F-1 Current Students

F-1 Immigration Responsibilities

During your stay in the U.S. in F-1 status, you are subject to many complex immigration law and regulations that relate to your legal status here. Advisors at ISSS are available to assist you and answer your questions about your immigration status, but it is your responsibility to know and abide by the law in order to maintain valid legal status. It is to your benefit to make sure to maintain legal status throughout the duration of your stay in the U.S.

As non-immigrant international students, you must:

  • Possess a passport that is valid at all times.
  • Attend the school/institution you were authorized to attend.
  • Be registered full-time for each academic semester as defined by USCIS. For undergraduate students, this means registration for, and completion of, at least 12 credits per academic semester (fall and spring semesters), and for graduate students, this means registration for, and completion of, at least 9 graduate-level credits per academic semester. NOTE: You are not required to be registered for classes during the summer unless you have been admitted to FIU for the summer term or completing degree by end of summer term.
  • Register for no more than three (3) fully on-line credits as part of your required full time enrollment.  Undergraduate students may enroll for no more than 3 of their required 12 credits each term.  Graduate students may enroll for no more than 3 of their required 9 credits each term.  If approved for a reduced course load on your final term, you must enroll for at least one three credit in-person class. NOTE: Hybrid classes do not count as on-line classes.
  • Maintain good academic standing as per University policy (includes maintaining a minimum cumulative G.P.A. of at least a 2.0 for undergraduate students and at least a 3.0 for graduate students) and make normal progress towards completing your degree (which includes completion of at least 12 credits each fall or spring semester for undergraduate students and at least 9 credits for graduate students).
  • Follow appropriate procedures to notify USCIS if you transfer schools or if you change from one educational level to another. Transfer procedure must be completed within 15 days from start of term.
  • File for a Program Extension in a timely manner if you must remain in the U.S. longer than the time estimated for completion of your program as stated on your I-20.
  • Check your documents to be sure they are in order before leaving the U.S., even for a brief trip, and be sure to have the proper documents to re-enter the U.S.
  • Limit on-campus employment or any authorized off-campus employment to a total of 20 hours per week during the academic semester.
  • Obtain proper authorization before engaging in any off-campus employment whether the employment is paid or non-paid. (Working without proper authorization constitutes illegal employment, an offense that can lead to deportation.)
  • Refrain from any on-campus employment if/while you are out-of-status.
  • File for a Reinstatement in a timely manner if you have fallen out-of-status.
  • Report promptly any change of address by updating your information at my.fiu.edu. Make sure to update the Home address. Always verify the Foreign Address in your record as well.

For further clarifications about any of the above, or if you wish to make sure you are maintaining legal status in accordance with your visa classification, make an appointment to see an ISSS advisor. At the appointment, make sure to bring your passport, I-94 and I-20 with you.

Immigration Terms

Designated School Official (DSO): The term used by the Department of Homeland Security to refer to the person(s) who administer the “F-1 (Student)” program at a university or college. The DSO is usually the international student advisor.

Responsible Officer (RO) and Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO): The term used by the Department of State to refer to the person(s) who administer the “J-1 (Exchange Visitor)” program at a university or college. The international student advisor usually assumes this role.

B-2 Status: A person admitted into the U.S. in this status is considered a “tourist” and his/her principal activity is for pleasure not for educational purposes. The authorized stay is generally given for about 6 months.

F-1 Status: A person admitted into the U.S. in this status is considered a “student” and is authorized to be in the U.S. for the principal purpose of pursuing a full course of study at an academic or language institution in the U.S. There are sections of the law and regulations that define what F-1 students can and cannot do while in the U.S. and students must abide by them in order to maintain their legal status.

F-2 Status: The nonimmigrant visa classification of dependents (spouse and/or children only) of F-1 students. There are sections of the law and regulations that define what person(s) on F-2 status can and cannot do while in the U.S. and that person(s) must abide by them to maintain legal status in the U.S.

