As an international student, you must obey the immigration laws and regulations of the United States. Because you are a student with F-1 status, you are responsible for learning, understanding, and obeying the U.S. laws and regulations that apply to you. If you fail to do so, you can be deported from the United States and barred from returning for a long time.
Arrival to and departure from the U.S.
U.S. federal regulations [8CFR214.2(f)(5)(i)] state that students may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the report date on the Form I-20. An F-1 student who has completed his or her academic program is allowed a 60-day period to prepare to leave United States. An F-1 student who has been authorized to withdraw from classes before completing his or her academic program is allowed a 15-day period to prepare for departure. Students who wish to withdraw must complete a leave request form. Approval by the school is required. Students who withdraw without the approval of the international student advisor must leave the U.S. immediately [8CFR214.2(f)(5)(iv)].
U.S. federal regulations [8CFR214.2(f)(17)] require that you report any address change within 10 days of the address change. Do this by reporting your new address to the program coordinator. This includes address changes for any of your dependents as well.
Authorization to drop below a full course of study
U.S. federal regulations [8CFR214.2(f)(6)] require you take a full course of study. You are allowed to take a reduced number of hours only after getting permission from the international student advisor and only very limited reasons. Students who wish to drop below a full course of study must complete a leave request form.
Reporting departure date and reason
Students may leave school early or unexpectedly. Some of these reasons include early graduation, leave of absence, suspension, or expulsion. U.S. federal regulations [8CFR214.3(g)(3)] require that you inform the international student advisor or program coordinator if you plan to leave the school earlier than the program end date listed on your Form 1-20, and to give your reason for doing so. Students who wish to depart early must complete a leave request form.
Extension of program end date
Pay close attention to the program completion date indicated on your 1-20. Your F-1 status will end on the program completion date unless it is extended. You are required by U.S. federal regulations [8CFR214.2(f)(7)(iii)] to make your request before your program completion date. Extensions are subject to approval by the school, and will only be granted for valid reasons. You can request a program extension at any time during the school year, but must do so at least at least one week prior to the expiration date on the I-20. See the program coordinator to request an extension.
"Transfer" means that a student is leaving one school for another school. This can happen, for example, when a student completes his or her academic program at a language school and then goes on to an undergraduate or graduate program at a U.S.-based community college, college, or university.
Students who wish to transfer must be in contact with two schools: the current school and the new school. Both of these schools must be authorized to enroll international students by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. To transfer, regulations [8CFR214.2(f)(8)(ii)(C)] require that you:
- Apply for admission and be admitted to the new school
- Inform your current school as soon as possible after admission and, no later than the last day of your academic program
- Inform the new transfer school of the expected transfer date (usually the last day of your academic program)
- Complete the process at the transfer school no later than 15 days after the first class day at the school
Careful attention to the last date of the academic program at the current school and the first day of classes at the transfer school is very important; failure to complete the transfer process in the prescribed time frame [8CFR214.2(f)(8)(i)] will cause you to violate your immigration status. See the international student advisor or program coordinator for assistance transferring to a new school. All obligations to the school must be satisfied before a transfer will be processed.
Students seeking to transfer to a new institution should complete a Transfer Request form, which can be obtained from the international student advisor or program coordinator. Scholarship students should obtain prior permission to transfer from their sponsor.