Immigration Information and Regulations

Generally speaking, international students are admitted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the purpose of being full-time students. As an international student, you are required by U.S. law to abide by immigration regulations throughout your stay in America.

Please note that it is your responsibility to be informed about immigration rules and any rule changes which may occur during your stay in the U.S. Penalties for violations of immigration laws can be severe and include becoming ineligible for re-entry to the U.S. Therefore, it is important that you understand your legal responsibilities.

As an F-1 student, you were admitted to the U.S. for “Duration of Status” (D/S). This means that you are permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status by fulfilling the requirements pertaining to F-1 students. Please keep in mind that there is an important difference between an F-1 visa and F-1 status. The visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and is granted for entry purposes only.

F-1 Status is defined by USCIS as, “a non-immigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States to pursue a full course of study in an approved program in either an academic (college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, other institution, or language training program) or a vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution.” See for more details.

F-1 status is granted when you enter the U.S. and is regulated by USCIS. Even if your visa is valid, you can lose your legal F-1 status if you do not comply with immigration laws regulating your stay in the U.S.


Keep your passport and I-20s together in a safe place. Make several copies of each of your I-20s and the pages in your passport showing your biographic information visa and I-94 card. If you lose the original documents, the copies will enable you to get new ones.

I-20 Certificate of Eligibility

The I-20 allows you to apply for an F-1 visa if you are outside of the U.S., apply for F-1 status within the U.S., enter and reenter the U.S., and prove eligibility for F-1 benefits. The I-20 states the school where you are permitted to study, your program of study, and the dates of eligibility. If you allow your I-20 to expire before you complete your academic program, you are in violation of your F-1 status.