Student Support

Maintaining Your F-1 Visa

For International Students

Guidelines to remain in good standing.

While studying in the United States, it is important to maintain your student status.

If you fail to comply with any of the below guidelines, you may lose your student immigration status and have your I-20 terminated. You will need to leave the U.S. immediately, and you may be barred from entering the U.S. at the discretion of US Customs and Border Protection.

Please contact your ISS Advisor whenever you have questions, or before you take any actions that may impact your F-1 visa status.

International Students

If you are studying in the United States on an F-1 student visa, you must follow specific rules and regulations to maintain your status. The responsibility for remaining in status at all times is yours alone. It is not the school’s responsibility, and it is not the responsibility of your ISS advisor to keep you in status.

To maintain student status at UCLA Extension, you must:

Your passport must be valid for at least six months into the future at all times. If your passport is set to expire, contact your embassy or consulate in the U.S. to find out how to renew it.

Your I-20 is valid for the length of your program and is “active” only when you are actively enrolled in your program full-time. If you complete your program before the end date written on your I-20, your I-20 will be shortened to that new date.

Upon entry into the United States with an I-20 and F-1 visa, the Customs and Border Patrol officer at the port of entry writes “D/S” next to the stamp in your passport (or, in rare cases, on an I-94 Record card) meaning "Duration of Status." This means your stay in the U.S. is lawful as long as you maintain your valid F-1 visa status. You can remain in the U.S. past the expiration date on your F-1 visa only if you continue to maintain valid F-1 status. If you travel outside of the U.S. after your F-1 visa has expired, you must apply for a new visa while you are outside of the U.S. You cannot renew your visa while you are in the U.S. If you fall out of status, your lawful time in the U.S. will end and you must plan to depart from the U.S. immediately.

You must enroll in at least 12 units of coursework in your certificate program each quarter. Most UCLA Extension courses carry 4 units each, so you should enroll in three courses. Some programs include courses that carry different unit values, so you’ll need to make sure you’re enrolled in a total of 12 units every quarter. Enroll in every course for a letter grade.

We recommend that you enroll early. Courses fill quickly as soon as open enrollment begins. Enrollment dates are listed on the Academic Calendar

A single earned grade of F does not harm your F-1 visa status. However, that course will not count toward earning your certificate. If you fail a required course, you will have to take it again. A grade of F-did not attend or F-did not take the final or W (withdrawal) indicates that you dropped below full-time enrollment, which puts you out of status. This will result in the termination of your I-20.

Repeated failed coursework may put your visa status in jeopardy. Making good academic progress is a requirement to maintain your visa status. You will be notified if you are not making good academic progress and what that means for your academic and immigration statuses.

If it is your last quarter and you need fewer than 12 units to complete the program, you may register for fewer units and will still be considered to be in full-time status without fear of affecting your immigration status.

If you want to apply to start another certificate program after your current one ends, you must submit your application at least one week before you complete your last course in your current program. The International Programs Global Education Office and International Student Services Office will review your applications and make the appropriate adjustments to your Form I-20 to reflect the new program.

To apply for a new program, we will need the following:

  1. Submit the Program Application
  2. New financial certification showing the required amount as listed on the Statement of Financial Support and accompanying bank documentation dated within the last six months

If you decide you want to change to a new certificate program either during your current program or after completing your current program, contact ISS or IP-GEO to learn about the application process.

Please note that if you are starting a new program after completing a previous one, ISS will require new financial documentation before producing the new Form I-20 with your new program information.

You are required to have a travel signature from an ISS advisor on your I-20 to re-enter the U.S. Please request the I-20 travel signature application before you travel. To re-enter the U.S. after traveling abroad, you will need to present your I-20 with the travel signature and passport with an unexpired F-1 visa. If your visa is expired, you will have to apply for a new F-1 at the U.S. embassy while you are outside of the U.S.

Please note that Summer is not an automatic vacation quarter at UCLA Extension. We offer four quarters of courses annually. You become eligible for a vacation quarter after you have completed three quarters of F-1 study in your program at UCLA Extension. For example, if you begin in the Spring quarter, you become eligible for a vacation quarter the following Winter quarter. Programs that can be completed in two quarters do not qualify for vacation quarters. Program eligibility for taking a vacation quarter is subject to change without notice.

To find out if you qualify for a vacation quarter, please contact your ISS advisor one quarter before taking the vacation.

If you need to leave the U.S. for one quarter but don’t qualify for a vacation quarter, you may be eligible for a leave of absence (LOA). Please contact your ISS advisor to discuss the possibility of taking a LOA outside of the U.S.

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from attending classes, you may be eligible for a medical Reduced Course Load (RCL) while remaining in the U.S. To qualify, you must provide a doctor’s note (a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist) stating that you cannot attend courses. The dates must be specific on this letter. You can be authorized for a medical RCL for a maximum of one calendar year (12 months) and the medical RCL must be granted individually each quarter.

If you need to leave the U.S. before completing the certificate program, we will terminate your I-20. You will have 15 days to leave the U.S. after your I-20 is terminated.

If you decide to transfer to a different SEVP-approved institution, contact ISS to discuss the details. If the transfer is happening before you end your program, please coordinate with your new school to ensure that you can start in your desired timeframe. If the transfer is happening after you complete your program, you must transfer your I-20 to the new school before the end of your 60-day grace period and start your study there in the next available session, no later than five months from the end of your program at UCLA Extension.

Please provide a copy of the acceptance letter from the new school to your ISS advisor and request that they transfer your I-20 to the new school.

Your local residential address must always be current in SEVIS. Let your ISS advisor know your new address within ten days of moving. Please make sure that your preferred email address is always current in your UCLA Extension student portal profile. This is the main way that we communicate with you regarding F-1 visa regulations and your individual visa status. You may fall out of status and have your I-20 terminated if you do not receive important emails from us.

If you would like to add a dependent spouse or child to your I-20, please provide a new financial certification showing sufficient funds (as outlined on the Statement of Financial Support form) for yourself plus your spouse and/or children. We will issue F-2 I-20s for each dependent, which will enable them to apply for F-2 visas.

You have a 60-day grace period after your program end date. Your program end date is the final day of classes when you have completed all requirements for the program. During the 60-day grace period, you can prepare to depart the U.S., travel within the U.S., or transfer your I-20 to another school. On day 61, your immigration record auto-completes, and you no longer have a legal visa status in the U.S.

Please note that if you travel outside of the U.S. during the 60 days, you cannot re-enter in F-1 visa status. If you leave the U.S. at any point during the 60-day grace period, you forfeit the remainder of the 60 days. If you travel out of the U.S. during the 60 days and need to re-enter the U.S., you’ll have to do so with a B2 tourist visa if you have one in your passport, or an ESTA waiver if your country of citizenship is eligible.

Federal visa regulations state that F-1 students can only enroll in one online course counting toward their full-time enrollment every quarter. Additional online course registration is permitted, but only one course can count toward the 12 units full-time minimum.

You have the ability to work on the UCLA campus while an F-1 student at UCLA Extension. However, student jobs at UCLA are highly impacted and competitive. It is not guaranteed that you will find an on-campus job.

To do an internship, you must first consult with your certificate program advisor. If the internship is a required part of your certificate curriculum and is approved, prior to registering for the internship class and engaging in any employment activity, you will need to contact your ISS advisor to obtain Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization prior to engaging in any employment. Please visit the CPT/OPT information page for more details on internships and work authorizations.

Contact International Student Services

Speak to a representative. Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm (PT)

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