Student Support

Maintaining Your F-1 Visa

For International Students

Guidelines to follow to keep 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 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. for a period up to 10 years.

Please contact your International Student 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 International Student Advisor to keep you in status.

To maintain student status at UCLA Extension:

Your passport must be valid for at least six months into the future at all times. If your passport is going to expire, contact your embassy or consulate 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 enrolling full-time in your program. If you complete your program before the end date written on your I-20, your I-20 will be shortened to that new date.

When you enter 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” on your I-94 card meaning “Duration of Status.” This means that your stay in the U.S. is lawful so 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 as long as you continue to maintain valid F-1 status.  If you travel out 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 leave immediately.

You must enroll in at least 12 units of courses in your certificate program by the first day of each quarter. Most UCLA Extension courses carry 4 units each so you can enroll in three courses. Please note however some programs include courses that carry different unit value so you need to make sure you are enrolled in 12 units in total every quarter. Enroll in every course for a letter grade.

We recommend that you enroll early. Courses fill quickly as soon as the quarterly catalog becomes available. 

An earned grade of F (if you go to the classes, but don’t grasp the course material) does not harm your F-1 visa status. That course will not however, 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) indicate you dropped below full-time enrollment and puts you out of status. This will result in termination of your I-20.

If it is your last quarter and you need fewer than 12 units to complete the program, you can drop below the 12 units minimum during that quarter only.

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.  We must add the new program and extend the time on your I-20 before your current program ends.  To apply for a new program, we need the following:

  1. Receipt showing payment of the new certificate application fee
  2. New financial certification showing $26,300 and a signed affidavit of support if a sponsor is showing the funds
  3. Receipt showing payment of the health insurance for the quarter you will begin the new program

If you add a new program that has a higher TOEFL or IELTS score requirement than the one you originally submitted for the initial program, you will have to take the TOEFL or IELTS to get the higher score required for the new program.

If you decide you want to change to a new certificate program, make sure it qualifies for F-1 visa status. Apply for the new program and pay the certificate application fee. Your ISO advisor will update your I-20 to show your enrollment in the new program and a new end date if necessary.

You are required to have a travel signature from an ISO advisor on your I-20 to be able to re-enter the U.S. Please bring your I-20 in for the travel signature before you travel. To be able to re-enter the U.S. after travelling abroad you will need to present your I-20 with the travel signature and passport with 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; these include Marketing, Sustainability, Project Management.

To find out if you qualify for a vacation quarter, please contact your ISO 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 ISO advisor to discuss the possibility of taking a LOA outside of the U.S.  Or if you have a medical condition that prevents you from attending classes, you may be eligible for a medical LOA while remaining in the U.S.  To qualify you must provide a doctor’s note stating that you cannot attend courses--the dates must be specific on this letter.  You can be authorized for a medical LOA for a maximum of one calendar year (12 months) and the LOA must be granted each quarter individually.

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

After you complete your certificate program, you can transfer your I-20 to another school. 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 their next available session, no later than five months from the end of your program at UCLA Extension.

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

Your local residential address must always be current in your SEVIS F-1 record. Let your ISO advisor know your new address within 10 days of your move. 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 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 the last day of classes in your program. During that 60 days you can prepare to depart the U.S., travel within the U.S., or transfer your I-20 to another school. On day 61 after your last class session, your I-20 auto-completes and you no longer hold legal presence 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. 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 you need to re-enter the U.S., you would have to do so with a B2 tourist visa if you have one in your passport, or visa waiver if you are from an ESTA country.

Federal visa regulations state that F-1 students can only enroll in one online course counting toward their full-time enrollment every quarter.

Please Note: Due to COVID-19, SEVP has temporarily changed F-1 regulations to allow for more than one online course per quarter. Students on existing (pre-COVID) I-20s can maintain status while fully online and students arriving post-COVID transition to remote instruction require a hybrid course component to allow for entry to USA. 

As an F-1 student you are required to have qualifying health insurance for the duration of your studies at UCLA Extension. 

Please review the Health Insurance webpage for more information.

You are able to work on the UCLA campus while an F-1 student at UCLA Extension. Student jobs at UCLA are highly impacted and it is difficult to find a campus job. We don’t guarantee that you will find a campus job.  

To do an internship, you must consult with your certificate program advisor first. If the internship is approved and you are enrolled in the course, you will need to contact your ISO advisor only if the internship is paid. 

Contact the International Student Office

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

vector icon of building

Corporate Education

Learn how we can help your organization meet its professional development goals and corporate training needs.

Learn More

vector icon of building

Donate to UCLA Extension

Support our many efforts to reach communities in need.

Innovation Programs

Student Scholarships

Coding Boot Camp

Lifelong Learning