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Maintaining F-1 Status

For International Students

Full Time Study

Study F-1 students are required to maintain full-time enrollment status. Full-time study is at least 18 hours of instruction per week for ESL programs, or a minimum of 12 units of study per quarter for academic programs.

Dropping below required hours or units without permission is a violation of your F-1 status, which may lead to academic dismissal and termination of your Form I-20. If your Form I-20 is terminated in SEVIS, you must leave the United States immediately and the termination may negatively affect future visa applications to the U.S.

If you are in the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa or other type of visa that does not allow full-time study, you must enroll in less than 18 hours of classes per week for ESL programs or less than 12 units of study per quarter for academic programs.

Attendance Policy

You are expected to attend class during all scheduled class times. Not attending class time will negatively affect your F-1 status, which may lead to academic disqualification and termination of your I-20. If your I-20 is terminated, you must leave the U.S. immediately and the termination may negatively affect future visa applications to the U.S. Please be sure to carefully review your course syllabus and program requirements to fully understand the attendance policy.

Local Address in the U.S.

As an F-1 student, you must regularly report any changes to your Designated School Official (DSO) to ensure that your information is correct in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Federal regulations require that you report your local address and any change your address to maintain your F-1 status. Your local address must be the physical address where you currently live in the U.S. and cannot be a PO Box. If you move from one home to another during your studies, you must report the new address by updating your DCE online student profile within 10 days of moving.

Reduced Course Load Due to Medical Reasons

If you are unable to attend your program full time due to a temporary illness or medical condition you may be authorized for a reduced course load. The maximum time allowed for a reduced course load is 12 months. You must provide a letter on official letterhead signed by an appropriate medical official to request a Reduced Course Load for medical reasons.

The official letter must:

  • Include the student’s full name
  • Be signed and dated by a licensed Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy, or a Licensed Clinical Psychologist
  • Be on official letterhead and include the doctor’s contact information and the name and address of the medical office, clinic/urgent care, or hospital
  • Recommend the student take a reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) due to medical reasons
  • Must specify the start and end date for the recommended reduced course load

Your International Student Advisor may approve an authorized reduced course load if your medical documentation meets the requirements above. An authorized reduced course load allows the student to maintain F-1 status during the approved period of time for a reduced course load.

If you do not submit a valid letter from a medical provider within the U.S. and do not receive an approval notice for a reduced course load, any absences you have will impact your F-1 status with our school.

Extension of I-20

If you plan to continue your studies and your I-20 will expire on or before the end of your current program, you must email to extend your I-20 before the I-20 expiration date. The I-20 expiration date is listed on page one of your I-20, under Program End Date.

60-Day Grace Period

Once you successfully complete your program and if you will not continue your studies in the U.S. after your program ends, your 60-day grace period begins the day after your last class. Once you depart the U.S., your 60-day grace period ends and your I-20 from UCI DCE is no longer valid. During your 60-day grace period, you can do the following:

  • Travel within the United States and prepare to depart by the end of the grace period
  • Apply and be accepted to a new school and start within five months of your current program end date
  • Apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of class of admission

You must depart from the U.S. within 60 calendar days after the last day of your classes.

Your I-20 at UCI Division of Continuing Education and 60-day grace period will end the exact day you depart from the United States.