Violation of Status

Maintaining F-1 status is very important. Recent changes in US immigration policy make it difficult to correct an immigration status violation.

F-1 Immigration Status Violations

Failing to maintain your immigration status will result in SEVIS termination. A terminated SEVIS record means that F-1 status has ended, your I-20 is no longer valid and you are not eligible for on-campus employment, practical training, travel signature or any other F-1 benefit. In most cases, the termination of your SEVIS record means that you must make plans to immediately depart the U.S. Two options to regain status are explained below.

We encourage all students to carefully read the maintaining status information so you can avoid a status violation.

It is also important to notify ISS if you plan to leave UB or take a break in studies before making your plans to do so. Review the Leaving UB page to ensure you are compliant.

Reasons for SEVIS termination include:

Failure to enroll in classes

  • F-1 student status requires full-time enrollment.
  • Enrolling in too many online courses is also a status violation. (Exceptions permitted during COVID)

Unauthorized drop/resign below full course load without first receiving ISS approval

  • 12 credit hours per semester is required. Except: 
    • Graduate students who have an Assistantship may take 9 credits. 
    • Graduate students nearing the end of their programs and working full-time on a doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis, project, portfolio, or comprehensive exam may be eligible to be certified full-time by the Graduate School while registered for fewer than 12 credits.
    • Reduced Course Loads are possible in limited situations but must be approved before the add/drop deadline or before resigning courses if the add/drop deadline has passed.

Unauthorized withdraw from all courses

  • It is important to discuss your situation with an ISS Advisor before filing paperwork to withdraw from courses. Filing for an Academic Withdrawal even after the semester ended will result in a status violation.

Failing to report/update local residential address

  • Enrolled students must report/update their local residential address in the HUB Student Center. 
  • Students on OPT must report/update their local address on UB Global.
  • Addresses must be updated within 10 days of a change.

Expulsion (dismissal) or suspension

  • Failing to depart the U.S. after the university withdraws/suspends a student for misconduct or other violation is a status violation.

Failure to extend an I-20 before the Program End Date

  • Maintaining a valid I-20 is a part of maintaining F-1 status. If additional time is needed to complete degree requirements, an I-20 extension must be submitted and approved by ISS before the program end date on your current I-20.

Unauthorized employment

  • Work authorization is required for any off-campus employment.

Failure to report employment while on OPT or exceeding unemployment allowance

  • SEVIS will automatically terminate for students on Post-Completion OPT after exceeding 90 days without employment
  • SEVIS will automatically terminate for students on the OPT STEM extension after exceeding 150 days without employment.

It is important to understand how the Public Charge rule (i.e. utilizing U.S. taxpayer funded benefits) can impact your situation.

It is also important that all F-1 international students understand how to maintain their immigration status.

Regaining F-1 Status

A student who has failed to maintain F-1 student status and wishes to continue studying at the University at Buffalo has two options to regain valid status: Travel and Re-entry or Reinstatement. These options should be discussed with an International Student Advisor in detail.

Travel and Reentry vs. Reinstatement

Both Reinstatement and Travel and Re-entry involve risks. If your application for reinstatement is denied, you will be required to depart the U.S. immediately. However, students who are reinstated by the USCIS continue in their previous F-1 status. Reinstatement applications can also take a long time to receive a decision (3-12 months) and on-campus employment is not possible while awaiting a decision.

If you choose travel and re-entry and are denied re-entry at the border, you may be required to return home. Students who choose travel and re-enter are also considered initial status students and must complete one academic year before they are eligible to apply for off-campus employment (Optional Practical Training or Curricular Practical Training). However, travel and re-entry can be a quick process – depending on the availability of flights and availability of visa appointments. 

Disclaimer

We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to in these handouts and webcasts or any associated web sites. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel or tax professional. Neither the University at Buffalo nor the Office of International Student Services is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in these materials, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.