F-1 Students

To maintain their F-1 student status, international students at Stony Brook must fulfill the following academic and immigration requirements. For further academic requirements, please refer to the most recent University Bulletin or check with your academic department.

Full Time and Credits Earned

Undergraduate Students:

U0, U1, U2,
U3 & U4
= 12 credits each semester

Graduate Students:

G0, G1 &G3 = 12 graduate credits in the specified program
G2 or G4 = 9 graduate credits in the specified program
G5 = 9 graduate credits, if approved by the Graduate School

Graduate students reach G2 or G4 level only after completing 24 graduate credits or being admitted with the equivalent credits already completed. G5 graduate status (6 credits, full-time equivalency) must both have been approved by the Graduate School and appear on the official University records as G5 before the first day of the semester.

Exception : Approved part-time enrollment for last semester. 

Please be aware that requests for a reduced course load must be approved by a Designated School Official at Visa and Immigration Services before official registration is over, and,students must file their request with an International Student Adviser approximately one week prior to the conclusion of the drop/add period.  Requests for an underload after the deadline has passed will not be approved and students will be considered in violation of their status.  If you are registering part-time because you only need fewer credits to complete your program, you must complete with your academic adviser and/or program director, the form Part-time Enrollment Authorization Form'. After completing this document, you must meet with your International Student Adviser

Please note that if you receive an approved underload for this purpose, you MUST graduate in the semester for which the underload is approved. If you do not graduate, you will be in violation of status. Once approved, your I-20 end date will be shortened to reflect that you are currently in your final semester of school. Approved underloads must be recorded in SEVIS so you must work with an International Student Adviser to process your underload in SEVIS.

Students cannot withdraw to below the full-time requirement during the semester and all courses must be completed to maintain student status. If a medical reason forces you to withdraw from some or all of your classes, please discuss this first with your International Student Adviser.  Failure to be registered for a semester while remaining in the United States , without approval of Visa and Immigration Services, is a violation of status. Part-time registration without IS approval, is also a violation of status and will be reported to the Immigration Service accordingly.


Grade Point Average Dismissal

Students must be making satisfactory progress toward their degree, including a reasonable grade point average. In addition, students must maintain a certain grade point average to avoid being dismissed from the University. Students are generally given a warning that dismissal will occur if grades are not improved in the current semester or by the next semester. Currently, all undergraduate students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average. Graduate students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher to maintain good academic standing, and be eligible for immigration benefits such as Curricular and Optional Practical Training.

Students who find themselves in academic difficulty should seek advice from academic advising offices, their departments, and Visa and Immigration Services to avoid facing dismissal from the University and jeopardize their valid immigration status.

Academic dishonesty or improper student conduct can also lead to dismissal from the University.  Please carefully review the University bulletin for details: http://studentaffairs.stonybrook.edu/departments/jud/docs/Code%201-22-03.pdf


Length of Program of Study

Students are expected to complete their programs within the time limits authorized by the SEVIS Form I-20.  Students who are unable to complete their programs by the completion date on the SEVIS Form I-20 must apply for a program extension at least 30 days before the expiration date on the SEVIS Form I-20.  See the separate instructions on program extension. Program extensions must be fully processed BEFORE the completion date on the SEVIS Form I-20. Failure to extend by the completion date is a violation of status.

For graduate students, extensions cannot be provided beyond the time limit specified by the Graduate School .


Change of Program or Degree Level

Students must be engaged full-time in the program of study indicated on their SEVIS Form I-20. Students who are changing degree levels or programs of study must first apply for a new SEVIS Form I-20 for the new degree level or major field of study in advance of the change. Graduate student courses may not be taken outside of the field of study unless they are in addition to the full-time requirements for the program of study (see full-time and credits earned), or approved in advance by the Graduate Program Director.

Students wishing to change major from what is indicated on their SEVIS Form I-20 should discuss their plans with an International Student Adviser before changing the program of study.


Transfer to a New School

  • Students leaving Stony Brook for another school must follow the required transfer procedures (see the separate instructions on transfer procedures) and provide IS with the transfer report form from the new school.
  • Students transferring to Stony Brook from another school must provide the appropriate transfer report form and copies of immigration documents. Transfer students must complete the transfer process by personally reporting to an international student adviser within the first 15 days of the start of classes. Failure to complete the transfer process by the deadline is a violation of status.
  • Students who leave the United States between transfers must use the SEVIS Form I-20 of the school in which they will be enrolled for at least one full semester after entry when arriving for inspection at port-of-entry.


