F-1 Immigration Regulations

It is the responsibility of each student to be familiar with the immigration requirements related to their status. Following the guidelines below will help you to avoid many unnecessary problems.

Basic Guidelines

  • Keep your passport valid for at least 6 months
    Contact your home country's embassy in the U.S. for information about renewing your passport validity.
  • Keep your local address updated.
    Keep your local residential address current through Bear Facts. It must be updated every time you move.
  • Maintain full-time enrollment.
    You must be full-time each semester. For immigration purposes, in most cases, students must complete a minimum of 12 units per semester. Be sure to check the minimum units for each college.
  • Get Berkeley International Office approval before a withdrawal from UC Berkeley.
    If for some reason you must withdraw from your program or drop below full-time, you are required to have approval from Berkeley International Office before doing so.
  • Attend the school noted on your I-20.
    You must have a current, valid I-20 from the school you are attending. If you transfer from another school to UC Berkeley, the transfer process must be completed before the semester begins. If you have any questions about this process, please email NIF@berkeley.edu. 
  • Keep your I-20 valid at all times.
    Submit an application for Extension of Program if the completion date on your I-20 will expire within the next 30 days and you need more time to complete your program of study. The completion date can be found in Box #5 on the I-20 form. You must also request a new I-20 if you change your major or your degree level, e.g. Ph.D. to Master's.
  • Get a travel endorsement.
    Before your departure from the U.S., request a travel signature for re-entry from a Berkeley International Office adviser. The adviser will sign page 3 of the I-20 for this purpose. The signature is valid for one year, but it is recommended to obtain a new signature every 10 months. A new signature is required every 6 months while on OPT.
  • Be aware of your grace periods.
    The grace period ends when you depart the U.S., or no later than 60 days after the end of the I-20 or your EAD card (if on OPT), whichever comes first.
    An F-1 student may enter the U.S. initially up to 30 days before, but no later than, the program start date on the I-20.
    An F-1 student may remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days beyond:
    • the completion of the program of study
    • the completion date of any authorized post-completion OPT.
  • Get proper employment permission: 
    • On-campus employment -- Limit employment to 20 hours per week during the academic year. Employment on-campus may be full-time in the summer (if summer is not your first or last semester of enrollment) and vacation periods. No special work permit is required.
    • Off-campus employment --Work permission must be approved through Berkeley International Office and the USCIS. See Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.