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Maintaining your F-1 Status

Keeping your F-1 Visa status valid is very important. These rules are set by the US government and must be enforced by Northern Virginia Community College. So, to avoid problems, here are some basic rules to follow:

DO …

  • Enroll as a full-time student every fall and spring semester that you are in the U.S. Full-time in the Intensive English Program means 3 classes: 2 core courses and 1 required elective course
  • Attend classes regularly and complete all assignments and tests on time. Your instructor will always take roll and must report any absences to the office. Poor attendance can put your visa in jeopardy.
  • Contact your instructor within 24 hours if you are not able to attend class due to illness, accident or other such event.
  • Make sure your I-20, passport and I-94 are valid and kept in a safe place.
  • Make sure your I-20 is signed before you leave for a short trip outside the U.S. This must be completed to allow reentry into the U.S. Make an appointment with Mrs. Heslin in Student Services (703) 450-2501 to have your I-20 signed 2 weeks in advance of traveling.
  • Make sure your F-1 visa will be valid to return or that you have enough time to get a new visa. If your F-1 visa expires while you are in the U.S. make sure your I-20 is valid and next time you travel to your home country, renew your visa at the U.S. embassy.
  • Make sure you meet with an ESL coordinator to discuss any changes of your status or transfer to other school.
  • Report a change of address to the office within 10 days of moving. (We will report the change in your SEVIS record.)
  • Ask questions!
  • Have fun!


  • Skip classes
  • Withdraw from a class without consulting with the ESL coordinator.
  • Work off campus without written work permission. If you work you are in violation of your status and your visa can be revoked. On campus employment is very limited and not recommended within the first year.
  • Forget to extend your I-20 before it expires. You will need to bring in financial documents of support to renew the I-20.
  • Forget the update changes on your I-20, such as change of financial sponsor or major.

Frequently Asked Question:

  • What does SEVIS mean?
    It stands for "Student and Exchange Visitor Information System”. We need to keep your record with the immigration current and are required to activate your I-20 every semester that you study full time with us.
  • Who can answer F-1 visa related questions?
    Silvana Mehner at the Signal Hill building or Gert Heslin, Registrar of the Loudoun Campus at the student services center room LR 246.
  • Changing from Intensive ESL to College ESL
  • Change of Level Process