There are certain rules and regulations you must follow to maintain F-1 status, like being enrolled full-time, and proving you have income to support yourself while you are here. International Programs and Services can help you understand and navigate the process of maintaining status.
For additional guidance, or any time you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 906-487-2160.
F-1 Student Responsibilities
F-1 students must:
- Register full time for Fall and Spring semesters, and if required for summer
- Maintain a current passport valid for at least six months into the future at all times
- Know your grace periods
- Request authorization from IPS before dropping below full-time enrollment
- Report all address changes via Banweb within 10 days. Please note: You can only update your Mailing or Future Mailing address. The IPS DSO will update your SEVIS Residential address when we run our weekly report, you do NOT need to update this address.
- Report changes to your name, if you plan to bring a dependent to the US, or plans to change your visa status
- Request transferring to another school as soon as possible
- Report a change in program of study (for instance, moving from one degree level to another, or a change in major) to IPS and request a new I-20
- Request travel signatures before you depart the US
- Request an I-20 Extension at least two weeks before the document expires
All F-1 and J-1 students must be enrolled full-time during fall and spring semesters.
International students are not required to take classes during summer. But you must be enrolled full-time if you have been admitted and will begin your degree program during summer semester.
What does full-time mean?
Undergraduate students must take at least 12 credit hours. Graduate students must take at least 9 credit hours. Check with your department for any additional requirements especially for fully-funded PhD students.
Online Course Limit
Only one online class (maximum 3 credits) counts toward full-time enrollment. You may take online courses in the summer if it is not your first semester.
Audited Courses Do Not Count
Audited courses are not considered full-time enrollment as required by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and the terms of your student status in the US. Talk to your advisor if you want to audit a course.
Full-time Requirement Exceptions
During the academic year, F-1 and J-1 status international students must be enrolled full-time, or receive permission from International Programs and Services for a reduced course load. You do not have to take classes during summer semester unless you have an award or employment — for example, a fellowship or a graduate assistantship — that requires summer enrollment.
The Graduate Language Assessment and Support (GLAS) is a free program offered by the Graduate School, to help international graduate students improve their English oral communication skills. Through small-group conversations, students gain experience about participating in class discussions, responding to questions, and listening effectively. GLAS coaches work with students to help them better understand US university expectations, and what students and instructors expect from each other in classrooms. Visit the GLAS page for more information and to schedule appointments.
- As an F-1 student, you are eligible to work 20 hours/week on-campus while maintaining a full enrollment requirement during the Spring/Fall semesters.
- During breaks (Spring break, Thanksgiving break, winter break) and Summer, you may work up to 40 hours/week. (For payroll purposes, a "week" begins on Sunday and ends on Saturday.)
- You are eligible to apply for a social security number after you have begun working.
- If you go for an internship or co-op, you must apply for a CPT (Curricular Practical Training) through Career Services. Remember that all CPT applications are processed through Career Services, we (IPS) just process your I-20 after Career Services have finished all the processing on their part. For questions related to CPT processing, please contact Career Services at email@example.com or Admin 220.
- After graduating, you must apply for an OPT (Optional Practical Training) if you wish to stay in the USA and work under full-time employment. After finishing one year on your OPT, you must apply for a STEM OPT extension which is valid for 2 more years. For all OPT related questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For detailed information, please visit the Employment page and choose the particular sub-category of your interest.
F-1/J-1 students must complete academic program requirements in a set amount of time. The program end date is printed on page one of the I-20 or DS-2019.
Students unable to meet their academic program requirements by the program end date must apply for a program extension before their program end date.
Requesting a program extension to participate in Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) will not be authorized due to federal rules and regulations.
Extension Eligibility Criteria
You may qualify for an extension if:
- Your I-20/DS-2019 expiration date has not passed.
- You continuously maintained F-1/J-1 student status.
- Your delay in completing your program is because of a compelling academic or medical reason.
- Academic reasons include change of major, change in research topic, unexpected research problems, etc.
- A medical reason requires documentation from the student health center or a US-licensed medical physician.
How to Request an Extension
- Complete the following documents and upload to the Students I-20/DS-2019 Program Extension Request.
