Information for F-1 Students

F-1 Rules of Status

Employment in F-1 Status

Maintaining F-1 Status

Additional Information


What Is F-1 Status and How Do I Maintain It?

Role and Responsibilities

  • You are 100% responsible for your immigration status and following the rules of your status.
  • SUNY Plattsburgh is 100% responsible for reporting in SEVIS whether or not you are maintaining your status.

SEVIS: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System

After 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security built a database to monitor and report on the activities of F, M, and J students/scholars and their schools.

DSO: Designated School Official

A DSO helps you understand the rules of your status and reports whether or not you are maintaining your status in SEVIS. This person is specifically trained in U.S. immigration regulations regarding F-1 students. At SUNY Plattsburgh, your primary DSO is the International Student Advisor in GEO.


Permission to be in the United States for a period of time for a specific activity. You were given your status by the Customs and Border Protection inspector on your Form I-94 (the white card in your passport). Your Form I-94 should read “F-1 D/S.”  You are in the US to pursue a full course of study for a specific time as long as you obey the rules.


Form I-20 certifies that you are pursuing a full course of study and you can afford your program. By signing your Form I-20 on Page 1, you agree to obey the rules of F-1 status.

Rules of F-1 Status (How to Maintain Your Status)

  1. You must enroll in and complete 12 or more credits in Fall and Spring terms.
  2. You need your DSO’s permission BEFORE you stop attending, withdraw, or drop below full-time.
  3. You may work on campus only up to 20 hours per week per term.
  4. You need your DSO’s authorization BEFORE you work on- or off-campus – this authorization includes any paid or unpaid internships, field work, and practicums required for your major. Working without authorization is grounds for immediate termination of your SEVIS record.
  5. Keep your passport valid.
  6. You are required to carry the appropriate health insurance for the entire length of your program.
  7. You must report any change to your local address within 10 days.
  8. Inform your DSO of changes to the information on your Form I-20.
  9. Before you travel, be sure to obtain a travel endorsement (signature) every 6 months and discuss your travel plans with your DSO.
  10. File a federal income tax form every year you are in the U.S. even if you did not work.
  11. Complete your studies no later than the program end date on your Form I-20.
  12. After your completion of study, you have a 60 day grace period. During this period, you must either a) depart the U.S., b) apply for post-completion OPT, c) transfer to another school for further studies, or d) pursue further studies here at SUNY Plattsburgh.
  13. You need to obtain a SEVIS transfer BEFORE transferring to another US school.
  14. You need to obtain a Change of Level Form I-20 for a master’s level program at SUNY Plattsburgh BEFORE you complete your undergraduate program.

If you obey the above rules, you are “maintaining your status.”



Contact Information

If you have any questions about international education, admission, or financial aid at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:

Global Education Office
State University of New York at Plattsburgh
Kehoe Administration Building, Room 210
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, New York 12901 USA

Phone: (518) 564-3287
Fax: (518) 564-3292
Facebook:  SUNY Plattsburgh International Students