Maintaining Your Status
It is your responsibility to comply with all Immigration regulations that apply to non-immigrant students. If you are not sure whether or not an action will affect your immigration status, please contact the Registrar before taking that action. Visit the USCIS website for additional information related to maintaining your status.
If you violate your immigration status, you will not be able to work on or off campus, engage in practical/academic training, or transfer schools until you have been reinstated to F-1 Status. You may be required to leave the United States. Refer to the reinstatement guidelines at the USCIS website for more information.
Basic requirements for maintaining your status include:
- Not engaging in unauthorized employment
- Having a valid passport
- Having a valid I-20
- Maintaining a full course load
In general, passports are valid if they have not expired. Do not let your passport expire while you are in the U.S. Below are instructions for renewing your passport and information on traveling with your passport.
Renewing Your Passport
Your passport should be valid at all times. If your passport is near expiration, please contact your country’s embassy or consulate. They will give you instructions on how to renew your passport. This process can take anywhere from three-six months, so please plan accordingly.
Traveling with Your Passport
Your passport must be valid for at least six more months at the time you re-enter the U.S. Some countries have passport agreements with the U.S. that would allow you to enter with less than six months remaining on your passport.
When you travel to the US, you need to make sure you have the following documents with you:
- I-20 with current signature (I-20 requires a current signature every 12 months or every 6 months while on OPT)
- Valid passport (valid for at least six months after your arrival)
- An F-1 visa
- The same proof of financial ability that you used to obtain your I-20 and visa
At the Port of Entry
A visa does not guarantee entrance into the US. The USCIS has the authority to deny admission at the port of entry. While traveling, carry important documents with you. Do not place them in a suitcase.
Things to expect when coming into the United States
- Be sure to have all of your documents in order upon arrival. Before leaving the airplane, the flight attendant will pass out an I-94 card for you to fill out with information regarding your arrival in the United States. You need to keep this card throughout your stay in the United States, as it shows that you have entered the United States legally.
- At the port of entry into the United States, immigration officials will inspect your passport, visa, and statement of financial support. Have these documents out and ready for the officials.
- The officials will stamp your documents as proof of your legal entry into the United States.
- Your I-94 card is usually stapled in your passport. It documents your entry, including your status and the length of time you can stay in the United States.
You must take enough credits each semester/quarter in order to maintain your F-1 nonimmigrant status. Contact the ATSU Registrar for additional details.