F-1 Students: How to Maintain Your F-1 Status While in the U.S.

To stay in lawful F-1 status in the United States, you must remember these important requirements: 

1.Report to the OIS within 30 days of your I-20 start date
2.Always enroll full-time during the academic year
3.Update your local address within 10 days of moving
4.Keep your immigration documents valid and current
    •  KEEP YOUR PASSPORT VALID!
    •  Apply for an extension with the OIS before the "completion of studies" date in Item 5 of your I-20
    • 
Be sure your I-20 states the correct degree program and level in Item 4
5.Never work off-campus without prior authorization
6.Notify the OIS when you leave the United States or change visa status
7.
 
If you travel outside the United States, make sure to have the proper re-entry documents
 

1. Report to the OIS within 30 Days of I-20 Start Date

It is REQUIRED BY LAW that you come to the Office of International Services when you first arrive at UM 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 UM, 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, full-time credit load is 12 or more credits each semester; as a graduate student,it is 9 or more credits. No more than 1 class or 3 credits offered online (including hybrid courses) will count toward full-time status.

In limited circumstances, the OIS may authorize part-time enrollment. Please see our Part-Time Authorization Request Form (pdf) for eligibility criteria. You must have authorization from the OIS before dropping below full-time.

3. Update Your Local Address

The immigration regulations require you to update your local residential address within 10 days of moving within the U.S. 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
  •  Both sides of your I-94 Form (learn about transition to electronic I-94)
  •  Your I-20, pages 1-3

  • Keep your passport valid
    You should keep your passport valid for at least six months in to the future while you are studying in the U.S. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. 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. Please contact the OIS at least 4-8 weeks before your I-20 expires to begin the extension process. See I-20 Extensions for more information.
     
  • 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 UM, the OIS will need to assist you with transferring your F-1 SEVIS record.  Please come to the OIS 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. 

  • On-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 hrs/wk) during the academic year and full-time (40 hrs/wk) during the summer months and any periods when school is not in session. Due to 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 services performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit that is not on the UM 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 U.S. or Change Visa Status

Please contact the OIS upon completion of your program in anticipation of departure from the U.S.  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.