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Maintaining your F1 Visa Status

The US Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have strict rules and regulations that govern international students who hold F1 visas to study in the United States. It is very important that as an international student you abide by these rules to keep your status as an F1 student valid. If any of the USCIS rules are broken, a student runs the risk of having your F1 visa revoked. To make sure that your visa stays valid, you need to follow the following rules:

  1. Attend only Virginia International University. If you going to attend another school in addition to Virginia International University, you must see the ISS office immediately.
  2. Make normal progress towards completing your program of study. All students should remain full time students at all times in order to complete their studies in the prescribed amount of time on their I-20. If you find that you are struggling with completing your studies before your I-20 expires, see the International Student Services office immediately.
  3. If you move, report your new address. All international students are required to report their home address (in the United States) while they are studying at VIU. If you move while you are still in F-1 status, the new address needs to be reported within 10 days of the move.
  4. Maintain full-time enrollment. Full-time enrollment for F1 visa students is 9 credit hours per semester for students completing a master degree or a graduate certificate. For students completing a bachelor degree or an undergraduate certificate, full-time enrollment is 12 credit hours per semester. Students in the ESL program must enroll in at least 18-20 hours per semester to maintain full-time enrollment.
  5. Obtain a new I-20 if you change your program of study at VIU. If you plan to study a different program than you are currently enrolled in at VIU, you will need a new I-20. The ISS office can assist with this.
  6. Make sure you go to class! All F1 students are expected to attend 80% of all classes at VIU. If your course attendance drops below 80%, your visa status will be in jeopardy.
  7. Be careful of when you take a vacation. All F1 visa students, including ESL and degree seeking students, with no exceptions, are allowed to take vacation only during official school breaks. If you are planning a vacation, stop by the ISS office to verify that you will not be putting your visa status at risk.
  8. All employment needs to be approved in writing before you can work. F1 visa students are not to accept employment of any kind without written permission of the ISS office and, if necessary, the USCIS. This includes both on-campus and off-campus employment.