Maintaining Your F-1 Status

F-1 visa holders are responsible for maintaining their own status and following the F-1 rules/regulations.  ISO’s role is to help you understand the regulations so that you may remain in compliance.  The third page of your I-20 has more information, but here is a brief overview of what you should know:

  1. You must enroll and complete a full course load of classes each Fall and Winter semester; summer enrollment is optional unless the Summer semester is your first semester at Detroit Mercy. Therefore, you must enroll in the following number of credits to maintain your status.
    1. Undergraduate: at least 12 credits
    2. Graduate: at least 9 credits
      1. If you have been approved for a TA/RA position, please contact ISO.
    3. Students in ALCP:
      1. ALCP 1010/5101 is full-time
      2. Undergraduate: ALCP 2010 + 6 academic credits or ALCP 3150 + 9 academic credits
  • Graduate: ALCP 5201 + 3 academic credits or ALCP 5315 + 6 academic credits.
  1. Your passport should be valid at least six months into the future.
  2. Obtain written authorization on your I-20 to work off-campus before you start working. Even one day of unauthorized work is a direct violation of your status.
  3. Know the end date of your I-20 and request more time, if needed, before the end date.
  4. Inform ISO of any changes to your address or degree program within 10 days of the change.
  5. Obtain a travel signature (on the second page of your I-20) before any international travel (includes Canada and Mexico).
    1. Travel signatures while studying are valid for one year. Travel signatures while on OPT or STEM Extension are only valid for six months.
  6. Keep all of the I-20’s issued to you (from Detroit Mercy and any other schools in the U.S.). Do you not destroy or throw them away.


Visa = the physical sticker in your passport that shows which visa type you were approved for.  Your visa only serves as a travel document – it must be valid upon re-entry to the U.S. from any international travel. 

Status = Following the immigration regulations and keeping your SEVIS record valid

Your visa is allowed to expire as long as your I-20 is valid and you are maintaining good F-1 status.  If you travel outside of the U.S. with an expired visa, you will be required to renew it in order to be considered for re-admission.