Skip to main content
Tulane Home Tulane Home

Maintaining your F-1 Status

Students by building

Checklist for Maintaining your F-1 Status

To maintain F-1 status, you must do the following:

☐ Check in online with the OISS through iGlobal within 30 days of starting a new program of study.

☐ Register for and attend a full course load of classes each fall and spring semester until you complete your program. Undergraduates must take a minimum of 12 credit hours, and graduate students must take a minimum of 9 credit hours.Your program may require more credit hours than these minimums. Graduate students in dissertation or research, or working as teaching assistants or research assistants are exempt from these required credit hours but must have their status reflected in their academic record and register for the appropriate dissertation or research course. Some exceptions exist to these minimums and are listed on the Underenrollment Status Report but you must get signed approval from your advisor or department and submit this form the OISS before you drop below full enrollment.

☐ Do not take more than 3 credit hours of your required minimum credits in online classes. For example, a graduate student must take 9 credit hours, so they may take 3 credit hours of online classes but must take 6 credit hours of in-person classes. Any classes beyond the required minimum may be taken online.

☐ Report a change of address or contact information to the OISS within 10 days of the change. Use the iGlobal Address Update form.

☐ Report a legal name change to the OISS within 10 days of the change.

☐ Do not work on campus for more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session. During scheduled breaks, like winter, spring, and summer breaks, you can work full time on campus.

☐ Do not work or intern off campus without advanced authorization from the OISS, such as Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

☐ If you are unable to complete your course of study by the program end date on your I-20, you must apply for a program extension at least 30 days before the program end date.

☐ If you complete your program of study at Tulane earlier than the program end date on your I-20, you must inform the OISS so that your SEVIS record can be updated.

☐ If you are starting a new program of study at Tulane, you must inform the OISS at least 30 days before the program end date of your current program.

☐ If you are transferring to another US school to begin a new program of study, you must request that the OISS transfers your SEVIS record to the new school prior to the end of your current program’s grace period. A transfer of your SEVIS record is only available if the new program of study begins within 5 months of the end date of your current program; otherwise, you will need to get a new SEVIS record and new I-20 from the new school. Make an appointment with the OISS at least 30 days before your current program end date to prepare for the transfer.

☐ Abide by the F-1 60-day grace period rules: within 60 day of your program end date, you may begin a new program of study at Tulane, apply for a transfer of your SEVIS record to another U.S. school, apply for Optional Practical Training, apply for a change of status to another immigration status, or leave the U.S.

☐ Maintain a valid, unexpired passport for the duration of your program, even if you are not traveling outside the U.S. If your passport needs to be renewed, start the process as soon as possible. If you need to renew it within the U.S., contact your country’s embassy or consulate for the proper procedures and application materials.

☐ Be aware that the F-1 is a non-immigrant visa: You must show that your stay in the U.S. is temporary and that you intend to return to your home country at the end of your program. If your current F-1 visa expires and you apply for a new F-1 visa, you must show strong financial, family, and/or employment ties to your home country to receive the new F-1 visa. If you do anything that shows an intent to immigration, such as marrying a U.S. Citizen, it could be difficult for you to renew your F-1 visa. Seek immigration counsel anytime that you are concerned about jeopardizing your “non-immigrant” status in the US.

☐ Avoid criminal activity, especially related to illegal drugs and drinking and driving. Any arrest, even if you are not convicted of a crime, can have serious immigration consequences. If you have been arrested, immediately contact the OISS and/or the Tulane Legal Assistance Program (TULAP) immigration attorney. Even if you have criminal legal defense, you must receive additional legal advice from an immigration attorney, as these are separate areas of the law.

☐ Accepting government aid for yourself or any F-2 dependents could create problems for your immigration status. If you have a U.S. citizen child, consult this fact sheet, but keep in mind that regulations about government aid may be changing in the near future.  We recommend contacting TULAP with any questions about government aid for yourself or any dependents.

Back to Top

 

Students on Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

In addition to all of the student requirements above, when you are engaged in CPT you must do the following:

☐ Do not work before or after the approved dates for Curricular Practical Training on your I-20.

☐ Only work for the specific employer at the specific location indicated on your I-20.If you are on part-time Curricular Practical Training, do not work more than 20 hours per week.

☐ If you are on full-time Curricular Practical Training, you may work more than 20 hours per week.

☐ Do not use more than 364 days of full-time Curricular Practical Training per educational level (for example: bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree levels), or you will lose the ability to qualify for Optional Practical Training after graduation.

Back to Top

 

Students on Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students who are engaged in OPT must do the following:

☐ Do not work until you have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) in hand and you have reached your OPT start date printed on the card.

☐ Report a change of address or contact information to the OISS within 10 days of the change.

☐ Report a legal name change to the OISS within 10 days of the change.

☐ Report all employment, change in employment, or loss of employment to the OISS within 10 days.

☐ Only perform work directly related to your major area of study. If you have questions about whether work is related to your major area of study, we recommend that you contact your academic advisor or department.

