Maintaining Student Status

International students to maintain their lawful F-1 immigration status while in the U.S. Failure to do so may have serious implications on one's stay in the U.S. and ability to return in the future.

How to Maintain F-1 Status

  • You will be required to check in with International Scholars team in Student Affairs (CC326a) during Olin new student orientation
  • Attend the college/university listed on your Form I-20(F-1)
  • Engage in a full course of study during normal academic periods (12 credits or more)
  • Make normal progress towards completing your program of study
  • Maintain a valid passport at all times
  • Follow transfer and change of educational level procedures
  • Apply for program extension prior to the end date on your Form I-20(F-1) if unable to complete your studies by this date
  • Receive authorization before engaging in employment
  • Report a change of address/residence to International Scholars team in Student Affairs (CC326a) within 10 days of the change
  • Maintain adequate health insurance

Full Course of Study

F-1 student status is granted only to students who plan to study full-time at an approved institution in the United States. Immigration regulations define full-time study for undergraduates as 12 credits per semester. Olin College defines full-time study as 12 credits per semester.

Students may be considered to be maintaining valid F-1 status despite completing less than 12 credits in only a few circumstances. These include:


An F-1 student is considered to be in status during the annual or summer vacation if the student was in status the previous semester and intends to register for the next semester.

Valid Medical Circumstances

If a leave of absence or reduction in course load to less than full-time is needed for medical reasons, the student must notify the International Scholars team in Student Affairs (CC326a) to withdrawing to less than full-time. The student will be required to provide a letter from a health-care practitioner requiring or recommending the interruption or reduction in studies.

Valid Academic Circumstances

During the first semester of study in the U.S., a student may be able to reduce his/her course load due to initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods, or improper course level placement. The Manager of Student Services must provide a statement describing the problem to the ISA in advance of the reduction in credits.

Final Semester

During the final semester, if a student does not need 12 credits to complete his/her program of study, s/he may take less than 12 credits. However, if the student fails or withdraws from one of these courses and must make it up the following semester, s/he may be considered to be out of status. Students should obtain approval prior to the start of the semester from the ISA.

F-1 students who do not fall into any of the categories above, and who fail to complete 12 credits each semester generally will not be able to benefit from privileges associated with F-1 status, such as:

  • Signature on the Form I-20 (F-1) for travel and re-entry to the U.S.
  • On-campus employment
  • Curricular or Optional Practical Training (F-1)
  • Transfer of SEVIS record to another U.S. institution


Leave of Absence, Transfer, Separation from Olin

Maintenance of lawful F-1 student immigration status is contingent upon full-time enrollment. If a student withdraws from studies, takes a leave of absence or is suspended, the student's permission to remain in the U.S. in student status is void.

With withdrawal or suspension from Olin, the student is permitted 15 days to depart the U.S.

To maintain lawful status, a student must take one of the following actions:

  • transfer immediately to another DHS-approved institution
  • apply immediately for a change of immigration status 
  • leave the U.S. immediately

If the student chooses to transfer, Olin will release the student's SEVIS record to the new school.  If you have reason to believe you may take a leave of absence, withdraw or be suspended from Olin, please contact the international scholars team in StAR to discuss your options before the leave of absence or suspension become official.

Entry to the U.S.

If you wish to make short-term, temporary visits to the U.S. during the period that you are on leave, suspended or withdrawn from the University(except if on an Olin approved medical leave), you should not enter in F-1 status but rather on a different visa, such as a B-2 visitor's visa. You may enter in student status only if you are returning for the purpose of resuming your studies.

Medical Leave of Absence

The exception that allows an F-1 student to stay lawfully in the U.S. without transferring to another school or changing immigration status is an authorized medical leave of absence. For immigration purposes, the determination of a medical leave is made by the Dean of Students and only upon review of proper documentation.

Immigration regulations stipulate a maximum of only 12 months of medical leave per degree level. While on an approved medical leave of absence, a student's SEVIS record is kept active.  After traveling outside the U.S., a student with an approved medical leave may return to the U.S. using current immigration documents (valid passport, valid F-1 entry visa and I-20 with a valid travel signature).

