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As an F-1 student, you are required to follow certain rules in order to maintain valid immigration status. It is essential that you understand these rules and contact the International Center if you have any questions. Even unintentional failure to comply with any of these rules may lead you to lose your status and your F-1 benefits, including on-campus employment and practical training privileges.

1. Maintain unexpired immigration documents

  • You must maintain an unexpired passport at all times
    • Your passport should be valid at least six months into the future
    • Contact your country's embassy to get your passport renewed if your passport will expire in the near future
  • You must have a valid, unexpired Form I-20 from Tufts University that correctly reflects your program objective (e.g., bachelor's degree) and major (e.g., biology)
    • Contact the International Center if your degree objective and/or major has changed

2. Maintain full-time enrollment every required term (in most cases, fall and spring semesters) 

  • You must enroll full-time during the fall and spring semesters at the following levels:
    • Undergraduate students: full-time is always a minimum of 12 SHUs (credit hours)
    • Graduate students: full-time ranges from 9 to 12 SHUs depending on your school policies - your school will define the standard for full-time enrollment
  • You may be able to maintain full-time enrollment through concurrent enrollment, whereby the total credits is based on a combination of classes taken at Tufts and at another US college/university
  • You may take summers as a vacation, unless full-time enrollment is required by your program
  • You may count only one online class toward your full-time enrollment requirement
    • Example: if you are an undergraduate taking 4 classes at 3 SHUs each, only one class can be online to be considered a full-time student
    • Enrollment in a single online course that does not require physical presence in the US is not allowed during the last semester of enrollment.
  • You must not withdraw from a course without first getting authorization from an International Center advisor, if withdrawing will cause you to drop below full-time
    • An unauthorized drop below full-time status will lead to termination of your F-1 student status
    • You may request a reduced course load (part-time or no study) in certain situations, but the reduced course load request must be approved by the International Center before dropping below full-time enrollment

3. Make normal, full-time progress toward completing your degree or educational objective

  • You must maintain satisfactory academic standing and make normal, full-time progress toward reaching your degree or educational objective

4. Extend your I-20 BEFORE it expires if you need more time to complete your program 

  • If you need more time to complete your program, you must submit an I-20 extension request to the International Center BEFORE your I-20 expires
    • Extensions may be completed only if there are compelling academic or medical reasons for needing more time to complete your program

5. Update your US residential address and telephone number in SIS

  • Update any changes to your US address and phone number within ten days
    • You should update your address changes in the Student Information System (SIS)
    • If you are staying in a Tufts residence hall, your US address will be updated in SIS automatically once your residence hall address becomes active

6. Do not accept off-campus employment without authorization

  • If you want to work off-campus, you must first get authorization from either the International Center or the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
  • Working without authorization is considered a serious violation of immigration status and may require you to leave the US

7. Depart the US or take other steps to maintain your status before the end of your 'grace period'

  • Once you complete your program objective, you have a grace period of sixty (60) days in which you are allowed to prepare for departure from the US
    • The grace period starts the day after you have completed your degree requirements (i.e., once you finish your required academic work and qualify for graduation - regardless of your actual graduation date)
    • The grace period ends once you leave the US or by the end of the 60th day, whichever comes first
  • You may also pursue other immigration options during the grace period, such as applying for post-completion Optional Practical Training or requesting an F-1 transfer to another school
  • The 60-day grace period is available only when you complete your original degree objective
  • The grace period is intended only to give you time to prepare for departure - it does not give you extra time to continue working in the US

If you for any reason you fail to maintain valid F-1 student status during your studies, you may need to regain F-1 status. Read our Reinstatement to F-1 Status page for more information about your options for regaining valid F-1 status.