How Do I Maintain My International Student Status?
Do not hesitate to see the Immigration Advisor if you are uncertain about your status and documents. Do not rely on what your friends tell you!
- As an international student, you must maintain full-time enrollment at Cal State LA during the academic year (fall and spring); that is a minimum of 12 units per quarter for undergraduates and gradute student requirement is 8 units of 500-level courses, or full time equivalent, and make satisfactory progress toward your degree. Graduate international student in ECST is considered full time with 8 units.
- You must first obtain the permission of the International Office before dropping a class or falling below the minimum number of units per semester. You may do this by submitting the Request for Reduced Course Load with the proper supporting documents to the International Office. The deadline for this submission is the 3rd Friday of each term.
- Special Note: If your first term is summer, you must be enrolled as a full time student during the summer term.
Transferring to Cal State L.A. from Another U.S. School
- If you are transferring from another U.S. school to Cal State LA, you must complete the transfer within ten (10) working days of the start of your first semester at Cal State LA This consists of attending the New International Student Orientation and check in at the International Office with your original immigration documents.
Extension of Stay
- If you cannot complete your degree by the date printed on your I-20 Item #5, or #3 on the DS-2019, you must request an “Extension of Stay” at least 30 days before the expiration date of your current immigration document.
- You may not start employment off-campus without a written recommendation from the International Office and the permission of USCIS.
- You may not work more than 20 hours per week at a job on campus while school is in session.
- All on-campus employment must end at the time you complete your students at Cal State LA
Transferring Out of Cal State LA
- You must notify the International Office before you transfer to another school in the U.S. To request a transfer of your SEVIS record, you must submit a copy of the acceptance letter and the SEVIS Transfer Release Form to the International Office by the end of your last term at Cal State LA
Keep Your Passport Valid
- You must keep your passport valid at all times. For information on how to renew your passport, please contact your country’s embassy at: The Embassy Page
Travel Authorization for Re-Entry
- If you plan to depart the U.S. temporarily and return to continue your studies at Cal State LA, you must obtain a travel authorization on your I-20/DS-2019 prior to your departure. If you do not have the proper authorization, you will receive difficulty at the Port of Entry.
- For more information about departing and re-entering the U.S., please contact the International Office.
Report I-20 / DS-2019 Changes
You must report any change of major, degree level, or funding to the International Office within ten (10) days. the International Office is required to report these changes to USICE. You will require a new I-20 / DS-2019. Failure to report these changes timely will cause you to fall out of status.
Report Change of Address
You must report any change of address, i.e., your actual physical residence, within ten (10) days of the change by updating your biographical data in GET. Report and address change to the International Office here.
- F-1 Students who have completed their studies or completed their Optional Practical Training period have 60 days to prepare to leave the U.S., transfer out to another US school or issued a new Cal State LA I20 for a new program.
- F-1 Students who drop out of school or withdraw and have prior approval from the International Office have 15 days to prepare to leave the U.S.
- F-1 Students who drop out of school or withdraw WITHOUT prior the International Office approval must leave the U.S. immediately.
- J-1 Students completing a degree program or Academic Training have 30 day grace period.
- J-1 Students do not have any grace period for early withdrawal.
What Happens If I Don't Maintain My F-1 Status?
If you have fallen “out of status,” you must apply to the USCIS for reinstatement. The IPS Immigration Counselor will assist you in this process if it is your first time out of status. The fee for this is $200.00 (subject to change), and the forms can be obtained at IPS. Students who have previously been reinstated and are out of status again will have a difficult time winning reinstatement. IPS can provide an attorney referral list for these students.
You may also be reinstated, if this is your first time out of status, by leaving the U.S. and returning on a new I-20, prepared by IPS. However, you should discuss your options with the IPS Immigration Counselor because leaving the U.S. for reinstatement may jeopardize your eligibility for any practical training.
USCIS will consider reinstating a student to F-1 status if:
- The student has not been out of status for more than 5 months
- The student establishes, to the satisfaction of the USCIS, in a detailed letter that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control.
- Circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, or a natural disaster; excuses of inadvertence, oversight, neglect, or willful failure on the part of the student are not accepted
- The violation relates to a reduction in course load that would have been within an IPS counselor’s power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.
- The student is pursuing or intending to pursue a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the I-20; and
- The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment.
A decision to reinstate an individual to F-1 student status is completely at the discretion of the USCIS.
Cal State L.A. and IPS have no control over this matter whatsoever. If you are denied reinstatement, you must stop attending classes and depart the U.S. within 30 days.
If you think you may be out of status, please consult with IPS as soon as possible!
What Happens If I Don't Maintain My J-1 Status?
If you have fallen “out of status” you must apply for reinstatement with the U.S. Department of State.
The following documents must be submitted to the appropriate counselor at IPS for review and submission to the U.S. Department of State for processing:
- Check or money order $198 made payable to “U.S. Department of State”;
- Letter from student explaining the violation;
- Show inadvertence or circumstances beyond their control; and
- Unusual hardship if reinstatement is not granted.
- Copies of all prior DS-2019s;
- Copy of I-94 card (front and back);
- Copy of passport (biographical page including expiration date); and
- Fee receipt for payment of I-901 fee
Violations where reinstatement is not available:
- Knowingly or willfully failed to obtain or maintain the required health insurance at all times while in the U.S.;
- Engaged in unauthorized employment;
- Been suspended or terminated from the most recent exchange visitor program;
- Failed to maintain valid program status for more than 270 calendar days;
- Received a favorable recommendation from U.S. Department of State on an application for waiver of section 212(e); or
- Failed to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
- The decision to approve or deny the reinstatement request is entirely at the discretion of the U.S. Department of State.
If you believe you are “out of status”, please schedule an appointment with the appropriate staff member to discuss your case in more details.