Studying in the United States of America requires going through a lot of immigration paperwork. Once you get the F1 student visa, it is granted for the duration of the coursework. This date is stamped on your passport for U.S. entry. However, this date stamp is only an entry document and doesn’t determine the length of your legal stay in the United States.
Period of Authorized Stay: Deadline for F1 Students To Leave the United States?
The period of authorized stay is the date the F1 student is officially supposed to exit the country United States. This is notated on the I-94 Record of Arrival and Departure issued by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon entry. However, it is not an actual date like other non-immigrant visas receive. Instead it is stamped as ‘D/S, which stands for "duration of status."
Therefore, an international student is not required to renew your F1 entry visa in order to maintain status within the US.
What Is Duration Of Status?
Duration of status is how long an F1 visa holder can stay in the US legally. Per USCIS, an international student can remain in the U.S. on an F1 visa for the duration until he is "pursuing a full course of study at an educational institution approved by USCIS for attendance by foreign students, or engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies, plus 60 days to prepare for departure from the United States." (See 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f).)
This means, as long as the international student is still in school and hasn’t dropped out of school or taken a job, you are allowed to remain in the United States. This final date is further extended with a 60-day grace period.
For example, if you decided to change from a Master's degree to a Ph.D. halfway through a program, your Form I-20 could be updated and extended to give you the extra time you need to complete the new degree without you having to leave the United States.
How To Maintain F1 Visa Status In The US
As long as you are enrolled as a full-time student and are making normal progress towards completing your degree, you are maintaining your F1 visa status. This is also applicable if you are approved for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after you complete your program.
Other ways to ensure that you don’t lose your F1 status are –
- Always enroll full-time for the next semester before the deadline expires.
- Always have an up-to-date authorization from your foreign student adviser or DSO regarding your approved credits and subjects.
- F1 students are allowed to work on campus for 20 hours/week. Do not work off-campus without proper authorization.
- Ensure all paperwork like the Form I-20 is updated should you need more time to complete your degree
- After the completion of your coursework, you are given a 60-day grace period. Ensure you either change your visa status to stay on or depart the United States at the end of your 60-day grace period
- Do not leave the US for an extended period of time unless it is during official vacation periods in college. If you have to do so, get proper authorization for a temporary leave of absence with your DSO. This should be in writing and carry it with you to show the CBP officer at the port of entry.
- Refrain from illegal practices. Committing a crime will make you inadmissible to the United States.
Traveling Outside The US After F1 Visa Expires
While you don’t have to renew your entry visa in order to maintain status within the United States, it is important that you maintain the visa at all times. This means staying in the country until the coursework is completed. However, if you travel outside the United States after your F1 visa expires, but haven't completed your studies, you will need to apply for a new visa stamp before you can re enter in F1 status. This can be done by applying for a visa stamp l go to your local U.S. consulate.
How Do I Renew An F1 Student Visa In My Home Country?
The only way to get a new visa stamp is to apply for one at the United States embassy or consulate in your home country. The process will be similar to the one you went through to get your initial visa stamp.
You will have to again demonstrate that you have the intent to return home when you complete your studies and that you have liquid assets with which to fund your studies and living expenses. You will also have to show that you have been maintaining your F-1 status by making normal progress towards your academic degree.