Requirements to maintain your F-1 status
Read about what F-1 students need to do to maintain status.
Undergraduate students must enroll for 12 credits each fall and spring semester. Graduate students must enroll for nine credits each fall and spring semester. Summer is considered an “optional” semester, and continuing students can be enrolled part-time or not enrolled during the summer. However, a student completing graduation requirements in a summer term must maintain full-time enrollment (and also follow the online course restrictions below) in the summer they graduate, or apply for a reduced course load through the ISSS office.
Failure to enroll for the required number of credits will result in the loss of your F-1 immigration status, and can result in serious problems with immigration.
Note: “Audit” courses do not count towards the full-time enrollment requirement for immigration purposes.
Immigration allows a few specific exceptions to the full-time enrollment rule. If you wish to drop below full-time, you must submit the Reduced Course Load E-Form on iNAU before dropping below full-time.
In-person enrollment requirement
There are restrictions about which classes international students may count towards full-time enrollment. Undergraduate students must enroll in a minimum of nine in-person credits every fall and spring semester (and in summer, if they are graduating). Graduate students must enroll in a minimum of six in-person credits every fall and spring semester (and in summer, if they are graduating).
Online and Hybrid Courses
F-1 international students can only count one online class toward their minimum number of credits as their full-time enrollment during their normal semesters. If you only need one course to complete your program of study, the course cannot be online or distance learning. Hybrid courses, also referred to as Blended courses, are considered in-person courses that will contribute toward our in-person enrollment requirement.
Required immigration reporting
All changes must be provided in writing by emailing your International Student Adviser or you can update your address by visiting iNAU. Do not phone or leave a voice message to report changes.
Required Information Updates Accordion Closed
1. Your current U.S. address
For immigration reporting purposes, we need both your physical and mailing addresses if they are different. When you move, you must report your new address to your International Student Adviser within 10 days of the move. This includes:
- moves from one Northern Arizona University residence hall to another
- moves from a residence hall to an address off-campus
- moves from one off-campus address to another
- room number changes
- temporary address changes
Your International Student Adviser will update your SEVIS record with your new address. Failure to provide a current address can result in a loss of your F-1 status.
How to change your address
- You must visit iNAU and update your address under the tab “Biographical Information – Local U.S. Address”. This will automatically update your address in SEVIS.
- You must change your address on LOUIE so important mail from the university will reach you.
2. Your current home country address
If your permanent address in your home country changes, you must update it on iNAU under the tab “Biographical Information – Permanent Home Address” within 10 days.
3. Any changes made to your program of study (major)
Changing your major is a three-step process:
- Fill out the Change of Major form from the Office of the Registrar.
- Submit it to your International Student Advisor, who must approve it.
- Once approved, pick it up from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and return it to the Office of the Registrar.
If you are a government sponsored student, you must receive permission from your sponsor before changing your major. A change of major will require a new financial guarantee and I-20.
4. Any name changes
Name changes including passport corrections, marriage, and more must be current.
5. Any change in your financial situation different from that on your I-20
The loss of a scholarship or the addition of an assistantship are examples of changes in your financial situation that must be reported.
6. Your current phone number
Your International Student Adviser also needs your current phone numbers at all times in case we need to contact you regarding an urgent issue.
7. Other changes
Any other relevant changes must be reported to your International Student Adviser, including:
- the intent to withdraw from the university
- transfer information
- change to another degree level
- change to another immigration status
- other changes that affect your F-1 status and may require SEVIS notification
If more time is needed to complete your program, you may apply for program extension. Extensions should be requested at least 30 days before the expiration date indicated on your Form I-20 by filling out a F-1 Program Extension E-Form on iNAU.
It is impossible to extend your program of study after your I-20 expiration date.
Transferring out of Northern Arizona University
In order to transfer out of Northern Arizona University, please complete the following steps:
- Apply to the other school: Contact the other school for details on their admissions process.
- Complete the Transfer Out E-Form: Once you have been admitted, fill out the Transfer Out E-Form on iNAU. When the e-form is approved your SEVIS immigration record will be transferred electronically to the other school on the SEVIS release date you indicated on the form.
- Drop off Transfer In Form: If required, bring in or email us your transfer in form from the university you are transferring to. ISSS will complete the form and email it directly to your transfer university.
Withdrawing from Northern Arizona University
To withdraw from Northern Arizona University, complete the Intent to Withdraw Form. If you withdraw with approval from CIE, you have a 15-day grace period to leave the United States before you fall out of status. No employment is permitted during this grace period.
If CIE did not authorize the withdrawal, you have no grace period to leave the United States and you are immediately out of status.
Immigration regulations state that you must carry your immigration documents with you at all times. These documents include:
- Current I-20
Furthermore, we recommend you carry photocopies of your immigration documents with you at all times when you are in Flagstaff. Whenever you leave Flagstaff, you must carry your original immigration documents with you. This still applies to you even if you have a U.S. driver’s license or state ID.
Traveling outside the US and re-entry
Be sure your I-20 states your current and accurate information and that page three has a valid travel signature. Each travel signature is valid for one year (renewal every 6 months recommended) while you are a student at Northern Arizona University.
If you need a travel signature, complete the F-1 Travel Signature Request E-Form on iNAU, then bring your most recent I-20 to the ISSS front desk at least two weeks before you depart Flagstaff. An International Student Adviser will e-mail you when it is ready to pick up. In addition to a valid I-20, you will need a valid visa and passport for reentry to the United States. It is also highly recommended that you bring:
- Evidence of financial resources (such as the financial support documents you used to get your I-20 or F-1 visa)
- Evidence of student status, such as:
- Recent tuition receipts
- The name and contact information of your International Student Adviser
Keep in mind that you may need a visa to enter a country other than your own. Please contact the consulate/embassy of the country you will be visiting for visa requirements.
F-1 immigration documents
Your U.S. F-1 visa in your passport is your approval to request entry to the United States and receive F-1 student status while here. The visa may either be for:
- single entry
- double entry
- multiple entries
If your visa expires while you are in the United States, but your Form I-20 and Form I-94 are valid, your legal immigration status in the United States remains valid. You may remain in the United States as long as you are maintaining your immigration status.
However, if your visa has expired and you depart the United States, you will be required to obtain a new visa before re-entering the United States.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, so contact your International Student Adviser in advance if you have visa related travel questions. It is not possible to renew an F-1 visa in the United States.
Accompanying dependents (spouse and children) of F-1 students are issued F-2 visas. For more information about F-2 immigration regulations, or if you would like to bring a dependent to the United States, please contact your International Student Adviser.
Your Form I-20 must always be valid and show correct information, including:
- your current major at Northern Arizona University
- your current financial support information
You must retain all I-20s you are issued from all schools you attend for your records (even after you graduate), as you may need them in the future.
Expiration date in Form I-20
The expiration date on your I-20 (shown in number 5 on your I-20) is the date that your program of study in the United States ends. However, you have a 60 day grace period beyond that date before you are required to leave the United States. You may use this 60-day period to prepare for your departure or to travel in the United States.
You will not be permitted to re-enter the United States after leaving its borders, even if it falls within this 60-day period.
Students who wish to gain employment in the United States following the completion of their program are still permitted to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) during the 60-day period. Contact your International Student Adviser for more information.
Form I-94 (arrival/departure form)
You must always carry your current I-94 with your passport. If lost, you must obtain another copy from the Department of Homeland Security I-94 website.
You must always have a valid passport for at least six months into the future. This means you should renew it about six months prior to the expiration date. To renew your passport, contact your embassy in the United States for instructions. You may be delayed when re-entering your home country if your passport is expired.