Maintaining F-1 Status

Immigration status is your legal permission to remain in the United States under specific conditions according to specific visa categories. Most international students at Davidson hold F-1 student status. Below are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your stay in the United States as an F-1 student remains valid.

KEEP YOUR DOCUMENTS UP TO DATE

I-20: Do not let your I-20 expire. The end date on your I-20 (item #5) is an estimation only. If you need additional time to complete your program of study, please contact our office before the I-20 expires for an extension. Should your I-20 expire before you complete your program, you will be out of legal status in the United States. Also, if you change educational level or program of study (major), or transfer to another school, you must contact International Student Services to update your I-20. As you may receive multiple I-20s during your time in the United States, it is important that you keep every I-20 for your records.

Passport: Do not let your passport expire. Your passport should always be valid for at least six months into the future. You may renew the passport in the United States through your home country's embassy, or at home while on a trip.

I-94: This is the U.S. government's record of your arrival and will also serve to document your departure when you travel out of the United States. As the I-94 is now issued electronically, you must download and print a copy of your I-94 each time you reenter the United States .You may access your I-94 record at U.S. Customs and Border Protections. Please note: the government will continue to issue paper I-94 records at all land borders (e.g. driving to the United States from Canada.).

Visa stamp: Since the visa stamp is a travel document only, it is okay for your visa to expire while you are in the United States; however, you must have an unexpired visa if you travel abroad and plan to re-enter the United States. Exception: A valid visa is not necessary for most students when returning from Canada, Mexico and most Caribbean islands if you have been gone for less than 30 days.

Address: Report to International Student Services any change of address or telephone number within 10 days of your move so that your SEVIS record may be updated. You should also maintain a permanent address outside the United States to which you intend to return.

MAINTAIN FULL-TIME ENROLLMENT

You must pursue a "full course of study" each fall and spring semester, by enrolling in at least three Davidson courses. Summer is considered vacation time if it is not your first or last session at Davidson, and you are not required to take classes for immigration purposes.

If you need to fall below the required number of courses, please contact International Student Services BEFORE you drop any classes to receive approval in writing.  Davidson has very limited legal authority to grant an exception to the full-time enrollment requirement - you may or may not be eligible to fall below the required hours legally. Examples of circumstances that may qualify for an exception include medical issues or initial academic difficulties. Please note that an exception based on academic issues is available only ONE TIME during your academic program. Students are also eligible to drop below the full-time requirement in their final semester, if fewer than three courses are needed to finish the degree. Also keep in mind that no more than one on-line class per semester will count towards your full-time enrollment requirement.

OBTAIN WORK AUTHORIZATION

On-Campus Work: You are automatically eligible to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week during the Spring and Fall semesters.  You are eligible to work full-time on campus during vacation periods and during the summer session.

Off-Campus Work: You must receive official work authorization prior to working anywhere off-campus.  You will be out of status and eligible for deportation if you work without authorization. Do not risk it. Work is considered anything for which you are compensated, such as being given money, food, or room/board. Volunteering may be considered employment as well, so please check with the ISO before accepting any position.

OBTAIN TRAVEL SIGNATURES

If you travel outside of the United States, your I-20 will need a current "travel signature" in order for you to re-enter the United States. The signature is confirmation of your good standing in F-1 status at Davidson College. Make sure that your I-20 was signed by someone in International Student Services within the past six months from your anticipated date of return to the United States.