F-1 Visa Status

As an international student in the United States, you are subject to certain regulations that must be followed during your stay. Observe and abide by these regulations to avoid problems that may hinder or interrupt your studies at Cal Poly.

How to Maintain Your F-1 Visa Status

  • Enroll in and complete a full load of courses during the academic year
  • Dropping from full-time enrollment or withdrawing from the quarter without prior authorization from the International Student Advisor is a violation of visa status
  • Make progress toward your degree objective
  • Maintain a valid passport
  • Maintain a current Form I-20
  • If you need to extend your time here, request an I-20 extension at least 2 weeks prior to the expiration of your current I-20
  • Report changes of address within ten (10) days on the Cal Poly Portal (enrolled students) or by updating your profile in the International Student Hub (non-enrolled students) or in the SEVIS OPT portal (OPT students)
    • Undergraduate F-1 students in their final quarter of study can submit a Request Reduced Course Load for Final Quarter for authorization for less than full-time enrollment for the final quarter.

Minimum Required Study Load

  • F-1 undergraduate students are required to carry at least 12 units per quarter and graduate students a minimum of 8 graduate level units per quarter.
  • Students who encounter difficulty in carrying the minimum load, whether for academic, health or personal reasons, should immediately contact the International Student Advisor before dropping from full-time enrollment.
  • Undergraduate F-1 students in their final quarter of study can submit a Request Reduced Course Load for Final Quarter for authorization for less than full-time enrollment for the final quarter.
  • Summer quarter is considered a vacation quarter and enrolment is optional, so part-time enrolment or no enrolment is allowed. After completing all thesis courses required for the major, grad students continuing to work on thesis or studying for the culminating exam must enroll in the GS-S597 Graduate Continuous Enrollment Course through Extended Education.

Reinstatement of Status

Every student's record is updated in SEVIS every quarter, verifying enrollment. Students who fail to maintain status will lose the privileges of their student visa and become subject to deportation. Specific consequences may include denial of re-entry to the U.S., inability to move from undergraduate to graduate status, inability to work, denial of requests to change visa status, and possible denial of all future visa applications.

For example, if you below a full course of study without prior approval from the International Center, that "event" would be reported in SEVIS, and would result in a termination of F-1 visa status.

You may apply to USCIS for reinstatement if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Reinstatement is a rare benefit for exceptional cases. You may not apply for reinstatement under any circumstances if you are out of status longer than five months. If USCIS does not reinstate the F-1 status, you may not appeal that decision. You must notify the International Student Advisor, Judy Mitchell, if you wish to apply for re-instatement. She can give advice for the best course of action and can write a letter of recommendation and create a Re-instatement I-20 to submit with your application for re-instatement.

I-20 Extensions

In order to receive a new I-20, submit an I-20 Extension Request Form. In this form, indicate who your academic advisor is. The advisor will be sent a questionnaire to verify the reason for the extension and the new expected graduation date. If you have maintained status and there is a valid academic reason for the extension, the I-20 will be extended. Request I-20 extensions between 2 and 4 weeks prior to the end date. NOTE: This extends your F1 status and allows you to stay in the USA as a student, but does NOT extend your F-1 visa. Your visa may only be extended while you are outside the USA.

Change of Degree Level

Undergraduate students who are admitted to a blended BMS or Master’s degree program request an I-20 for Change of Degree Level for the term in which the new degree begins. This form will ask to upload proof of funding for the first year of the program.

Transferring Out

If you need to transfer your SEVIS record to another SEVIS-approved school you will be attending you will want to maintain your F-1 status by submitting a Request to Transfer Out.

More forms and requests for services can be found on the International Student Hub.