Maintaining F-1 Visa Status
International Student Services provides immigration counseling to Ball State’s F-1 international students. We are experts in the rules and regulations for F-1 students. We advise our F-1 students how they can maintain their legal student status while at studying at Ball State. We also advise them how to qualify for the maximum number of benefits from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Ball State require all international students to take a full course of study each semester to maintain their immigration status. Any student who fails to register for and maintain full-time enrollment must be reported to USCIS by Ball State University as “out of status” which could seriously affect their ability to remain in the U.S. and successfully complete their degree program.

A full course of study for fall and spring semesters is defined as:

  • 12 credit hours for an undergraduate student
  • 9 credit hours for a graduate student
  • 6 credit hours for a graduate student who has an assistantship

The Intensive English Institute (IEI) has rolling admission for its seven-week sessions. Staff at the institute will register you for the program.

For Conditionally Admitted Students

If you are taking academic classes and IEI classes together, you must receive permission from an international student advisor from International Student Services before dropping an academic class.

If you complete IEI level six in March or October, you are required to attend IEI level seven to maintain your F-1 status.

You may return to your home country as an alternative to attending level seven, but you must return to Ball State to begin your academic classes for the next available semester.

If you have questions, please meet with an international student advisor.

F-1 students may, in certain circumstances, reduce their full-time academic course load to part-time. Before you do so, consult with your international student advisor.

Update your home address no later than 10 days after moving.

Keep the International Student Services Office and USCIS informed of your current address and telephone number, and notify them within 10 days of any changes.

You must provide the address of where you live – not a P.O. Box or office address.

You are required by the United States government to keep your passport valid at all times, and it must always be valid for at least six months into the future.

The procedures for renewing a passport vary from country to country. For correct information, please contact your embassy or consulate in the United States.

The application process can be a lengthy one, so please give yourself plenty of time to receive your passport before you need to travel outside of the United States.

You must complete all of the requirements for your degree no later than the expected completion date indicated in item No. 5 of your I-20.

That is your duration of status (d/s) date, unless you complete those studies or lose your status earlier than that date.

If you need more time to complete your program of study than is indicated on your I-20, you must provide your international student advisor a Request for a Program Extension form. You must submit the required funding documentation to receive a new I-20 for your extension.


An F-1 international student who is unable to meet the program completion date on the Form I-20 may be granted an extension if:

  • the student has continually maintained status
  • the delays are caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses
Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extensions.

You cannot apply for a program extension after your I-20 has expired.

Program extensions are approved on a case-by-case basis. If you are approved for an extension, an international student advisor will issue you a new I-20 with an updated expected completion date.

You must always secure permission to work, even for jobs at Ball State. As a Ball State F-1 student, you may eligible to work on Ball State’s campus. Only degree-seeking students are eligible to work on campus.

Students who are at Ball State as part of an exchange program or for only a semester or academic year are unable to work on campus.

In general, jobs considered as “on-campus employment” are paid from Ball State funds and performed on Ball State property under the supervision of Ball State employees.

Follow transfer procedures if you plan to attend a different school.

Schedule an appointment with an international student advisor by calling 765-285-5422 after you have the following documents:

  • a letter of admission from your new university
  • a transfer form from your new university
  • a complete Ball State Transfer Out Request Form

Before you withdraw or cancel your enrollment you must inform an international student advisor at International Student Services of this change to your student program.

Withdrawal or cancellation without prior International Student Services approval will result in the loss of student status and should be avoided at all costs.

If informed before the withdrawal, International Student Services may be able to provide you with a 15-day grace period, during which time you would be able to stay lawfully in the U.S. and prepare for departure. If International Student Services is not informed prior to the withdrawal, there is no grace period. Your SEVIS record is terminated, and you will lose you lawful F-1 status. In this case, you must depart the U.S. immediately.

If you wish to return to Ball State University, you must reapply for admission. Please visit International Admissions for details.

What documents are required for re-entering the United States in F status?

Both F-1 students and their F-2 dependents must have the following documents to re-enter the United States:

  • passports that are valid for six months beyond entry date to the United States
  • valid F-1 or F-2 visas
  • I-20s signed on the third page for travel by an international student advisor at ISS
  • documents proving your funds as listed on the SEVIS I-20
  • EAD and proof of employment if you are in engaged in optional practical training after completion of studies

[h4]: How can I get my I-20 signed?

Please drop off your current I-20 with the receptionist at the Rinker Center for International Programs at least four days prior to the date of your travel. You will receive an email when your I-20 has been signed and is ready for pickup at the Rinker Center.

You must apply for a new entry visa in a U.S. embassy or consulate general. Students must present the following documents to the visa officer:

  • a valid passport
  • a properly endorsed valid SEVIS I-20
  • any previously issued I-797 approval notices for change of status
  • documents verifying the financial resources that appear on your I-20 (for example, a letter of financial aid, bank statement, letter verifying employment)
The specific embassy or consulate where you apply for your U.S. entry visa may require additional documentation. It is advisable to contact the embassy or consulate prior to your interview to obtain a full list of required documents.

F-2 dependents must also show proof of relationship to the F-1 principal (birth or marriage certificate). The documents, procedures, and processing time required to obtain a visa can vary from post to post.

F-2 dependents are defined as a spouse or an unmarried minor child (under 21 years of age) of an F-1 student.

Immediate family (spouse, minor children) of an F-1 student:

  • may enter the United States with or after the F-1 nonimmigrant but never before
  • may not be employed
  • must have a Form I-20 every time they travel outside the United States, separately from the F-1 nonimmigrant
  • may not be admitted as a full-time degree-seeking student (but may be admitted as a part-time IEI or degree-seeking student)
  • may not remain in the United States after the F-1 student is absent from the United States unless the absence is temporary (five months or less)

F-1 visa holders may invite a spouse or an unmarried child or children to join them after arriving at Ball State by the following method:

  1. Complete the Dependent Request Form.
  2. Provide evidence of financial support (bank statement, sponsor letter, etc.) for the dependents: $6,000 for spouse and $6,000 for each child.
  3. Obtain an F-2 Form I-20 marked “for use by dependents.”

Rinker Center will prepare a dependent I-20 form. Your dependents will then use that I-20, marked “for use by dependents,” to apply for an F-2 dependent visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate.

The following items must also accompany the visa application:

  • original or certified copy (attested true copy) of a marriage certificate (for spouse)
  • birth certificate (for each child)
  • financial documentation
When your dependents on an F-2 visa arrive in the United States, you, the F-1 visa holder, must update your I-20 to reflect the presence of dependents. Request forms are available at the Rinker Center. Please bring all I-20 documents and family member passports.

International Student Services will prepare a dependent DS-2019 for your dependents who can then use that DS-2019 to apply for a J-2 dependent visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate.

The following items must also accompany the visa application:

  • original or certified copy (attested true copy) of a marriage certificate (for spouse)
  • birth certificate (for each child)
  • financial documentation
When your dependents on a J-2 visa arrive in the United States, you, the J-1 visa holder, they must report to the Rinker Center for International Programs with their passport and DS-2019 for registration.