Maintaining Status

Maintaining your F-1 status—or "staying in status"

“Staying in status” means you are doing what it takes to maintain your legal immigration status.

It is absolutely critical that you stay in legal status. If you fall out of status, you no longer have legal immigration status. If that happens, you could have serious problems with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It could compromise your ability to get a U.S. visa or even enter the United States in the future. If you do not maintain legal status, you will also be unable to receive employment authorization.

OIA is happy to provide you with the information and advice you need to maintain your status. However, maintaining your status is your responsibility.

How to Maintain Your F-1 Status

It is essential to check your IUPUI email regularly. If you do not, you could miss communications that are important to maintaining your status.

  • Maintain a Valid I-20

    Always be aware of the expiration date on your I-20, and do not let your I-20 expire. Be sure to get a travel signature before departing the United States. You will also need to get a new I-20 if you change your degree level, your major, your funding source, or the number of F-2 dependents you have. Timing can be critical for all of these changes, so start the process early.

    Most of these actions can be requested through Atlas. Please call 317-274-7000 to make an appointment with an advisor if you have questions about maintaining a valid I-20.

  • Enroll Full Time

    To stay in status, you need to enroll in a full load of classes each fall and spring semester. Undergraduate students must enroll in at least 12 credit hours each semester. Most graduate students must enroll in at least 8 credit hours.

    Learn the exceptions to this rule »

  • Work Only With Authorization

    Except for on-campus employment, you must receive authorization from either OIA or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) before you begin working.

    Learn more about your employment options »

  • Keep Your Address Updated

    You must update your address within 10 days of any move, even if it is only temporary.

    Learn about changes of address »

  • Keep a Valid Passport

    You must have a valid passport at all times. If your passport will expire while you are in the United States, you need to contact your embassy to find out how to renew it.

  • Abide by Grace Periods

    You have a 60-day grace period following the completion of your program or Optional Practical Training (OPT). This is the period of time before you are required to leave the United States. You have several options during this period, but if you have not taken action by the time it is over, you must depart the United States.

    Learn more about graduation preparation »