As an F-1 student, you enjoy both the benefits and the responsibilities of maintaining F-1 status. It is your obligation to learn, understand, and comply with U.S. regulations regarding your F-1 status; noncompliance may jeopardize your status and your ability to remain in the U.S. legally. Your failure to comply could also result in deportation or in your being barred reentry into the U.S. in the future. The Office of International Programs is required by U.S. law to monitor your status and report violations to the Department of Homeland Security. To help you remain aware of the regulations regarding your status, we have compiled the following information for you to use as a resource. However, you should understand that U.S. regulations change frequently, and the information given below is subject to change. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to know the rules of F-1 status and comply with them, but feel free to contact the OIP if you have any questions or need assistance in understanding immigration regulations.*
Additionally, the following websites should act as resources to help you stay abreast of changes in immigration regulations:
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Title 8 Code of Federal Regulations
To be considered full-time as an F-1 student, you must be registered full-time for each required term in your program. If you are a graduate student, you must be registered for 18 credits a year. If you are an undergraduate student, you must be registered for a total of 12 credits per semester for the fall and spring semesters. If you are an ESL student, you must be enrolled in the full ESL program, which totals 20 hours per week.
If you are a degree-seeking student, developmental classes count toward full-time enrollment even when they are not credit-bearing or are credits that do not apply to your degree. However, class auditing or making up an incomplete from a previous semester do not count as credit toward full-time enrollment.
Dropping below full-time must be pre-approved by the OIP, and permission will only be granted for certain academic and medical circumstances. If you have an academic/medical situation you feel might warrant a drop below full-time, please contact the OIP immediately to see if this is permitted. You may only drop below full-time without pre-approval when you are in your last semester of study before graduation and do not need to be enrolled full-time to complete the requirements of your degree program. This information must be certified, in writing, by the Registrar and must be submitted to the OIP before the end of the drop/add period. Apart from the aforementioned cases, if you do not register as a full-time student, you are violating the terms of your F-1 status, and the college is obligated to terminate your status for "unauthorized drop below full course of study."
You should also be aware that if you are taking the minimum number of classes required to be full-time and receive an "F" grade in one of those classes, the 'F' will also cause you to drop below full-time and receive a termination.
Changing your Address
The Office of International Programs must be notified within 10 days if you or your F-2 dependent(s) change your address. We are required by the Department of Homeland Security to report any address change in SEVIS. If you are about to move or have just moved, please fill out the Change of Address form and submit it to us with your signature in person or by mail/e-mail/fax.
Changing Of Major
Your I-20 has been issued to reflect study in a particular major. If you change your major, you must present your approved Change of Major form from the Office of the Registrar so that we can update your I-20. Please note that to formally change your major at the college, you must work with your academic advisor and the Office of the Registrar to do so; the OIP does not have the ability to change your major but must be notified of the change to keep your record accurate in SEVIS.
Change of Program Level
If you completed a degree program at Felician College and wish to begin another (i.e., you finished your bachelor's degree and wish to pursue a master's degree), you must contact the OIP about the procedure for receiving a Change of Level I-20 for your new program. You will be required to submit a letter of acceptance into the new program and new financial documentation proving that you have the funding to cover your studies and living expenses for each year in your new program.
Extending/Shortening Your I-20
Please be aware of the "program end date" on your I-20. If are not able to complete your studies by this date or if you will complete your studies early (before this date), you must notify the OIP so that your I-20 can be extended or shortened. If your I-20 must be extended, you will be required to submit new financial documentation proving that you have the funding to cover your studies and living expenses for each year in your new program.
F-1 students are eligible to work on campus without further authorization from the U.S. government. Students may work up to 20 hours per week during the terms they are required to study and full-time during vacation periods. Work above the allowed number of hours is cause for a termination of F-1 status.
Off Campus Work
For the most part, F-1 students are not eligible to work off campus. On rare occasions exceptions to this rule are made if the student can show evidence that unforeseen circumstances have created an economic hardship. Please contact the OIP to find out more about applying for this type of work authorization under economic hardship. Please also note that we are required to report all unauthorized employment to the immigration authorities.
Economic Hardship Employment
Under most circumstances, F-1 students are not eligible to work off campus. However, if you become unable to support yourself due to economic hardship (loss of financial support from your sponsor(s)), you may be eligible for hardship employment. You must to apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for permission, so do not work off-campus if you have not received employment authorization. If you need to apply for hardship employment, please contact the OIP immediately.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
If a paid off-campus internship constitutes an integral part of your major, you must be approved for the internship with Career Services and apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) before beginning the internship. For more information about CPT and to apply, please contact the OIP.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Every F-1 student who completes an undergraduate or graduate program is entitled to participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT is paid off-campus employment directly related to your area of study, and it is permitted for 12 to 29 months (if you are eligible for a STEM extension) after your program end date. You can apply for post-completion OPT as early as 90 days before you complete your degree, which is highly recommended, as it can take up to three months for your OPT to be approved by USCIS. For more information about OPT and to apply, please see the following, and contact the OIP for assistance:
- Information about F-1 OPT Employment Authorization
- OPT Checklist
- I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
Transferring from/to Another School
If you are currently taking classes at another institution and wish to transfer to Felician College, you must fill out the F-1 Transfer In Request form. Please notify the international student advisor at your current institution so that s/he can transfer your F-1 record in SEVIS to Felician College.
If you have been accepted to another institution and wish to transfer, you must notify the OIP so that we can transfer your F-1 record in SEVIS, and you can continue to maintain your status at your new school. Please fill out the F-1 Transfer Out Request form and submit it to us along with an acceptance letter from the institution to which you wish to transfer.
Change of Status
If you would like to study at Felician College and are in the U.S. on a visa that allows you to change to F-1, or if you are already studying at Felician College and would like to change your status to F-1, the OIP would be happy to assist you in applying for a change of status, provided you did not originally come to U.S. with the intent to study. For more information and to apply, please see the following, and contact the OIP for assistance:
- Information about Changing to F-1 Student Status
- Form I-539: Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
Your passport must remain valid at all times and should be valid for at least six months beyond the period of time for which you have permission to stay in the United States. You can have your passport extended while you are in the U.S. by contacting your Embassy in Washington D.C. or Consulate in New York City.
Traveling Outside the U.S.
Whenever you travel outside of the U.S., you should take every I-20 you have been issued, and have the third page of your most recent I-20 signed by a Designated School Official in the OIP. A valid passport, visa, and I-94 card are also needed to reenter the United States.
Traveling After a COS or With an Expired Visa
If you changed your status to F-1 within the U.S., or if you travel outside the U.S. with an expired F-1 visa, you will need to apply/reapply for an F-1 visa before you can return to the United States. Please be advised that if you leave the U.S. with an expired visa or without an F-1 visa, there is no guarantee that the U.S. consulate abroad will issue you a visa. Travel outside the U.S. in this situation is a risk, and if you are denied an F-1 visa, you will not be allowed to reenter. Please consult the OIP about applying/reapplying for an F-1 visa and to assess the risks involved.
* The information provided here should not be construed as legal counsel and that if such counsel is needed, a student should contact an immigration lawyer.