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Maintaining F-1 Status

It is important for you to follow F-1 regulations carefully and to keep records of all of your immigration-related documents. Failure to maintain F-1 status may mean loss of eligibility for F-1 benefits such as change of status, practical training (authorized employment), and other benefits, and may result in more serious consequences such as deportation or inability to return to the U.S. for a long period of time.

Students who lose F-1 status may be required to apply to USCIS for reinstatement or may be required to leave the U.S. For these reasons, always be sure to consult with the Office of International Education any time you have questions or concerns about your status.

The following is important information about maintaining F-1 status.


Keep your passport and I-20 valid at all times. Do not let them expire.

Full-Time Study

Pursue a full course of study, as defined by your degree program. For most students, this is at least 12 credits per semester. Part-time enrollment is only possible in specific situations and must always be documented on your I-20 before you drop below 12 credits.

(Dropping below full-time status without prior authorization on your I-20 is a violation of F-1 status.) Situations in which part-time enrollment may be possible include: (1) your last semester of study, (2) a documented medical or psychological condition that limits your ability to study full time, and (3) English language or severe academic difficulty during your first semester of study at MICA. If you think you might qualify for authorization to drop below 12 credits, make an appointment with International Education to discuss the authorization process.)

Changes of Address/Personal Information

Notify International Education within 10 days of any changes to your personal information:

  • U.S. address
  • address in your home country
  • name or spelling of name
  • citizenship or passport that you use to enter the U.S.
  • sources of funds on your I-20

Academic Information

Notify International Education before you make any changes to your academic information:

  • major, minor or concentration
  • degree (e.g., BFA, MFA, MAT, etc.)
  • full time enrollment
  • expected graduation date
  • school (i.e., if you wish to transfer schools or to take a class at another school while still enrolled at MICA) Follow required procedures to make these changes, including obtaining authorization if required. Contact International Education to learn the procedures for making these changes.


  • Do NOT work off campus without proper written authorization from the U.S. government and the Director of International Education. ALL off-campus work must be authorized in advance on your I-20 as CPT or OPT. All other work is illegal.
  • If you have an on-campus job or if you are authorized for CPT or OPT, do not work more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session.
  • For detailed information about F-1 employment, see the Employment section of this website.

Raising Money / Earning Money Online

  • F-1 students are not generally eligible to sell artwork you have made while you have been in the USA, unless special authorization has been obtained from the US Department of Homeland Security
  • Crowdfunding is not always legally viable for F-1 students
  • Please consult International Education before using website like Etsy, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe or other crowdfunding or e-commerce platforms

This page was last updated on 07/22/2016.