While on a medical leave in the United States, you are not permitted to engage in any student-based employment in the U.S., whether on-campus or off-campus. If you wish to take a leave of absence to pursue employment or any other activities in the U.S., you will have to change your immigration status accordingly.

Returning After Separation

Students who have been separated from the college may be eligible to return to Olin College after they have been readmitted.

To inquire about your return to studies at Olin College, request a new Form I-20 Olin, contact the International Scholars team in Student Affairs (CC326a). You will be required to submit via email or fax: +1-781-292-2325 a Declaration/Certification of Finances (DEC) with any required supporting documentation and copy of your passport identification page(s).

Sevis Fee and Visa

You are required to pay the SEVIS Fee again in order to return to the United States. You can do so on: When paying the fee, make certain to provide the SEVIS ID number of the newly issued I-20.

If you have been outside the U.S. for more than five months, U.S. State Department regulations require that you apply for a new F-1 entry visa even if your current F-1 entry visa has not expired.  Details can be found online at:

Transfer from Olin College to another U.S. School

Transfer as described below refers to an "immigration record transfer" between two U.S. schools.

The Procedure for Transferring your Sevis Record Between Schools:

  • Contact the International Student Adviser at your new school to notify them of your intent to transfer to their institution.
  • Notify the International Student Adviser at Olin College of your intention to transfer to a new school.
  • Complete the Transfer Confirmation/Release Date Form and submit it to International Scholars team in Student Affairs (CC326a). Your release date will most likely be the end of the current term. We will then verify your immigration status and transfer your SEVIS record to your new school.

NOTE: Although you may be applying to multiple new schools, the Olin College may indicate only one transfer school in SEVIS.

  • Once the transfer release date has been reached, Olin College will no longer have access to your SEVIS record.
  • The International Student Adviser at your new school may ask you and ISSS to complete a “Transfer Report Form” for them. In order for us to complete this type of form, we need a copy of your Form I-94.

Travel from and Reentry to the U.S. while between schools

If you plan to leave the U.S. after you have finished attending Olin and before beginning your studies at your new school, it is important that you use the Form I-20 from your new school when reentering the U.S.


If you have violated the terms of your F-1 status, U.S. federal regulations require that you must regain valid status before you can become eligible for any of the benefits of this status.

Some of these benefits include Form I-20 travel signatures, and on-campus and off-campus work authorization. If you apply for, and are granted, a reinstatement, this means that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has forgiven your violation.

Reinstatement cannot be granted to those whose are employed without authorization, or to those who have been out of status for more than 5 months. Reinstatement may be granted to applicants whose violation was beyond their control or to those whose violation was of a technical nature.

You should understand that there is always the possibility that a reinstatement application will be denied, and therefore you could be required to depart from the U.S. on short notice. You should consult an immigration attorney if you have any concerns.

Some common violations of F-1 status:

  • Failure to complete 12 credits each semester without a authorization from an ISA
  • Failure to obtain a new Form I-20 before returning to Olin after a leave of absence 
  • Failure to request a transfer procedure within 15 days of enrollment at Olin
  • Unauthorized off-campus employment 
  • Working more than 20 hours/week during the academic year 

* PLEASE MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE International Scholars team in Student Affairs (CC326a) REGARDING REINSTATEMENT 

How to apply for reinstatement:

  • Request a new Form I-20 for reinstatement (note that if your financial documentation is older than one year, you will need to submit new proof of financial ability)
  • Write a cover letter addressed to the USCIS explaining how you violated your F-1 status 
  • Complete Form I-539
  • Obtain a bank check or money order for $200 made out to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (personal checks and cash are NOT acceptable)
  • Obtain an official transcript from Olin College

Mail this information to the following address (please note that USCIS does not honor walk-in appointments for reinstatement):

USCIS Boston District Office 

John F. Kennedy Federal Building 

Government Center 

Boston, MA 02203 

Attn: Student/Schools Officer

If you are reinstated:

  • Bring your Form I-20 to the Office of International Programs to be reviewed and photocopied. 
  • You are now eligible to work on campus, apply for off-campus work authorization (if you have completed one academic year of F-1 status) or obtain a signature on your Form I-20 for travel and re-entry.

If you are not reinstated:

  • You may be given a short time to depart the U.S. We advise you to contact an immigration attorney immediately if this occurs.