F-1: Maintaining Legal Status

The following is a list of all requirements to maintain legal F-1 status. Details for each below.

  • Maintain
    • a valid local address
    • a valid/unexpired passport
    • an accurate, unexpired I-20
  • Register full-time every fall/spring semester
  • Work only with proper authorization
  • Keep immigration documents safe

Details below as well as more information about violation of F-1 status.

Maintain a valid local address

Any time your local address changes, please submit MyISS>F-1 and J-1 Student Services>Address Update 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

Maintain a valid/unexpired passport for yourself and all F-2 dependents (if any). 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 funding

  • Change of degree level

  • Name changes: submit MyISS>General Services>Ask Student Counselor to request a change of name, uploading documenation confirming new name, such as new passport.

Register Fall/Spring Full-time

Minimum Number of Credit Hours Required:

  • Undergraduate = minimum 12 credit hours

  • Graduate with Graduate Staff appointment requiring employment (has a work requirement) = minimum 6 credit hours

  • Graduate with no Graduate Staff appointment = minimum 8 credit hours

Online/Distance Education Courses

Per semester, only one course or three credit hours delivered online or via distance education may be counted toward the minimum full course of study requirement if the class does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class.

Additional online or distance education courses may be taken as long as the minimum number of credit hours has been met.

Audited Courses Do Not Count

Audited courses do NOT count toward your minimum full-time enrollment status.  

Summer Registration

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.

If summer is your first or last semester, fulltime registration is required unless you qualify for an exception. Fulltime registration for the summer is six (6) credit hours except for graduate students with a Graduate Staff Appointment when three (3) credit hours is required.

If your final semester will be summer, review instructions below for exceptions to the fulltime registration requirement.

Last Semester of Program

All students in their final semester

  • If a student needs a full course of study (as explained above in "Register Fall/Spring fulltime") to complete their degree, then no more than one one course may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken on-line or through distance education and does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class.
  • If a student needs less than a full course of study to complete their degree, they 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. Relevant sections below give further instructions based whether the student is an undergraduate or graduate student.

Undergraduate Students Final Semester

Undergraduate students in their final 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 Final Semester

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

Grace Period Upon Completing Degree

Upon completing degree, F-1 students are permitted a 60 day grace period in which to depart the US, apply for Optional Practical Training, complete a School Transfer or Change of Education Level or take some other action to maintain their legal right to remain in the US (this last option would involve consulting with an Immigration Attorney).

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.