VISA Process & Entry in the US  Open
Processing a F-1 Student Visa  Open

This may be the most important while you are in the United States: Please read it carefully. It is your responsibility to know and obey F-1 regulations or face possible removal from the U.S.

Full Time Student

To maintain your status, each spring and fall semester, undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students must complete 12 hours and graduate students 9 hours at the graduate level. Note: Some degree programs may require more hours for academic reasons. Check with your department. Towards your full-time requirement, you may not take more than the equivalent of one class (three credit hours)per semester online. You are required to complete 12 hours for 2 summer session(s) or 6 hours if only for the second summer if the program start date on your I-20 is for the summer semester. You must receive the authorization before you drop or take below full-time hours. Please make an appointment to see an International Student Advisor BEFORE taking below full-time hours even if you are failing the class. A grade of “W” does not count toward your full-time requirement.

Authorization for Employment & Training

Never work off-campus unless you have current authorization from an ISA or the DHS. You must either have authorization on page 2 of your I-20 or an employment authorization card (EAD) from the DHS. All off-campus employment has a beginning and ending date. Renewals must be done before resuming work. Even 1 day of work without authorization is a serious violation of U.S. law.

On-campus work does not require authorization, but you must maintain your full-time student status to be eligible. On-campus work is limited to no more than 20 hours per week during the fall and spring and may be full-time during the summer. Most on-campus student jobs, by university policy, are still limited to 20 hours a week even during the summer. You may not engage in on-campus employment after your completion of study.

This may be the A change in status may be affected in one of two ways:

  • An application for Change in Status submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Processing time varies; it could take DHS 2 to 9 months to process the application
  • Reentry into the U.S. with the new visa type. The individual would be required to have a valid entry visa stamp and a visa document appropriate to the visa type s/he intends to establish with reentry.

This may be the To change in status by submitting the application, follow next steps:

1. Student needs to:

  • Provide proof of academic acceptance
  • Write letter of request with reason
  • Complete the form I-539
  • Provide proof of financial support
  • F-2’s need to prove their status by showing spouse’s marriage certificate, child’s birth certificate
  • Photocopies of Valid I-94 & Passport page(s)
  • I-901SEVIS Receipt ($200 fee)
  • Check or money order of $370.00 made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Note- Do not use the initials USCIS or DHS.)

2. obtain a new I-20 (e.g., item 3(e) – Other: “Change status from __ to F-1”). Student and DSO both sign bottom of I-20

3. mail all documents (Certified Mail with return receipt) to:

  • U.S. Postal Service: USCIS P.O. Box 660166 Dallas, TX 75266
  • Express mail and courier deliveries: USCIS ATTN: I-539 2501 S. State Highway 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, TX 75067

Download Change Status Checklist

Visa Overstay

This may be the Visa Overstay occurs in the following situations:

  • A student has failed to complete a program of study and has allowed his/her I-20 to expire
  • A student interrupts/ceases a program of study and fails to depart the U.S. immediately (break periods and summer vacation are not considered to be an interruption of studies).
  • A student has allowed the 60-day grace period to expire without having received a new I-20 to begin a new program of study, filed for work authorization or having submitted an application to DHS for a change of visa status.

Unlawful presence

Unlawful presence will have an effect on future eligibility for entry into the United States:

  • Individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 continuous days but less than one year are barred from admission to the U.S. (under any visa type) for a period of 3 years from the date of departure.
  • Individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for one year or longer are barred from admission to the U.S. (under any visa type) for a period of 10 years.


It is important that students discuss legal status issues with an International Student Advisor. There are two ways in which a student may be able to regain legal F-1 status::

  • Submit a Reinstatement of Legal Status Application to DHS
  • Reentry into the U.S. with a new “initial admit” I-20.
  • Students who are reinstated by DHS or who reenter with an “initial admit” I-20 will be required to enroll as a full-time student for at least one academic year before becoming eligible to apply for off-campus work permission and/or curricular or optional practical training.
  • Download reinstatement checklist.