Maintaining Your Immigration & Academic Status
It is important that F-1 students understand their immigration responsibilities in order to maintain their status. Please read carefully; these rules are simple, but extremely important. Any violation of these regulations puts you at risk of disciplinary action or deportation.
- Keep your passport, I-20, and I-94 valid at all times.
- Always be enrolled full-time for the Fall and Spring semesters. For undergraduate students this means 12 credit hours per semester; for graduate students this means 9 credit hours per semester. If you need to drop below full-time, make sure that you have received authorization from the Office of International Students, Scholars & Programs (ISSP) first!
- Obtain a travel signature on your I-20 prior to leaving the U.S. You will need this to return to the U.S. on your F-1 visa.
- Do not work without authorization. You can work for W&M on-campus a total of 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters and as many hours per week (on-campus) as you wish during official school breaks (Winter Break, etc). For ANY work, or work-like activity, off-campus or for an on-campus employer, paid or unpaid, you must have prior approval from ISSP. "Self-employment" also requires prior approval. Engaging in unauthorized employment may result in the termination of your SEVIS record and you will be required to leave the U.S. In addition, your future employment eligibility and academic program may also be impacted.
- Update your address within 10 days of moving. Update your address via Banner.
- Notify ISSP to update your I-20 and SEVIS Record of any changes to your academic program or plans. You must obtain permission from ISSP in advance if you 1.) need to drop below full-time enrollment, 2.) extend your I-20, or 3.) obtain work authorization. You must notify ISSP immediately of 1.) changes of major or funding, 2.) plans to transfer to a different school, or 3.) plans to start a new degree program. ISSP must update your SEVIS Record (sometimes in advance) in order for these changes to be allowed.
- Do not engage in illegal activity. Conviction of certain crimes can negatively impact your immigration status and may subject you to deportation from the U.S. If you are arrested or charged with a crime, notify ISSP immediately so that we can refer you to an immigration attorney.