As an F-1 student, you are admitted to the U.S. for "duration of status," (D/S found in your passport where CBP stamped near your visa). This means you are permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status by fulfilling the requirements of being an F-1 student. F-1 status is granted when you enter the U.S. and is regulated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
F-1 Visa Basics

What is the F-1 visa stamp?

The visa is a travel stamp or sticker placed in your passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and is granted for use of entry purposes only.

What if my F-1 visa stamp is expiring or expired?

If your F-1 visa expires while you are in the U.S. and you are still maintaining an active F-1 status, you DO NOT have to leave the country for the sole purpose of renewing your visa.  You may remain in the U.S. on an expired F-1 visa as long as you are currently in active F-1 status.

If my F-1 visa stamp is unexpired, does this mean I am in status?

Possessing a valid visa does not necessarily mean you are in legal F-1 student status. If you do not continue to comply with immigration laws regulating your stay in the U.S., you will fail to maintain your legal student status and will need to speak to a Designated School Official "(DSO) to discuss the options to restore your non-immigrant F-1 student status.

More information about F-1

More in-depth information available on our F-1 visa FAQ page.
Regulations You Must Follow in Order to Maintain Your Legal Status

Maintain a valid unexpired passport

You must make sure your passport remains unexpired. If it is expiring soon, please make sure to go through the protocols for your country on how to renew while in the U.S. 

Access your I-94 Admission Number and share with GEO

Each time you enter the United States, you will want to access your most recent I-94, or admission number by logging in to You will need your passport information to retrieve.

Save the results as a PDF, and share the information via email, or print and dropping off in-person.

Complete a full course of study during each semester

  • Undergraduate: Minimum 12 hours of on-campus coursework
  • Graduate: Minimum 9 hours of on-campus coursework or 6 hours of on-campus coursework plus GA/GTA

A special note on online classes

An “online” course as defined by US federal regulations related to F-1, is a class that “does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class ” or in other words, any course that does not require your presence in a traditional classroom setting.

Limitations have been set on the number of “online” courses an F-1 student may take each semester to count toward maintaining their visa status.

Only one 3-hour “online” credit can be counted toward the 12 hour (UG), or 9 hour (G) full-time requirement. Please meet with a Designated School Official if you have questions regarding courses offered online.

Do not work unauthorized

For information on what types of employment are allowed on the F-1 visa and which require authorization, please visit our webpage on Employment.

Report any change of address within 10 days

Please log in to Banner Webworld to update your current address and telephone number within 10 days of any change.

You should only change your SEVIS Foreign Address, if your permanent address outside of the U.S. changes to another location outside of the U.S.

Suspensions or sitting out a semester

If you are unable to enroll for a fall or spring semester, you will be out of status and cannot remain legally in the U.S.

Consult with a DSO if you get assessed academic suspension or plan to sit out a long semester such as fall or spring.

Remain updated on travel information

I-20 Requirements

Attend the school that is listed on your Form I-20

If you are attending this university, your Form I-20 should reflect Midwestern State University.

Complete an official SEVIS record transfer whenever you change educational institutions. A transfer of the SEVIS record must be completed within 15 days of the beginning of classes of your first semester at the new school. 

More information on Transfer Procedures can be found here.

Make sure your current education level is reflected on your Form I-20

A new I-20 must be issued within 15 days of the beginning of classes of your first semester of your new program. This would include changing from Language Training to a university degree, from bachelor's degree to master's degree, from Optional Practical Training Program to a new degree, or from one level of degree to one of the same level (master's to a second master's degree), etc.

Visit I-20 Requirements what items are needed for to be issued an updated I-20.

Obtain a new I-20 whenever you change your major

Our Global Education Office is notified when requests for change of majors are received by the Office of the Registrar to make sure this is compliant with a F-1 student's studies. If approved by a DSO, you will receive a notification on your MSU Texas email account to retrieve an updated I-20, if there is a change to your major.

Don't let your I-20 program end date expire

Apply for an I-20 extension of your program if you cannot complete your degree by the program end date listed on your I-20.

A program extension request must be made before the program end date on your I-20. Please note that an extension cannot be granted, if the delay in program completion is due to repeating of courses due to failing. 


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