Maintaining F-1 Status

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Students at welcome fairAlthough ISS staff will do our best to assist students with maintaining their F-1 student status, ultimately, students are responsible for maintaining their own F-1 student status. Below is a summary of basic rules and what actions students need to take to maintain F-1 student status:

  • When seeking admission into the U.S. using a newly issued UW Tacoma I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number, UW Tacoma's name also must be printed on the F-1 student visa.
  • At initial entry to UW Tacoma or after being absent for more than 5 months, students must physically report to ISS staff at orientation to show a passport, F-1 student visa, I-94, and I-20.
  • Students must maintain full-time status during each academic semester. Full-time is 12 credits for undergraduate students and 10 credits for graduate students.
    • Graduate students: only course numbered above 400 count toward full-time enrollment. See the Enrollment Requirement of the Graduate Student Policies for more information.
    • DL Class:
      • No more than the equivalent of one Distance Learning (online) class per quarter may count toward the full-time enrollment.
      • Students may take more than one DL classes and remain outside of U.S. In this case, students' SEVIS record need to be terminated.
      • Students may spend their final quarter taking DL class(es) outside of U.S. In this case, students' SEVIS record need to be terminated and students will lose eligibility to apply for Post Completion OPT. 
      • DL class cannot be the only class students take during final quarter. 
    • Exceptions to full-time enrollment include a vacation quarter. If you are a continuing student and will be enrolled the following autumn quarter, then you can take class if you like in summer (full-time or part-time), or you can decide to not take any classes. Summer is considered the default vacation quarter, and you do not need approval to take summer as a vacation quarter. Also, you can stay in the U.S. during the summer even if you are not enrolled in classes. If you want to take a vacation quarter in a different quarter than summer, you must plan this in advance with ISS staff.
    • Students may turn in the Reduced Courseload Authorization Form to be considered part-time if they are facing any of the following reasons:
      • To Complete Course of Study in Current Term (graduating students only)
      • Concurrent Enrollment
      • Improper Course Level Placement
      • Unfamiliarity with American Teaching Methods (first semester only)
      • Initial Difficulties with Reading Requirement (first semester only)
      • Initial Difficulties with English Language (first semester only)
      • Illness or Medical Condition (proof required)
    • Students are permitted to take time off from studies and remain outside of U.S. at any time. This is called Leave of Absence (LOA). If you come across an unforeseen circumstance and need to suspend your study or plan to take an LOA, please contact your International Student Advisor immediately. 
  • Students are required by federal law to notify UW Tacoma within 10 calendar days of any changes to their Local (U.S. Mailing), U.S. Physical (only if different from Local/U.S. Mailing) and Permanent (Foreign) addresses.
    • Students have access to update Local Address by logging into MyUW. Go to the "Quick Links” on the left side of the main page and then click on "Change Student Address." If you have graduated from UW Tacoma, are engaged in Post-Completion OPT or STEM OPT Extention, and are unable to edit your Local Address in your MyUW, please update in your SEVP Portal.

    • Permanent (Foreign) addresses can only be updated by ISS staff in MyUW and in SEVIS. To have this updated, students must fill out the Update Your Permanent Address Form.

  • Students must submit a Change of Major or Minor Form if declaring a major or minor different from what’s listed on their I-20. Please note that only the primary major appears on the I-20, but two majors and a minor can be recorded in SEVIS.
  • Students must make normal academic progress in order to complete the course of study. In the case of Academic Dismissal, your SEVIS record will be terminated.
  • Students must never let their I-20 expire! Submit the Program End Date Extension Form at least 30 days before the expiration date.
  • Students must never let their passport expire!
  • Students must abide by the Student Employment Policy when working on campus.
  • Students must not engage in a paid internship or other paid work off-campus without consulting with ISS staff in advance.
  • Students must obey the Federal, State, and Local Laws.
  • Students must abide by the UW Tacoma Student Code of Conduct.
  • After completion of their program, F-1 students are allowed to remain in the U.S. for 60 days, which is considered their grace period. Do not overstay your time in the U.S.
  • In the case of withdrawing from UW Tacoma, turn in a completed Withdrawal Form to the Registrar's office.

Additional rules apply when students are engaged in Optional Practical Training (OPT). Attend the OPT workshop offered at the beginning of each academic quarter to learn more.

If you violate your status and/or run into a situation where you are questioned by Federal or Local Agents (for example Police, Immigration Agents or FBI), you want to make sure that you know what to do. To learn more, please visit Know Your Rights, a useful resource prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). 

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns!