Maintaining Your F-1 Student Status

You are responsible for staying in legal status, and the International Student Affairs office will give you the information you need.

“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.

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

The International Student Affairs office 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 International Student Affairs and Student Conduct 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 I-20 terminated.

  1. Keep your immigration documents valid.
    As an international student, you should have the following forms of identification:

    • SEVIS Form I-20 
      • Always keep information on your I-20 valid and up-to-date.
      • Make sure the school name on your current I-20 is the same as the school you are currently attending.
      • Make sure your 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 I-20 Extensions for more information.
      • Notify the Director of International Student Affairs and Student Conduct of any changes in your financial information, name, address and major.
      • Meet with the Director of International Student Affairs and Student Conduct to get your I-20 signed at least two weeks prior to traveling outside the U.S.
    • 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 talking to the Director of International Student Affairs and Student Conduct.
    • 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 International Student Affairs and Student Conduct 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 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 https://egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do
  7. Work only with Authorization. Except for on-campus employment, you must receive authorization from either OISA or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) before you begin working.
  8. 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.