Maintain your Status - F-1 Student Visa

An F-1 Student must be “maintaining status and making normal progress toward completing his or her educational objective” 8 CFR 214.2(f)(7)(i).

The following are legal requirements to maintain your F student visa:

Full Course of Study

“Successful completion of the full course of study must lead to the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective.” 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)

Important: What is a Full Course of Study? >>

Full-Time Requirement

You must take a full course load during the required semesters. You are also limited by the number of online classes you may take. Here are the minimum hours you must take to be considered full-time:

Level Minimum # Credits Minimum # On-Campus Credits Minimum # Semester-Long In-Person Credits












IEP students are required to study 4 consecutive terms before qualifying for a break term.

All F-1 students must be enrolled FULL-TIME. Contact us before dropping a class!

Graduate On-time

You must graduate by the expiration date listed on your I-20. 


On-Campus Work: Limited to 20 hours/week while enrolled, 40 hours/week during breaks.

Off-Campus Work: Must receive authorization from a DSO

Read more about F-1 Work Options >>

F-2 visa holders are not eligible to work in the U.S. | J-1 Students must receive authorization from ISSS

Even one day working without authorization is a serious immigration violation. Please check with a DSO before you start working.

Reporting Requirements

Change happens.  Notify a DSO with any changes including:

Report the following changes within 10 days (email

  • Contact Information Changes such as Address, Phone, Email
  • Major or Degree Level Changes
  • Name Change in your Passport

Report the following changes before they happen:

  • Immigration Status Change
  • Graduating or Ending Studies
  • School Transfer

Timing of Documents

NEVER let your immigration documents expire while in the U.S.*

Carry your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, I-94, and any change of status documents with you at all times. If you lose any of these documents, visit us immediately to begin the replacement process.

*F-1 Visa Stamp Exception– The F-1 visa stamp in your passport is the one document that can expire while you are in the USA. It is ok to remain in the USA with an expired visa as long as you keep your I-20 active.

Stay in Touch

Check your DBU email regularly. This is how we share important information. We’re here to help!

Immigration Advising Hours: Monday - Friday, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Office Location: Global Missions Center, 2nd Floor, International Admissions Office


Phone: (214) 333-6905

Immigration Information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security >>


US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – US government agency that processes requests for a change in immigration status and work authorizations. Part of the Department of Homeland Security

Department of Labor (DOL) – US governmental department that deals with occupational work standards and requirements.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – Government agency that tracts earnings and taxes. Part of the Department of Treasury

Social Security Administration (SSA) – Government Agency that manages and issues Social Security Numbers

Human Resources (HR) – Office of a company or organization that takes care of hiring paperwork

Optional Practical Training (OPT) – F-1 benefit that allows practical training, usually post-graduation

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – F-1 benefit that allows practical training required for a student’s curriculum (course work).

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) – Document that provides you legal work authorization

Social Security Number (SSN) – Tax ID number that you need in order to report your earnings to the US government. You will need this number to begin working. Note: this is different from an EAD. This is just a government ID number for reporting earnings. The SSN does not give work authorization.