☐ Do not exceed the 90-day aggregate limit on unemployment while on OPT.

Back to Top

 

Students on STEM OPT

Students engaged in STEM OPT must do the following:

☐ Report a change of address or contact information to the OISS within 10 days of the change.

☐ Report a legal name change to the OISS within 10 days of the change.

☐ Your employer must be registered with the federal E-verify system and must provide you with formal training and learning objectives stated on your Form I-983.

☐ You must work a minimum of 20 hours per week; self-employment and volunteering are not valid forms of employment under STEM OPT.

☐ If you change jobs or take an additional job, you must complete a new Form I-983 for the job and scan and email it to the OISS within 10 days of the change.

☐ If your position or tasks at your current job change, you must complete a new Form I-983 to reflect these changes, and scan and email it to the OISS within 10 days of the change.

☐ If you lose or leave a job, you must report this to the OISS within 10 days.

☐ Follow the regular STEM employment information reporting schedule

  • 6 months after STEM start date:  Report the STEM Employment Information, even if no information has changed.
  • 12 months after STEM start date:  Complete the Evaluation of Student Progress on Form I-983 and obtain your employer’s signature. Scan and email to the OISS
  • 18 months after STEM start date:  Report the STEM Employment Information, even if no information has changed
  • 24 months after STEM start date (end of STEM period):  Complete the Final Evaluation of Student Progress on Form I-983 and obtain your employer’s signature. Scan and email to the OISS.

Back to Top

 

F-2 Dependents

F-2 dependents are subject to the following requirements:

☐ An F-2 dependent's status is valid only if the F-1 student continues to maintain F-1 status.

☐ F-2 dependents may not accept employment or engage in business under any circumstances.

☐ F-2 dependent children may engage in full-time study at the kindergarten through twelfth grade level.

☐ F-2 dependent spouses and children may not engage in full-time study at the university level. They may engage in part-time study, including part-time study that counts toward or awards a degree. To engage in full-time study at the university level, an F-2 dependent must apply for and obtain a change of status to F-1, J-1, or M-1 status. Alternatively, the F-2 dependent can travel and re-enter to obtain F-1 status. Contact OISS for more information about this process if the F-2 dependent would like to study full-time at Tulane.

☐ If an F-2 dependent child reaches the age of 21 their F-2 status will automatically be terminated in SEVIS. Make arrangements in advance for a change of immigration status if the dependent child plans to stay in the U.S. Contact TULAP for more information about different immigration status options.

Back to Top

 

Maintaining Status While Traveling Outside the US

F-1 students and F-2 dependents must maintain status while traveling:

☐ Passport: Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months into the future. You can be denied entry to the U.S. if the expiration date on your passport is less than 6 months into the future. If your passport needs to be renewed, start the process as soon as possible. If you need to renew it within the U.S., contact your country’s embassy or consulate for the proper procedures and application materials.

☐ Visa: Make sure your F-1/F-2 visa is valid for re-entry to the US. If you need to renew your visa, the best place is generally your home country. If it is not feasible to travel to your home country to renew your visa, contact the OISS for guidance. (Not applicable to Canadian citizens, who do not receive an F-1/F-2 visa stamp in their passport.) Note: the F-1/F-2 visa only needs to be valid at the point of entry to the US. If your visa expires while you are in the US, you do not need to renew it unless you plan to leave the US and re-enter again in F-1/F-2 status.

☐ I-20: Make sure your I-20 is signed for travel. The travel signature is on the second page of your I-20, and is good for 12 months after the date it is signed (6 months for students on OPT), or the end date of your program, whichever is sooner.

☐ I-94: Your I-94 is the official record of your immigration status at the time you enter the U.S., and it must be correct. Every time you leave the U.S. and return, you should check your I-94 online at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/ to make sure it shows your most recent date of entry, your class of admission as F-1 or F-2 (for dependents), and your admit until date as D/S for “Duration of Status”. If any of these are in error or if you have trouble retrieving your I-94 record, contact the OISS immediately to request help with correcting your I-94 record.

☐ EAD and Proof of Employment: Students on OPT must have their EAD card and proof of employment to re-enter the U.S. Proof of employment can be a letter from your employer or an employment contract; at minimum it should state your legal name and the date you began employment, and be on official letterhead.

☐ I-515A: If you enter the U.S. without proper documentation, you may receive a Form I-515A. You must resolve the issue(s) indicated on the I-515A within 30 days to maintain your F-1/F-2 status. Contact the OISS immediately so that we can assist with resolving the I-515A.

☐ Travel tips: All travelers are subject to search when entering the U.S., including a search of your electronic devices like phones and laptops. To reduce the possibility of your electronics and social media being inspected when you enter the U.S., keep them in your luggage and present only your passport and paper copies of your I-20 and airplane tickets. Students on OPT should also present their EAD card and a paper copy of their proof of employment. For more information on your rights at the airport, visit the American Civil Liberties Union website.

Back to Top