F-1 Status and Status Maintenance

F-1 Duration of Status (D/S) and grace periods
You are admitted to the United States for "duration of status (D/S)," defined as the period during which you are pursuing a full course of study in a bachelor's or master's degree, doctoral or post-doctoral program, and any periods of authorized practical training, plus 60 days within which to depart from the U.S. If you fail to comply with the immigration regulations that apply to F-1 status, you may be liable to expedited removal from the U.S., and your eligibility for employment authorization will be seriously affected.

Maintaining F-1 status
Definition of F-1 Status
An F-1 visa and F-1 student status may be granted to an alien "who is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study" at an academic or language institution authorized to admit international students. When applying for an F-1 visa, the individual must prove to a U.S. consular official that he or she wishes to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of study and that the applicant has a permanent residence in a foreign country which he/she does not intend to abandon.

F-1 regulations
Once you are admitted to the U.S. in F-1 status, you must meet certain obligations in order to maintain your status:
  1. Complete the SEVIS Registration Check-In  Process.
    Upon arrival to the University of Miami, all newly admitted F-1 students are required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) to complete SEVIS Registration Check-In with ISSS by the end of Week 2 of your first semester at UM. Failure to do so will result in a Negative Service Indicator (a Hold) from ISSS to be placed on your Student Record, which will block your enrollment activity and affect your eligibility to receive services from ISSS.  Failure to timely complete your SEVIS Registration Check-In requirement will also result in termination of your F-1 status. SEVIS Registration Check-In requirement applies to students who are new, transfer, readmit, study abroad, and changing educational level from the Intensive English Program (IEP) to degree seeking. 
  2. Have a passport that is kept valid at all times.
  3. Attend the school you were authorized to attend.
    If you entered the U.S. with the Form I-20 of another school, but are attending the University of Miami, you are out-of-status, and must either apply for reinstatement, or leave the U.S. and re-enter with the University of Miami's Form I-20. This regulation does not mean you may not take courses at another U.S. institution during the summer vacation period, or even during the school year, if certain requirements are met.
  4. Enroll for a full course of study.
    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires that you be enrolled full-time (12 credits, if undergraduate; 9 credits, if graduate; 11 credits for all Law programs) each academic semester, except during the semester you are graduating, when you need enroll only for the credits still needed. Completing an "Incomplete" does not count towards enrollment. In order to be enrolled part-time during an academic term, you must have valid justification such as illness. International students are not required to enroll for the summer sessions with the exception of students graduating at the end of the First Summer Session or the Second Summer Session. Summer graduates must be enrolled the summer session in which they are scheduled to graduate.
  5. Apply for program extension if you need to remain in the U.S. longer than the period of time specified on your admission Form I-20.
    If you are unable to complete your degree program within the time period indicated on the admission I-20, you may request a program extension if the delay is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Application for extension MUST be made prior to the completion date on your I-20. If your delay in completing your program is not for one of the reasons discussed above, or if you do not apply prior to the completion date on your I-20, you will be considered to be out-of-status and must apply for reinstatement.
  6. Follow certain procedures to continue from one educational level to another.
    If you begin another educational program at the University of Miami, e.g., from Bachelor's to Master's or Master's to Doctorate, you must follow the change in educational level procedures available on the ISSS website. Students changing from IEP to a regular academic program should consult with IEP.
  7. Follow certain procedures to transfer from one U.S. school to another.
    If you are transferring to the University of Miami and have traveled outside of the United States in the interim, and re-entered the country with the I-20 from UM, then your transfer is complete and you need to complete the SEVIS Registration Check-In requirement within 30 days after the Program start date listed on your I-20.  If you have not traveled outside the United States, you must complete the SEVIS Registration Check-In requirement within 15 days after the Program start date listed on your I-20.
  8. Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
    International students in F-1 status who are enrolled full-time and in good academic standing are eligible to work on-campus beginning with the first semester. International students are not eligible for "work-study" positions. All employment and assistantships during the academic year are limited to 20 hours or less per week.
  9. Refrain from off-campus employment without authorization.
    International students are eligible to apply for off-campus employment authorization after having been in F-1 status for one full academic year immediately preceding the application.  Employment authorization must be obtained through ISSS.   Complete the online Employment Session for information on employment authorization and prior to submitting your application for any type of off-campus employment authorization. Visit www.miami.edu/employmentsession to access the session and employment applications.
  10. Report your U.S. address and permanent foreign address in CaneLink
    As an international student, you are required to report a valid U.S. address and a permanent foreign address upon arrival to the U.S., and within 10 days of moving. Your permanent address is the address where you actually reside in your home country.

    Students who live on-campus: As soon as you have checked into housing, U.S. address is automatically entered. You need to make sure to enter a “local” address in CaneLink within 10 days of moving out of the residence halls. You may NOT enter any of the following as your local address:  foreign address, UM Department address, or an address with a P.O. Box.

    Students who live off-campus: Enter your U.S. address as your “local” address in CaneLink. You may NOT enter any of the following as your local address:  foreign address, UM Department address, or an address with a P.O. Box. 

Safeguard and Retain Your Documents: It is your responsibility to retain copies of all your immigration documents and all immigration applications (Form I-20, employment, change of status, program extension, etc.) for your records/future use.

Length of Study
The completion of studies date in Item #5 on the most recent SEVIS Form I-20 is the date by which USCIS expect you to complete your academic program. If you are unable to complete your academic program by that date, you must apply for program extension at least 30 days before reaching the I-20 completion date. If you are eligible for an extension of your time limit, your advisor will assist you to comply with extension requirements.

Eligibility Requirements for Program Extension:

You may apply for program extension if:
  1. You have not yet exceeded the program completion date in item #5 on your SEVIS I-20 and

  2. You have continually maintained lawful F-1 status, and

  3. The delay in completing program requirements has been caused by compelling academic reasons (such as changes of major field or research topics, or unexpected research problems), or documented medical reasons. Delays in completing program requirements which are caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension of a program of study.
If your completion of studies date has expired or if you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for program extension, you may need to apply for "reinstatement" to lawful F-1 status. In this case, you must contact your International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) Advisor immediately.

Application Deadline for Program Extension
You must apply for the program extension no later than 30 days before completion date on your I-20. You should contact ISSS as soon as possible so that you will have sufficient time to prepare your application. If your completion date has already passed, you will be considered out-of-status and you need to contact ISSS immediately.

Application Procedures
Documents needed:
  1. Academic Advisor's Recommendation for Program Extension
  2. SEVIS I-20
  3. Original Form I-94
  4. Proof of funds

Failure to Comply with Program Extension Regulations

It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to F-1 students, including the program extension discussed in this handout. If your I-20 completion of studies date will soon expire or if it has expired, you are urged to immediately contact your International Student Advisor. Failure to comply with your responsibilities results in loss of your immigration status and an ineligibility for any type of employment (even on-campus employment through a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship) or to apply for practical training or other F-1 benefits. In some situations, you may be subject to deportation.