F-1 Students

Responsibility to Maintain Your Lawful F-1 Status

It is extremely important to comply with immigration regulations in order to maintain lawful status. Immigration law has instituted severe penalties for "overstays" and "unlawful presence" in the United States.  It is the student's own responsibility to maintain lawful status. Students should consult an SISS International Student Advisor with any questions regarding maintaining lawful status.

Responsibilities of F-1 Students:

Maintain Required Documentation

F-1 students are required to have the following documents:

  • Valid I-20 (If you receive a new I-20, keep the old I-20 in a safe place)
  • Valid passport.  Passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future at all times. It is the student's responsibility to renew it through his/her embassy before it expires.
  • Entry Stamp in Passport Marked with Visa Type and D/S.

Duration of Status (D/S)

F-1 students are admitted to the United States for duration of status (D/S). Duration of status means:

  • The period during which you are pursuing a full-time course of study in an educational program;
  • Plus any authorized period of practical training;
  • Plus 60 days after completion of studies or practical training in which to apply for a change of status or leave the U.S. Please note that finishing your program during winter quarter without optional practical training or a change of status will affect your ability to attend spring commencement.

Full Course of Study

F-1 students are required to register for and complete a full course of study each quarter except during vacation. Full-time is defined as 12 units per quarter (except summer); filing fee is considered full-time. Underenrollment may be permitted due to medical reasons or legitimate academic reasons. If you plan to enroll less than full-time, you must obtain written approval from an SISS International Student Advisor before the beginning of the term.

Annual Vacation

F-1 students may take one quarter of vacation each year (usually during the summer), provided that they are eligible and intend to register for the next term.


F-1 students may work on-campus part-time (no more than 20 hours per week) while school is in session and full-time during school vacations. Off-campus employment (paid or unpaid) is not permitted during the first academic year in most cases. After the first year of study, restricted off-campus employment authorization may be requested. Off-campus work authorization may require USCIS permission. Working off-campus (paid or unpaid) without specific written authorization is a serious violation of F-1 status. See the Employment page for more information.

Change of Degree Level

To change educational level (for example, Master’s to Ph.D.), log on to the iGlobal website and click on the Change of Level form under F-1 Student Services or Change of Educational Level under J-1 Student Services.

Change of Major or Adding a Minor

To change a major or add a minor, log on to the iGlobal website and click on the Change of Major form under F-1 Student Services or J-1 Student Services.

Change Your Address

Updating your local U.S. address within 10 days of moving is required by immigration law. This should be done by using an iGlobal web form at Forms and Handouts - International Students.  The address entered must be your local U.S. address (where you will sleep at night, not an office or a Post Office Box number). 


Necessary documents for F-1 and F-2 travel outside the United States and for reentry to the U.S. include a valid passport, a valid F-1 or F-2 visa stamp, and an unexpired UC Davis I-20 with a recent SISS signature. It may not be necessary to extend an expired visa when traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days.  Refer to our travel page for more information.

Extension of Stay

If you are unable to complete your studies before the program completion date on the I-20, you must apply for an extension at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of your I-20 and meet the following criteria:

  • Status has been continually maintained.
  • Compelling medical or academic reasons other than probation or suspension caused the delay in completion.

Log on to iGlobal to request an extension.


Transferring to UC Davis from Another School

F-1 students who come to UC Davis from another U.S. school or university within a 5 month period must inform the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the change of schools by either:

  • Completing the transfer process upon arrival at UC Davis, or
  • Re-entering the country using your UC Davis I-20 if traveling outside the U.S. prior to beginning your academic program at UC Davis.

Please note that failure to complete the transfer process by completing Immigration Check-In at SISS within the first fifteen days of your first quarter at UC Davis will result in the loss of your F-1 status.

Transferring to Another School from UC Davis

F-1 students who wish to transfer to another school must complete an SISS Transfer Out Request using our  https://iglobal.ucdavis.edu portal.  You are required to submit evidence of admission to the new school. Refer to Transferring Out/Leaving UC Davis for more information.

Responsibility for Dependents

The F-1 student is responsible to ensure that F-2 dependents maintain their lawful status while in the United States.  Dependents (spouse and/or children under 21 years of age) who accompany F-1 students to the United States are admitted in F-2 status. F-2 dependents may not be employed in the U.S., and with the exception of kindergarten through high school, F-2 dependents have limitations taking university level coursework. Speak to an SISS International Student Advisor for details.