- Complete the Students I-20/DS-2019 Program Extension Request Google form and upload necessary documents.
You will be contacted when your new I-20 or DS-2019 is ready.
We strongly recommend you submit the extension request as soon as possible and no later than one to two months prior to the expiration of your current I-20 form.
Keep all I-20 or DS-2019 forms you are issued (including older ones).
F-1 and J-1 students can change majors, or finish a degree at one level, and get admitted to a new program at a new level. But it is your responsibility to report these changes to IPS and maintain an accurate I-20/DS-2019. If you change levels or majors, IPS needs to process a new I-20/DS-2019 for you and update it with the government's SEVIS records. Please carefully review all the information on this page to find out how to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 from IPS when you change
F-1 students are admitted to the United States for a time period called Duration of Status (D/S), covering the time when they are pursuing a full course of studies, plus any authorized optional practical training (OPT) after completing their studies.
D/S has three "grace periods" that determine when new students can enter the county and how long they can stay in the US:
- An F-1 student may enter up to 30 days before the program start date listed on Form I-20.
- An F-1 student may remain in the United States for up to 60 days beyond completing the program of study, and up to 60 days beyond the completion date of any authorized OPT.
- An F-1 student who has been granted an authorized early withdraw from classes has 15 days to depart the US after the withdrawal date.
If you are transferring to another U.S. school, you are not required to start your new program within that 60-day-grace period. But you must start it within five months from the end of the semester or the date your record was transferred, whichever is earlier. If you request a transfer to another US school in the middle of the semester, you have no grace period. You need to start studying at your new school immediately.
If you become a Permanent Resident, please submit a copy of your green card by filling this form.
If you do not maintain your F-1 status, there are two ways to try to get your status back.
- Depart and re-enter the United States with a new I-20 issued by either the school where you lost your status or a new school.
- If you are a current student, you can apply for reinstatement by completing the application. The steps to take are outlined on the Reinstatement Checklist. If you are not a current student this option will not work for you.
Events That Can Cause You to Lose Status
The most common reasons are:
- Failure to enroll full-time
- Failure to request an I-20 extension before your current I-20 expires
- Failure to pay for your classes, meaning you are not enrolled
- Failure to transfer schools on time
- Working without authorization
Who Can Be Reinstated?
Not everyone is eligible. Here are the basic requirements. Please come to IPS to talk about your specific circumstances.
- You have not been out of status for more than five months *
- You are enrolled full time or plan to enroll full time as soon as possible
- You have not worked illegally
- You are not being deported,
- You lost status for reasons beyond your control
- You do not have a record of repeated or willful violations
* Students who have fallen out of status get five months to apply for reinstatement. If you apply after five months, your application is less likely to be approved. You will have to show that there were exceptional circumstances that prevented you from applying in a timely manner.
Form I-94 is proof of your legal admission to the United States. Please print your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record and carry it at all times. You are issued a new I-94 each time you enter the country.
Current students need these documents to re-enter the US:
- Valid, unexpired visa (except for Canadian Citizens)
- Valid, unexpired passport. Always be sure your passport is valid for at least six months into the future. Depending on your country, you might be able to extend your passport here in the US, or you might have to go home to do it. Get more details from the US Department of State.
- Most recent I-20 or DS-2019, signed for travel by an IPS advisor within six months of your return date.
- Dependent I-20’s or DS-2019’s and passports (if applicable).
You Need to Know:
- If you graduated and are in your grace period, and depart the US for any reason, such as a cruise, the grace period automatically ends. You cannot re-enter the US.
- I-20s automatically expire for students with F-1 visas if they are outside the US for longer than five months — regardless of the date of the travel signature. You need to pay a new SEVIS fee and get a new I-20.
If you forget your I-20 or DS-2019:
- IPS can mail your I-20/DS-2019 before you enter the US. Contact us at email@example.com or 906-487-2160. You have to pay the extra mailing fee if your I-20/DS-2019 needs to be express-delivered.
- If you do not have the I-20/DS-2019 when you enter the US, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issue Form I-515A. With the Form I-515A, CBP also gives you Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, allowing you 30 days from your entry date to provide SEVP the necessary documentation to prove lawful entry. Contact IPS immediately for assistance.
