Maintaining Your Legal F-1 Status
As an F-1 student, you were admitted to the United States for "duration of status" (D/S). This means you are permitted to be present in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status by complying with the rules and regulations pertaining to F-1 students as set forth by the U. S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (CIS).
Please keep in mind that there is an important difference between an F-1 visa and F-1 status. An F-1 visa is the stamped page in your passport placed there by a U.S. Consular Officer for entry purposes only. F-1 status is granted once you enter the U.S. and is regulated by the CIS and the Department of Homeland Security [DHS]. Even if your visa in your passport is valid, you can still lose your legal F-1 status if you do not comply with the applicable immigration laws regulating your stay in the U.S. If you fail to maintain your legal F-1 student status, you will need to apply for reinstatement, or in some cases, be forced to leave the country. With immigration laws and regulations changing constantly and penalties for non-compliance becoming more severe, it is critical that international students and in the F-1 visa classification maintain their legal status in the United States. Students must be aware of and comply fully with the following compliance requirements set forth by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS):
Compliance With U.S. Immigration Laws and Regulations: The Role and Responsibility Of the International Student in F-1 Visa Classification
- You must maintain a valid passport at all times, unless exempt from passport requirements.
- You must attend the college/university DHS has authorized you to attend.
- You must complete an official immigration transfer whenever you change educational institutions. F-1 students must notify your current institution of your intent to transfer, obtain a Form I-20 from the new institution, and report to the Designated School Official at the new school within 15 days of the program start date listed on the Form I-20.
- F-1 students must complete a full course of study during normal enrollment periods. If you will not be enrolled full-time (12 credits at JHMI), you must receive authorization/permission from the Designated School Official in the OIS in advance. You and your academic advisor must complete the OIS form, "Request for Authorization to Drop Below Full-Time Enrollment," and submit it to OIS prior to registering for less than a full course load or prior to dropping below a full course load.
- You must apply for an extension of your program of study prior to the expiration date on your Form I-20 if you cannot complete your program by that date. F-1 students must complete the OIS form, "Request for Certification for Non-Immigrant F1 Student Visa Status." Requests for extensions should be submitted 30-60 days prior to the expiration date of the Form I-20so the extension process can be completed prior to the expiration date on the document.
- You must obtain a new Form I-20 before changing your academic program from one degree level to another (e.g., from Masters's to Doctoral's level), one school to another (e.g., from the School of Medicine to the School of Public Health), or one major/field of study to another (e.g., from Neuroscience to Biochemistry). You must receive authorization/permission from the Designated School Official in the OIS in advance.
- F-1 students are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session. Requests for permission to engage in any off-campus employment opportunity must be discussed and approved IN WRITIN by the OIS.
- # You must report any change of address or residence and/or any change of name directly to the Office of International Services on Form AR-11 within 10 days of the change. OIS will then electronically notify DHS of the change, via SEVIS, with 21days, as required by the new regulations.
- You must notify OIS prior to traveling outside the U.S. so that the Form I-20 can be endorsed for travel or a new form can be issued, if required.
- You must notify OIS of any accompanying dependents in F-2 status and provide biographical information (e.g., full name, address, country of birth, etc.) and immigration information (e.g., passport information, visa information, etc.)." OIS is required to report information to DHS regarding your dependents.
- f you are subject to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), you must comply with all requirements. Comprehensive information regarding the NSEERS program is available at the Department of Homeland Security's website - http://www.ice.gov/graphics/specialregistration/index.htm.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: This information is not exhaustive and is subject to change without notice. International students and scholars should contact the Office of International Services (OIS) at 410.955.3371 to arrange an appointment to discuss any questions or concerns related to your legal status in the United States.
The information outlined above is not intended to be exhaustive. If you have any questions or need additional information about maintaining your F-1 status, please contact the Office of International Student, Faculty, & Staff Services at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.