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Maintaining F-1 Status

Important F-1 Visa information 

Don't Risk Your Visa Status!

Maintaining F-1 Status

Failure to comply with these regulations will lead to a violation of your F-1  status, resulting in severe consequences.  For clarification on any of the regulations, please visit the International Student Program (ISP).

  • Maintain accurate contact information (current address, email) at all times. Inform ISP within 10 days of any changes in address, email, or legal name.
  • Make sure I-20 is always valid. Notify ISP two months prior to expiration date. You will need to submit official bank verifications to cover the costs of educational program extension. Apply for extension of program if degree will not be completed by program end date as indicated on I-20.
  • Notify ISP of any changes that may impact your F-1 student status (i.e. course load, change of status, major, marriage, etc.)
  • Obtain authorization from ISP for on-campus employment: after completion of one semester at San Jose City College, you will be eligible to work on campus
  • Obtain authorization for off-campus employment: You are not authorized to work off campus without prior approval from the International Student Program office and USCIS
  • When traveling outside the United States, request & obtain a signature on valid I-20 from ISP. Make sure F-1 visa and passport are valid for re-entry. You may also need to show official transcripts and current schedule for verification as an F-1 student at San Jose City College.
  • Visa Renewal. Your F-1 visa is the document issued when you were approved by the United States Embassy or Consulate to study in the United States. Check to make sure you have a multiple entry visa. It will be indicated with an “M” for multiple entries. We often have students concerned about their visa expiration date. Even if your visa expires, you are still in F-1 status and can continue to study in the United States as long as your I-20, passport, and I-94 are valid. You only have to renew an expired visa if you leave and reenter the United States.

  • Full-Time Attendance:  F-1 students must enroll and complete a minimum of 12 units each fall and spring semester.  If either you or your professor wish to drop you from a course that will result in you having fewer than 12 units, you must meet with the international program counselor first to determine how dropping the course may affect your F-1 status.  A reduced course load (enrolling in fewer than 12 units) is only approved under certain circumstances as determined by immigration regulations. 


  • Online Courses:   Only 3 units of an online course may be counted towards full-time requirements each semester.  Hybrid classes are considered on-campus classes.   


  • Academic Progress:  Maintain good academic standing (2.0 GPA or above) and maintain normal progress toward completing your course of study. 

Your program timeline at San Jose City College is generally about 3 years if SJCC is the first college you’ve attended. Please check for your program end date on your I-20. When your program end date is approaching within 2 months and you have not completed your studies, you may request to extend your I-20 by providing ISP with a certified bank statement and an updated educational plan at least 2 weeks prior to program end date.
If you have completed your program at San Jose City College, you have 3 options:
  1. Transfer to another school
  2. Leave the United States and return home or
  3. Apply for change of status to another visa.
You must do one of these 3 options before your 60-day grace period ends or you will fall out of status.

Once you have completed your studies at San Jose City College, you are eligible to transfer to another school.  You should apply for transfer admissions and submit applications to the colleges/institutions by the application deadline. Many colleges may have you apply at least one year before the term of enrollment. Notify our  office of your intent to transfer and provide a transfer release form and acceptance letter from the transfer college to authorize the release of your I-20. This must be done no later than 60 days after your program end date. The program end date is generally the last day of your last semester at San Jose City College.

Full-Time Registration


  • Pay tuition and fees at the time of registration.
  • Schedule an appointment with Counselor during your 1st semester to create a 2-year educational plan.  An educational plan lists all the courses you need to complete, related to the academic goal.  You may return for the optional educational plan follow up to review your course schedule.
  • Enroll in and complete at least 12-units of course per semester ( To take online classes or be concurrent at another institution, you must enroll in 9-units in-class courses at SJCC).
  • Do not withdraw (“W”) from classes without authorization from ISP.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative 2.0-grade point average.
  • Seek authorization from ISP to drop below 12-units for any reason. Only under certain circumstances will a student be approved to take a reduced course load.