International Student Duration of Status
DURATION OF STATUS (F-1 STUDENT STATUS): An F-1 student is considered in status for the entire length of time during which the student is enrolled as a full-time student in an educational program, plus an authorized period of practical training and an additional 60 days to prepare for departure.
CONDITIONS OF DURATION OF STATUS: You must be enrolled as a full-time student at the school you are authorized to attend. This means that you must only attend the school that issued you the I-20. There are special provisions for enrollment in two approved schools.
LIMITATIONS OF DURATION OF STATUS: Duration of status expires after eight consecutive academic years of F-1 status. Departure from the U.S. of short duration (less than five months) does not break the continuity of the eight-year period of stay. An application for extension of stay must be filed in order for students to continue in F-1 status.
Duration of status expires if a student takes longer than expected to complete a given academic level. The amount of time permitted for completing studies at a given level is determined by the date put on the initial I-20 issued at the beginning of each academic level, plus a grace period. Subsequent I-20's issued for the same level of study that may be used for travel or transfer of schools do not change the official deadline for completion that was determined by the first I-20. Students must pay close attention to the expected completion date on the original I-20 for each level of study. The grace period for a two-year degree is 12 months.
Duration of status expires if a student doesn't maintain a full course of study. This is defined as 12 semester hours per academic term for undergraduates. Exceptions can be made for valid medical or academic reasons as defined by the USCIS. Be sure to speak with someone in the International Student Service Office about any exceptions to avoid the serious consequences that may result from being out of status. Students who fail to maintain full-time attendance are not eligible for an extension of stay. They are considered to be out of status and must apply for reinstatement to validate student status.
EXTENSION OF STAY: The two different time limitations that require an extension of stay are as follows: (1) Eight consecutive academic year rule. Students in F-1 status for eight consecutive years must apply for an extension of stay in order to continue in valid student status. The eight-year period begins on the date the student is first admitted to the US in F-1 status or the date he/she is converted to F-1 status after admission. Absences of short duration for summer vacation, changing schools, or educational programs do not interrupt the eight-year period. (2) The extended period rule. Students who continue studying at a given academic level longer than the time anticipated on the initial I-20 for that level, plus a grace period, must apply for any extension of stay in order to continue valid student status. The limitation for studying at each academic level is determined by the date placed on the first I-20 issued for each level. If additional I-20's are issued for purposes of travel or transfer of schools, it does not change the time limitations placed on that level of study. The deadlines for completing a level of study allow for a grace period that extends beyond the estimated date of completion.
PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO APPLY FOR EXTENSION OF STAY ON A TIMELY BASIS: Students who do not apply for an extension of stay on time will lose their F-1 status and their eligibility for all student benefits. These benefits include on-campus employment, practical training, transfer of schools, enrollment in new programs at a higher level and off-campus employment due to urgent financial need. Students who are considered out of status are deportable from the U.S. These students must apply for reinstatement to student status. Eligibility for benefits will be regained only if and when USCIS approves the reinstatement. The application or reinstatement can be filed along with the late application for extension of stay. It is also important to know that students who work without authorization while out of status are barred from reinstatement. Be sure to seek advice from the International Student Service Office.
PROCEDURES FOR FILING AN EXTENSION OF STAY: Extensions of stay must be filed at least 15 but no more than 60 days before the expiration of your stay. The authorized stay is eight years and/or the time estimated for the current level of study plus the grace period. Students who do not file a timely extension of stay under the extended period rule will lose the remainder of their eight year authorized stay. Similarly, students who do not comply with the condition and limitations of "Duration of Status" will be out of status and lose the remainder of their eight year authorized stay. To apply for an extension of stay, please contact the International Student Service Office.