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Immigration Information for F-1 Students

While studying in the United States all F-1 students must follow immigration regulations as outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in order maintain their legal immigration status. Your status relates to the purpose of your visit to the United States: to study. You should not take any actions that detract you from that purpose.

It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms of your immigration status during your stay in the United States. A violation of the immigration regulations (i.e., failure to maintain a full-time credit load or unauthorized employment) could jeopardize your F-1 status and legal stay in the U.S.

We recommend you visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Study in the States website to get the most up to date information relating to your F-1 status:


What is F-1 Status?
What is a "Designated School Official?"
Period of Authorized Stay in the U.S.


Below is an overview of the documents related to your F-1 status. For day-to-day purposes we suggest that these documents be kept in a secure location and you should carry photocopies. However, if you are traveling out of the state or country you should carry the original documents with you. If you are traveling by air, train, bus or ship, you may be required to produce these documents before boarding. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location in the event your documents are lost or stolen.

F-1 Visa
Form I-20: Certificate of Eligibility
I-94 Arrival & Departure Record

When to Update your I-20

The Department of Homeland Security requires F-1 students to update a DSO when certain changes take place throughout their stay in the United States. These are the most common instances.

Program Extension
Change of Major
Change of Schools
Change in Personal Information

Full-Time Registration

As an international student you are required to be registered for a full course of study in classes that meet your degree requirements during the Fall and Spring semesters.

  • Undergraduate Students - 12 Credit Hours
  • Graduate Students - 9 Credit Hours

Online Courses: Only 3 credit hours (or one online course) per semester are applicable towards your full-time enrollment.


  • You are not required to take classes during the summer unless it is your first semester at Tarleton.
  • If it's your last semester, you must take at least one face-to-face course.

You may be eligible for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) for academic reasons, medical conditions, or during your final semester. For more information and instructions, contact your DSO at


Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 may be eligible to join you in the U.S. under F-2 dependent status. Contact your Designated School Officiall for procedures to invite a dependent to join you in the U.S. Their status in the U.S. is contingent in your ability to maintain status.

For more information visit the following link:

Study in the States - Dependents

Completion of your Program

The end of your academic program affects your F-1 status. After you graduate or complete your program you have a 60-day grace period. Within this 60-day period you have the following options:

  • Apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training
  • Enroll in another program of study
  • Apply for a change of status to another visa category to USCIS
  • Make arrangements to depart the U.S.

If for some reason you are not able to complete your program of study by the date listed in your I-20, or wish to withdraw, speak to your DSO for advice.

Loss of F-1 Status and Unlawful Presence

If you violate the immigration regulations you may begin to accrue days of unlawful presence in the United States.

Students may be eligible to regain valid F-1 status either through a reinstatement application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or through travel and reentry with a new I-20/new SEVIS record. The appropriate option will depend on your individual circumstances. Speak to your DSO for more information and instructions.