Maintaining Status

Under United States immigration law, it is your personal responsibility to maintain lawful F-1 student status.

Begin by reading the "Instructions to Students" on page two of your I-20. By following those instructions, as well as the guidelines listed below, you should be able to maintain lawful F-1 student status with little difficulty. You must maintain lawful student status if you wish to enjoy the benefits associated with it, such as on-campus employment, practical training, and the ability to re-enter the United States when you travel.

If you follow the guidelines listed below, you should be able to maintain F-1 student status.

  1. Follow all US laws and all Gettysburg College policies.

  2. Keep an unexpired passport valid for at least 6 months into the future. Contact your country's consulate embassy in Washington D.C. for instructions if you need to extend your passport while in the US.

  3. Maintain full-time enrollment and normal, full-time progress toward your degree or certificate. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations require that you register during the College's published registration period. Failure to do this will result in violation of your F-1 status. You are expected to maintain full-time registration and make normal progress toward your degree. Note that the definition of "full-time" may differ from school to school and that immigration regulations may require a more restricted definition of "full-time" than that followed by your department. As a result, you should refer to the guide below and consult with the International Student Advisor (ISA) as well as your academic adviser to determine whether or not you are a "full-time" student.

  4. The rate of normal progress is the rate at which the average full-time student in your school or department advances toward the degree or certificate objective. Working to finish an "incomplete" course or project does not fall within the definition of making "normal progress".

    Undergraduate Programs - MINIMUM of  3 courses each semester during the academic year.

  5. Obtain PRIOR authorization from the International Student Advisor (ISA) BEFORE dropping below a full course of study, withdrawing from classes, or taking a leave of absence. There are very limited exceptions to the full-time requirement, so you must consult with the ISA  in advance of any drop below full-time, or you will be in violation of your status.

  6. If you leave the US without completing your program of study, complete your program early or change to another non-immigrant status, notify the ISA so that your record in the DHS data base accurately reflects your current situation.

  7. Do not accept any off-campus employment without written permission from the ISA and, if necessary, authorization from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

    Working without proper authorization is considered by the DHS as the most serious violation of its regulations. If you refer to your I-94 card, you will see the statement, "Warning: a nonimmigrant who accepts unauthorized employment is subject to deportation." It is most important, therefore, that you consult with the International Student Advisor (ISA) before you accept an offer of employment or begin to work. The ISA will advise you whether it is possible for you to work and assist you with the appropriate procedures. It is illegal to begin to work while waiting for authorization; you must have the appropriate authorization first. Students in F-1 status are allowed to work on-campus for the College for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the academic year (40 hours during vacation periods).

  8. Make timely transfers of your F-1 supervision if you enroll at Gettysburg after attending another school in the US.

  9. Obtain extensions, as needed, of your permission to stay in the US before your I-20 expires.

    If you have valid academic or health reasons for requiring more time to complete your program than that which is authorized on the I-20, you must request a program extension through the ISA. Come to the ISA as soon as you know that you will need an extension and at least 30 days before the completion date noted on your I-20 in order to have enough time to obtain any necessary documents.

  10. Once you have completed your studies and any practical training that is authorized, you must leave the US or change to another immigration status within the appropriate time allowed.

    This means that you are allowed to stay for the period of time to complete a program of study plus academic or practical training and a grace period. Those in F-1 status have a 60 day grace period in which to depart the US or change to another status.