Maintaining F-1 Student Status

Understand what you need to do to maintain your F-1 student status.

Instructions on how update your Address & Phone Number in HUB

What does it mean to be in F-1 student status?

You entered the U.S. with an F-1 visa (or, if Canadian, used an I-20 to enter the U.S.)                 OR

You entered the U.S. with a different visa, and subsequently applied for and were granted a change-of-status to F-1 by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).

THEREFORE, your primary purpose for being in the U.S. is to study.  

How do I maintain my F-1 student status?

To maintain your F-1 status, you must comply with ALL of the following requirements:

  • Always study full-time and make normal progress toward your degree. 
    • Register for 12 credit hours each semester.

    • Summer term does not require enrollment unless it is your first semester or final semester. If you were admitted to start a degree program during a summer session, you are required to register for a minimum of 6 credits during the first summer session in which you were admitted. If summer is your final semester, you must register for at least 6 credits during the same summer session.

    • Register for 9 credit hours each semester if you are a graduate student who holds an assistantship.

    • Register for 1 or more credit hours each semester if you have Certification of Full-time Status from the Graduate School (409 Capen Hall, North Campus) while working full-time on a doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis, project, portfolio, or comprehensive exam.

    • Do not drop, resign, or withdraw courses so that you are no longer registered for a full course load.

    • Only three credits of online course work per semester can count towards the full course of study requirement.  If it is your final semester, you may not take only online courses.  
  • Keep your passport valid at all times. 
  • Maintain a valid and accurate I-20
    • Check the Program End Date on your I-20.  If the Program End Date is approaching and you have not finished your program, you must apply for an “Extension of Stay” before the expiration date.
    • If your major field of study changes, you must request a new I-20 from ISS. If your funding source changes, you also need a new I-20. If there are changes to your information or you need a reprinted I-20 for a reason other than travel you can request an updated I-20 on myISSS using the "I-20 Reprint Request" e-form.
    • To re-enter the U.S., the travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 must be valid.  The travel signature is valid for one year.  Note: Travel signatures for students on OPT are valid for only six months. 
To request a Travel Endorsement on your I-20

1. Log in to myISSS.  Click on the blue “LOGIN” button and enter your UBIT Name and Password.  Do NOT click on “Administrative Services for University Departments”.

2. F-1 students click on “F-1 Student Services”.

3. Select the “Travel Endorsement Request” E-form.

4. You must complete and submit the e-form before you can visit ISS with your original I-20 to receive a signature.

5. After you have received a confirmation email, bring your I-20 to one of our advisors in 1 Capen or 210 Talbert Hall to get your signature.

Please note: ISS advisors will be available to sign I-20s during our advising hours. We recommend that you submit the E-form at least 10 business days before you leave the U.S.

  • Maintain a valid passport while you are inside the U.S.. 

  • Never work off-campus unless authorized by the USCIS and/or DSO at your school.

  • Never work on campus for more than 20 hours per week during the Fall or Spring semesters. During the summer and winter terms, you may work more than 20 hours per week.
  • Notify UB of a Change of Address through the HUB Student Center within 10 days of your move.  ISS will then notify the Department of Homeland Security.  If you are on OPT, you must report your Change of Address by logging on to myISSS using your UBIT Name and Password.  Once you have logged on, enter your current residential address on the “Update OPT Student Contact Information” E-form.

  • Contact ISS before you complete your studies if you plan to transfer to another school. To be eligible for a SEVIS Transfer, the process must be complete BEFORE the end of your 60-day grace period.

  • Comply with all of U.S. federal and state laws

  • Comply with all University at Buffalo academic and conduct policies
  • Comply with all reporting requirements if approved for Post-Completion OPT or the 24-Month OPT STEM Extension.

Are there any EXCEPTIONS to the full-time course registration requirement?

There are some exceptions to the full-time course registration requirement. All exceptions must be approved by ISS BEFORE droppping, resigning or withdrawing from courses.

  • During summer or winter term (ONLY for continuing students who intend to register for the next term)
    • Students who have initial I-20’s to start a degree program in the summer or winter must be enrolled full-time. 
    • If summer term is your final semester, you must enroll full-time (6 credits).
  • During your final semester if you need fewer than 12 credits to finish your degree requirements and graduate.
    • You may not register only for Distance Education courses in your final semester.  You must be physically present and taking (a) course(s) at UB.  
  • One time per degree level due to academic difficulties. This is only possible during your first year of study at UB.
    • You must be registered for at least 6 credit hours to be eligible for this Reduced Course Load

Violation of Status

Failure to comply with these requirements is a violation of your F-1 status, which may result in serious consequences, including the termination of your SEVIS record, and your inability to re-enter the U.S., accural of unlawful presence, detention and deportation from the U.S.  Please direct all questions regarding your F-1 student status to ISS, 210 Talbert or 1 Capen, North Campus,