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F-1 Visa

This page contains all the immigration information applicable to Students entering the U.S. on an F-1 Visa.  Information has been grouped into the following sections:

1) Important Forms
2) Duration of Status
3) Break in Study

Important Forms

I-20 ID
It is page 3 of the I-20, returned to you at the port of entry, that serves as the Identification of the international student on an F-1 visa and must be carried at all times If lost, a new one must be requested. ISFS is required by law to maintain a copy of the I-20 ID on file.

I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)
Form I-94, also called the Arrival-Departure Record of Stay permit, is the small white paper attached to your passport at the port of entry to the United States. This form officially determines how long an international student can remain in the U.S.  Aliens of the F-1 visa usually have their I-94 stamped "D/S" (Duration of Status) which means that the student can remain in this country for all the time required to complete his/her studies as long as the student follows all the regulations of the student visas. (Duration of Status for more information).

The I-20 issued to you should have a completion date, which is the estimated time it should take for you to complete your degree. If you will need more time, you need to contact our office (ISFS) to apply for an extension. Extensions of stay must be filed at least thirty days before the Date of Completion expires in order to remain in the U.S. legally.


Duration of Status (F-1 student status)

An F-1 student is considered in status for the entire length of time during which the student is enrolled as a full-time student in an educational program, plus any authorized period of practical training and an additional sixty days to prepare for departure.

Conditions of Duration of status:

You must be enrolled as a full-time student at the school you are authorized to attend. This means that you must attend the school whose I-20 you last entered the U.S. with.

You may engage in employment or practical training only when you have received permission. (See sections on Employment and Practical training for further details on conditions of employment).

Limitations of Duration of status:

  • 1. Duration of Status continues until the date of completion which appears on your I-20. Departures from the U.S. of fewer than five months do not break the continuity of D/S. An application for extension of stay must be filed in order for students to continue in F-1 status after the completion date. (See section on Program Extension for more information).  Be sure to seek advice from the International Student Advisor on employment matters and/or re-instatement to F-1 student status.
  • 2. Duration of status expires if a student takes longer than expected to complete to give academic level (e.g. bachelors's, master's, doctorate). The amount of time permitted for completing studies at a given level is determined by the date put on the initial I-20 issued at the beginning of each academic level. Subsequent I-20's issued for the same level of study that may be used for travel or transfer of schools do not change the official deadline for completion that was determined by the first I-20. Students must pay close attention to the expected completion date noted in item 5 on the original form I-20 for each level. If more time is needed to a report of program extension must be filed with (See section on Program Extension for more information).
  • 3. Duration of status expires if a student does not maintain a full course of study. (This is defined as 12 quarter hours per academic term for undergraduates and 9 quarter hours per academic term for graduate students.) Exceptions can be made on the advice of the International Student Advisor for valid medical or academic reasons as defined by the Customs and Border Patrol. Be sure to speak with the ISFS Advisor about any exceptions to avoid the serious consequences that may result from being out of status.

Note: Students who fail to maintain full time attendance are not eligible for a program extension or reinstatement to valid student status.


Travel Abroad

Temporary Departure from the U.S.
If you have an F-1 visa and plan on leaving the U.S. temporarily to visit your homeland or some other country, you should go to the ISFS office with your I-20 for re-entry signature.  Allow at least 5 working days before your departure!

You will not be allowed back into the U.S. without the signed I- 20, a valid visa, and a valid passport. Students in valid status may travel to Canada, Mexico and many of the adjacent islands if they have a valid passport, a valid I-94 and a valid signed I-20 or DS-2019. If you plan to re-enter the U.S. in less than 30 days, a valid visa is not required.

Transfer to Another School
An F-1 student is eligible to transfer if the student meets the following criteria:

  • has maintained valid legal status
  • has maintained full-time study
  • intends to pursue full-time study at a new school
  • is financially able to attend the new school.

Students transferring to another school should obtain an I-20 form the new institution and notify the International Student Advisor at Ohio University of their intention to transfer. Upon arrival at the new school, the student should take the new I-20 to the International Student Advisor at that school. To assist advisors at the new school, ask for a transfer report from our office.

Change of Address
SEVIS regulations require that we maintain a record of your current address. Therefore, you must change your address with the University Registrar. Click here to change or update your address.




International Student & Faculty Services
Walter International Education Center/15 Park Place
Athens, OH 45701
Tel: 740.593.4330 | Fax: 740.593.4328 |Email: isfs@ohio.edu
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