What is F-1 “Status”?

“Status” is the classification a non-resident non-immigrant is officially granted by an immigration official upon arrival at a US Port of Entry. Being in F-1 “status” means you are legally in the US and have certain benefits and restrictions specified in US immigration regulations for an F-1 Visa student.

A student “gains status” by entering the U.S. with F-1 documents. If a student is already in the US or has a different status, they need to apply for a change of status to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Authorized Length of Stay

A student is allow to remain in the US for the “duration of status” — the length of their F-1 Status. This status encompasses the period they are a full-time registered student making normal progress toward their degree (or exchange program). It also includes an optional practical training period after their studies are complete. There is also a 60-day “grace period” to allow for preparation and departure from the US or change to another status. The length of authorized stay is not related to the F-1 Visa expiration date. It is valid for entry into the US. The F-1 Visa might expire before the status expires and the status may end before the visa expires.


Federal law requires to the carrying of “registration” documents at all times including the I-20 and passport with I-94 card attached or F-1 admission stamp. It depends on what was issued upon last arrival and entry to the US. Make and carry document photocopies, keeping originals in a bank safe deposit box. However, if you are traveling outside the area where you live (i.e. to another state) you should carry the original documents with you. You may be required to produce these documents if you are traveling by air, train, bus or ship. Do not keep your photocopied documents in the same location as the originals.


Your passport must be valid at all times. If it is lost or stolen, report it to the police immediately as the issuing government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. Also contact your country’s consulate in the US to replace it or secure a new one.


A Visa is the stamp or document in a passport used to enter the US. The visa allows you entry into the US as an F-1 student. If the visa expires while in the U.S., a new one will be needed to re-enter the next time you travel abroad. Visas can only be obtained outside of the US at a US consulate.