F-1: Maintaining Legal Status

How to Maintain Legal F-1 Student Status

  • Maintain a valid local address in myISS at all times

    • Any time your local address changes, please log into myISS, navigate to "F-1 and J-1 Student Services", then "Address Update (U.S. Residential)" to provide us with your correct local address.  You must notify us through the myISS portal within 10 days of any change to your local (U.S.) address. 

  • Maintain a valid/unexpired passport (and valid passports for dependents)

    • Contact your embassy 6 months prior to the expiration date to renew

  • Maintain an accurate, unexpired Form I-20

    • Request a Program Extension if you will not graduate by the Program End Date listed on your I-20. Note that once studies are completed, F-1 students are permitted a 60-day grace period, but if you are not completing your program, you must extend prior to the program end date on your I-20. Make the request through myISS as early in the semester as possible. The deadline to extend your I-20 is 14 calendar days before the expiration.

    • Request a new I-20 from ISS if there are any changes to your academic program. This includes changes such as:

      • Change of major

      • Change of degree level

      • Name changes

  • Register as a full-time student every Fall/Spring semester:

    • Minimum Number of Credit Hours Required:

      • Undergraduate = minimum 12 credit hours

      • Graduate w/assistantship (TA/RA) or fellowship administered as an assistantship (aka has a work requirement) = minimum 6 credit hours

      • Graduate with no assistantship, or with a fellowship that does not require any work = minimum 8 credit hours

    • A Maximum of 3 on-line or digitally delivered credit hours may apply to your minimum full-time enrollment status.

    • Students in their final semester must enroll in and complete at least one class or research credit in which they are required to be physically present for at least 80% of the semester, and no more than three credits of digitally delivered or online may count toward your minimum full-time enrollment.

    • Note that summer registration is not required to maintain your legal status if you were full time in the previous spring semester and you will be full time in the subsequent fall semester in the same academic program.  However some academic programs require summer enrollment.  Check with your academic advisor to learn more about departmental requirements.

    • Last Semester of Program:

      • Undergraduate students in their last semester may register part-time, but they must be in at least one class in which they are required to be physically present on campus for the majority of the semester.  Students must be enrolled in and pursuing all remaining coursework with the intention of graduation at the end of the semester and no more than three credit hours of the remaining required coursework may be delivered via distance learning.

      • Graduate students in their final semester needing less than full time registration to complete their degree must request approval for a reduced course load using the Reduced Course Load for Academic Reason e-form in myISS

  • Work only with proper authorization

    • Do not participate in any off-campus employment activities, paid and unpaid opportunities or employment, including mandatory orientation associated with off-campus employment activities without express written permission from ISS or USCIS.  See the section on F-1 employment for more information.  Off-campus employment can be any of the following: Internship (paid or unpaid), Co-Op (paid or unpaid), casually helping a friend with their business, starting a business, Interns for Indiana, and other similar scenarios.

    • Do not pursue or continue any employment, paid or unpaid, on the Purdue University campus after the program end date on your I-20, unless you have documented employment authorization from USCIS.

Keep Immigration Documents Safe

It is important to keep all your immigration documents in a safe place. These documents are proof of your F-1 status. You should keep all immigration documents indefinitely, as you may have to present them in the future if you apply for other immigration benefits.

    • I-94 Print-out/Card

    • Current I-20

    • All previous I-20's

    • Current or previous EAD cards

Violation of Status

It is your responsibility to maintain your immigration status by complying with federal immigration regulations and university policies. The ISS office is here to assist you with this by providing you information and services to ensure you are able to remain compliant.

If you fail to maintain your status (otherwise known as a having “violation of status” or falling “out of status”), this is a very serious matter that must be taken care of as quickly as possible. Please see the Violation of Status webpage for information and instructions.



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