Maintaining Your International Student Visa

The last thing you want is to have your studies interrupted by an immigration issue. Learn how you can maintain your F-1 Student Visa status and study in the US. 

8 Steps to Keeping Your F-1 Visa Status

  1. Understand the details of your F-1 status

    You can remain in the U.S. as long as you maintain your F-1 visa status. You may remain in the U.S. with an expired F-1 visa if your passport is valid, and your F-1 visa status is active by following all F-1 visa rules and regulations. If you fall out of status, speak with our office immediately regarding eligibility for reinstatement. Students may be eligible to apply for reinstatement within five months of falling out of status.

  2. Be a full-time student

    Complete at least 12 credit hours each fall and spring semester to keep your full-time student status. You are not required to register for summer sessions, unless you are coming here for the first time for summer school. If you need to drop a class or fall below full-time status for any reason, contact International Student Services for help right away and prior to making any class changes.

  3. Get authorization for employment or training

    As an F-1 visa student, you are eligible to work part-time on-campus for up to 19.5 hours a week. Please visit International Student Services or Career Services for more information Some F-1 students in approved programs are eligible for practical training such as internships or clinicals. Please visit International Student Services for more information.

  4. Keep your documents current

    • Make sure your passport is valid for six months from your date of enrollment.
    • Apply for an extension on your I-20 form at least 30 days before it expires.
    • If you move, report your new address to International Student Services as soon as possible.

  5. Carry your documents with you

    • Keep copies of your passport, I-94 card, and I-20 form with you everywhere you go in the Houston area.
    • If you travel outside the Houston area, be sure to bring the original documents with you.
    • If you plan to travel temporarily outside the U.S., you must get a travel endorsement on your I-20 from international student services.

  6. Keep your school records current

    You should only attend the school listed on your Form I-20. If you would like to transfer to or from San Jacinto College, you will need to contact International Student Services at San Jacinto College and/or the international office at your future institution to follow the international admission transfer in/out process to ensure you are maintaining your F-1 status.

    If you would like to concurrently enroll in more than one school, you will need to obtain a concurrent letter from your current institution and complete the concurrent enrollment process for international students at the institution you plan on attending.

  7. Plan for the future

    Once you complete your degree or practical training, you have 60 days to decide on your plans for the following semester. You can begin a new program at San Jac, transfer to another institution, return to your home country, or change your Visa status.

  8. Stay in touch with International Student Services

    It’s your Designated School Official’s (DSO) job to help keep your F-1 status valid so you can reach your educational goals. To avoid any Visa violations, please report any changes to your personal contact information within 10 days of the change.

Contact International Student Services

Do you have questions about maintaining your status? Your International coordinator and the International Student Services team are here to help.