Maintaining Status

International students have a responsibility to obey a special set of immigration laws while in the United States. In addition to these laws, international students must also abide by local, state, and federal laws and the College’s policies set forth in the Student Handbook.

Below you’ll find some of the more basic things that international students should do to ensure you maintain your status. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to stop in to our office.

Check In

Every new international student must check in with the PDSO. During check in, we will:

  • Make formal introductions, and familiarize you with the services our office provides

  • Make copies of all immigration documents (passport, visa, I-94, I-20/DS-2019). Please be sure to bring all of these documents with you.

  • Report through SEVIS that you have made it to campus and are ready to begin your program of study

Register For A Full Course Load

F-1 Students must register for a full course load every fall and spring semester. The minimum number of credit hours you may take is 12 (twelve) credit hours. Students who fall below 12 credit hours are subject to termination in the SEVIS system for failure to maintain status.

Reduced course loads (RCL) must be requested by the student, recommended by the Faculty Advisor, and approved by the PDSO. Additionally, RCLs are only available during specific semesters and for specific circumstances.

Make Normal Progress Towards Program Completion

The program end date on your I-20 document determines the end date of your immigration status and the length of your stay in the US. The visa page inside your passport does not.

  • Make sure your faculty advisor is aware of your I-20 end date when you are discussing your program plan.

  • If you require more time to complete your studies, you must have a compelling academic or medical reason to extend your I-20 document. You must request this extension through the PDSO as soon as possible.

Do Not Work Illegally

There are specific rules governing employment for F-1 statuses. Working without proper authorization is a serious violation of status and can impact future visa applications. Therefore, it is very important that you understand what employment is allowed for your status before beginning a new job or internship.

The definition of “employment” is not just limited to working for a paycheck. Employment can be considered any kind of remuneration for services. In addition to immigration law, when dealing with employment issues, you must also consider complex U.S. labor laws.

Please remember, when you work in the United States, you will be required to obtain a social security number. Additionally, you will be required to pay taxes on your income.

On campus

On-campus employment is a benefit of F-1 status. If you have been offered a job on campus, you must fill out paperwork with the PDSO.

Please note that there are limits to the number of hours you are allowed to work on-campus (20 hours). The total hours of all your on-campus jobs cannot go over the limit.

Off campus

All off-campus work must be related to your field of study and you must have prior authorization from the PDSO. Even if the internship/work experience is unpaid, you still need prior authorization.

  • You are not eligible to work off campus until you have completed two full-time semesters at Eureka College

  • If you are completing an internship, you must complete the required paperwork in the Career Services Office, and the paperwork must be approved by the PDSO before you can start.

More information regarding employment can be found on our office’s Employment page.

Report Any Changes
Personal Information

Immigration regulations state that F-1 Students must report any change in address, phone number, email address, or name within 10 days of the change.

Please report these changes by emailing the PDSO at or by stopping in the office. Always be sure that your address in SONIS is updated with the most recent information.

Academic Program Information

Your I-20 is an important document that needs to be kept up-to-date at all times.

  • When you receive an updated I-20, read it carefully to make sure all of the information is correct, and then sign it.

  • Read through your I-20 periodically to ensure all information is still accurate.

  • Notify the PDSO before you declare/change majors, add a degree program, take a leave of absence, transfer to another school, or need to extend your program.

Keep Your Passport Valid

It is important that you keep your passport valid while you are studying in the U.S. Make sure that you know the expiration date and begin the renewal process before it expires.

Contact the embassy or consulate of your home country in the U.S. for information on passport renewal processes.

Check In Before Traveling Outside the U.S.

You will need a valid travel signature on your I-20 from the PDSO in order to re-enter the United States. We will also look over your immigration documents and ensure that your SEVIS record is in “Active” status.

  • For F-1 students, the travel signature is located on page 2 of your I-20 document under “Travel Endorsement”. The signature is valid for one year from the date it was signed.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding travel, you are encouraged to speak with the PDSO several weeks prior to your departure. There is always risk involved with international travel. However, you can reduce your risk by planning ahead and carrying the proper documentation. 

Abide By All Local, State and Federal Laws

While in the U.S.,  you are required to obey all federal, state and local laws. You are also bound by policies stated within the Eureka College Student Handbook. Be sure you are familiar with these laws and policies before arrival.

Leave the United States on Time

F-1 students must depart the U.S. within 60 days after the end date on their I-20 document or after completion of studies (whichever is sooner).


Students working on Optional Practical Training (OPT) must depart within 60 days after the end date listed on their EAD card. 

Note: Students who do not follow the rules and regulations required of their F-1 status/OPT status will be automatically terminated, no grace period will apply.