Maintaining Status Overview


As an F-1 student, it is your responsibility to understand how to maintain your status. Taking the time early on to become familiar with your obligations should make it easy to maintain your legal status. The ISAP Office can also assist with questions you may have.

For undergraduate students this means that you must register for at least 12 units for both the spring and fall semesters. For graduate students, this means registering for at least 9 units. Other important elements of maintaining status are: 


All immigration related documents must be valid and up-to-date:

  • Passport must be valid six (6) months into the future
  • I-20 must be updated, current, and within the program dates
  • F-1 visa (must be valid before you can enter or reenter the U.S.)
  • You must receive written authorization from ISAP and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before beginning any kind of employment. Employment includes internships, whether paid or unpaid. Learn more about employment options here.
  • Stay aware of your program end date. If you stay beyond the 60 day grace period after your program completion date, you will be in violation of status and may not be able to enter or study in the United States in the future.
  • Within 10 days of moving, you must update your address in WebAdvisor.
  • Contact ISAP immediately if there are any changes to your I-20, or if you plan to make any changes. (Changes of major, program extensions)
  • Obtain a travel signature from ISAP on your current I-20 before leaving the United States. You will need this for re-entry!
  • All international students must file one tax form per year, even if they do not work. Make sure you file the appropriate tax forms. For more information, see our taxes page.