Travel to/from Canada or Mexico and Automatic Revalidation
- Unless your country of citizenship is among the visa exempt countries (marked as eTA in the list), you need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) issued by the Canadian government. You can apply for a tourist TRV, generally issued
for a six-month period, at your nearest Canadian Immigration Visa Office. Please note,
international students on F or J visas should not travel to Canada to obtain a new visa stamp from a United States Consulate.
If you apply for a visa stamp in Canada, you will need to wait until it is approved before you can come back to the US. If your new visa application is not approved by the US Consulate in Canada, you will not be permitted to re-enter the US and will have to return to your home country directly from Canada. Only in your home country will you be able to apply for your visa stamp to re-enter the US.
- For a short visit, a tourist visa may be required for citizens of certain countries. Others will need a tourist card to enter Mexico. Click here for a list of Mexican Consulates in the US and please review the MexOnline site for detailed information.
- Automatic Revalidation: Most F-1 and J-1 students can travel to Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent Caribbean Islands and re-enter the United States on an expired (US) visa, but only if their stay is less than 30 days. This brief travel makes them eligible for automatic revalidation when they re-enter the USA (CPB Automatic Visa Revalidation Information). Take a look at the checklist for automatic revalidation. Students and scholars who travel to Mexico or the Caribbean by cruise ship must contact the cruise line before they buy a cruise package; find out if the cruise line recognizes automatic revalidation and will allow you to return to the US without a valid F-1/ J-1 visa.
Adjacent Islands include:
Saint Pierre, Miquelon, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions.
Checklist for Automatic Revalidation:
- Visiting Canada, Mexico, or adjacent Caribbean Islands for less than 30 days
- A current I-94
- A valid, unexpired passport
- SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 with travel authorization signature
- Evidence of health insurance
- Evidence of funding
- Copy of transcript
- Proof of enrollment for the upcoming semester if available
- Have not applied and do not plan to apply for a new entry visa at a US Consulate
- Not a citizen of Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Libya, Sudan, Syria, or North Korea
Travel Tips within the United States
- Students traveling within the US should carry your visa, passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and printed copy of I-94
- Traveling while on CPT/OPT students should carry your visa, passport, I-20, EAD card (where applicable), and printed copy of I-94
- Online flight check-in is fastest and easiest. Check in at home and print your boarding pass. In some cities, you can have a link to your boarding pass emailed to your mobile device, then show your boarding pass barcode on your device screen at the security checkpoint and when boarding. You can check-in starting 24 hours before the scheduled departure. You will be notified if your flight changes or is canceled. The airline will help you book a new flight if needed.
- If you fly from Houghton County Memorial Airport, install the United app on your mobile device to book and check flight status and other conditions. Weather often affects flight schedules.
- Join Stuck Huskies on Facebook, where you can post on either if you need a ride, can give a ride, or will go in on a rental car, for example, if a flight from Chicago to Houghton has been canceled check with the Huskies pool resources to carpool back to Houghton.
- Make and carry in a separate safe place a copy of your passport biographic page, US visa and admission stamp, or paper Form I-94.
- If your passport is lost or stolen, contact your embassy or consular section for the country of your citizenship to find out how to replace it.
- Contact Michigan Tech Public Safety or go to your local police station to report lost or stolen documents.
When Family Travels
F-2 or J-2 spouses and minor children who are not accompanied by the F-1 or J-1 student must have:
- Valid and unexpired passport
- Valid and unexpired US visa stamp (except for Canadian citizens)
- Valid separate Form I-20 or DS-2019
- Evidence of financial support for dependent(s)
To get your I-20 signed for travel please fill out this form.
How to transfer to Michigan Tech
If you are currently in the US on another institution's I-20, you must also submit a completed Transfer In Form. You do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again but you must have a copy of the receipt to show the US Embassy if you require a new visa.
How to transfer out of Michigan Tech
If you would like to transfer to another school in F-1 or J-1 status, you ask Michigan
Tech (the transfer-out school) to transfer your Student and Exchange Visitor Program record, or SEVIS, to the new
school (the transfer-in school). If you do not request a SEVIS transfer your new school will not be able to access
your SEVIS record or issue you a new transfer I-20/DS-2019 from that school.
