Office of the University Registrar

November 3, 2020

Maintaining Lawful F-1 Status

Basic Tips and Rules

In many cases, F-1 students fall out of status due to avoidable reasons, such as failing to follow instructions from the ISS Office. Always read your e-mails from ISS, and talk to an ISS adviser whenever you are uncertain about how F-1 rules apply to you.

Things to Remember:

  • Maintain a full course of study of 12 undergraduate credits or 10 graduate credits each term.
  • Request permission for reduced course loads. A reduced course load of less than 12 undergraduate or 10 graduate credits requires the permission of an International Student Adviser, and can be granted in only limited circumstances.
  • Do not exceed online credit limitations. Only one online class may count towards the minimum credit amount each quarter.
  • Request authorization for a temporary withdrawal from studies. If you need to take a leave of absence and depart the U.S., you must get the approval of an International Student Adviser.
  • Extend your I-20 before it expires. If you need more time to complete your degree requirements, you must apply for an extension of your I-20 before it expires. Once your I-20 expires, you no longer have lawful F-1 status if you have not finished the degree requirements for your program by that date.
  • Update your I-20 as necessary. Contact the ISS Office if your I-20 needs to be updated due to a change of major or change of educational level.
  • Make normal progress toward completing your degree. Students who fail to make normal, satisfactory progress toward degree completion may not be eligible for extensions.
  • Do not accept off-campus employment without authorization. You may work on-campus up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session, or over 20 hours during your annual vacation term and any school breaks. Off-campus employment of any kind requires ISS authorization and/or authorization from USCIS.
  • Update your U.S. address and phone contact information in MyUW. Address and phone updates must be made within 10 days.
  • Depart the U.S. in a timely manner, or take other steps to extend your stay after the end of your program. After completing your degree requirements, you have sixty (60) days to:
    • (a) depart the US, or
    • (b) apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training, or
    • (c) ask for a new I-20 for a new program at your school, or
    • (d) ask for a transfer of your SEVIS record to another school to start a new program at that school
  • For additional information on maintaining your F-1 status, visit the Immigration Information for F-1 Students page.