Maintaining your F/J Status

Under U.S. law, you are fully responsible for abiding by the rules governing your F-1 student status. The Tompkins Cortland Community College Designated School Officials (DSO’s), will help you understand these rules, but you are required to follow the Requirements and Responsibilities of F-1 Student Status explained below.

Listing of Campus P/DSO's

DSOs Located in the Global Office – Room 230

Donna Casula (PDSO)
Maria Barrero

DSOs at Other Locations on Campus

Colleen Armstrong- Room 101 
Barbara Thayer- Room 218

Requirements of F-1 Status:

The Global Initiatives Office (Global Office- Room 230), and campus DSO’s in admissions and Dean of Student Services are required to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in SEVIS when an F-1 student does not fulfill the following requirements of status.

1. Always be enrolled in a full-time course load

  • The Global Initiatives Office (Global Office- Room 230), and campus DSO’s in admissions and Dean of Student Services are required to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in SEVIS when an F-1 student does not fulfill the following requirements of status.

  • If you are considering on-line classes, please note that you may only take one on-line course toward the fulfillment of your full-time course load, per semester.

2. Obtain permission to be less than full time before you drop, withdraw or stop attending

If you do not believe you will be able to be full time for any reason, contact the Global Office before you drop, withdraw or stop attending class. There are a few limited exceptions to the full time requirement for which you might qualify if you obtain permission in advance. Authorization form available in the Global Office.

3. Only work as authorized

F-1 students may work on-campus up to 20 hours per week when school, (yet our college limit for full-time enrolled students is 15) is in session and full time during official school breaks. These 20 hours include the work you do for an assistantship (i.e. RA position) if you have one. In order to work off-campus, you must get permission from the Global Office and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Never work without authorization. Get information in the Global Office about how F-1 students can apply to work off campus.  

4. Make sure your program completion date on your Form 1-20 is accurate

You are required to complete your program of study by the completion date on your I-20. If you feel that you will not complete your program by the completion date on your Form I-20, you must apply for a program extension before the completion date expires and get an updated Form I-20. See our F-1 I-20 Extension Form for more information and instructions and talk to a DSO. F-1 form and instructions are available in the Global office.

5. Obtain a SEVIS transfer to attend another U.S. school

If you plan to attend another U.S. school, college or university, you must notify the Global Office and be "Transferred Out" in SEVIS before your F-1 status ends. There is a transfer request form that requires your acceptance letter from your new institution. See the Global Office for this request form within 60 days of your degree completion date, or before the next required academic term starts if your completion date includes the next academic semester.

6. Changing Degree Programs

If you have changed the degree program that is listed on your Form I-20, you must update your SEVIS record by setting up an appointment with a campus DSO to receive a new updated Form I-20.  

7. Depart the U.S. within 60 days of your program completion date or Optional Practical Training end date

If you have completed your program of study you must depart the U.S. within 60 days. Likewise, if you have completed your Optional Practical Training after completion of your studies and have no further plans to study, you must depart the U.S. within 60 days of your EAD card's end date.

Other Responsibilities of F-1 Students

Keep your passport valid at all times. You must have a valid passport at all times.

If your passport will expire, contact your country's embassy or consulate in the United States to renew it.

Notification of Data Changes

You must notify your DSO of any changes to:

  • Name change (must be documented in your passport);
  • Change of address (notify your DSO within 10 days of the address change);
  • Change of degree program;
  • Intent to return home, apply for off-campus employment, or plans to transfer to another college or university (there may be forms that also need to be completed as stated above).

There is a Data Request Change form available from the Global office.

Get a travel endorsement on your Form 1-20 every term to return to the U.S.

If you plan to leave the U.S. for any reason (winter/spring breaks, summer vacation, etc.), you must have Page 3 of your SEVIS I-20 Form signed by one of the College’s DSO’s. Failure to have your I-20 signed will result in difficulties when trying to re-enter the U.S. For the same reason, please make sure that your I-20 and I-94 are valid at all times.

Income Tax Forms:

ALL international students who were in the U.S. during 2012-13 are required to complete IRS Form 8843 at the beginning of each spring semester whether you earned income or not.  This form is completed beginning January each year and the deadline date to file it* is usually around April 15 of each year. NOTE: If you were employed, you will also need to complete additional federal and N.Y.S. income tax forms.

Important Dates and Deadlines:


In order for us to register your status each and EVERY semester in the SEVIS system, you need to be enrolled and completing at least 12 credits (must include a minimum of 9 credits of courses. We complete this registration on the last day of the add/drop period.

Transferring to another college:

We must complete your transfer in SEVIS within 60 days of your completion date on your I-20. After that point you will be seen as a having completed your program and will need to begin the process of paying for a new SEVIS fee and consulate appointment if your travel visa has expired.

Optional and Curricular Practical Training (OPT and CPT):

For additional information on how to work legally outside the college on OPT or CPT, please come by the Global Initiatives office for handouts and the application materials located at the front desk. This process needs to be done a MINIMUM of three (3) months before you intend to begin working. Also, you need to have completed an academic year’s worth of full-time, compliant coursework in order to be eligible for this F-1 benefit.

Traveling reminder:

You have 60 days to travel within the United States after your completion date on your I-20. Remember to get your 3rd page travel authorization page of your I-20 signed by a DSO WELL in advance of traveling.

Questions? Concerns? Come by the Global Office (230) and make an appointment with a DSO/ARO.