Maintaining F-1 Status

Maintaining F-1 Status

F-1 students are required to understand and comply with the rules and regulations pertaining to their immigration status. Failure to comply with these rules and regulations may result in the loss of important immigration benefits, including your eligibility to: 

  • accept on-campus or off-campus employment, including practical training
  • remain in or return to the United States following a trip abroad
  • transfer to another school
  • change to another non-immigrant status or pursue other immigration benefits

Teachers College is required to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when a student fails to maintain lawful F-1 student status. It is essential that every F-1 student complies with the following rules: 

KEEP YOUR IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS VALID AND UNEXPIRED. As an F-1 student, you are required to maintain valid, unexpired immigration documents while in the United States. These include:

  • Your passport must be valid at least six months into the future (Canadian citizens excepted). If your passport is about to expire, contact your consulate for information on how to apply for a renewal
  • Your Form I-20 must be valid and accurate. Be sure to keep all your previously issued I-20 Forms. You must contact the OISS immidiately, if any information changes on your I-20 and visit the section on Program Extension for additional information. 
  • Your I-94 record must be acurate and printed every time you travel outside and re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. Your record must indicate F-1 status and D/S. To obtain a copy of your I-94 record, visit the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website. 

Your Form I-20  reflects your biographical information, your degree objective, your academic major / field of study, and your financial information. Your I-20 should reflect at all times correct, up-to-date information.  If any significant information on your Form I-20 changes, including change of name, school, degree objective, major, or financial sources, you must notify the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) and obtain an updated or revised I-20 no later than fifteen days after the change becomes effective.

Your I-94 record is processed electronically by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at an airport of port-of-entry. Your I-94 record should always be marked "F-1 D/S" to reflect your admission to the U.S. as an F-1 student for "duration of status," i.e., for the time you are a full-time student as indicated on your I-20. If your I-94 record does not have the annotation "F-1 D/S," contact the OISS immediately.

ENROLL IN A FULL COURSE OF STUDY OR RECEIVE AUTHORIZATION FOR A REDUCED COURSELOAD FROM THE OISS.  You are required to pursue a full courseload during the fall and spring semesters. Only one on-line course may count toward full-time enrollment in any fall or spring term. A reduced courseload (part-time study) may be authorized only by the OISS in very specific circumstances. Students needing to apply for reduced coursework must complete and submite the Reduced Coursework Request Form. For additional information, see the section on Full Course of Study Requirement of our website. 

*Please note: Before the COVID-19 health crisis, only one on-line course could count toward full-time enrollment. Due to the on-going public health concerns around COVID-19, temporary guidance have been applied to this limit to online courses for the duration of the health crisis. More information can be found under the FAQ section here.   

MAKE NORMAL, FULL-TIME PROGRESS TOWARD DEGREE COMPLETION.  You are expected to make normal progress toward degree completion. You must meet your department's standards and requirements for satisfactory academic performance. Please note that under TC academic policy, 8 points of C- or lower constitutes grounds for dismissal from the College.

Delays due to unsatisfactory performance, failing grades, incompletes, or lack of consultation or advisement with faculty advisors are not considered acceptable for purposes of maintaining F-1 status or qualifying for extensions of F-1 status.  Only valid medical or academic reasons, such as changes in academic advisors, research topics, or problems with methodology or data collection, are considered acceptable grounds for any delays in meeting degree requirements.

WORK ONLY WITH THE WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE OIS AND/OR THE USCIS.  F-1 students have limited employment benefits, as explained in the F-1 Employment section of this web site. Failure to obtain employment authorization before starting employment is considered a severe violation of F-1 immigration regulations.

CARRY ALL REQUIRED DOCUMENTS WHEN EXITING AND REENTERING THE US. For detailed information on the documentation needed to reenter the U.S. in F-1 status, visit the Travel section of our website.  

NOTIFY THE OFFICE OF THE REGISTRAR OF ANY CHANGE OF NAME OR ADDRESS WITHIN 10 DAYS OF THE CHANGE.  You are required to notify Teachers College through the Office of the Registrar of any change of address or change of legal name.  This notification must be made within 10 days of the change.

  • We are required to maintain a "physical" (actual street residential) address in your immigration records. If you prefer that TC maintain a PO Box address, please report your "physical" address to the OISS directly.
  • Students on post-completion Optional Practical Training may report their address to the OISS directly.

NOTIFY THE OISS IF YOU WILL NOT REGISTER, OR IF YOU WILL BE OUTSIDE OF THE US FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME EXCEEDING FIVE (5) MONTHS OR MORE. If you intend to depart the United States for an extended period of time, please notify the OISS. Your F-1 status may be terminated if:

  • You are not registered as a full-time student during any autumn or spring semester
  • You are outside of the United States for five months or more for non-academic reasons (personal / family leave, non-academic employment)

Students who will be outside of the United States for an extended period of time for data collection, fieldwork, and research-related reasons may retain F-1 student status but must maintain full-time registration during the autumn and spring semesters. Registration during the summer is not required.

FINALIZE YOUR PLANS BY THE END OF YOUR GRACE PERIOD. F-1 students have a 60 day grace period upon completion of their program at which point you must do one of the following: 

  • Depart the U.S. 
  • Change of Program/New Degree Level: you must file a request for a new I-20 if you are changing your academic major and/or will be pursuing a new degree program or moving to a new degree level. The new I-20 must be issued within 15 days of changing your major or starting your new program.
  • School Transfer: notify the OISS if you have completed or will terminate your enrollment at Teachers College in order to pursue a new program of study at another institution. This request must be made no later than 30 days after completing your studies at Teachers College. 
  • Apply for Post-Completion Practical Training
  • Change immigration status


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