 in funds for each child. Please provide a recent translated bank statement.
  • A copy of the dependent's passport.
  • Proof of the relationship to the F-1 visa holder, such as a copy of a birth certificate or marriage license. (Needed for the visa application, not necessary for the OIS.)

Submitting requests in Sunapsis

The Office of International Services is using Sunapsis to receive requests electronically for certain student processes.

What can you do in Sunapsis?

  • F-1 Practical Training
    • Submit your Curricular Practical Training (CPT) request
    • Submit your pre-completion or post-completion OPT request
    • Submit STEM OPT extension
    • Submit a request for your Cap-Gap Extension I-20
    • Report changes to your OPT (report all changes within 10 days of the change!)
  • F-1 Student Services
    • Submit a request to transfer your SEVIS record to a new school
    • Add a Dependent — Obtain an I-20 for your spouse or child (under age 21)
    • Submit a Program Extension or Change of Level I-20 request
    • Request authorization for a Reduced Course Load

How do I use Sunapsis?

  1. Visit the Sunapsis website.
  2. Click on the blue login button.
  3. Log in with your UMID and password **If your UMID does not work, email ois-info@umaryland.edu for assistance.
  4. Click on "F-1 Practical Training" or "F-1 Student Services" on the left-side menu to access the above noted e-forms.
  5. Select the desired e-form and complete it.
  6. Once submitted, please allow 10 business days for processing your request.