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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

F-1 Degree Seeking Students

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F-1 Visa Responsibilities

International students in the United States are required by immigration law to follow certain regulations in order to maintain their legal status in the United States. The International Center is responsible for advising international students on immigration regulations and processing various immigration documents. 

You are responsible for knowing, understanding, and complying with theses regulations. If there is something you do not understand, please come to CISS and speak with an advisor.

The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service has established rules and regulations which international students are expected to follow. The following is a list of regulations, procedures, and forms that are frequently used in helping students to understand and maintain their immigration status. 

You are responsible for maintaining your F-1 status. More information on maintaining your F-1 status can be found here.

Basic Regulations

  • Enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester for undergraduates and 6 credit hours per semester for graduates and maintain satisfactory academic progress. Only 3 credits of online coursework each semester can count toward your full-time enrollment. Always consult CISS before you drop your course load to part-time or withdraw from all your courses; otherwise, you jeopardize your legal status. Proper documentation must be kept in your CISS file. Please not: not having enough money to enroll is not an excuse for dropping below full-time enrollment. Students with an approved [PDF]Reduced Course Load (118 KiB) are exempt from the full-time enrollment requirement.
  • Passports must be valid at leasts six months into the future. Our office recommends renewing your passport at least six months prior to its expiration date.
  • Do not accept employment off campus without proper authorization. See Employment section.
  • Do not work on campus more than allowed. F-1 students are not to exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session. Immigration regulations allow for up to full-time during vacation periods. See Employment section.
  • Address changes must be reported within 10 days of moving. You may report your change of address by updating your "local" and "permanent" address in E-Services. This automatically updates your immigration record. This is an immigration requirement!
  • Extend your program of study at least 30 days before the expiration date on your I-20 if you will not complete your program of study within the alloted period of time. Please review and submit a completed [PDF]Program Extension Request Form(201 KiB) to the Kearney International Center.

Required Documents

  • Passport

    Your passport must always be valid at least 6 months into the future

  • F-1 visa stamp

    An F-1 visa stamp that U.S. consular officials place in your passport indicates that your are eligible to enter or re-enter the United States as an F-1 student. It does not determine your length of stay in the United States.

    If your F-1 visa expires while you are in the United States, it is not necessary to renew your visa as long as you remain in the country and remain in active status. A visa can only be secured at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States. Canadians do not require a visa.

  • I-94 departure record

    The electronic record of your I-94 at the U.S. port of entry, along with a valid Form I-20, permits you to stay temporarily in the U.S. as an F-1 student.

    • What "F-1 D/S" means: The immigration official should indicate "F-1 D/S" on your I-94. D/S stands for "duration of status". It refers to the length of time you are permitted to remain temporarily in the U.S. to pursue a full course of study.
    • Each time you enter the U.S., you will be issued a new I-94 electronic record with a new admission number. The exception is when you re-enter the country after visits of 30 days or less to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands.
  • Renewing or replacing your passport

    • Lost or stolen? Report a lost or stolen passport to police. Your home country government may require a police report before issuing a new passport.
    • Renewing or replacing your passport: Contact your country's consulate in the United States.
  • Form I-20: Certificate of Eligibility

    After you have accepted your offer to attend Minnesota State University, Mankato, the University will issue you a Form I-20.

    Form I-20 allows you to do 3 things:

    • Apply for an F-1 visa.
    • Enter or re-enter the United States to pursue your studies.
    • Receive other immigration benefits

    Don't let your Form I-20 expire. The I-20 must remain valid at all times throughout your study. You must request a new I-20 prior to the expiration date listed on page 1 of the form.

    Keep all Form I-20s you have received. Do not discard old ones.

  • Reinstatement

    Remember: If you do not violate your F-1 student status, you will never have to apply for reinstatement

    If, however, for any reason you violate your legal status, you lose all benefits of being an F-1 student (e.g. employment) and risk deportation. You can in some situations apply to USCIS for reinstatement to F-1 status. Schedule an appointment with the International Center to discuss your options. To request reinstatement, a fee will need to accompany the I-539 Immigration application form. For the period of time you are "out of status," you may not work on or off campus under any circumstances. If you have been out of status for over 5 months you will need to leave the U.S and re-enter in "initial attendance status".

    Regulations could result in your being barred from re-entering the U.S. for a period of three to ten years if you fail to seek reinstatement.

Change of address, course load or major for F-1 Students

Please follow this link for information regarding changes of address, course load, major or name and information regarding program extension changing of status.

Dependent Information

What is a dependent and how do I invite a dependent to join me? Please click here.

Employment Information for F-1 Students

Click here for information regarding on and off campus employment. Also included in this link is information on OPT(Optional Practical Training) and getting a Social Security Number

Maintaining Status

Information on maintaining status as an F1 student is available here.

OPT Information Update

Please follow this link regarding changes for students on Post-Completion/STEM Extension/OPT

Travel Information

Click here for information on traveling as an F-1 Student. Information included:

  • Traveling for more than 5 months
  • Traveling for less than 5 months.
  • Traveling with Pending Criminal Charges
  • Trips to Mexico, Canada and adjacent Caribbean islands
  • Summary of Travel within the U.S.
  • Additional travel considerations

Leaving MSU

Click here for information about leaving MSU. Topics included:

  • Transferring to another University
  • When do I start classes at my new school?
  • Returning to your home country
  • Temporary Absense
  • Leaving while on Optional Practical Training

Re-Admission Information

Click here for information regarding re-admission for previous students.

Inviting Friends or Family Members to the US

It’s great you want to invite friends or family members to visit while you study at MSU, Mankato.

  • If your guests are eligible to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program, they do not need to apply for a visitor visa (B-1/B-2) at a US embassy.
  • If your guests must apply for a visitor visa (B-1/B-2), the Department of State website has everything they should need.
  • The following will be helpful during their visa application process:
    • Invitation letter from you including your name, reason for being the US, the names of the people you are inviting and for what reason, identify how long they will stay and whether or not you’ll provide room/board or any other financial assistance for their visit. CISS does not have a sample letter and will not write a letter for you.
    • Who will fund the guest’s expenses? Provide a bank statement of whomever is financially responsible for the travel and expenses while they are in the US. If it’s you, you must provide a bank statement or employment letter. If your guest will be covering their own costs, they should provide a bank statement or employment letter or other evidence of funding.
    • Provide your guest(s) a copy of your visa status document.
    • Your guests must prove they will return to their home country after visiting you. Evidence of employment, property or business ownership, and enrollment in school in their home country may be sufficient.