F visas

Full-time, degree-seeking students permitted to enter the U.S. for studies receive F-1 visas. With an F-1 visa, you are eligible to work on campus 20 hours per week during the fall and winter terms, and 40 hours per week during annual vacations and official breaks (including winter break in December/January and spring break in March).

Dependents of F-1 visa holders receive an F-2 visa.

There are several forms you may need to complete as a F visa holder. Please visit the appropriate section of the Immigration and Visa Forms page to access this paperwork. Please talk with an OISS advisor with any questions you have about forms that you need to submit.

F-1: Change of academic level

An F-1 student who continues from one educational level to another (e.g., Bachelor's degree to Master's degree) is considered to be maintaining status, provided that the transition to the new educational program is accomplished according to change of academic level procedures as outlined below. In order to maintain lawful nonimmigrant status when moving from one academic level to another, the student must:

  1. Obtain a Form I-20 for the new educational program
    • students moving from non-degree or ELI to a degree program, or Bachelor's to Master's or any other similar level change, must obtain Form I-20 from OISS.
    • students moving from the Master's to Doctoral level must first obtain a "Graduate Record/Status Change" form or admission letter from the academic department; after meeting financial requirements, OISS will issue Form I-20 for the new program.
  2. Enroll in the new program in the first term immediately following completion of the previous program or annual vacation. Sign Form I-20 and bring it to OISS no later than 15 days after beginning the new program.

What do I need to do?

Schedule a meeting with an OISS advisor to complete your change of academic level. There are three documents a student must bring when meeting with an OISS advisor to approve the change of academic level:

  1. A completed Application for I-20.
  2. A completed, new bank statement.
  3. A letter of admissions from Wayne State University from the program you have been accepted into.

Reinstatement to F-1 status

Students who fail to maintain their F-1 status have two ways they can correct their status:

Option A 

Travel out of the U.S. and re-enter with an "initial attendance" I-20. This allows you to "start over" with your F-1 visa status and is a valid way to correct your status. If your F-1 visa in your passport is valid, you may not have to apply for a new visa – you need to seek guidance from a U.S. Embassy Abroad, normally located in your home country, to verify if you need to apply for a new visa or you can use the one that is in your passport. The penalty for this type of status correction is that you will not be eligible for any kind of off-campus work until after you have returned and maintained your F-1 status for another academic year.

What do I need to do?

Schedule a meeting with an OISS advisor and bring the following documents:

  • An application for a new I-20
  • An updated plan of work from your academic department.
    • If you have begun a new program or changed your program level, please also provide a copy of your admissions letter (or approval of a change of status) to the new program and/or level. If you have not taken any courses in the new program and/or level, a plan of work is not necessary.
  • If your financial documents are more than 6 months old, you will need to provide proof of your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself while you are in the United States, such as a bank statement, scholarship award or a letter of offer from the department with an appointment as a GTA/GRA.

Option B

If you do not wish to leave the U.S., or if it is important for you to be able to pursue F-1 off-campus employment benefits within the next academic year, you may ask USCIS to forgive your status violation through a procedure called Reinstatement to Student Status.

What do I need to do?

Schedule a meeting with an OISS advisor and bring the following documents:

  • Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
  • An application for a new I-20
  • An updated plan of work from your academic department.
    • If you have begun a new program or changed your program level, please also provide a copy of your admissions letter (or approval of a change of status) to the new program and/or level. If you have not taken any courses in the new program and/or level, a plan of work is not necessary.
  • If your financial documents are more than 6 months old, you will need to provide proof of your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself while you are in the United States, such as a bank statement, scholarship award or a letter of offer from the department with an appointment as a GTA/GRA.

While your petition is being adjudicated, you must maintain F-1 status. This means meeting F-1 student enrollment requirements. During this time, you cannot work either on-campus or participate in any form of practical training. You also must remain in the U.S. while USCIS is adjudicating, otherwise it be considered an abandonment of your reinstatement petition. Out-of-status students are not eligible to apply for any student-related benefits while the reinstatement is pending.

If your application is approved, USCIS will send you your I-20 and Form I-797A. I-797A is your reinstatement approval notice. You may receive a new I-94 number located at the bottom of Form I-797A. If your application is denied, you may not appeal that decision and you must depart the U.S. immediately. 

More information about this process can be found on the Department of Homeland Security website.

F-1: Extension of stay

Students who are unable to complete their program of study by the expected completion date listed on their I-20 must apply for an extension. Should you need more time to complete your studies, you must complete the Request for Program Extension Form and submit it to OISS at least 30 days before your program will expire. You cannot obtain a program extension after your I-20 expires.

Extension within normal limit

In accordance with USCIS regulations, I-20 forms issued by Wayne State University are for the following periods: Bachelor's (4 years); Master's (2 years); and Doctorate (6-7 years). If you have an otherwise valid Form I-20 which was issued for a period less than those above, you must follow procedures outlined below for an extension up to the time allowed.

Schedule an appointment with OISS, and bring the following documents: 

  1. Completed Request for Program Extension Form
  2. Current Form I-20
  3. Passport
  4. Form I-94
  5. Verification of adequate financial support

Within ten working days OISS will provide you with a new Form I-20. OISS will notify USCIS of your extension.

Extension beyond normal limit

Students are eligible for an extension beyond the normal limit only if they are able to verify that there were compelling legitimate academic or medical problems which caused the delay. Such problems are defined by USCIS as matters such as a change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or a documented illness. Academic problems such as being placed on probation or suspension are not cause for an extension of stay.

Should you meet the requirements for an extension, you must complete a Request for Program Extension Form and bring it to OISS at least 30 days before your program will expire. You cannot obtain a program extension after your I-20 expires.

Schedule an appointment with OISS, and bring the following documents: 

  1. Documentation (from academic adviser or medical doctor) which verifies reasons for the delay
  2. Completed Request for Program Extension Form
  3. Current Form I-20
  4. Passport
  5. Form I-94
  6. Verification of adequate financial support

If the adviser in OISS believes that an extension is warranted, a new I-20 will be issued within ten working days. OISS will notify USCIS of your extension. 

Students unable to complete a degree by the expected completion date, and who do not qualify for an extension of stay, will need to consult with an OISS advisor about applying for reinstatement.