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Maintaining F-1 Status

Immigration Regulations and The Role of the F-1 Student

F-1 students are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with all laws and regulations set forth by the US Department of Homeland Security. Violation of these laws can seriously affect your immigration status as well as your academic career. It is extremely important that you read and fully understand all of this information.

The below rules are taken from U.S. Federal regulation 8 CFR 214

Full Time Study at FDU
  • Maintain a full course of study each Fall and Spring semester for the duration of your program.
  • FDU Full Time Course Load = 9 credits for Graduate Programs and 12 Credits for Undergraduate Programs
  • Only one online course can count toward the full course load requirement each semester.
  • English for Professional Success (EPS) classes do not count toward full course of study for immigration registration  - see information below
  • You must be actively attending classes to maintain status. Non attendance of classes is a violation of status.
  • A full course load is not required to complete the academic program in the final semester. The final program requirement may not be an online course.
There are limited exceptions to the full course of study rule, and you must obtain permission from ISS before dropping below full time.

Full Time Study with the English for Professional Success (EPS)

While students may have achieved the TOEFL and/or other English Proficiency scores required for admission, all international students are required to take an EPS course for academic and language support, unless they are from exempt countries.  International students will have the opportunity to take an EPS waiver test during International Orientation. 

The United States Department of Homeland Security SEVP Branch mandates that English language support courses are not permitted to count toward full time study for immigration registration.

Although at FDU EPS courses are considered 3 - 4 credits that can be used toward your university full time study registration and therefore eligible toward your scholarship, they do not count as part of a full time study for immigration status.

If you are placed into EPS you must understand the below full time study rules.
  • As an English Language Support class, EPS will not count toward full time study for immigration registration.
  • In your first semester if you are registered for less than 9 Graduate degree credits or less than 12 Undergraduate degree credits + the EPS Course you will be approved for a one semester Reduced Course Load for “English Support.”
  • You may only be approved for a Reduced Course Load for English Support or Academic Difficulty for one semester. Therefore, the only other semester you may be less than full time is your final semester – or for a medical issue.
  • If you must retake EPS you must take a full academic course load with - 9 credits (Grad) or 12 credits (UG) plus EPS or you will be in violation of F-1 status.
  • You will keep your academic scholarship while taking EPS as long as your combined course load is 6 credits plus EPS (Grad) or 9 credits plus EPS (UG).

Off Site Study

You may only take classes at an off campus location if the Office of International Student Services has given a written approval for the particular course or courses.

If you would like to take an off campus course you must meet with an International Student Advisor and gain approval prior to engaging in any off campus coursework.

According to university policy, students may not be enrolled in another program at another institution while matriculated at FDU.


Report Address and Name Changes within 10 days to ISS

ISS is required to provide a valid address and other student data to the federal government. We are the only university office authorized by the federal government to process this data for international students.

Report Changes in Program to ISS

You must notify ISS whenever there is a change in your academic program, program dates or level of study. For example, if you change your major or from a Bachelor’s program to a Master’s program, you must be issued a new I-20.

Keep ALL I-20s

You may receive many I-20s throughout your studies in the U.S. (for CPT, OPT, change of major, transfer, etc.) Never throw any of them away!

ISS Notices and Announcements

ISS will often send out and post important information on immigration regulations that could affect you directly. You must check the following locations for these announcements:

ISS FDU Facebook
ISS Instragram   FDU_ISS
Your FDU Webmail account: Note – we will contact your directly through your FDU Webmail account.


Travel Signature on I-20

Students must receive a travel signature on page 2 of the most recent I-20 prior to traveling outside the United States. Once the I-20 is signed the travel signature is valid for 12 months.

Visa Expiration

Your visa is valid for travel up until the expiration date. Once the visa expires you are not required to receive a new visa as long as you maintain your F-1 status within the U.S. A valid F-1 visa is only required for re-entry into the U.S.

You should have the following documents to reenter the U.S. after traveling abroad:
  • Most recent SEVIS I-20 with current signature on page 2 by an International Student Advisor
  • Valid passport – valid for at least six months from date of return to US
  • Unexpired F-1 visa in your passport – exception see Automatic Visa Revalidation on ISS webpage
  • Proof of financial support (sometimes requested at the Port of Entry)
  • Proof of registration for current or upcoming semester (if possible)


F-1 students may work no more than 20 hours per week on campus when classes are in session and full-time during official university breaks (summer and winter breaks) [8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)]. You cannot work off-campus, including unpaid work experiences, without PRIOR authorization from ISS and U.S. Immigration. Off campus work authorization for an F-1 student must be in the form of Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training (Pre or Post Completion), or Severe Economic Hardship. Unauthorized employment will result in the termination of your immigration record.

Program Completion

Upon completion of your academic program you must do one of the following:
  • Depart the U.S. within the 60 day “grace period”
  • Apply (or have already applied) for OPT - You will have a 60 day “grace period” following the end of OPT
  • Transfer your SEVIS record to a new school
  • Enter a new academic program at FDU
  • Apply (or have already applied) for a Change of Status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

***Note the completion date listed on your I-20.
The program end date on your I-20 is an estimated end date. Your actual program ending may extend beyond or end before the I-20 end date. Once you complete your program, you will need to take one of the above steps even if you have additional time on your I-20. In addition, if you cannot complete your studies by the end date listed on your I-20, you must visit ISS before this date to file for an extension