Maintaining F1 Status  

The main purpose for a F1 visa is to study in the United States. As an F1 student, you must adhere to all regulations regarding your visa and University policies to maintain your status. 

You are required to familiarize yourself with all regulations pertaining to your status.  

Maintaining your status means: 

  • Fulfilling the purpose of your F1 student visa
  • Following the regulations associated with your F1 student visa  


ON ARRIVAL in the US – you must do the following 

  • Enter no more than 30 days (about 4 and a half weeks) before your program of study begins  
  • Immediately contact your DSO by completing a Check in form on Terra Dotta and Register for classes.  

  • Obtain a valid active continued attendance I-20 

  • In Person attendance on first day of class. (executive session)  

Throughout your stay in the US as a F1 student visa holder you MUST maintain the following: 

  • Valid Passport  
  • Most recent I-94  
  • Valid Form I-20 (active – continued attendance)  
  • Full time Course load  
  • ALL Work Authorization must be approved prior to starting work 



While studying in the US F1 students MUST 

  • Attend ALL “In Person” classes and maintain normal academic progress. Please refer to the Attendance Policy for more details. 
  • Maintain FULL course of study each term
  • Speak to DSO prior to dropping a class 
  • Complete your program no later than the program end date listed on page 1 of your I-20 
    • If, for any reason, you find yourself unable to complete your program by the end date listed on your I-20, contact the ISO to request a Program Extension 
    • Program extensions can only be approved in limited circumstances and must be requested prior to your program end date to be considered. 

In addition, contact DSO if you are planning to do any of the following; 

Any notable changes that might impact your F1 status must be reported.   

F-1 Students are required by DHS/ICE/SEVP to continuously enroll full-time, be physically present, and finish on time   

What is full-time at Harrisburg University? 

The US government expects you to complete your degree program on time (by your Program End date listed on page one of your I-20). Only rarely are program extensions allowed.  

Undergraduate Students: F-1 visa holders must be enrolled for a full-time course load of a minimum of four (4) courses [12 semester credits] each semester. Any courses done as overloads beyond full time status may be online courses. 

Graduate Students:  F-1 visa holders must be enrolled for a full-time course load of a minimum of two (2) courses [6 semester credits] each semester.  One (1) course [3 credits] of the full-time schedule MUST BE in Executive format (where you are required to be physically present for at least 3 sessions in the semester). Overloads may be online courses. 

All students: To avoid SEVIS record Termination, you may not withdraw from a course leaving you with fewer than full time credits without special advance authorization from your DSO for Reduced Course Load (RCL) in your SEVIS record. 



Check for Valid I-20 Travel Signature and Proper Documentation before Traveling Outside the U.S. 

  • If you will travel outside the U.S., you must have a valid U.S. Entry Visa and a valid DSO travel signature on the I-20 on page 2 of your I-20. 
  • Travel signatures are valid for: 
    • Current students: one year (365 days) 
    • F-1 students on post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT): 6 months for 
  • Travel signature I-20’s can only be obtained by a P/DSO through a Terra Dotta request   
  • Review the travel checklist before leaving the US.  


Program completion and withdrawals 

Do Not Stay in the U.S. beyond the Grace Period 

F-1 Students: You are allowed a 60-day grace period to stay in the United States after the completion date of his/her studies or post-completion OPT. 

If you withdraw early (prior to completion of the program) or if for any reason your I-20 is terminated, you are allowed a 15-day grace period to stay in the United States. 

F2 students  

F-2 Dependents may not work and or enroll in a degree program in the U.S. 

If you have a spouse and/or children in F-2 status, please note that they may not work in the U.S. under any circumstances. Additionally, to enroll in a degree program.  

Please be aware that studying part time in classes that would fulfill degree program requirements is not permitted for an F-2 visitor.  Only non-degree bearing, avocational courses are acceptable. 


Check your Harrisburg University Email 

    Your Harrisburg University email address is where valuable information will be sent from professors and other offices on campus.  

    Not reading your email regularly can mean that you miss important information and that can lead to immigration, academic, and other problems, including Termination of your SEVIS record