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. All USCIS forms are available online.
How to Maintain Your Status
The first step to understanding how to maintain your status is to attend the mandatory International Orientation. There, you will meet the International Education staff, other students, and learn about your immigration obligations as an F-1 student.
If you take time when you first arrive to familiarize yourself with your obligations to USCIS, you should find it easy to maintain your legal status. If, however, you allow yourself to fall "out of status", it may be extraordinarily difficult to reinstate your F-1 status with USCIS. 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!
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 and accurate information on the rules that govern student immigration classifications. When regulations change - as they often do - the International Student Advisors will have current information. Therefore, be sure that MCC ALWAYS has your up-to-date local address, phone number and email. You may also refer to this website.
How to Stay in Status
Maintain a Full Course of Study Each Semester.
U.S. federal regulations [8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)] require you to pursue a full course of study each Fall and Spring semester until completion of your degree. If you cannot register full time, you must see an International Student Advisor before classes begin. There are very limited exceptions to the full course of study rule, and you must obtain prior authorization from an International Student Advisor. Failure to comply will result in a violation of your F-1 status. You do not have to take classes during the summer sessions. F-1 students may register for one online class per semester. 9 credits of study must always be in-person. If an F-1 student would like to take two online classes, this is allowable, as long as the student maintains 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.
Take note of the completion date listed under #5 on your I-20.
If you cannot complete your studies by this date, you must make an appointment with an International Student Advisor before this date to file for an extension. Failure to do so is a violation of your status.
You must always attend your classes.
Every professor has an attendance policy, listed on his/her syllabus. If you are dropped from a class for non-attendance, you will lose your status.
Abide by U.S. Federal Employment Regulations.
You cannot work on or off campus, without prior authorization from an International Advisor.
Report Address Changes
Complete a change of address within 10 days to the International Education Office in building 36N.