F-1 Student Maintaining Status

F-1 STUDENT MAINTAINING STATUS

If you encounter an E-Form access issue and have tried accessing the E-form in multiple web browsers, please email iss[at]umass[dot]edu

Click here for International Student Orientation Immigration Presentation

Address Updates

Per F-1 regulations, you must have a U.S. physical address (where you live) in SPIRE at all times. Since you are required to be in-person* at UMass Amherst, the expectation is that your physical address is within a reasonable commuting distance to campus.

You must update your physical address in SPIRE no later than 10 days after moving. The physical address in SPIRE will be sent to your immigration record.

If you need assistance updating your physical address in SPIRE, please review this video for a step by step process and overcoming common errors.

If you do not currently have a physical address in SPIRE, please add one.

Correct U.S. Address Format

Address Field 1 123 Main St
Address Field 2 Apt 4B (do not put the apartment name in your address)
City Town or city name
State State name
Zip Code 5 numbers specific to your address

*PhD or Masters thesis students who have finished all in person course work and are just enrolled in dissertation/thesis credits or continuous enrollment have more flexible in person requirements.

Full-Time Status

U.S. Immigration regulations require that all international students enroll in classes each term (fall and spring) and maintain a full-time course of study. 

Review the Exceptions below to see if there is an option for you but if you are planning to withdraw or choose to audit credits as contact your IPO advisor

Full-Time Status is defined as follows:

  • Undergraduate level = Minimum of 12 credits per term 
  • Graduate level = Minimum of 9 credits per term 

Online Classes: Only ONE (1) online class per term can be used to count toward the minimum number of credits needed for full-time enrollment. If you only need 1 course to complete your program of study, the course cannot be online or distance learning. There are NO exceptions to this.

Note: If your final course is in the summer or winter term—it must be in person to comply. For example,

  • Online only in both Summer Session 1 and 2: Your completion of studies date will be the end of the spring term. This does not impact your graduation date at UMass.
  • In person for only Summer Session 1: your completion of studies date will be the last day of Summer Session 1.
  • In Person for both Summer Session 1 and 2: your completion of studies date will be the last day of Summer Session 2.
  • Winter Session: does not provide in-person courses. Your completion of studies date will be the end of the fall term. This does not impact your graduation date at UMass.

If you intend to apply for OPT, review the OPT website for more information on when to apply.

Please make sure you meet the full-time enrollment requirements. Failure to follow these regulations will impact and possibly end your immigration status.


Exceptions

All students must obtain permission from the IPO before dropping below full-time status. Documentation is required for all requests, unless otherwise indicated.

Academic Options: You must provide a letter from your academic/faculty advisor indicating the term you need the Reduced Course Load, which course(s) you need to drop, the reason(s) why you need to drop it, and how many credits you will be enrolled in after your drop these courses. This letter must be on UMass letterhead and signed by your academic advisor. Please note that you must still be enrolled in at least 6 credits if approved for one of the Academic Reduced Course Load options below:

Academic Options in First Term Only

  • ​Initial difficulty with reading requirements 
  • Initial difficulty with English language
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods

Academic Options in your First Year Only 

  • ​Improper course placement

Medical Condition or Illness

  • A medical condition or illness that supports a reduction in course load (a written recommendation from UHSCCPH, or Disability Services is required). You can be enrolled in as few as zero (0) credits and remain in the U.S. This option is only available for 12 calendar months each degree level. The letter must include your name, date of birth, that a reduced course load is medically recommended, and the term the Reduced Course Load is recommended. This letter should be on the office's letter head, dated, and signed by the appropriate medical staff member (a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist) per federal regulations. The IPO cannot accept letters that do not meet the requirements above.

Letters with a medical diagnosis will NOT be accepted and you will need to acquire an updated letter with the medical diagnosis removed due to privacy regulations.

Last Term at UMass

  • It is your last term, you are graduating from UMass Amherst, and you need fewer than the full-time course load noted above. If you only need 1 course to complete your program of study, the course cannot be online or distance learning. No other documentation is required if you submit your request following the Reduced Course Load Request process below. 

Requesting a Reduced Course Load

Please submit a Reduced Course Load Request with any required documentation for your IPO advisor to review. Please allow 10-12 business days for processing. 

GRADUATE LEVEL STUDENTS ONLY: Consult your academic department regarding the possibility of a full-time override rather than a reduced course load request.


I-20 Extensions, Major Changes, Name Changes etc.

All students should be making satisfactory academic progress in their degree programs. If you need additional time to complete your degree requirements, changed your major, or need other changes to your immigration document, please follow the instructions below:

Once the information is updated in SPIRE, please fill out this E-Form. I-20 approval emails occasionally go into your Spam/Junk folder. Please check this folder if 10-12 business days have passed and you have not received the approval email yet.

I-20 Extension Process: Complete the step below prior to requesting an I-20 extension.

  • Graduate Students: Speak to your academic advisor/Graduate Program Director to request a statute of limitation extension in SPIRE.
  • Undergraduate Students: Please refer to the Undergraduate Registrar's website.

It is the student’s responsibility to report any changes to your statute of limitation/graduation date to IPO. You must submit your I-20 extension request BEFORE your current I-20 expires. We cannot extend it after your I-20 expires. The IPO will review your E-Form request and extend your visa document accordingly.


Change to Another Immigration Status

If you are changing your status from an F-1, J-1,  etc. to an H-1b, Permanent Resident, etc. please submit this information using the Change of Status E-Form. The IPO will update SPIRE and your SEVIS record as needed.

**If you are no longer a student at UMass and you are on OPT, AT, etc. when you change your status, your NENS access to UMass systems (access to UMass email, UMass VIP, etc.) will be deactivated 30 days after your new change of status begins. Please plan accordingly.


Helping Those in Need

Humanitarian Options for US Immigration webinar is available here. This informational webinar is for a citizen from a country that the United States has authorized Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and/or Special Student Relief (SSR) benefits and is sponsored by the UMass System President’s Office, in conjunction with one of our prominent retained outside immigration legal firms (Fragomen).