Currently Enrolled

Maintaining F-1 Status

It is essential to remember that you must take full responsibility for maintaining your status with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That is, you are responsible for finding out, knowing, and following pertinent regulations.

Students in F-1 Status must do the following to maintain status:

  • Be enrolled as a full-time student.
    • F-1 students must maintain full-time enrollment each fall and spring semester unless they have received approval from their international student advisor.
    • You should be enrolled in 12 undergraduate units (3 courses). If you need to drop below that, you must see the international student adviser for approval.
    • You are required to attend the school you are authorized to attend. If you plan to take classes at another college during the summer breaks make sure to see the international student adviser before registering for classes.
  • Have a valid, unexpired passport.

    Make sure your passport is valid at all times, at least six months beyond your entry date into the US. To renew your passport while in the U.S., you need to contact your local embassy or consulate.

  • Have a valid I-20 and apply for timely extensions.

    It is your responsibility to know when your visa and I-20 expire.
    For Visa expiration, please see Todd in the International Student Office (West Hall, Q100), 6 months before your visa expires. For I-20 expiration, please see Todd 2 months before expiration date.

  • Check I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.

    You should check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection I-94 website each time you return to the U.S. to make sure your arrival and departure history is accurate. Your international student advisor may request a copy of that record. You will also need a copy of that record when applying for a Social Security Number or a California Driver License.

  • Have medical insurance at all times.

    While you are on an F-1 Visa, you are required to have medical insurance. You may provide proof of medical insurance from your home country that is valid in the United States.

  • Complete the Academic Program.
    • F-1 students are expected to complete their academic program by the end date shown on their I-20. If you plan to depart the U.S. after you complete your studies at Pitzer College, keep in mind that you can remain in the U.S. no later than 60 days after the program end date on your I-20. Contact Todd Sasaki, the international student advisor, well in advance of that end date if:
      • You need additional time to complete your program.
      • You plan to apply for Optional Practical Training or Academic Training upon program completion.
      • You plan to enroll in some other U.S. school after completing your studies at Pitzer College.
  • Do not accept employment of any kind without approval.

    Do not accept employment of any kind, either on or off campus, without written permission from the International Student Office and, if necessary, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Please see the International Student Advisor before working.

  • Obtain a travel signature if you are going outside the U.S.

    You must have a valid travel signature (p. 2 of your I-20) in order to return to the U.S. after a trip abroad. The travel signature can be no older than 1 year (6 months for students on OPT), upon your return to the U.S. The travel signature can be used multiple times; there is no need for a new travel signature for each time you travel, and you do not need a new signature if your current one will be less than one year old (6 months for students on OPT) upon your return to the U.S. To obtain a travel signature, see Todd Sasaki, Michael Ballagh, or Jamie Francis in the International Programs Office at least 2 weeks before you plan to travel.


F-1 students are eligible to work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during the academic year and full-time (up to 40 hours per week) during vacations. On-campus employment may include teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or any other student positions across the 5C. F-1 students can work on-campus without employment authorization. If you wish to work off-campus, employment authorizations such as CPT and OPT, which allows F-1 students to engage in an off-campus academic internship or employment (paid or unpaid), is required. 

If you would like to know more about on-campus employment, CPT, OPT, and/or other employment options, go to the Employment page.

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