Office of International Programs (OIP)


F-1 Regulations

As an F-1 international student, you are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with the U.S. laws and regulations that apply to your F-1 student status. This is referred to as "maintaining status" or "being in status." Failure to be aware of and to comply with important U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations could jeopardize both your legal status in the U.S. and your future academic plans.

 

Here is a list of basic guidelines:

 

Keep your passport valid for at least 6 months

Contact your home country's embassy in the U.S. for information about renewing your passport validity. See a list of Foreign Consular Offices in the United
States at http://www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/fco/

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Attend the school noted on your I-20

You must have a current, valid I-20 from the school that you are attending.
If you transfer from another school, the SEVIS transfer process must be completed within 15 days of the semester start date.

See I-20 transfer procedure at : http://www.sfsu.edu/~oip/f1services/NewStudents/I20TransferProcedures.html

If you want to transfer to another school, follow the procedures at: ttp://www.sfsu.edu/~oip/f1services/CurrentStudents/TransferToAnotherSchool.html

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Keep your I-20 valid and up-to-date at all times

You must complete your academic program or request an I-20 program extension before the completion of studies end date indicated on your I-20 (see section 5 of the I-20). You must also request a new I-20 from OIP if you change major or your degree level (such as from a Bachelor's to a Master's).

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Maintain full-time enrollment

F-1 students must enroll in and complete a full-time course of study at SF State each Fall & Spring Semester. Students do not need to be enrolled in a full-time course of study during the Summer or Winter breaks.

What constitutes a full-time course load varies according to academic level:

Undergraduate students - the minimum is 12 units per semester. A maximum of 3 units of online classes or CEL (Academic Unit classes, no CEU) may be counted towards this minimum.
Graduate students - the minimum is 8 units per semester. A maximum of 3 units of online classes or CEL (Academic Unit classes, no CEU) may be counted towards this minimum.

Certificate students - the minimum is 12 units per semester

This means that you must not only pay full-time tuition & fees and enroll in a full course of study at the beginning of each semester, but you must also complete a full course of study at the end of each semester.

Grades which count towards satisfying the full-time enrollment requirement are: A, B, C, D, F, CR (Credit), NC (No Credit), and I (Incomplete)*

* Students who receive an "I" (incomplete) grade for a course are given one calendar year (12 months) immediately following the end of the term in which the incomplete grade was assigned to make-up the necessary work for the class. Failure to complete the assigned work within this one year period will result in the "I" grade being converted into an "IC" grade.

Grades which do not count towards satisfying the full-time enrollment requirement are: W (Withdrawal), WU (Unauthorized withdrawal), AU (Audit), and IC (Incomplete charged)

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Online courses

You are allowed to take as many online courses as fits your academic plans. But during the Fall and Spring semesters, you are limited to only using one online course towards the full course load requirement, whether it is an SF State course or a course offered by another school.

If a student needs only one course to finish his or her degree program in the last semester, it must be a regular (lecture) course at SF State and no online course is allowed.

Note: If you are currently enrolled in a Hybrid course, it is NOT considered an online course. The definition of a hybrid course is one that requires physical attendance for at least one component. This could be an orientation, an exam, a seminar, or any other kind of meeting.

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Get OIP approval before dropping below full-time or withdrawing from SF State

If you must withdraw from your academic program (leave of absence, academic probation lock, or academic disqualification) or drop below full-time studies, you are required to get approval from OIP before doing so. Immigration regulations permit exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement in very limited circumstances.

To get approval from OIP, contact OIP by e-mail (oip@sfsu.edu) or visit the office during drop in hours and explain your plan and the reasons for doing so. Once OIP gives you approval to withdraw from all classes, you must leave the U.S. within 15 days.

See information regarding:

Exception to the Full-time Enrollment Requirement:
http://www.sfsu.edu/~oip/f1services/CurrentStudents/ExceptionToTheFullTimeEnrollmentRequirement.html

Leave of Absence: http://www.sfsu.edu/~oip/f1services/CurrentStudents/LeaveOfAbsence.html Completing Your Program:
http://www.sfsu.edu/~oip/f1services/CurrentStudents/CompletingYourProgram.html

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Get an I-20 travel signature

If you will travel outside the U.S., there must be a travel signature on the third (last) page of your I-20 from an International Student Advisor at OIP for you to re-enter. This signature must not be older than 6 months on the day you re-enter the US. Request an I-20 signature from OIP at least 2 weeks in advance of your departure, although you are strongly encouraged to request it even earlier.

Only the F1 International Student Advisors at OIP are authorized by Department of Homeland Security to sign your I-20 for travel purposes.

See information about Travel to and from the US at: http://www.sfsu.edu/~oip/f1services/Travel/TravelToAndFromTheUS.html

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Get proper employment permission before starting to work

You are allowed to work part-time on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session (Fall & Spring Semesters) but can work full-time only during the Summer, Winter, or Spring breaks. You are not permitted to work off-campus without first receiving authorization from USCIS and/or from an International Student Advisor at OIP.

See information about employment at:

http://www.sfsu.edu/~oip/f1services/Employment/index.html

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Update your current residential US address within 10 days of any change

You must report any change of US residential address directly to SF State using SF State Gateway within 10 days of the change. This data will be electronically updated to your SEVIS F-1 record.

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Get proper employment permission before starting to work

You are allowed to work part-time on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session (Fall & Spring Semesters) but can work full-time only during the Summer, Winter, or Spring breaks. You are not permitted to work off-campus without first receiving authorization from USCIS and/or from an International Student Advisor at OIP.

See information about employment at: http://www.sfsu.edu/~oip/f1services/Employment/index.html

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Depart the U.S. within your grace period

You must depart the U.S. within 60 days of your I-20 program completion date or your actual program end date, whichever is earlier. The exceptions to this rule include students who

  • Have applied for Post-Completion OPT, or
  • Are transferring to another U.S. school, or
  • Have applied for a change or adjustment of status with USCIS

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