It is very important for any F1 student in the United States to make sure that they are maintaining their student visa status at any point of time. Failing to maintain F1 status will put you in out-of-status which usually leads to deportation from US.
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Some of the things which a F1 visa holder should always keep in mind to maintain their status are:
- Always enroll as a full time student in their respective school.
- Keep your passport valid.
- Check with your campus about the required credit hours per semester is considered a full course load for undergraduates. Graduate students must take at least the required number of credit hours to be considered "full-time". If you are unable to take the required number of courses needed to be full time due to some valid reason, you need to take your department advisor's approval and inform your designated school official so that you can still maintain a full time status with USCIS.
- Maintain good academic standing throughout the tenure of your course. Failing to maintain good academic standing for more than 2 consecutive semesters lead to disqualification from F1 status.
- Student on F-1 visa should try to complete their studies by the expiration date on the I-20 form. If it is anticipated that you would fail to complete your studies within the given period you should apply to the school's Foreign Student Advisor for an extension at least 30 days prior to the expiration. Extensions are normally granted for academic and medical reasons so long as there have been no violations of visa status.
- If you plan to transfer schools after arrival on an F-1 visa, you will need to notify your current school of you intention to transfer and obtain an I-20 form from the new school. You will complete the student certification section of the I-20 and must deliver it to the foreign student advisor at the new school within 15 days of beginning attendance at the new school.
- If you are changing majors at your current school, you do not need to notify USCIS. However, you will need to get a new I-20 and submit it to the foreign student advisor within 15 days of beginning the new program.
- Do not work off-campus without employment authorization.
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For more information about extending your F1 visa status, visit F1 Visa Extension.