Basics of Maintaining F-1 Status

Responsibility to Maintain Your Lawful F-1 Status

It is extremely important to comply with immigration regulations in order to maintain lawful status. It is your responsibility as a student to maintain your status.  Students should consult an OISS International Student Advisor with any questions regarding maintaining lawful status.

Responsibilities of F-1 Students:

Maintain Required Documentation

F-1 students are required to have the following documents:

  • Valid I-20 (If you receive a new I-20, keep the old I-20 for your records)
  • Valid passport.  Passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future at all times. It is the student's responsibility to renew it through his/her embassy before it expires.
  • I-94 record that reflects “D/S” and “F-1” status

Duration of Status (D/S)

F-1 students are admitted to the U.S. for duration of status (D/S). Duration of status means:

  • The period during which you are pursuing a full-time course of study in an educational program indicated on your I-20;
  • Plus any authorized period of practical training;
  • Plus 60 days after completion of studies or practical training in which to apply for a change of status, transfer or leave the U.S.

Full Course of Study

F-1 students are required to register for and complete a full course of study each quarter except during vacation. Full-time for undergraduate students is defined as 12 units per quarter (except summer); full-time for graduates is considered 8 units and filing fee is considered full-time. Dropping below 12 or 8 units is permitted in specific cases. If you plan to enroll less than full-time, you must obtain written approval from your college advisor (undergraduates) or your program advisor (graduates) and an OISS International Student Advisor before dropping below the required amount of units.

Concurrent Enrollment

Concurrent enrollment means that you are taking courses at two SEVIS-approved schools. In order to be eligible to participate in concurrent enrollment you must be enrolled in full-time studies and in good academic standing at UCSB.  You must receive authorization from OISS before participating in concurrent enrollment. Authorization during summer session is not required.

 Employment

F-1 students may work on-campus part-time (no more than 20 hours per week) while school is in session and full-time during school vacations. Off-campus employment (paid or unpaid) is not permitted during the first academic year in most cases. After the first year of study, restricted off-campus employment authorization may be requested. Off-campus work authorization may require USCIS permission. Working off-campus (paid or unpaid) without specific written authorization is a serious violation of F-1 status. See the Employment page for more information.

Change of Degree Level

If you are changing education levels (Bachelors to Masters, Masters to PhD) you must come to OISS to request a new I-20.  You should not begin studying in your new education level without obtaining the updated I-20 first.

Change of Major or Adding a Minor

If you have updated your major or added a second major please request an updated I-20 from OISS once the change is reflected in GOLD.  You must request an I-20 from OISS within 10 days of your change in major.  Minors are not reflected on your I-20 and do not warrant an updated I-20 request.

Change Your Address

If you move to a new address in Santa Barbara, you must login to GOLD within 10 days of moving to update your address. This must be a physical address (not a P.O Box).

Travel

For F-1 and F-2 visa holders who wish to travel outside the U.S. and reenter the U.S., necessary documents include a valid passport, a valid F-1 or F-2 visa stamp, and an unexpired UC Santa Barbara I-20 with a recent OISS signature dated within 12 months of your travel (6 months for those on OPT). It may not be necessary to extend an expired visa when traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days.  Refer to the travel page for detailed information.

Extension of Stay

If you are unable to complete your studies before the program completion date on the I-20, you must apply for an extension at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of your I-20 and receive authorization from your college advisor (undergraduate students) or your program advisor (graduate students).  The request must be made with OISS before your I-20 program end date expires.

Transferring to Another School from UC Santa Barbara

If you would like to transfer to another school from UC Santa Barbara, you must fill out a transfer out request form and provide OISS with an acceptance letter from your prospective school.  Transfers must be completed before the 60 day grace period ends and the start date of your new program must begin within 5 months after the completion of your UCSB program.

 Responsibility for Dependents

The F-1 student is responsible to ensure that F-2 dependents maintain their lawful status while in the United States.  Dependents (spouse and/or children under 21 years of age) are limited in what activities they can engage in during their time in Santa Barbara.  Employment for F-2 dependents is prohibited.  F-2 dependents can study part-time in certain programs.  Please visit OISS for additional information regarding F-2 dependent regulations.