Maintaining Your F-1 Student Status

You are responsible for staying in ‘legal status”,  Staying “in status” means you are following the rules to stay in the United States legally. It is critical that you stay in legal status and follow the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements.

If you fall out of status, you are no longer in the United States legally. If that happens, you could have serious problems with U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). You could compromise your ability to get a US Visa or even enter the United States in the future. You must also be in status to receive employment authorization.

MCC is happy to provide you with the information and advice you need to maintain your status. However, maintaining your status is your responsibility.

F-1 students are responsible for knowing and follow all immigration regulations.  Failure to maintain your status, or comply with these regulations, may have very severe consequences for your ability to study, seek employment or even remain in the United States.  Please carefully review the list below of requirements and contact the Director of Student Affairs Operations who is the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) for MCC, if you have any questions about these regulations.  We suggest that you review this page each semester to refresh your memory, as these regulations are very important to follow.  Students that do not fulfill these requirements may have their SEVIS I-20 terminated.

  1. Keep your Immigration Documents Valid. As an international student, you should have the following forms of identification:
    • SEVIS I-20 
      • Always keep information on your SEVIS I-20 valid and up-to-date.
      • Meet with the Director of Student Affairs Operations in the first week at the start of each Semester (Fall and Spring) for the Mandatory SEVIS Registration.
      • Make sure the school name on your current SEVIS I-20 is the same as the school you are currently attending.
      • Make sure your SEVIS I-20 program end date does not expire.  You may apply for a program extension if you need more time to complete your degree.  Please see SEVIS I-20 Extensions for more information.
      • Notify the Director of Student Affairs Operations of any changes in your financial information, name, address and major.
      • Meet with the Director of Student Affairs Operations to get your SEVIS I-20 signed at least three weeks prior to traveling outside the US (Please See #8 Below).
    • Passport
      • Always keep your passport valid at least six months into the future (passports can be extended while you are in the U.S. by contacting your home country’s embassy consulate).
    • I-94 Card
      • Your I-94 card is the white card that was stamped “F-1 D/S” and stapled in your passport when you entered the county.  This is a very important document, as it is proof that you are in F-1 status.  This card will be removed from your passport when you travel home, and you will receive a new one when you re-enter the U.S.  (if you are traveling to Canada for fewer than 30 days, the I-94 should not be removed).
    • F-1 Visa
      • If you do have an F-1 visa, before you plan to travel outside the U.S. and re-enter, you need to make sure that your visa is not expired.  If it is expired, you need to renew your visa before re-entering the U.S.  You do not need a valid visa in order to stay in the United States.
  2. Register for and complete a full-time course load (at least 12 credits) every fall and spring semester.
    • All students are required to make normal, full-time progress toward degree completion.  DO NOT drop or withdraw from any classes without consulting with and permission of the Director of Student Affairs Operations.
    • F-1 students cannot take online courses with one exception.  During your last semester at MCC, if there is a class necessary for you to graduate and it is available only online, an exception may be made.  However, if that exception is allowed, keep in mind that online classes may be harder.
    • Attendance in all classes is mandatory.
  3. Pay for Classes. (International students are not eligible to sign up for a payment plan.) Students on F-1 visas must register for classes before the beginning of each semester. Tuition and fees are due in full each semester by the payment deadline for the college. However, if you are unable to make the payment by the deadline, due to extenuating circumstances, you should meet with the Director of Student Affairs Operations and make arrangements to pay all tuition and fees by the end of business, the day before start of classes each semester. Failure to register and pay the tuition and fees in full before the start of classes will result in all of your classes being dropped for non-payment and you will be reported as being out-of-status to the USCIS and consequently it will result in the termination of your SEVIS I-20 with Manchester Community College.
  4. Maintain a GPA of 2.0 or Higher Each Semester. A cumulative GPA of 2.0 is required to achieve satisfactory progress for students on F-1 visas.
  5. Not have any BOR/CSCU Student Code of Conduct violations that rise to the level of suspension or expulsion.
  6. Keep your address updated. You must update your address within 10 days of any move, even if it is temporary. You have to change your address with USCIS and you can access it online at
  7. Work only with authorization. Except for on-campus employment, you must receive authorization from the OISA and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) before you begin working.
  8. Travel to your home country or outside the US. When traveling to your home country or outside the US during summer or winter break, you should be registered for twelve credits or more (full-time course load) for the following fall semester or the following spring semester and paid your tuition and fees in full. Additionally, you need to get a Travel Endorsement on your SEVIS I-20 duly signed by the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) at least three weeks before you travel. If you are not registered for the following fall or spring semester and have not paid the tuition and fees in full, you will not receive a Travel Endorsement from the PDSO. Please note that if you don’t have a Travel Endorsement each time you travel, you might not be allowed back into the US at the port of entry by the USCIS.
  9. Abide by grace periods. You have a 60-day grace period following the completion of your program or optional practical training (OPT). This is the period of time before you are required to leave the United States. You have several options during this period, but if you have not taken action by the time it is over, you must depart the United States.