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Getting & Maintaining F-1 Status

F-1 Visa Regulations

All F-1 students must comply with the following immigration regulations:

  • You must study full-time, 12 credits each Fall and Spring semester
  • Of your total credits each semester, at least 9 credits must be in-person, flex, or hybrid; your remaining credits may be online
  • You may not withdraw from classes if it will bring you below 12 credits in a semester, unless a reduced course load is granted
  • You are not allowed to engage in unauthorized employment
  • Your current I-20 must be accessible at all times
  • You may not stay in the U.S. past the program end date listed on your I-20
    • If your I-20 is set to expire and you need more time to complete your studies, you may submit a Program Extension Request to your advisor

Attaining F-1 Visa Status

Students Outside the U.S.

Here are the basic steps for becoming an F-1 student at ACC If you are currently outside the U.S.:

  1. Apply to ACC as an international student
  2. Once accepted, you will be issued a Form I-20
  3. Use your I-20 to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Students Inside the U.S.

Here are the basic steps for changing your status to F-1 if you are currently in the U.S. under a different nonimmigrant visa status:

  1. Carefully consider your options; sometimes it is better to leave the U.S. and apply for an F-1 visa outside the U.S.
  2. Apply to ACC as an international student
  3. Once accepted, you will be issued a Form I-20
  4. Use your I-20 to apply for a change of status with USCIS

Additional Resources

Maintaining F-1 Visa Status

International Travel

Travel within the U.S. is unrestricted. When traveling outside the country, you will need several documents with you in hand in order to return:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Valid I-20 with valid travel signature
  • Academic transcript and schedule
  • Proof of adequate financial resources
  • SEVIS I-901 fee receipt

Before traveling internationally, notify the international student advisor of your plans, and set up an appointment to get a travel signature on your I-20. A travel signature is valid for six months.

If your F-1 visa has expired, or if you changed status to F-1 while in the U.S., then you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa while outside the U.S. Contact the international student advisor for more information.

Post-Graduation Options

After completing your studies at ACC, you have several options:

  • Transfer to another SEVP-certified school
  • Apply for and complete Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Transfer to another SEVP-certified school after completing one year of OPT
  • Leave the U.S. no more than 60 days after completing your program

Additional Resources