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Maintaining F-1 Visa Student Status

Use the information on this page to help you maintain your F-1 Visa Student Status. 

Steps to maintaining your status

Report to Austin Peay State University

Students must report to campus within 30 days after entering the country and within 30 days of the current session start date. Students cannot enter the country more than 30 days before program start date on the I-20.


Always enroll full time

F-1 visa students must maintain full-time student status every semester, this is defined as 12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 6 credit hours for graduate students. F-1 students may only count 3 credit-hours of online courses toward full-time enrollment requirements.

IMPORTANT! If you are considering admission to the College of Graduate Studies, please note that some programs are not available to international students due to the F-1 requirements which restrict online course enrollment. 


Update your local address

Federal immigration regulations require you to update your local residential address within 10 days of any address change within the U.S. including changes from one residence hall to another.

Update your information


Maintain the validity of your immigration documents

If you are traveling outside the U.S., your passport and your visa should be valid. Do not let your passport expire. You should keep your passport valid for at least six months into the future while you are studying in the U.S. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. You can find the contact information for your consulate at: http://travel.state.gov.

If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., contact the F-1 International Student Advisor before departure from the U.S. because you will need to apply for another student visa before you can return.

What should I do if I lose my passport? I-94? I-20? DS-2019? Visa? 


Update/Change program dates

If you will finish your studies early or late (before or after the program end date listed on your I-20), you must contact the F-1 International Student Advisor. You must request an extension of program dates.

If you do not update the program dates on your SEVIS record, the record will terminate and you will be "out-of-status".

Notify the F-1 International Student Advisor when you leave the U.S. or change your visa status.

When you finish your program and leave the U.S. permanently, or if you change to another visa status (for instance if an employer plans to do an H1B visa application for you after you graduate or you finish your OPT), let the F-1 International Student Advisor know in person or by email.

Change your program dates with the Update Information Form.


Discuss transfer plans with a designated school official (DSO)

If you plan to transfer to another school or to go on to attend graduate school after you graduate from Austin Peay State University, notify the F-1 International Student Advisor.


Keep copies of immigration documents

Keep copies of all immigration documents including the passport photo/information page, the visa page of your passport, your I-94 Form (both sides, even if the back side has no writing, if you received the card version on re-entry), the I-20 (for F-1 visa students), and keep all copies of any previous I-20s issued to you during your time as an international student.

Remember to keep all immigration documents in a safe place. If possible during an emergency, carry your immigration documents on your body.

What should I do if I lose my passport? I-94? I-20? DS-2019? Visa?

Status FAQs

Contact the F-1 International Student Advisor prior to changing your educational program or level. For example, if your I-20 states that you are studying chemistry and you want to change your program of study to marketing, you must notify the F-1 International Student Advisor. All program changes must be updated in the SEVIS system. If you have graduated from an undergraduate program and will be beginning graduate studies, you must notify the F-1 International Student Advisor and request a change of degree level.


Change your degree program or level with the Update Information Form.

F-1 students are not permitted to work off campus (outside of the university) without prior authorization. Off-campus employment is any type of work or services performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or any other benefit that does not take place on the Austin Peay State University campus.


Students with financial problems should speak with the F-1 International Student Advisor but should never work off campus without first requesting the work through SEVIS. If you are currently authorized to work off campus due to economic hardship, your off-campus work authorization terminates when you transfer. You must re-apply for off-campus work authorization at your new school.


All F-1 students are permitted to work on campus for 20 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours per week during summer and winter breaks.


See On/Off Campus Employment for more information.

You must have the third page of your I-20 form signed by a university Designated School Official (DSO) before traveling. The signature date on your I-20 is valid for only one year of travel; check to make sure the signature is and will be valid upon return. 


Before leaving you must check to make sure that your student visa will still be valid upon re-entry into the U.S. If not, you will need to apply for a new visa prior to your return to the U.S. 


You must make sure that your passport is valid up to six months after your re-entry date. 


Carry your I-20, passport, visa, financial support documentation, and other proof of student identification including transcripts, student I.D., and emergency contact information for the APSU SEVIS PDSO (Primary Designated School Official) or DSO (Designated School Official) on your person when leaving and re-entering the U.S. Do not place in your checked luggage.


If you need to renew your visa in order to re-enter the United States you must apply in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation: valid passport, current passport-size photographs, valid Form I-20 (3 pages), proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, or financial aid letter) and proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript).


See International Travel for more information.

Resource Links

Study in the States - Maintaining Status

Tips for Students and Exchange Visitors