It is important that you maintain lawful F-1 status while in the U.S. As an F-1 student, it is your responsibility to manage your documents and reporting requirements, but we are here to help.
Responsibilities for Maintaining Legal F-1 Status
When we talk about your immigration status, we are referencing the purpose and duration of your presence in the U.S., as granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This status is determined by your Form I-20 and SEVIS record, your F-1 visa stamp (in your passport), your admission stamp (provided at a U.S. port of entry), and your I-94 record.
While these documents establish your status, you have the responsibility to maintain your F-1 status in the following ways:
Check in with ISSA
You must check in with ISSA to register your F-1 immigration status within 30 days of your program start date listed or within one week of your arrival at Notre Dame, whichever comes first. Bring your passport so ISSA can confirm you entered in the correct status and report your arrival to DHS.
Maintain a valid passport
Passports may be renewed in the U.S. at the embassy or consulate of the country that issued your passport. Find your nearest embassy or consulate here.
Enter the U.S. in F-1 status every time
Each time you enter the U.S., verify that you were entered in F-1 status. Before leaving the inspection area at the port of entry, check that your admission stamp indicates F-1 status with D/S and the correct entry date. Once you arrive home, check and print off your I-94 record online to confirm F-1 status with D/S and the correct entry date.
Maintain a valid, accurate I-20
Before leaving the U.S., always review your I-20 and verify:
- the accuracy of the biographical information,
- the accuracy of your program information, and
- the validity of the travel signature
Your I-20 will need to be updated and re-issued if you have changed any of the details that appear on the form, including your name, degree level, country of citizenship and primary or secondary major. Carry your I-20 with you whenever you leave the U.S. Travel signatures are valid for one year from date of signing, and must be valid at the time you reenter the U.S.
Maintain Full Time Enrollment
You must enroll full-time every fall and spring semester and confirm enrollment by completing Roll Call. In each semester, full time enrollment is:
- Undergraduates - 12 credit hours
- Graduate students during coursework - 9 credit hours
- Graduate students during thesis or dissertation research and writing - at least 1 credit hour
There are some exceptions to the full time enrollment requirement, but they must be reviewed and authorized by an ISSA advisor prior to reducing your course load. The Reduced Course Load Request form is available in ISSAlink, but contact ISSA prior to completing the form.
According to federal regulations, no more than one online class per semester may be counted towards full time enrollment.
Report Change of Address
Report address changes within ten days of the change:
- at the beginning of each semester, report the change during Roll Call
- other times of the year, report the change to firstname.lastname@example.org
Students on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) should update their address by completing the OPT US Address Report form in ISSAlink.
Be Mindful of Program End Date
If you will not complete your program before the program end date on your I-20, you must request a program extension before the end date is reached. Once you have reached your program end date, you are no longer eligible to work on campus, enroll in classes, or request an extension.
If you will complete or graduate early, it is important to notify ISSA so we can adjust your I-20 program end date and notify you of your timelines for applying for OPT or change of status, transferring to another institution or departing the U.S.
Once you have reached your program end date, you have a 60 day grace period during which you can apply for Post-Completion OPT, transfer to another institution, apply for a change of status, travel within the U.S. and prepare to depart the U.S. If you stay in the U.S. beyond your 60 day grace period without apply for OPT, transferring or applying for a change of status, you are considered out of status.
Do not work off campus without authorization
For information on working on campus and applying for off campus work authorization, visit F-1 Employment.
File tax forms each spring
As an F-1 student, you must file U.S. tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each spring, even if you have no U.S. income. Students can email email@example.com for an access code to Sprintax, an online tax preparation service.
USCIS also provides answers to frequently asked questions on their site.