Special Message: Guide to Maintaining F or M Student Status

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student and exchange visitor program

Welcome to News and Updates from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). This message provides useful information for the international student and academic communities.

Special Message bulletin July

A Maintaining Status Guide from SEVP

While studying in the United States, it is important that international students maintain their F or M student status. A student’s status relates to their purpose or intent for coming to the United States. Use this special edition message to find resources and reminders on what students and designated school officials (DSOs) should do to ensure students maintain their status and avoid becoming an overstay. 

Duration of Status

When a student arrives at a U.S. port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will provide them with an admission stamp that will list the date by which they must depart the United States. Duration of Status (D/S) or the “Admit Until” date on the Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record,” is the student’s authorized length of stay, so long as they maintain their student status. Visit the What is My Duration of Status blog for more information on duration of status.

Maintaining Status

While studying in the United States, international students must maintain their F or M status by fulfilling the purpose of their nonimmigrant visa and following the regulations associated with that purpose. Visit the Maintaining Status page on Study in the States to learn about actions students must take to properly maintain their status.

Grace Periods

F-1 students have 60 days and M-1 students have 30 days after the program or practical training end date on their Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” to leave the United States. Failure to depart within this grace period could adversely impact the student’s ability to re-enter the United States under a different nonimmigrant or immigrant classification. Read the Grace Period blog on Study in the States for more information about students’ options during their grace period.

Annual Vacation

F-1 students are eligible to take an annual vacation after completing one academic year at an SEVP-certified school, and are then eligible for annual vacation once every subsequent year. Students who plan to leave the United States for vacation should have the proper documentation before leaving the country and work with their DSO to ensure that their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System record is in “Active” status. For more information on annual vacation, read the latest What is Annual Vacation blog on Study in the States. 

Stay in Contact

Students should first contact their DSO if they have any questions regarding the legal requirements of their stay in the United States. DSOs can assist in answering students’ questions or aid them in finding someone who can help.

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