Office of Global Citizenship

Maintaining Status

While students are studying in the United States on F-visas, it's imperative that they follow these guidelines to maintain their status. Falling out of status could jeopardize your F-1 visa and compromise your ability to stay in the United States. Select a topic to see more detailed information about maintaining your status.

Arrival and SEVIS
Student Information
Immigration Documents
Program Completion

Arrival and SEVIS
  • Enter the United States no more than 30 days before the program of study begins.
  • Contact your designated school official (DSO) to meet reporting requirements. This is required by law. You will need to submit any required documentation (I-94, Visa, Passport, I-20, local address, contact information).
  • NEW students submit an INITIAL SEVIS CHECK-IN FORM within three business days of arriving in Sewanee. The form will be emailed to you. While you do not need to physically come to the office to submit this form or complete your check-in requirement, we encourage new J-1 and F-1 students to visit the office in Carnegie 110 in order to meet the staff and become familiar with its location.
  • CURRENT students submit a SEVIS check-in form at the beginning of every fall and spring semester. They must do this within 10 days of arrival. To complete the online form, you must log into Gmail using your Sewanee ID. You will need to provide your current phone number and physical address in the U.S., as well as upload images of your immigration documents to the online form. The uploaded images can be scans or high quality digital photos from your camera, smart phone, computer's internal webcam, or tablet. If you don't have a way to create scans of your documents, the Office of Global Citizenship has a computer/scanner in our office that you can use during office hours.
  • Maintain full-time enrollment. "Full-time enrollment" may differ depending on your student status. Undergraduate programs require students to enroll in at least 12 credit hours each semester during the academic year. Graduate programs each define their own combination of credit hours with research time to be considered "full-time." Summer registration is optional, unless you begin or end your studies during the summer.
  • Attend and pass all your classes. If school is too difficult, speak with your DSO immediately.
  • Complete your program by the end date listed on your Form I-20. If you need to extend your program, talk with your DSO about requesting a possible program extension.
  • Enroll in courses that meet on-campus. If students wish to enroll in online or hybrid courses, they can only enroll in one of these courses each semester.
  • Do not drop a class without first speaking with your DSO
Student Information
  • You will be required to provide your local address upon arrival, and you are required to notify the DSO or PDSO if you change your local address.
  • In addition, students should notify their DSO if they are planning to do any of the following:
    Change your major, program, or degree level.
    Change your 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.
Immigration Documents
  • Do not let your immigration documents expire. Look for the expiration date noted on your I-20 or DS-2019. If you cannot complete your studies by that date, you must request an extension of your document before it expires.
  • As is the case with your immigration documents, you should keep your passport valid for six months in the future at all times. Contact your home country consulate or embassy for information on extending the validity of your passport. 
  • International students should place their original documents (passport, visa, I-94, I-20) in a safe, secure place, and they should carry copies of their passport, visa, and I-94 with them at all times. 
  • If you plan to travel outside of the United States, you need to ensure that the DSO or PDSO signature on your I-20 is less than one year old.
  • International students are only permitted to work on campus, no more than 20 hours/week during the fall and spring semesters.
  • International students are not permitted to work off-campus.
  • After one full year of study, students may seek authorization from the DSO or PDSO for Practical Training. There are two types of Practical Training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). 
  • If international students work without authorization, they can fall out of status and risk deportation from the United States.
Program Completion
  • F-1 students generally have 60 days to depart the US after the completion of their program or any Optional Practical Training. The end date is listed on the student's I-20.
  • If they wish to extend their stay in the United States, students should talk with their DSO to learn more about doing one of the following:
    Transfer to another school
    Change education level (e.g. bachelor’s to master’s)
    Apply to change status to another visa status (e.g. H-1B-temporary worker; O-extraordinary ability in science, art or business; P-athlete).