Understand F-1 Visa and Status - University of Houston
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Understand F-1 Visa and Status

F-1 Visa

An F-1 visa is a sticker placed by the U.S. embassy or consulate in your passport. When you travel to the United States from your home country, your F-1 visa acts like a key, allowing you board the plane and at a U.S. airport (or the land border), allowing you to request entry to the United States.

You present your passport, F-1 visa, and Form I-20 to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. After inspection, the officer may decide to admit you to the United States as an F-1 student. Then you obtain F-1 status.

Your F-1 visa does not determine whether or how long you may stay in the United States. In fact, you might still be eligible to remain in the United States even though your F-1 visa has expired.

To stay in the United States, you are required to keep your Form I-20 valid at all time and maintain active F-1 status. If you leave the United States, you must have a valid and unexpired F-1 visa to re-enter.

F-1 Status

The Language and Culture Center continually updates your F-1 status in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a system that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security uses to maintain information of F-1 students. Here are some common F-1 statuses and circumstances in which they apply:

  • Active

    A student is maintaining F-1 status by pursuing a full course of study. 

  • Terminated

    • Unauthorized Drop below Full Course of Study: A student is dropped from the LCC for accumulating 40 hours of absence (or 20 hours of absence if the student enrolls in Summer II). 
    • Failure to Enroll: A student is on an annual vacation approved by the Director of Student Services. The student does not to enroll in the LCC for the semester following the vacation.
    • Authorized Early Withdrawal: A student withdraws from the LCC. The student informs the Director of Student Services that he or she will depart the United States within 15 days of the withdrawal.
    • Suspension: The student is suspended from the LCC and can no longer maintain a full course of study.
    • Unauthorized Withdrawal: During a semester, a student stops attending class without notifying the LCC.
    • Unauthorized Employment:
      • A student works on campus exceeding 20 hours per week when school is in session.
      • A student works off campus.
  • Completed

    A student successfully completes Level 6. The student must either depart the United States or transfer to another school or program within 60 days of graduation.   

Academic Status and F-1 Status

Visit the Listed below are three academic statuses and how they will affect your F-1 status. For LCC attendance policies, visit Attendance and Absence. For information about LCC academic statuses, visit Academic Probation, Drop, and Appeal

  • Enrolled

    Your F-1 status will remain active.

  • Withdrew

    If you will stop attending the LCC, you must withdraw officially. Also, you must meet with the Director of Student Services immediately.

    • If you plan to leave the United States, you must depart within 15 days of the withdrawal. Your F-1 record will be terminated.
    • If you wish to transfer out, you must continue attending the LCC until you begin classes at the new school or program. There must be no gap between the school transfer. Your F-1 status will remain active if you maintain full-time enrollment.
  • Dropped

    If you accumulate 40 hours of absences (or 20 hours if you enroll in the Summer II semester), your teachers may drop you. You may submit an appeal within three calendar days of the drop.

    • If your appeal is approved by the LCC Student Appeals Committee, your F-1 record will remain active.
    • If your appeal is denied by the LCC Student Appeals Committee, you must depart the United States immediately. Your F-1 record will be terminated.