Maintain Your Status

It is essential to remember that you must take full legal responsibility for maintaining your status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). That is, you are responsible for finding out, knowing, and following pertinent regulations.

Review the F-1 Statement of Understanding - Spring 2022

How to Maintain Your Status

The first step to understanding how to maintain your status is to inform yourself. Carefully read the material you receive when you apply as a new student or transfer student, attend the mandatory International Orientation and attend the registration session. If you take the time when you first arrive to familiarize yourself with your obligations to USCIS, you should find it easy to maintain your legal status.

The best resource to assist you in maintaining status are the International Student Advisors in the Thunderbird Student Success Center, building 36N. Every effort has been made to provide reliable, accurate and up to date information on the rules that govern student immigration classifications.


Your F-1 status is the reason you are here in the United States. Remember you are here TO STUDY! Your F-1 status depends mostly on you maintaining your academic responsibilities.

Choosing Classes

Before beginning you must meet an international advisor for (at least) initial course advisement and selection. You must also meet with an academic advisor to make sure you understand your program/degree requirements.

Course Load

U.S. federal regulations [8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)] require F-1 students to pursue a full course of study (a minimum of 12 credit hours) each Fall and Spring semester until completion of their degree.

There are very limited exceptions to the full course of study rule, you must request a reduced course load and you must obtain prior authorization from an International Student Advisor. Failure to comply will result in a violation of your F-1 status.

Online Classes

F-1 students may register for one online class per semester but at least 9 credits of study must always be in-person. An F-1 student can take two online classes as long as they maintain those 9 in-person credits.

Students sponsored by their home governments may have to adhere to different rules, please check with your sponsor on this matter.


Maintaining a full course load requires that you complete your courses. You do so by receiving A, B, C, D, F, Z or P as final letter grades. You may not receive a W or Y as that will drop you below 12 credit hours per semester.

You must also make sure that you maintain a 2.0 GPA. This is because if you fall below the 2.0 mark you will be placed on Academic Probation. If that happens your registration will be reduced to only 6 credits.

Academic Responsibilities

Maintaining a good GPA does not only consist on you studying for your tests. Each class will have different requirements. It is your responsibility to read and follow the requirements of your course syllabi such as attendance policies, communicating with instructors, figuring out the requirements for passing the course and what their grading criteria is.

Ask questions if you are having trouble understanding. If you find that you are struggling with certain concepts or subjects, MCC also offers several tutoring services that can help you. You must take responsibility for your own academic success.


Always attend the first day of classes as some professors might drop you from their classes if you do so. In the case of online clases, logging into your online class and submitting assignments counts as attendance. Also understand that an instructor can withdraw you from a class due to excessive absences. Each professor has an attendance policy. This is usually listed on his/her syllabus.

For more academic resources visit this page.

Employment and Travel


Abide by U.S. Federal Employment Regulations. You cannot work on or off campus, without prior authorization from an International Advisor.

Read this page for more information on employment for F-1 students.


As a student on an F-1 visa you are allowed to travel as long as traveling does not interfere with your studies. If you must leave the country for an extended period of time that will result in you withdrawing from classes or missing a semester, you must notify an International Advisor.

Make sure you always carry the necessary documentation while traveling. For more information on traveling read our page on traveling instructions.

Report the following

Change of Address

If you have changed your address, it is mandatory that you report such changes to us. You must notify us by completing a Change of Address Request form within 10 days of you moving to a new place. You must also notify us of a new mail address if you change it.

Change of Major

If you decide that you are going to change your major you must notify an International Student Advisor. You will need to be issued a new I-20 and we will need to update your SEVIS record. For more information on changing your major visit this page.


Transferring to a new school requires that you carry out the necessary procedures. If you plan on doing you need to let us know. Read this page for more information.

Expiring I-20

Take note of the completion date listed on your I-20. After this date your will expire and you will automatically be out of status. We recommend that you constantly check your I-20’s expiration date.

If you see that your I-20 is about to expire but cannot complete your studies by that date, you must follow proper procedures to extend your I-20.

If you are not in status you will not be eligible for an I-20 extension or transfer. Extensions are only approved as long as the reason for the delay is related to academic or medical reasons.

The opposite is also true. If you are going to complete your program of study earlier than the end-date or you must terminate your studies before your I-20 expires, you must notify an International Student Advisor.

Falling out of status

If you allow yourself to fall "out of status", it may be extraordinarily difficult to reinstate your F-1 status with USCIS. It is your responsibility to resolve the situation by seeking the assistance of an International Student Advisor by applying for Re-entry or Reinstatement.

The process of reinstatement requires a lot of paperwork, it is expensive, and there is no guarantee that your status will be reinstated. If it is not, you could be required to leave the United States!