F-1 Status Maintenance

F-1 students must meet certain obligations in order to maintain their status. Maintaining F-1 status is necessary in order to receive the benefits that go along with the status such as employment on campus and eligibility to do practical training (CPT and OPT); also, it can be crucial to a successful application for adjustment of status, in the future.

The International Student Handbook gives details that will help you understand the immigration regulations pertaining to the F-1 student status.

How to Maintain Your F-1 Status

You need to do the following to maintain your F-1 status:

  • Keep your passport valid for 6 months into the future.
  • Attend the school for which you are authorized.
  • Refrain from unauthorized work.
  • Obey all state and federal laws.
  • Complete the transfer procedure in a timely manner.
  • Apply for any program extension prior to the program end date on your I-20, if necessary.
  • When traveling abroad, always return in proper F-1 status.
  • Report any change of address within 10 days.
  • Depart from the U.S. in a timely manner (60 day-grace-period after the graduation).
  • Report the online SEVIS registration to the International Student Office within 15 days at the beginning of every Fall and Spring semester.
  • Carry a full course load during the Fall semester and the Spring semester (12 credits/undergrads, 6 credits/grads*) and make normal academic progress towards completion of program. 
    * (Maximum of 3 non-traditional credits, such as online or modular class or directed studies, is counted toward the full-course load requirement per semester.)

Exceptions for Maintaining a Full Course of Study

Exceptions for maintaining a full course of study are*:

  • Academic difficulty such as initial difficulties with the English language, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, or improper course level placement (in the first semester)
  • Medical problem (documentation from appropriate medical official is required and not to exceed 12 months).
  • Final semester of a program of study (must be reported to and approved by International Student Advisor prior to the start date of the requested semester)

* You still must maintain at least half-time enrollment, unless there are medical reasons for your decrease in enrollment hours.

Full-Time Enrollment (for Moody Theological Seminary Students) 

The immigration law mandates that F-1 students in a graduate program (such as Moody Theological Seminary programs) must maintain a full course load in order to maintain their F-1 status. That means you need to take at least 6 credit hours/semester (except for the summer semester). Out of these six credits, a minimum of three hours must be in a traditional format (attending the classroom for the whole semester). Modular, online, and directed study course are considered non-traditional; classes in this format can be taken as long as you meet the requirement of the traditional classroom coursework.

Please note that the credits of any modular, online, or  independent studies course will be counted as part of the semester in which it was registered. The credit for a directed study course will go toward the semester that the official registration date falls. Following are the guidelines for determining the semester in which a modular course will be placed:

  • The October modular is considered a part of fall classes.
  • The January modular is a part of the fall classes.
  • The March modular is a part of the spring classes.
  • The June modular is a part of the spring classes.

(In the beginning of every semester when you have to fill out the immigration registration report on SEVIS link, be sure to calculate all of the credits you will be taking.)

Please Note: If you fail to maintain a full course load (not enrolling in enough credits or dropping a class without permission from the International Student Office and, thus, have less than the full course load requirement) you may jeopardize your immigration status and become out of status.

International Student Office