Maintaining Student Status

Maintaining your F-1 student status is critical for all international students studying in the United States, since it keeps you eligible for many other F-1 benefits.  In order to maintain your F-1 status, international students must:

  • Enroll full-time (at least 12 semester credits) during fall and spring semesters at R-MC
  • Keep your passport valid at least 6 months into the future
  • Have your I-20 signed by the Designated School Official (DSO) in the Office of International Education if you plan to leave the United States
  • Attend all of your classes
  • Complete your degree by the date specified on your I-20. If you are unable to finish your degree by that date, see Program Extension below.
  • Comply with required procedures for the SEVIS record transfer process
  • Obtain a new I-20 if there is any change in educational level, major or source of funding
  • Obtain appropriate employment authorization for any work. Do not be employed on-campus for more than 20 hours a week while school is in session. Students can work up to 40 hours a week during school breaks and vacation.
  • Update your current residential address in the U.S. if there is any change – notify your DSO
  • Depart the U.S. within the 60-day grace period after completion of your program if you are an F-1 student, within 30 days if you are a J-1 student; depart the U.S. within 15 days if you cancel enrollment in the middle of a semester.
  • Disclose fully and truthfully all information requested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Obey all federal, state and local laws


Information on SEVIS

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a web-based system that can track and monitor schools and programs, students, exchange visitors and their dependents throughout the duration of approved participation within the U.S. education system.



If you are separated or expelled from Randolph-Macon College, you can transfer to another institution and comply with the I-20 transfer procedure; change your status; or depart from the U.S. immediately. Students who fail to take one of these actions are “out of status.”

  • If you voluntarily withdraw from R-MC with your DSO’s prior approval, you have a 15-day grace period in which to depart from the U.S.
  • If you are separated or expelled from the College, you have no grace period, and cannot remain in the U.S. with your I-20. You must obtain a new I-20 to return to study in the U.S.


Program Extensions

If you need to remain in the U.S. longer than the period of time specified on your I-20, you must apply to the Office of International Education for a program extension before the program end date on your I-20 form. Program extensions can only be granted if the delay in completion of studies is due to compelling academic or medical reasons. A student who is unable to complete the program within the time listed on the I-20 and who is ineligible for extension is considered “out of status.”


Completion of Program

Once your program of study is complete, you have four options. You can:

  • Depart the U.S. within 60 days after your program completion date on your I-20 for F-1 students; depart the U.S. within 30 days of the program completion date on your DS-2019 for J-1 students.
  • Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) before your program completion date. You must submit your OPT application to your DSO at least 2 weeks before your program end date.
  • Complete the SEVIS record transfer procedure to enroll as an F-1 student at another U.S. institution.
  • Change to another visa category. Again, consult with your DSO and your immigration attorney for more information.