Maintaining F-1 Status

There are basic requirements for maintaining F-1 status in the United States.  Students must maintain legal status throughout their program while studying under an F-1 visa. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 emphasizes the need for students to take responsibility for maintaining F-1 student status. The list of guidelines below are basic instructions to ensure that you remain in good standing with U.S. Immigration Authorities (U.S. Department of Homeland Security).

  • Within 10 days of your arrival to the U.S., give your U.S. address and to International Services or report it to the Office of the Registrar. All address changes are required to be reported to International Services Office within 10 days.
  • Passport must be valid- a visitor to the U.S. is in violation of their immigration status if they remain in the U.S. with an expired passport.
  • Attend the school that issued your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Maintain full-time enrollment every fall and spring semester.  Full-time enrollment is required in the summer term only if you are a new student, beginning a new program of study or a transferring student beginning studies at Missouri State.
    • Full-time enrollment is 12 credit hours minimum for undergraduates and 9 credit hours minimum for graduates.
      • Full-time summer enrollment is 6 credit hours (see next point for internet-based course enrollment limitations.)
    • Only 3 hours of internet-based courses count towards your full-time enrollment requirement.  The rest of the hours must come from traditional courses.
    • Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants must enroll in and complete a minimum of 6 credit hours for the fall and spring semesters in which they hold an assistantship, with a minimum of 3 credit hours defined as traditional or hybrid/blended courses.

    • Continued attendance F1 students are not required to enroll during the summer semester.

  • Studies should be completed by the "program end date" listed on the I-20. If more time is needed, a program extension may be obtained from the International Services before the completion date has passed.  Documents cannot be extended after they expire.
  • If you have changed your major or degree level, request a new I-20 document from the International Services.
  • Notify the International Services of any breaks or interruptions in your studies, such as taking a semester absence from the University. Breaks in study can impact your ability to apply for immigration benefits in the future.
  • Obtain a proper travel signature when traveling outside the U.S.
  • Do not engage in any employment without legal authorization from the International Services or U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Do not violate U.S. laws.
  • Maintain adequate health insurance coverage at all times for the whole academic year.