F-1 Regulations General Overview

As an F-1 student, it is your responsibility to maintain your non-immigrant F-1 status. Failure to follow the laws for F-1 status can result in you losing your legal ability to be in the U.S. and may harm your chances of getting a new visa in the future. To ensure you are following F-1 laws, you must:

  1. Keep your passport valid at all times, in most cases, for at least six (6) months into the future.
  2. Complete your class registration by the published registration deadline (generally a week after the first day of class, as published in the Academic Calendar).
  3. Email a DSO at umfk.iss@maine.edu to update your change of physical address (where you live in the U.S.) within ten (10) days of the change. This address cannot be a P.O. Box or a departmental address.
  4. Pursue a full course of study each fall and spring semester, defined as twelve (12) semester hours for undergraduate students.
  5. Obtain permission from a DSO if you need to enroll in less than a full course of study using the Reduced Course Load Request Form.
  6. Obtain permission from a DSO advisor before withdrawing from all your courses.
  7. Make normal progress toward completing a course of study. This includes graduating when you are eligible to graduate and not delaying graduation for non-academic reasons.
  8. Do NOT let your I-20 expire. You must remember the expiration date on your I-20 and process your program extension before the expiration date listed on your current I-20 if you cannot complete your studies by that time.
  9. Restrict your on-campus work to twenty (20) hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. You may work full-time during the winter and summer vacations.
  10. Refrain from beginning off-campus work until you have obtained the necessary authorization from a UMFK DSO or the USCIS.
  11. If traveling outside the U.S., ensure you have a valid visa (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda) and a recent travel signature on your I-20.
  12. Notify a DSO if you will be outside of the U.S. for more than five (5) months.
  13. Contact a DSO if you wish to transfer to another U.S. school.
  14. Do not work after completing your program of study unless you have been authorized for Optional Practical Training.
  15. Depart from the U.S. within sixty (60) days after completing your program of study.

Address Update Requirement: U.S./Foreign Address Change

You must always report the local U.S. address where you reside. Do so even if you are staying somewhere temporarily. Students are also required to update their Foreign (non-U.S.) address.

The law requires you to update your address within ten (10) days of moving. Failure to follow this procedure will result in you losing your legal immigration status. Please follow these steps to update your address:

Enrollment Requirements, Dropping Courses, & Withdrawals

Any course drop(s) must be approved while the semester is in session. International students in F-1 cannot retroactively drop or withdraw courses once a semester has ended.

Permission from a DSO is required to process this change in registration for anyone on an F-1 student visa if the drop will (1) take you below full-time enrollment or (2) involve online/distance courses. Students in F-1 status should follow the steps below:

  1. Email umfk.iss@maine.edu to request to drop the course. Include the course name, number of credits, and the reason for requesting to drop a course.
  2. You and your Academic Advisor will receive an email from a DSO to either inform you that we have approved your drop or if additional information is needed.
  3. Your Academic Advisor must sign a Course Drop/Term Withdrawal Form (available to current students in the UMFK portal).
  4. You must provide the completed and signed Course Drop/Term Withdrawal Form to the Registrar’s Office.

Drop and Withdrawal Deadlines

A DSO will not review submissions sent after 4:00 PM on the deadline dates. Drop and withdrawal deadlines are well-published by the Academic Affairs Office, and it is your responsibility to ensure you submit the form before 4:00 PM, including on any deadline date.

More Course Drop and Withdrawal Information

More information for current UMFK students, including general rules for dropping courses, different types of withdrawals, retroactive withdrawals and drops, and frequently asked questions, is available through the International Student Hub in the UMFK Portal.

Loss of F-1 Status and Reinstatement

If you lose your F-1 status through no fault of your own, you can file for reinstatement. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, which processes reinstatement applications, specifically lists such examples as “serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO.” Immigration regulations do not require a school to sponsor a student for reinstatement, and that decision is left up to the discretion of the Designated School Officials. We have more information about the reinstatement process on our dedicated F-1 reinstatement page.

Inviting Dependents to the U.S.

For immigration purposes, dependents are defined as spouses or unmarried, minor (under age 21) children. To accompany the F-1 student, the dependent must obtain an F-2 Form I-20 and either apply for an F-2 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate or, if in the U.S. in another status, submit an application for a change of status to the USCIS. Girlfriends/boyfriends, fiancées, or common law (i.e., unmarried) living arrangements are currently not recognized by U.S. government agencies as eligible for F-2 dependent status.

Documentation of the legal relationship between spouses* (i.e., official marriage certificate) or parent and child (i.e., official birth certificate or legal adoption papers) must be presented during the visa application process or included in the change of status application.

*For same-sex spouses to be eligible for F-2 status, the marriage must be recognized in the place of celebration.

Other family members who do not meet the eligibility requirements for F-2 status but wish to accompany the F-1 student may want to explore possible alternative immigration options at the U.S. Department of State website.


For UMFK to issue an F-2 immigration document for your dependent(s), you must provide documentation proving you can cover minimal living costs for your spouse and children — specifically, documentation of financial support to meet their estimated expenses ($4,800 for each additional dependent). You must also email the name, relationship, date, and place of birth to request appropriate immigration documents from a DSO. This must be done before arrival if you wish dependents to accompany you during the first semester. You will also need to demonstrate that you can pay for health insurance for your dependent(s).

Limitations on F-2 Work and Study

  • F-2 dependents are NOT allowed to work or engage in business activities at any point during their F-2 status.
  • F-2 dependents can enroll in classes part-time but must change to F-1 status to pursue a degree full-time.
  • F-2 minor children can engage in full-time study at the K-12 level.

Same-Sex Marriage and Domestic Partners

UMFK welcomes all international students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification. This website offers an anonymous means for international students to learn more about these issues, read definitions of commonly used terms, learn about local, state, and federal laws, and view links to campus and community resources.


  • Gender identity – A person’s sense of being masculine, feminine, in-between, or androgynous. It is important to recognize that this is independent of a person’s biological sex.
  • Sex – Sex is a label – i.e., male or female – assigned at birth based on the genitals one is born with.
  • Sexual Orientation – Whom one is attracted to physically/sexually; it may not necessarily indicate romantic attraction.

Federal Laws

Same-sex marriage is now legal in all U.S. states. In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that employers cannot fire employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Immigration & Dependent Status

The U.S. federal government will now issue dependent visas for same-sex spouses legally married in a country that recognizes same-sex marriage. Spouses are also able to obtain a green card. This means same-sex spouses of F-1 students may obtain F-2 visas.