You need to know:
- SEVIS records and academic records are different, and unrelated.
- Applying to a new school and being accepted will not automatically transfer your immigration (SEVIS) records.
To transfer your SEVIS record, submit:
- A completed Transfer Out Form
- The new school's transfer-in form, if it has one
- A copy of your admission letter from the new school
F-1 students who do not request a transfer within their grace period will be out of status. If you lose legal F-1 status, you have to depart and re-enter the US with a new initial I-20 from your new school in order to study at that school.
For J-1 students, transfers must be requested prior to the end of your program.
Dependents and Family
There are two ways students and scholars can bring family to the United States:
 If the family member is your spouse or dependent child (unmarried children under age 21) they are eligible for dependent status. The dependent status lasts for the duration of the primary visa holder’s status.
To request F-2 I-20s or J-2 DS-2019s for your dependents from IPS, you must fill out this Google form.
Documents required to be uploaded:
- Your current I-20 or DS-2019
- Personal information pages of your dependent’s passports. Each dependent's documents should be uploaded in separate sections, so do not combine everything into a single pdf.
- Properly filled Dependent Request Form.
- Proof of financial support for you and your family members (you must show the amount you originally needed for your course of study, plus an additional $4,000 for your spouse and $2,500 per child to cover their living expenses).
- Properly filled copy of either the Affidavit of Financial Support (if undergraduate student), or Certification of Finances Form (if graduate student or J-1 scholar)
Refer this page for further details on the application process and how to proceed after receiving the I-20 or DS-2019. Please note that processing I-20s can take 4-5 business days.
 If family members are not a spouse or dependent child (for example, a parent, sibling, child older than 21, or fiancée), they can apply for B-2 tourist status. The maximum length for B-2 status is six months.
To start the B2 visa application process, write a letter of invitation to your family. Include the purpose of the visit, your relationship to the individuals, a statement of your status here, itinerary details, and the length of time they will visit. Emphasize that the visit is temporary, and family members intend to return to their home country. The US Department of State offers more details about how to apply, and other visa information. Providing family members with strong documentation can improve their chances of obtaining visas, but there are no guarantees. Please note that IPS staff cannot write letters of invitation for your family members.
F-2 dependents can have their own ID card for an annual fee of $10. This card allows the F-2 dependents easy access to several amenities (such as free rides on the MTU shuttle services). These cards are issued at the Student Development Complex (SDC) Ticket Office.
For spouses, a marriage certificate is required, along with some photo ID for the dependent. For partners (not spouse), an alternate verification form is available at the SDC ticket office, which needs to be filled out. The enrolled student (F-1) must accompany the dependent at the time of applying for the ID card.
For detailed information and other available benefits, please review this information sheet.
F-2 dependents who wish to improve their English communication skills may join the Elaine Bacon Literacy Program. The Program is compiled of individual one-on-one classes as well as conversations with a "conversation partner". Please visit the Elaine Bacon website for scheduling classes and for further information.
- F-2 dependents can not be authorized to work in the USA and are not eligible to be issued a Social Security Number.
- F-2 dependents can engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the United States as long as they are enrolled for less than a full course load.
- If an F-2 dependent wishes to start studying as a fully-enrolled student, they would
need to change their status to F-1 (after receiving admission from the university
in their desired program). There are two ways to obtain F-1 status if you are already
in the United States:
- You can submit an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- When you receive an acceptance letter and (F-1) I-20 from Michigan Tech, you can leave the US and return to your home country, and then apply for an F-1 visa from there.
- Children as young as 6 years old can be issued F-1 visas to attend a SEVP-certified school in the United States, but there are strict limitations. For more information on Kindergarten to Grade 12 students, please visit this page.
Please visit this page for detailed information about how to change your status to F-1.
If your family is coming for your graduation, fill out this graduation invitation form with your name and the name of each visitor clearly printed as it should appear on the letter. If you would like to invite multiple family members, you will need to fill out one form per guest. Please be accurate in your response (capital letters, spelling etc). What you enter will be exactly how it appears in the letter. IPS will email you soft copies of the letters once they are processed.