F1 Student Rights and Responsibilities

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As an international student on an F1 student visa, maintaining your visa status is one of your most important tasks. It is your responsibility to maintain your visa status and it is the responsibility of the Global Engagement Center to help you do that. Please click on the topics below for more information about maintaining your status.

  • Maintaining Your F1 Status: The Basics
      As an F1 international student, you must:
      • Have a valid passport
      • Have a valid I-20
      • Be enrolled in classes full-time 
        • 12 semester hours for Undergraduate Students, 9 semester hours for Graduate students
        • current regulation allows for only one online course towards your full-time status
      • Keep your address current
      • Work only with the appropriate authorization
  • Consequences of Failing to Maintain Your F1 Status
      Failing to maintain your status could affect:
      • Your re-entry to the U.S.
      • Future visa applications
      • Ability to transfer, transition, or extend your program
      • Employment options
      • Change/Adjustment of status requests
  • Your Passport
        You must maintain a valid passport at all time.
    It is your primary legal identification
      . If your passport has less than six months’ validity, you must apply to renew it at your local embassy or consulate. Don’t wait too long!
  • Your I-20
      Your I-20 is your identification that you are an active international student at SHSU. Things to remember:
      • You must maintain a valid I-20 at all times.
      • If you change your name/major/etc., you must inform the Office of International Programs so we can update your I-20.
      • Your program end date must reflect your anticipated graduation date.
  • Enrollment in Classes
      As an international student, you must be enrolled in classes full-time. Full-time for undergraduate students is at least 12 hours, while full-time for graduate students is at least 9 hours. Undergraduate students may take online courses, so long as they have at least 9 hours face-to-face. Graduate students may also take online courses, so long as they have at least 6 hours face-to-face.
  • Authorized Reduced Course Load (RCL)
      In some situations, international students may request to take a reduced course load. These reasons may include:
  • Address Change
      As an F1 international student, you are required to inform SHSU whenever you move to a new apartment/house/etc. A few notes:
      • You must change your address in MySam within 10 days of moving.
      • Your address must be the physical address where you actually live (not a PO Box or departmental address)
  • Employment
            Please see the 
    employment page
  • Getting a Social Security Number
      F1 international students who are hired for on-campus employment, or who apply for CPT or OPT work authorization, are eligible to apply for a social security number (SSN). To apply for an SSN, you will need the following documents:
      • SSN application (available from the local SSA office)
      • Your passport, visa, I-20, and I-94
      • Offer of employment from your prospective employer
      • Letter from the Office of International Programs verifying full-time enrollment
      • Birth certificate (if available)
      At this time, only F1 international students with a job offer may apply for an SSN.
  • Taxes
          Did you know that F1 international students are required to file their tax return each year? Please visit the 
    Vita Center.
  • Traveling
      Traveling inside the U.S. (including Hawaii, Alaska, and U.S. territories):
      • Always carry your passport and your I-20 (or a copy) with you
      • Traveling outside the U.S.:
        • Before you go, check your documents including your passport expiry date, your visa expiry date, and your I-20 program end date.
        • Inform the Global Engagement Center that you are traveling.
        • Get your I-20 signed by a DSO (international student advisor). DSO travel signatures are valid for one year. Do not wait until the last minute to get your I-20 signed!
  • Dependents
        “I brought my family, now what?”
        • F2 spouses may not work, but may attend school part-time
        • F2 children can only engage in full-time study at the K-12 level

        “I’m getting married/having a baby!”
        • Congrats! Please visit the GEC so we can help you with the appropriate paperwork.
  • Scams
        Like any country, there are criminals in the U.S. Some criminals like to target international students with scams. If you receive an email or call advising that your immigration status is in jeopardy unless you provide immediate payment for services, fees, or fines, do not give any information. A government agency will never ask you for payment over the phone/email, or for gift cards or prepaid cards.

      If this happens to you, contact the GEC to report the scam.