Maintaining Lawful F-1 Status

International Students Maintaining Lawful F-1 Status

Highly Important Information


Passport – Must be valid at all times and at least 6 months into the future when traveling.

I-94 Card – A very important document, stamped with the date you entered the US and were given your status. This card also specifies your expiration date. Most will say “D/S” Duration of Status, meaning you are permitted to stay here as long as you are maintaining F-1 student status. Please keep in a safe place. If you lose this card, you must file form I-102 with USCIS to get a replacement, for which there is a fee. If you travel outside of the United States, you will be required to give up this card and receive a new one when you re-enter.

Form I-20 – This document is your certificate of eligibility and is used to request your student visa. It contains all of the basic but important details: your biographical data, program information, financial information, and authorization details (employment, reduced course load and travel). Keep the originals of all I-20′s you are issued, you will need them later on. Before you leave the United States for vacation or other reasons, you must bring your I-20 to the International Students Services Office to be signed. This will authorize you to return to the US later.

*Always carry proof that you are legal and have permission to be in the United States for the duration of your stay, especially if traveling near border countries.

You must be a full-time student to keep your F-1 status in the US legal

Your F-1 status has been granted for D/S (duration of studies). You will be in valid F-1 status as long as you register full-time each semester at Dowling College.

Undergraduates: You must take 12 credits in the fall semester and 12 credits in the spring semester (usually 4 courses per semester).

Graduates: You must take 9 credits in the fall semester and 9 credits in the spring semester. (One course usually has 3 credits.) You are expected to be making “normal progress” towards the educational goal listed on your I-20. We are required to report all pertinent information about your academic progress to USCIS.

Please make a note of the “Program Start Date” on your I-20. You must actually be in class on that date, so please schedule accordingly. If you fail to register for class by that date, you are in immediate violation of status.