Maintaining Legal Status

It is important that you maintain lawful F-1 status while in the U.S. There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your stay in the U.S. remains valid:


Check in with OISS office within 30 days of start date on I-20


Report Address Changes to OISS within 10 days.


Keep your passport valid.  Passports can be renewed by your consulate in New York or Boston. For information about the nearest consulate check Your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months into the future.


Maintain Full Time Study

  • Undergraduates
    Must be registered for a minimum of 12 credits. Each undergraduate course is weighted at 4 credits thus 3 courses is the minimum course load.
  • Graduate and Professional Students
    Each program of graduate study defines the combination of course requirements and research that equal full time study. Check with your program.

There are some exceptions to the full time study rule. However, you must obtain special permission from OISS prior to reducing your course load.


Apply for I-20 extension prior to end date in section 5 of your I-20. Learn more about Program Extenstion.


Notify OISS when changing education levels at Yale within 60 days of program end date. Submit letter of admission to new program and evidence of funding to support tuition and living expenses for first academic year of the new program to OISS.


Notify OISS when transferring to another F-1 program within 60 days of Yale program end date.  Learn more about Program transfer & change of level.


Off campus employment requires special permission. See under Employment Authorization or contact OISS to learn more about the employment.


Timely Departure or Change Status — F-1 students have a 60 day grace period for departure following the end date of their program as noted on the I-20 or  approved OPT period.  If changing to a different immigration status, such as H-1B, file for the change of status to immigration prior to the end of your program or OPT end date.  If you are authorized to withdraw or take a leave of absence from your program, notify OISS prior to the effective date of the withdrawal or leave.

If you do not maintain your F-1 status per above, you may be eligible to apply for reinstatement through an application process with immigration.

Some helpful tips for maintaining legal status:

  • Be aware of the expiration date of your status. This is not your visa expiration date; it is the ending date in section 3 of your I-20 form.
  • Do not accept unauthorized employment. The only activity you are permitted is the one described in section 4 of the I-20 form.
  • If offered a comparable position at another college or university, discuss your plans with an OISS advisor to make sure that the required transfer procedure can be accomplished.
  • Keep your passport valid. Passports can be renewed by your consulate in New York or Boston. Information about the nearest consulate can be found here.