International Students

Maintaining F-1 Status

Below are important details about maintaining F-1 status. To learn more about the FIDM International Student community and how to obtain an F-1 Visa, visit our International Student section.

Maintaining F-1 Status

After an international student obtains a visa and enters the U.S. in F-1 status he/she must continue to maintain that status and follow F-1 regulations upon entry until final departure.  The key requirements for maintaining F-1 status include, but are not limited to the following: 


1. Report to FIDM's Designated School Official (DSO) for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) registration upon arriving at FIDM. Students must be registered in SEVIS no later than 30 days after the program start date. 


2. Attend the school authorized on the I-20.  
3. Maintain a full course of study (minimum of 12 units) each quarter and make normal academic progress towards completion of program. Nine of the 12 units must be in the classroom (not online), unless approved under a specific exception, in advance (before dropping a class), by the FIDM International Students Office. 
4. Transfer or extend program in a timely manner or file timely requests for extension of stay, change of status, transfer, optional practical training, and other benefits. 
5. Keep continuity in program of study (absence from the U.S. or any other academic break of more than 5 months terminates F-1 status).  
6. Refrain from unauthorized work or illegal activity.  
7. When traveling abroad, always return in proper F-1 status. 
8. Keep the passport valid for six months into the future.  
9. Report any changes of address to FIDM's Designated School Official within 10 days of the change.  

10. Abide by the aggregate unemployment rules while on post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). 


At normal conclusion of studies or practical training, F-1 students usually have 60 days (grace period) in which to prepare to leave the U.S., to move to a new academic program, or to transfer to another institution.  However, certain factors may reduce that grace period. 
Employment in F-1 Status
An F-1 student may only work under the following conditions (any work not authorized by this section will violate F-1 status and serve as grounds for cancellation). 

1. On-campus employment: Must be performed on campus, and is limited to 20 hours a week while school is in session. 


2. Off-campus work authorization: In general if an F-1 student wishes to work off-campus before graduation, one of the following circumstances must exist:


A. Economic Hardship  

Student must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year. Must prove to U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service (USCIS) that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his/her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status.  It is designed for off-campus employment but there is no specific prohibition on it being used on-campus.  It is granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time, or until the program end-date, whichever is shorter.  Authorization ends if a student transfers schools.   It is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session; can be full-time during official school breaks. The work can be in any job; it does not have to be related to the course of study.  The student must apply for Employment Application Document (EAD) from USCIS, and receive EAD before employment begins. 


B. Internship/Apprenticeship/Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)


Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at a Department of Homeland Security (DHS)- approved school for one full academic year before being eligible for CPT.  Additional requirements per FIDM policy are:


(1) Student may only be authorized for CPT during his/her last or second to last quarter of his/her program and must maintain a 3.0 grade point average or higher to be eligible.     <br /> 

(2) Student may engage in CPT only for the specific employer, location, and period approved and recorded by FIDM's International Students Office in SEVIS.  CPT must be an integral part of student's established curriculum to qualify.


(3) Student must first receive an offer letter from his/her potential employer specifying the job title, job duties, day(s) and hours of employment, and the company's Employment Identification Number. 


(4) The potential CPT must be approved by both FIDM's Career Center and the Education Department/Office of Academic Support prior to being submitted to FIDM's International Students Office for processing.


C. Optional Practical Training (OPT) 
To qualify, an F-1 student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at a DHS-approved school for one full academic year before being eligible for OPT.  Students may engage in OPT for any employer for the duration of OPT authorization, as long as the employment qualifies under OPT standards.  Standard OPT is available for a cumulative maximum of 12 months per educational level (none of FIDM's majors qualify for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degree recipients, no extension of OPT will be available).   OPT must be directly related to the student's course of study. Students on post-completion OPT are limited to a maximum of 90 days of unemployment.  Student files I-765 application for EAD with USCIS. Work can begin only after receiving EAD issued by USCIS.  F-1 International Students may apply for OPT as early as 90 days before their program end date, the application must be RECEIVED by the USCIS no later than 60 days after students program end date.  OPT must start and end within a 14-month period.
STUDENTS:  Please see the DSO at your campus of attendance for a complete employment policy form. Refer to the FIDM Portal for more information regarding International F1 students.