Maintaining F-1 Student Status

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants F-1/J-1 status to individuals for one purpose only: to study full time at a particular school in the U.S.  Other activities, such as employment, are privileges, authorized with special written permission, for those who follow DHS rules.  Penalties for failing to follow the rules will result in loss of F-1/J-1 status and all related benefits and privileges and could lead to removal (deportation) from the U.S. This guide is designed to make sure you are aware of your responsibilities as a student in F-1/J-1 status.  DHS expects you to know and follow all the DHS rules all of the time.  Following the rules is your responsibility.

The International Student & Scholar Services advisers are the only sources of information and advice regarding your F-1 status while studying at the Drexel University.  We are here to provide you with the best information available, but you are responsible for following the rules of F-1 non-immigrant student status. Please read each section carefully and keep this paper for future reference.

Full time registration

  • You must be registered as a Full Time student  (9 or 12 credits  or more each term of your studies)
  • Contact ISSS if you have any registration problems. If there is a reason you cannot register for FT credits, you must seek written permission (LTFT) from the ISSS adviser before the term begins—this is only allowed in certain documented academic and medical circumstances.
  • Do not drop or withdraw from a course during the semester for any reason without first getting approval from the ISSS adviser under any circumstances.

Online Courses

Online courses are courses through the internet or television where a teacher and student are not physically present in a classroom at the same time. Do not enroll in more than one class of Distance Education.  Such a course can count no more than 3 credits toward full time enrollment.

Work Authorization

On-Campus Jobs: If you obtain an on-campus job at any of the Drexel campus(es), you could work no more than 20 hours per wk while school is in session.  On-campus employment is only allowed if your I-20 has not expired, you have not graduated, and you are a continuing student maintaining valid F-1/J-1 status administered by Drexel. Check the HR website for the available on-campus student employment opportunities.

Do NOT work anywhere OFF CAMPUS unless you obtain special written permission from the USCIS, DHS or written authorization on the I-20 from ISSS specifically for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).  Possession of a Social Security Card/Number does NOT grant you the right to work in the U.S. Attend any of the Employment Workshops during the Academic Year; check the ISSS website for the workshop schedule. Notify the ISSS Adviser immediately before you start any employment; otherwise, you will risk falling out of status for unauthorized employment.

Changes in your status/personal information

You must report the following (for you and any F-2/ J-2 dependents you may have) to ISSS within 10 days of the change:

  • Change in your legal name
  • Change in your local home address in the US (location of physical residence)
  • Change in your major (curriculum) or program education level (MS/PhD)
  • Filing or approval of an application/petition to change immigration status from F-1 to any other status

Completion Date on your I-20

Do not let the completion date in item five on your I-20 expire. If you need more time to complete your program, submit a completed Program Extension form, AT LEAST TWO WEEKS before the expiration date. The delay must have been caused by compelling academic and/or medical reasons and not by academic probation or suspension. 

Make sure you read DHS instructions to Students on page 2 of your I-20 before signing your I-20. Also read the Handbook for International Students you were mailed by ISSS. If you have any questions, contact the ISSS office.

Final Quarter or Semester

When you are in your final quarter or semester at Drexel University, you should report to ISSS before the last day of classes to report the following:

  • If you will complete your studies before or after the expected completion date in item 5 of your I-20
  • If you will apply for Optional Practical Training
  • If you plan to transfer to another school
  • If you plan to depart the United States

Transferring to Another School

If you plan to transfer to a new school, you must submit the transfer-out form to the ISSS office and make arrangements timely. A student must begin classes at the new school within 5 months of completing classes at Drexel University. The transfer must be completed with an international student advisor at the new school by following that school’s instructions (within 30 days of the report date on the I-20 of that school).  If you are completing your program at Drexel University, the transfer must be processed no later than 60 days from your completion of studies or OPT employment date.

The 60 Day Grace Period

Within 60 days of completing your program (the end of your 60-day grace period after graduation), you must leave the U.S. unless you have made other permissible arrangements, such as school applied for work authorization (OPT), transfer-out to a new school and/ or change your visa status.

Traveling Outside the USA

Obtain a travel signature from the ISSS Adviser on the back of your I-20 every 6 months so to verify the maintenance of your F-1 status before you travel outside the US if you plan to return to study at Drexel.

Important information to remember

  • Passport: Maintain a valid passport. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months in the future.
  • Other Immigration Documents: Keep updated copies of all immigration-related documents, including renewals, replacements, etc., such as the front and back of the departure I-94 card each time you (re)enter the US.
  • Urgent Situations: In an urgent situation, contact ISSS before you completely withdraw from school.  If you obtain written approval from the ISSS Adviser that your SEVIS F-1 record is completed (email), you will have a 15-days to depart the US.
  • Tax Filing: File non-resident tax forms each year as required by federal regulations of the Internal Revenue Service. Check with Drexel Tax office website for details.
  • Health insurance. Drexel University requires that you maintain adequate medical insurance coverage during your time studying in F-1 status. Check the Health Insurance office website for details.  

Violations-Status Termination

Understand that If Drexel University’s records indicate or if it is otherwise learned that you have fallen out of F-1 status or violated the rules and regulations for F-1 students, ISSS is required under federal law to report such violation to DHS by terminating your F-1/I-20 record in SEVIS.

Contact Us


Monday–Friday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Visit during office hours to drop off/pick up documents or to request a travel signature.

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