Maintaining F-1 Status
It is the F-1 student's responsibility to abide by the federal regulations. Failure to do so may result in the loss of the F-1 student status. To maintain status, F-1 students need to:
Keep their passport valid at all times.
Keep the SEVIS record and I-20 valid by:
- Registering and successfully completing a minimum of 12 credits each quarter, unless ISS approves a vacation quarter or a reduced course load. Please see below for more information.
Making progress towards completing the program before the expiration date on the I-20.
Following proper procedures for requesting a program extension, changing programs or changing an educational level.
Following proper procedures for transferring to another SEVP-approved school.
Staying in good academic status.
Reporting a change of address to ISS within 10 days of the change by emailing email@example.com.
Departing from the U.S., transfer to another institution, apply for a change of status, or apply for Optional Practical Training no later than 60 days after completing a program of study.
Obtaining appropriate permission to work on and off campus. Working off campus without authorization is a violation.
Full Course of Study - 12 Credits - On Campus, Hybrid, Blended, Online, and Remote (Zoom) Classes
F-1 students at MCC must enroll in 12 credits each quarter at MCC and not only in one of the five-week sessions, unless they have prior approval from ISS.
According to the Code of Federal Regulations 8 CFR § 214.2 (f)(6)(i)(G), F-1 students may only count one distance education (online or remote/Zoom) class towards the required 12 credits. There is no limit on the number of on campus, hybrid, and blended classes because these classes require on campus presence.
Reduced Course Load (RCL) For Enrolling In Less Than 12 Credit Hours
Please see ISS Forms for the "Reduced Course Load Form." F-1 students need to request an academic advisor, counselor or navigator to complete the online form. The student will get an automatic email to review and approve. Then ISS will get an automatic email to review the RCL form.
These are the following reasons for an RCL:
Academic Difficulty RCL: F-1 students may request an RCL due to academic difficulty only in the first quarter. If F-1 students receive an academic difficulty RCL, they must resume a full course of study in the next available quarter in order to maintain status. Academic difficulty are limited to the following reasons:
Difficulty with English language or reading requirements
Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods or
Improper course placement (registered for the wrong course level)
Medical RCL: F-1 students may request a medical RCL due to a temporary medical condition with an appropriate doctor's letter recommending the RCL for medical reasons. Requirements of the medical RCL include:
Letter from a U.S. based licensed physician, medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist that recommends the F-1 student to take less than the minimum credits required for full-time enrollment.
Approval from ISS before dropping classes.
No more than 12 months total of medical RCL is permitted per educational level.
Final Quarter RCL: The ISS may authorize a final quarter RCL if F-1 students are in the final quarter of study and have less than 12 credits remaining to meet academic program requirements. F-1 students may request an RCL due to final quarter once per educational level: ESL, certificate of achievement, associate. The students must complete the requirements in the quarter that the RCL is approved for in order to remain in status. The F-1 student must have at least one on campus, hybrid or blended class in the final quarter. If the remaining class(es) is/are only offered online or remotely, ask the academic dean for an "on campus independent study" class. Usually the instructor's office will be the assigned location on the student's schedule.
F-1 students are eligible for annual vacation after completing three consecutive quarters at MCC. Summer Quarter is not an automatic vacation quarter. ISS may consider past enrollment at another institution if there was no break before the transfer. F-1 students need to be complete and submit a "Vacation Request" form to ISS for review. The form is available in ISS Forms. Note: F-1 students continue to pay for insurance because they will still hve an I-20 from MCC.
Start in Fall Quarter: study Fall, Winter & Spring Quarters. Summer would be the earliest to request a vacation.
Start in Winter Quarter: study Winter, Spring & Summer Quarters. Fall would be the earliest to request a vacation.
Start in Spring Quarter: study Spring, Summer & Fall Quarters. Winter would be the earliest to request a vacation.
Start in Summer Quarter: study Summer, Fall & Winter Quarters. Spring would be the earliest to request a vacation.
F-1 students may register for a minimum of 6 credit hours at MCC and take additional credits at another Dept. of Homeland Security-approved institution to count towards full-time enrollment. F-1 students need to complete a "Concurrent Enrollment" form, and provide ISS with a copy of the registration from the other institution. At the end of the other institution's term, the students will need to provide proof of the final grade to indicate that they completed the course and met the full-time requirement. Please contact ISS with questions or to request a form.
Out of Status
There are several situations where an F-1 student may violate the student status, such as not registering without authorization, registering part time without authorization, letting an I-20 expire and not requesting a program extension, falling into academic suspension or dismissal, unauthorized employment, etc. ISS recommends that F-1 students who have terminated SEVIS records consult with a lawyer who specializes in immigration law. Information about reinstatement is available on the ISS Forms page. The American Immigration Lawyers Association offers an Immigration Lawyer Search at www.ailalawyer.com. Under “Type of Lawyer”, select “Students and Exchange Visitors”. Then type in your zip code and hit “Search”.
Eligible F-1 students may apply for a program extension if they need more time to complete a program for longer than the allotted time on the I-20. The Program Extension form is available on the ISS Forms webpage. F-1 students will need to contact an academic advisor or an advocacy counselor before making an appointment with a DSO in ISS. The application should be submitted 30 days before the program end date listed on the I-20.
F-1 Students May Contact International Student Services at firstname.lastname@example.org if they:
- Would like an appointment via Zoom, phone, or in person.
- Want to travel outside the U.S. before completing the studies at MCC. Page two of the I-20 must be signed to support re-entry into the U.S.
- Cannot take full-time classes (at least 12 credit hours).
- Want to work on or off campus
- Desire to change status
- Want to change academic programs
- Plan to transfer to another SEVP-approved institution
- Need to update contact information