Maintaining Status

International students who have F-1 visas must follow rules and regulations set forth by the U.S. government to maintain their lawful non-immigrant status.

Maintenance of lawful non-immigrant status is the student’s responsibility. Failure to maintain status may have serious long-term immigration consequences. Elmhurst University Principal Designated School Official/Designated School Officials (PDSO/DSOs) in International Student Services (ISS) are available to provide advice on rules, regulations, and status maintenance and can be contacted at

5 Rules for Maintaining Lawful F-1 Status in the U.S.

1. Maintain Current Contact Information

U.S. federal law requires F-1 non-immigrant visa holders to always maintain current contact information with the University. Any change to your address (within the U.S.), permanent address (in your home country), local phone number, or e-mail address should be updated within 10 days of the change. Complete the “F-1 Student Contact Information Update Form” below to notify your PDSO/DSO of any contact information changes.

Update Your F-1 Student Contact Information

2. Maintain Valid Documents

You must always be in possession of a valid passport, I-20, and I-94 form. Your passport and I-20 must always have expiration dates in the future. Your I-94 record should always accurately reflect your travel.

  • Request I-20 extensions as necessary before the I-20 expiration date by completing the following electronic form and submitting the required academic and financial documentation: F-1 I-20 Extension Form.
I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

Make sure to complete any necessary extensions of your documents to maintain validity well in advance of the document expiration. Always keep your documents in a safe place. Contact your PDSO/DSO with any document validity or extension questions, as well as to share your updated documents.

3. Maintain a Full-Time Course Load During the Academic Year

The below enrollment requirements have been established to equal full-time enrollment at Elmhurst University and meet U.S. government regulations. If you are a student who is financially sponsored by your government or other scholarship provider you may be required to meet the specific requirements of your scholarship, which can only be above and beyond the Elmhurst University and U.S. government requirements.

  • Undergraduate Students: 3 credits (12 semester hours)
  • Graduate Students: 1.5 credits (6 semester hours)

Receiving a “W” (Withdraw) or “NF” (Nonattendance) on your transcript may drop you below a full course of study.

F-1 students may not count more than one online course towards their full course of study requirement. Additionally, if you have only one course remaining to complete your degree it cannot be taken online.

Regulations allow for a “Reduced Course Load” (RCL) in certain, limited circumstances. To discuss and check your eligibility for an RCL, please contact your PDSO/DSO in advance of registration and prior to enrolling less than full-time or withdrawing from any courses. To apply for an RCL, complete the form below and include the required documentation.

Please complete the Reduced Course Load Form and submit required evidence if you believe you need and qualify for an RCL.

4. Understand Work Regulations and Eligibility

Read more on work regulations and eligibility in the U.S.

As an F-1 student, you are allowed to work on-campus. However, you must obtain specific employment permission from your DSO to accept any employment off-campus (paid or unpaid), even if it fulfills an internship requirement for your academic program. Permission for off-campus employment must be obtained in advance.

  • F-1 Student Employment Weekly Hours Limit:
    • Your total combined hours of employment for all on and off-campus employment cannot exceed 20 hours per week while school is in session. If you have multiple jobs, your total hours worked cannot exceed 20 hours per week. Working more than 20 hours per week is considered unauthorized employment and is a status violation that can have long-term consequences for your immigrant record.
    • During school breaks and summer vacation, F-1 students who are maintaining their status may be eligible to work more than 20 hours per week.

Please review the Employment Page for more information regarding F-1 student employment regulations

5. Follow the Proper Procedure to Transfer Schools

As an F-1 student, you have the right to transfer your SEVIS record to another SEVP-certified school. You must complete a legal SEVIS record transfer, as well as a transfer of your academic record. Your transfer must be completed in a timely fashion: As soon as you know that you will transfer, make an appointment with the PDSO/DSO to discuss the proper procedure and necessary documents.

  • If you are transferring to Elmhurst University from another school, please complete the following form with your current school DSO/international student services staff: Elmhurst University SEVIS Transfer Release Form.
  • If you are transferring to another school from Elmhurst University, please notify your PDSO/DSO and your Academic Advisor/Program Director.

In general, you should reach out to the PDSO/DSO if you plan to do any of the following:

  • Change major, program, or degree level
  • Change education level
  • Transfer to a new school or take a leave of absence
  • Take a break from school
  • Travel outside the United States
  • Move to a new address
  • Request a program extension

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the above or want to discuss your status contact

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