Maintaining Your F-1 Status

As an F-1 student, it is your responsibility to know and adhere to all the rules and regulations of your immigration status during your time in the United States. You gain “status” when you enter the U.S. with an F-1 visa or change your status with the U.S. Immigration & Citizenship Services. The intended purpose of F-1 status is to study. Any violation of the immigration rules and regulations could result in the termination of your F-1 status.

How long can you stay?

When you enter the U.S., Customs and Border patrol will issue you an I-94: Proof of Legal Entry into the U.S., which  is now electronic. It indicates how long you can remain in the U.S. All F-1 students are marked D/S or “duration of status.” This means you can remain in the U.S. as long as you are properly maintaining your status. The I-94 also includes an 11-digit number that you may be needed at the Department of Motor Vehicles and for other processes.

How to maintain your F-1 status

  • Maintain a valid passport at all times
  • Make sure that your Form I-20 does not expire
  • Complete mandatory check-in & registration in the SEVIS system every semester
  • If your Form I-20 will expire before you can complete your degree, you must apply for an I-20 extension BEFORE the I-20 expires. Requests for extensions must be made to ISS  and may require approval of other departments prior.
  • Register full-time and complete a full course of study during the academic year. If you will not be enrolled full-time (3 course minimum), you must receive permission from ISS BEFORE going below full-time enrollment. This also applies to withdrawing from a class that will drop you below full-time.
  • Do not work off-campus in the U.S. without prior authorization (even if the employer tells you differently). F-1 students are allowed to work on-campus. Any off-campus work MUST be approved by ISS and potentially USCIS BEFORE the work begins.
  • Report the following changes to ISS within 10 days of the change.
    • Address, email and phone number
    • Academic major
    • Funding information
    • Academic level
    • Departure from Williams
    • Dependent information

Useful tips

  • Make sure to check your Williams College email account for periodic updates and notices from ISS and the College. Their messages are always important and can have an effect upon your F-1 status. If you do not check your email, you may miss important information that could cause you to lose F-1 status.
  • Most of your requests will have to be processed through the SEVIS system. Because of this, processing delays may occur. For important time-sensitive requests, such as OPT and I-20 extension, make sure to plan ahead and submit requests with enough time to allow for unexpected delays.