students stacking blocks


Most students coming to UC Davis use the F-1 visa. The most important responsibility of F-1 students is maintaining your lawful status. Below are a few things of note about students in F-1 status.  

  • Most common visa for International Students studying in the United States.
  • Any type of financial support is acceptable.
  • Limited on-campus employment does not require work authorization. All off-campus employment requires authorization from SISS or USCIS.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) after program completion is available for 12 months, with a 24-month extension possible for STEM majors. A job offer is not required, but there is a limit to the amount of time that a student can remain unemployed.
  • F-2 dependents are not allowed to work. An F-2 spouse may not engage in full-time study, and F-2 children may only attend kindergarten through 12th grade full-time. Study which is avocational or recreational is allowed.
  • F-2 dependents are not allowed to work. F-2 dependents may enroll at a the post-secondary level as long as it does not amount to full-time enrollment. F-2 minors may attend kindergarten through 12th grade full-time. Study that is avocational or recreational is allowed.
  • There is no two-year Foreign Residence Requirement.

Responsibilities of F-1 Students

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.

  • Maintain Required Documentation
  • F-1 students are required to have the following documents:

    1. Valid I-20 (If you receive a new I-20, keep the old I-20 in a safe place)

    2. 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.

    3. 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:

    1. The period during which you are pursuing a full-time course of study in an educational program;

    2. Plus any authorized period of practical training;

    3. 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. Under-enrollment 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.
  • Employment
  • 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 Student 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. 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). 
  • Confirming Your Student or Enrollment Status
  • If you are renewing your F-1 or J-1 visa, or otherwise need a letter to confirm your student status or your enrollment status, you should submit a Request for Education Verification from the Office of the Registrar. See the Education Verification Request Form for a complete list of information available.

    If you are a graduate student in Filing Fee status, you will need to contact the appropriate Student Affairs Officer at the Office of Graduate Studies before you can request a Letter of Certification.
  • Travel
  • 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:

    1. Status has been continually maintained.

    2. Compelling medical or academic reasons other than probation or suspension caused the delay in completion.

    Log on to iGlobal to request an extension.

  • 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.
  • Dismissal and Suspension
  • Read More About Dismissal and Suspension
  • 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:

    1. Completing the transfer process upon arrival at UC Davis, or

    2. 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 iGlobal portal.  You are required to submit evidence of admission to the new school. Refer to Transferring Out/Leaving UC Davis for more information.