Maintaining Your Status
While studying in the United States, it is crucial to maintain your F-1 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.
Do not enter the United States more than 30 days before your program of study begins. Please contact Santa Ana College's designated school official (DSO) as soon as you arrive in the United States to finalize your records and plans. Please contact your DSO prior to the scheduled new student orientation date to confirm attendance.
Coursework & Study
In coursework, international students must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 and make progress towards their degree by attending and passing your classes. If school becomes too difficult, contact your DSO immediately.
Don't hesitate to contact your DSO if you believe that you cannot complete your program by the end date listed on your I-20.
You must enroll in a full course (12 units) each semester. If you cannot enroll full-time, contact your DSO immediately.
Do not drop a class without first consulting your DSO.
Upon Program Completion
Once you have completed your program of study, take steps to maintain your legal status. After completing your studies and any authorized periods of practical training, you may wish to explore any of the following options:
Transfer to another school
- Please notify us at email@example.com and submit your acceptance letter and the SEVIS Release Form to transfer out.
Change your education level (e.g., a bachelor's degree or a master's degree)
Change status to another visa status
- Apply for OPT Authorization
Or, you have 60 days to leave the United States after completing your program (the program end date on your Form I-20).
Talk with your DSO first!
If you have questions regarding the legal requirements for your stay in the United States, you should first contact your DSO. You can ask your DSO for assistance or ask them to assist you if you have questions. Please consult your DSO if you plan to do any of the following:
Working in the United States
Working illegally is taken very seriously by the United States government. Please do not work without authorization. An F-1 student may only work when authorized.
If you decide to work, you should first speak with your designated school official. Your DSO may authorize specific employment; others may require your DSO's recommendation and authorization. Talk to your DSO about your options if you wish to work in the United States.
The United States will immediately expel you if you work without authorization. You may not be able to re-enter the United States in the future. Upon discovering that you have been working without permission, your DSO must report this to SEVIS, where your record can be terminated. As a result, you will have to leave the United States immediately and may not be permitted to return.
It is important to keep a few things in mind. As an F-1 student in Active Status, you are immediately eligible for employment on campus. It is possible to work shortly after arriving; however, you must be in Active status, and your DSO must approve your request. After your DSO approves your request, you will receive a letter of approval. You will obtain a Social Security number with this letter and a letter from your employer. You may only work 20 hours per week when school is in session.
After completing a full academic year, you may be eligible for employment off-campus. You must obtain special authorization from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS). To apply for this work authorization, you must receive a recommendation from your DSO and submit Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization," to USCIS. USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) once they have approved your employment. Until you receive your EAD, you are not permitted to begin work. You are restricted to 20 hours of work per week while school is in session.
Optional Practice Training (OPT)
OPT is one type of work authorization available to eligible F-1 students at certain stages of their program completion. It allows students to get real-world work experience related to their field of study. A Designated School Official (DSO) may recommend OPT to SEVIS, but it is the student's responsibility to seek a work permit from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be issued if USCIS approves the OPT. Students must not begin working before the date specified on their EAD.
Contact our Immigration Specialist at the International Student Center at (714) 564-6047 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.