Who Are F-1 International Students?

F-1 international students are students who hold an F-1 visa.  As an F-1 student, you have several important responsibilities and benefits related to your immigration status.  Per immigration regulations INA § 101(a)(15)(F)(i), F-1 status refers to:

“An alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning, who is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study…”

Maintaining F-1 Visa Status

As an F-1 international student, it’s your responsibility to maintain legal immigration status.  In order to have a great experience as an international student and enjoy your stay in the United States, please take the time to learn about your immigration status and follow all immigration rules. Below are SOME helpful reminders of your responsibilities as an F-1 student visa holder.

Responsibilities as an F-1 student at Elms College include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Checking your Elms email account daily for communication from the Dean for Student Success, Dr. Joyce Hampton, and the entire Elms community
  • Maintaining a valid passport — It must be valid for at least 6 months into the future at all times
  • Reporting a change in dependents or immigration status to International Programs
  • Reporting a change of name, address, or major to Dr. Hampton
  • Reporting updates on passport renewals and visa renewals to Dr. Hampton
  • Requesting an I-20 extension with International Programs at least two weeks before it expires
  • Registering full-time every semester
    • Undergraduate: Students should be enrolled in no less than 12 undergraduate credits per semester
    • Graduate: Students should be enrolled in no less than 9 graduate credits per semester
  • Maintaining valid health insurance throughout your course of study
  • Making normal progress towards completing your degree
  • Requesting prior authorization from Dr. Hampton before:
    • Dropping below full-time (see above for details)
    • Taking a leave of absence from Elms
    • Withdrawing from Elms
    • Transferring to another college or university
    • Traveling outside of the U.S.
  • If you plan to travel outside of the U.S., making an appointment with Dr. Hampton and bringing the following documents:
    • Valid passport
    • Valid I-20 with current signature on second page — Request signature at least one week before travel date
    • I-94 Number — Retrieve and print online: Get I-94 Number
    • Request a travel letter from Dr. Hampton
  • Following all U.S. laws. Criminal activity can negatively impact your F-1 student visa status.  If you are under 21 years old, you aren’t legally able to purchase or drink alcohol. Breaking the law isn’t worth the risk of losing all you have worked hard to achieve!

If you lose your F-1 visa status because you fail to follow immigration rules and/or U.S. laws, you will lose your F-1 student benefits including on-campus employment, CPT, and OPT. More importantly, you may face arrest, deportation, and future visa applications may be compromised. Depending on the type of violation, you could be barred from coming back to the U.S.

Dr. Hampton is available to help you understand immigration rules as much as possible, but ultimately, maintaining your status is YOUR responsibility. The best thing you can do to take ownership of your immigration status is to familiarize yourself with U.S. laws and immigration regulations.

Please feel free to contact the Dean for Student Success if you have any questions or concerns regarding your responsibilities as an F-1 student. Do not rely on information from others because every student’s situation is different and unique!