Expirations and Deadlines

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months into the future at all times.
  • The SEVIS Form I-20 must be extended before the completion date on the form.
  • Optional Practical Training applications for participation after completion of studies must be received by USCIS before completion of study. Students can file up to 120 days prior to graduation or completion date.



To obtain a travel signature from an international student adviser, bring your original SEVIS Form I-20, your passport and the following:

  • Undergraduate Students: enrollment verification form from the Registrar's Office
  • Graduate Students: two recent letters of good standing from your academic department.
  • Students on OPT: photocopy of EAD card, with your student I.D. number on the photocopy.

Absence from the United States for more than five months requires a new SEVIS Form I-20 for reentry.


Documents on File

Visa and Immigration Services must have copies of your immigration documents on file.

  • If you renew or extend your passport, we must be given copies of passport extensions and renewals.
  • If you are given a new SEVIS Form I-20 that requires processing through USCIS, we must be given copies of immigration approval.
  • If you are given a new SEVIS Form I-20 that requires you to leave the United States and return from abroad, we must be given a copy of the SEVIS Form I-20 processed by USCIS after entry from abroad.
  • All new students must complete an intake interview with an international student adviser.

Failure to submit these documents in a timely manner will result in an impacting hold placed on your student account.



On-campus employment for F-1 students does not require written approval if you are maintaining your F-1 immigration status. Nor do the F-1 regulations require that the position is related to your field of study.

Off-campus employment requires written approval from either an International Student Adviser or the USCIS IN ADVANCE of the employment. Do not work until you have received written permission. The four types of off-campus employment are

For Curricular and Optional Practical Training, please refer to our Forms page for additional information. Students must have been in F-1 immigration status for one year before they are eligible for Curricular and Optional Practical Training. If off-campus employment is necessary due to economic hardship, please consult with an international adviser as soon as possible. The last type of off-campus employment, internship with an international organization, is for students who have been in their F-1 immigration status for any length of time. Examples of international organizations are the World Bank, United Nations and the International Monetary Fund. Anyone who receives an internship offer from one of these organizations or another internationally recognized organization, please see an adviser for additional instructions.

Students who work without written approval are in violation of immigration status. According to the regulations reinstatement may not be approved by the USCIS after unauthorized employment.


End of Status

Status ends with completion of studies, regardless of the completion date on the SEVIS Form I-20. To maintain valid status after completion of studies, students should do one of the following within 60 days of completion (applications to USCIS must be RECEIVED by that date):

  • Leave the United States
  • File for a change-of-status
  • Be accepted into another academic program to start the next available semester , and transfer the SEVIS record
  • Participate in post-completion Optional Practical, by filing the appropriate paperwork with USCIS.

Status ends immediately with total withdrawal from classes after the start of the semester. There is a 15 day grace period if permission to withdraw is granted by the Designated School Official (DSO), otherwise students must depart immediately. Returning to the United States would require a new SEVIS Form I-20.


Reinstatement or Obtaining Status Through Reentry

Students who are in violation of status may have options for regaining status, including reinstatement within the United States and a new entry from abroad. Both require a new SEVIS Form I-20. USCIS Form I-539 is also used for reinstatement/change of status applications filed INSIDE the USA . Students who violate status and who are considering reinstatement with the USCIS must file application within 5 months of violation.  Information regarding reinstatement is available in Visa and Immigration Services , and students should seek advice and further instructions from their international student adviser.

Students who are in violation of status may not be employed, either on campus or off campus, until they have regained valid immigration status.


Change of Address

The USCIS regulations require that all F-1 students report a change of their local (US) or foreign address within 10 DAYS of moving.

Change in local address must be updated in SOLAR.

  • Students who live off-campus must update their Local (Off Campus) type address in SOLAR; which automatically is sent to SEVIS.
  • Students who live on-campus need to follow up with the Division of Campus Residences about updating their Dormitory type address in SOLAR.

Change in foreign address must be reported to Visa and Immigration Services via our website, or in person; our office will update your new address in SEVIS.


General Considerations

Academic regulations and immigration regulations may differ. What may be permitted under academic regulations may not be permitted under U.S. immigration law. Students should seek advice from their international student adviser if they are unsure of any matter that might affect their status.

Students are responsible for knowing the rules and regulations for their F-1 program, as well as the policies set forth by Stony Brook University .

NOTE: Some of the Immigration Service (USCIS) forms listed above, as well as information and advising, are available in our office located in the Melville Library. To obtain USCIS forms, visit the USCIS web site at: http://www.uscis.gov or call the toll-free forms line at 1-800-870-3676. Further USCIS information on maintenance of status can be obtained at: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/index.htm

Rev. 1/2011