Basic Regulations and Maintaining Status

Basic Regulations

Travel Documents

Keep the following important documents valid and in a safe place.

Passport– Your passport is the foundation for all of your other travel documents and your authorization by your country of citizenship to travel.  It is issued by your home-country or the country of citizenship under which you have chosen to apply for the F-1 Visa

  • Must be renewed at least 6-months before its expiration date

I-20 – The Form I-20 is also known as a Certificate of Eligibility because it authorizes you to ‘apply’ for an F-1 Visa and then to request entry into the U.S. in F-1 Visa status

  • This document is only valid if it accurately explains your program of study and has a future end date
  • Become familiar with the program end date (Item #5 on page 1 of your I-20)
  • If you won’t finish your Program of Study by the program date, you must talk to an IE advisor before your program end date to request a program extension request
  • If you want to depart the U.S. and return during your studies you must request a travel signature on page 2

I-94 -(Arrival/Departure Record) is updated by Customs and Border Protection at the Port of Entry when you enter the United States

  • You can print your most recent I-94 and a record of your U.S. travel history at
  • When you enter the U.S., an Immigration Officer will stamp in your passport (rather than give you an I-94 card) that is annotated with your entry date, expiration date, and visa type (e.g., F1)
  • As an F1 student, you should have a “D/S” (Duration of Status) as your expiration date. If you have a specific date rather than the “D/S” notation for the expiration date, you must let IE know immediately

F-1 Visa – The F-1 Student Visa is issued specifically for study and is required to enter into the United States to begin your studies and also to return to study after departing the U.S.

  • If you keep your passport, I-20, and I-94 valid, it’s okay to stay in the U.S. with an expired visa. You must apply for a new visa if you depart the U.S. and plan to request to re-enter
  • Students must have a valid visa when requesting to enter the U.S.
  • Contact your IE Advisor if you have questions about applying for an F1 visa

Maintaining Your Status

English Language Institute (UP/ESL): Minimum of 20-hour credits per quarter.

Bridge: 15 credits (one college skills class and ENGL 093) Optional: ENGL 096 (Bridge Support)

College: Minimum of 12-credits with at least 7-credits on-campus (or in-class) courses per quarter. Hybrid classes count as on-campus credits.

Students must report any changes to their contact information (address or phone) within 10 days of the change.

The Study in the States website contains more details about the requirements to maintain your F-1 status.

Remember, always speak with an IE Advisor if you have questions!

Last Updated October 22, 2021