What does it mean to "fall
out of status, lose your status, or be out of status?"
When you enter the U.S. you are granted legal status in the
U.S. based on the type of visa you used to enter. Your status
in designated on your I-94 card. For F-1 students who used
an F-1 visa and an I-20 to enter the U.S., your I-94 card
is designated "F-1" and "D/S." The D/S
means "duration of status". This means you may remain
in the U.S. as long as you maintain your student status by
obeying all the F-1 regulations. If you fail to obey any of
the student regulations, you are in violation of your status.
"Fall out of status," "lose your status,"
and "out of status" all refer to violating your
status or disobeying an immigration law. Whether you disobey
an immigration law by choice or by ignorance, the penalty
is the same! Once you have violated your status you are illegal
or unlawfully present in the U.S. If you have violated your
status, you should make an appointment to see an International
Student Counselor. Please see the page, Maintaining F-1 Status.
If I am failing a class, is it
OK to drop the class without authorization from ISSSO?
You should not drop any class during the fall or spring semester
that would cause you to drop below full-time hours (12 hours
per semester for undergraduate and 9 hours per semester for
graduate students) without making an appointment to see an
International Student Counselor in our office. Only he or
she may give you immigration related authorization to drop
below full-time hours. Keep in mind there are a limited number
of reasons for dropping below full-time hours that are acceptable
to the U.S. government.
Will I be in violation of my student
status if my Dean or Academic Advisor gives me permission
to drop below full-time hours?
Your Dean or Academic Advisor may give you permission academically
to drop a class, but this will not protect your student immigration
status. Only International Student Counselors at ISSSO have
been authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
to give you permission to drop below full-time hours.
Is it true that during the summer
I can work anywhere and do not need to obtain special permission?
This is FALSE! If you are in legal full-time F-1 status, you
may work anywhere on-campus during the summer (full-time or
part-time) but off-campus employment ALWAYS requires special
permission from DHS or ISSSO.
Do practicums or internships which
are required for my degree have to be authorized by ISSSO?
Yes. Only our office can help you obtain the necessary authorization.
What do I do if I am placed on
As an F-1 student, if you are placed on academic suspension
for the first time, you must “sit out” the next
semester (i.e., you will not be permitted to register for
the next semester). If your suspension occurs at the end of
the spring semester, you cannot register for summer. This
does not create any legal problem for an F-1 or J-1 student,
because you are not required to attend school during the summer.
But, if you must sit out a main semester, there is an impact
on your F-1 status. F-1 students, even when placed by UH on
suspension, must still be a full-time or they become illegal
in the U.S. This means you must transfer to another school
and register for full-time hours. Then if you are readmitted
to UH, you can transfer back to UH. This means obtaining a
new I-20 for the new school and a new UH I-20 when you return.
If you are placed on suspension a second time, you must sit
out two semesters. For instructions on how to be readmitted
to UH after a suspension (including sitting out a summer),
go to this link: http://www.uh.edu/academics/usd/readmission/readmission_files/frame.htm