Maintaining Your Status
While studying in the
United States, it is important to maintain your F1 student status. Your visa
says that you are coming to the United States to study. You should not consider
any action that detracts from that purpose.
Enter the United
States no more than 30 days before your program of study begins. Immediately contact
designated school official (DSO) at Santa Ana College when you enter the United
States. When you arrive at school, you need to contact your DSO again, no later
than the program start date listed on your I-20.
Attend and pass all
your classes. International students must maintain a minimum grade point
average (GPA) of 2.0 or the letter grade of C in coursework. If school is too
difficult, speak with your DSO immediately.
If you believe that
you will be unable to complete your program by the end date listed on your
I-20, talk with your DSO about requesting a possible program extension.
You must take a full
course (12 units) of study each semester; if you cannot study full-time,
contact your DSO immediately.
Do not drop a class
without speaking first with your DSO.
Upon Program Completion
Take action to
maintain legal status after completing your program of study.
Once you complete
your program of study and any authorized period of practical training, you may
wish to learn about doing one of the following:
Transfer to another
Change your education
level (e.g. bachelor’s to master’s)
Apply to change
status to another visa status (e.g. H-1B-temporary worker; O-extraordinary
ability in science, art or business; P-athlete)
You have 60 days
after completion of your program (the program end date on your Form I-20) to
leave the United States.
Talk with your designated school official (DSO) first
Your DSO should be
the first person you talk with if you have any questions regarding the legal
requirements of your stay in the United States.
Your DSO can assist
in answering your questions or help you find someone who can help.
Talk with your DSO if
you are planning to do any of the following:
Change your major,
program, or degree level
Change your education
Transfer to a new
school or take a leave of absence
Take a break from
Travel outside the
Move to a new address
Request a program
Working in the United States
The U.S. government takes working illegally very seriously. Do not work
without authorization. An F1 student may work only when authorized.
If you want to work in the United States, talk with your DSO about your
options. If you decide to work, the first step is always to talk with your
designated school official (DSO).Your DSO may authorize certain work; other
employment may require your DSO’s recommendation and authorization from.
If you choose to work without authorization, you will be forced to leave
the United States immediately. You may not be able to re-enter the United
States at a later date. If your DSO knows you are working without permission,
your DSO must report it through SEVIS and your record can be terminated. That
means that you will have to leave the United States immediately, and you may
not be allowed to return. There are many opportunities to work and getting
permission is easy.
As an F-1 student in Active status, you immediately have an option for
one kind of work: on-campus employment. However, there are some things to keep
Although you may work shortly after you arrive, you must be in Active
status and your DSO must approve your request. After your DSO approves your
request, you’ll be given a letter of approval. This letter, along with a letter
from your employer, will help you get a Social
Security number. When school is in session, you may only work 20 hours per
After a full year at school, you could be eligible for off-campus
employment. Approval for this requires special authorization from U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS). In order to apply for this kind of employment
authorization, you must receive a recommendation from your DSO and file a Form
I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization” with USCIS. After USCIS
approves your employment, they will send you a Form
I-766, “Employment Authorization Document”(EAD).
You may not begin work until you have received your EAD. Just as with
on-campus work, while school is in session you are restricted to a 20 hour work
As an F-1 student, you can receive work authorization for training
related to your studies: optional practical training (OPT). Most of the time,
you must have been enrolled in Santa Ana College as an F-1 student for one full
academic year to be eligible for either type of practical training.
Optional Practice Training (OPT)
OPT must relate to your major or course of study, and although you can
apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level, you must have your employment authorization document (EAD) card
before you begin working.
In order to obtain your EAD, your DSO needs to provide you with a new
I-20 indicating your DSO’s recommendation for employment, and you must submit a
“Application for Employment Authorization” to USCIS. Your EAD card will
come from USCIS.
For more information, contact our Immigration Specialist at the
International Student Center, at (714) 564-6047 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org