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Maintaining F-1 Status

Instructions on how international students can maintain their F1 visa status.

Keep your passport valid at all times.

  • Pursue a "full course of study" (12 credit hours or more) at the school listed on your current valid Form I-20 each semester and for the entire semester. You are not required to take classes during the summer unless it is your first or second semester.
  • No more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per semester may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken online or through distance education and does not require the student's physical attendance for classes.
  • Do not stop attending classes without notifying the International Admissions Coordinator. If you miss classes for two consecutive weeks or more without prior approval, you will be reported as out-of-status.
  • Make normal progress towards completing your course of study before the expiration of the "program completion date" on the Form I-20.
  • Keep your Form I-20 valid by following the proper procedures for extension of stay, change of major, and transfer of schools.
  • If a student is unable to complete their academic program by the date on the Form I-20, they must apply for a program extension. Students should have their advisor submit a Completion of Program Verification Form to the International Admissions Coordinator 30 days prior to the completion on the Form I-20.
  • Contact the International Admissions Coordinator before you change your major, so that you can obtain a new I-20 to reflect your current program.
  • An F-1 student's visa status is directly connected to attendance at the specific SEVP school responsible for issuing their Form I-20. A student who desires to transfer to another school must provide a letter of acceptance and the contact information of the DSO at the new school.
  • Remain in the U.S. for no longer than 60 days after completing a full course of study, unless prior to that time you have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or school transfer.
  • Do not work, either on or off-campus, unless authorized by the International Admissions Coordinator and USCIS.
  • Report any change of address and/or phone number to the International Admissions Coordinator within 10 days by submitting a Student Information Update Form.
  • If applicable fill out yearly income tax forms and send them to the Internal Revenue Service.

When to notify the International Admissions Coordinator:

  • Before changing your major or program of study
  • Before dropping below full-time for any reason
  • Before withdrawing from a class
  • Before you apply for work authorization with USCIS
  • When you are interested in employment options
  • To report change of address and/or phone number
  • To report a name change
  • Before applying for a driver's license or Social Security Number
  • To report receipt of a Social Security Number
  • Before you leave the United States for any reason
  • If you apply for another visa status
  • If you apply for permanent residency
  • During your last semester at Trident Technical College
  • Before you transfer to another school
  • If you have a hold on your account

The Office of International Admissions monitors the status and enrollment of all F-1 students by placing a hold on a student's account, which will prevent the student from registering for or withdrawing from classes without consulting with the International Admissions Coordinator. Prior to meeting with your academic advisor to register for classes, please contact the international admissions coordinator at 843-574-6325 or to have the hold temporarily removed for registration purposes.