Maintaining Your F-1 Visa Status

Maintaining Your F-1 Visa Status

Maintaining Your F-1 Visa Status

It is your responsibility to know, understand, and follow the guidelines and rules of Macomb Community College and the Federal Government in order to maintain your F-1 status.

Basic F-1 Rules & Regulations

Full Time Status

You are a full-time student and therefore must maintain a course load of at least 12 credits in the fall and winter semesters. You are not required to register for spring/summer unless you are approved for a spring/summer start, in which case you must be full time. You must register and pay, in full, for at least 12 credits prior to the beginning of each semester or you could lose your status. You cannot drop or withdraw from classes that will put you below 12 credit hours without permission from an International Student Representative.

Grade Point Average

You are expected to maintain a grade point average of 2.0 (C) or better, in all classes, and make progress towards your degree. If you are struggling and need academic assistance to maintain your status, Macomb offers free tutoring through the Learning Centers. For more information, you may email them at

Online Classes

F-1 students are required to take at least 9 credit hours of classes on campus each term. One or more online classes are allowed, as long as at least 9 credits are on ground and at least 12 credits are in total. A 2.0 grade point average is required to qualify for any online classes. Students below a grade point average of 2.0 must take full term (16 week) classes on campus per Federal government rules.

F-1 students cannot take any online classes if they are also taking EAPP classes.


There are two (2) opportunities for employment at Macomb Community College. Any and all employment must first be approved by the International Student Representative and the student’s I-20 must be annotated to include the employment information.* Working without approval is cause for termination. A detailed letter of employment must be provided by the employer indicating the student’s hours, schedule, and how the position relates to his or her degree. It must include the name and address of the employer and be on company letterhead.

  • On Campus - An F-1 student may be allowed to work part-time on campus only after successful completion of one (1) year of classes (fall and winter). A student must be in good standing with a 2.0 or better GPA and have taken at least 12 credit hours each term. The student can work up to 20 hours a week.
  • Optional Practical Training - OPT is temporary employment for up to one year, allowing students to work post-graduation to gain hands-on experience that compliments his or her related degree. OPT is granted after the all degree requirements are complete, and only when the job is directly related to the student’s degree. If you are thinking about applying for OPT, please make an appointment with an International Student Representative.

* If you are approved for employment, you will need a Social Security Number. Please contact your International student representative. You will receive a W-2 form that you must use to file an income tax form by April 15th. For more information about filing, please visit the Filing for Individuals page on the IRS website.

Change of Address/Phone/Email or Change of Program

You must always keep your current contact information on file with the school in order to stay in good status. It is very important that we have a current email and that you check your email daily, as this is the primary source of communication.  If you move, change your phone number or email address, you must submit a Student Update Form to an International Student Representative within 10 days of the change.

If you decide to change your program, you must submit, in writing, a request to change your degree program. Please send the request to an International Student Representative, who will issue a new I-20 listing the new program. It is very important to always have the correct program on your I-20.

You may send both the student update form and the request to change programs to

The I-20

Your I-20 is an important document that is a certificate of eligibility to be a student at Macomb. It is as important as your passport and must be kept on you at all times. Generally, Macomb Community College will validate your I-20 for three years. At least 30 days before your I-20 is set to expire, you must inform an International Student Representative of your intentions. It is your responsibility to extend your stay. There are many options: return home, transfer to another college, extend or change your program, apply for graduation, or apply for OPT (if graduating). Please keep your old I-20’s for your records.

  • Return home - Please state in writing a request to terminate your record in SEVIS, giving reasons for your request. This is for your benefit only, so that your record in the system is terminated in good status.  Please send the email to the f1student inbox.
  • Transfer to another college - To be eligible for a transfer, you must apply to the new school and receive an acceptance letter. An International Student Representative must see a transfer form and acceptance letter before they will release your SEVIS record to the new school.
  • Extend your I-20 - If your I-20 is expiring, you must fill out and return the Program Extension Request form at least 45 days before the end date on your I-20. This requires you to see an Academic Counselor or Advisor to attest to the fact that you are not ready to graduate and need more time. You must also consult with an International Student Representative.
  • Graduate and Request a new Program - If you are ready to graduate but would like to stay at Macomb to earn another degree you must make arrangements prior to the end of the term in which you are graduating. Please consult with an International Student Representative to discuss the process.
  • Apply for Graduation - If your I-20 is expiring and you are ready to graduate, you must apply for graduation.
  • Apply for OPT - Please see information for OPT in the above section on Employment.
  • Reduced course load – There are three reasons you might need to request a reduced course load. This is only allowable only once and must be requested using the Reduced Course Load form.
    • Medical reasons
    • Academic difficulties
    • Last term before graduation

Please consult with an International Student Representative for details.

Maintaining Valid Documents

Just as you must make sure you have a valid I-20, you should also maintain current records of other documentation regarding your status in the United States. If your visa or passport is about to expire, it is recommended that you visit the closest embassy to have it renewed at least six months before the expiration date. Up-to-date copies of I-20’s, visas, passports, and I-94 cards should remain on your person at all times, especially if you plan to travel. If your documents are expired, you may not be allowed to return to the United States and risk losing your F-1 status.