J-1 Status: A person admitted into the U.S. in this status is considered an “exchange visitor” and is authorized to pursue his/her principal activity at an academic institution in the U.S. as detailed in his/her DS-2019. There are sections of the law and regulations that define what J-1 exchange visitors can and cannot do while in the U.S. and the exchange visitor(s) must abide by them to maintain legal status.

J-2 Status: The nonimmigrant visa classification of dependents (spouse and/or children only) of J-1 students. There are sections of the law and regulations that define what person(s) on J-2 status can and cannot do while in the U.S. and that person(s) must abide by them to maintain legal status in the U.S.

Visa Waiver: A person entering the U.S. under a visa waiver is admitted into the U.S. as a “tourist” but without any actual visa stamp issued on his/her passport. A person in this category, whose I-94 admission record will be annotated with “W-T”, is allowed to remain in the U.S. for no more than three months or 90 days . NOTE: Persons admitted under this classification cannot apply to change status in the U.S.

Duration of Status (D/S): A notation specified in the I-94 admission record of individuals admitted in F-1 and J-1 status (or granted F-1 or J-1 status in the U.S.) which indicates that they are authorized to remain in the U.S. until completion of program of study in an educational institution, and any periods of authorized practical training, plus 60 days, if still applicable, to depart the U.S.

Change of Status (COS) to F-1: A procedure by which persons in an eligible non-immigrant visa classification may apply to change to an F-1 visa classification in order to pursue a full course of study in the U.S. and be eligible for F-1 benefits. (NOTE: Persons admitted in C, D, K, and M visa classifications and the Visa Waiver program are NOT eligible to request a change of status to F-1 in the U.S.)

Practical Training: Refers to employment which is related to student’s major or field of study. There are two types: Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training. Note that any practical training (whether paid or non-paid) must always be authorized in writing, either by USCIS or by an international student advisor.

Program Extension: The procedure which an F-1 student must complete if he/she will not graduate within the time originally estimated for completion of his/her program as stated on his/her I-20.

Reinstatement: The immigration procedure which an F-1 student must complete when he/she fails to remain in lawful status or overstays beyond his/her completion date as noted on his/her I-20 and/or fails to complete a program extension.

SEVIS Transfer: The immigration procedure which an F-1 student (or a J-1 student) is required to complete when changing from one U.S. institution to another. Failure to complete this procedure puts a student out-of-status.

Immigration Documents

SEVIS I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Students):
This form is required in order to obtain F-1 status. The form is issued by the school to fully admitted, degree-seeking students who have shown sufficient funds to cover their studies in the U.S.

DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Visa): This form is required for prospective exchange visitor to request J-1 visa at a U.S. consular post abroad. Categories of exchange visitors are visiting professor, short-term scholar, researcher, faculty member, or exchange student.

Passport: A document issued by a government to identify a person as a citizen of a particular country and allow the bearer to travel abroad and permit re-entry to the home country. The visa is stamped on the passport. U.S. immigration law requires that non-immigrants possess valid passport to enter the U.S. and that passport remain valid through the time that the bearer is in the U.S.

Click here for a listing of Foreign Consulates in South Florida.

B-2 Visa: The stamp issued by a U.S. consular post abroad allowing the bearer to enter the U.S. as a tourist. The principal activity in this case is for pleasure (i.e. tour the U.S. on a vacation).

F-1 Visa: The stamp issued by a U.S. consular post abroad allowing the bearer to enter the U.S. as a student in F-1 status. An F-1 visa is an entry permit and cannot be “extended” in the U.S. since F-1 visas can only be obtained or renewed at a U.S. consular post abroad.

J-1 Visa: The stamp issued by a U.S. consular post abroad allowing the bearer to enter the U.S. in J-1 status and pursue his/her principal activity in accordance with the category specified on his/her DS-2019.

Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record): Form used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) to document entry to and departure from the U.S. of all foreigners. At the time of entry into the U.S., an I-94 record is created (and stored in a USCBP database) which notes an individual’s class of admission (which non-immigrant status he/she will hold while in the U.S.) and for how long he/she is authorized to remain in the U.S. An Admission Number (or I-94 number) is a unqiue 11-digit number found in the I-94 used by USCBP to document entries and exits from the U.S.