Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is "F-1 Status"
How do I get a F-1 status
What is the difference between a “F-1 visa” and “F-1 status”
My visa has expired. Do I need to go back to my home country
Can I work in the United States
Is it possible to work off-campus as well
When can I take a legal vacation

What is “F-1 Status"?
Having F1 status means that the US government has given you permission to be in the United States for the purpose of studying in a high school, college, or university.

How do I get a F-1 status?
There are two ways of obtaining F1 status – obtaining an F1 visa at a US embassy or consulate outside the United States and then legally entering the US at an official Port of Entry, or by petitioning for a “Change of Status” with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement while inside the United States.

What is the difference between a “F-1 visa” and “F-1 status”?
A visa is basically a simple “written permission” to enter the United States for a specific purpose. There are many types of visas, i.e. “B2” for tourists. The visa allows you to pass through US immigration at the airport. Once you go through immigration at the “Port of Entry” (the airport or border crossing where you enter the United States), the immigration official will stamp your “I-94” Arrival and Departure record – the little white card they give you in the airplane before landing. The I-94 says what status the immigration official has given you (usually the status is the same as the visa type), and states how long you may remain in the United States. F1 status students usually have “D/S” written on their I-94 card. This means “Duration of Status”, and indicates that you have permission to stay in the United States as long as you are following the rules regarding your status. For example, if you have “F1 D/S” written you your I-94, you may remain in the United States as long as you are studying full time, and are following all the regulations for persons in F1 status.

My visa has expired. Do I need to go back to my home country?
A visa is nothing more than permission to land. After you have an I-94 marked “F1 D/S”, the visa stamp is rather unimportant. If your visa has not expired, it means that you have permission to land in the United States again if you leave for a short period of time. If your visa is expired and you leave the United States, you will need to obtain a new visa before you may return. IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE THE UNITED STATES. AN EXPIRED VISA IS NOT IMPORTANT. Your I-94 card is more important than your visa while you are inside the United States.

Can I work in the United States?
Students in F1 status may work up to 20 hours per week ON-CAMPUS (at Dalton State College) with a few restrictions. First, you must get approval from a counselor in the office of International Student Enrollment. You must find your own job on campus (many students find work in the Libraries, in the bookstore, or as a student worker in one of the many offices on campus). International Student Enrollment cannot assist you with finding a position.

Is it possible to work off-campus as well?
Yes, but there are more restrictions: You must get approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This often takes several months. Counselors in International Student Enrollment will assist you with the approval process. To get authorization, you have to do the following:

  • You must have been in F1 status for at least nine (9) months
  • You must provide evidence that you are suffering from an UNFORSEEN economic hardship that requires you to work in order to continue studying.
  • You must pay an application fee of $300.00 Off-campus work authorization means that you may work a MAXIMUM of 20 hours per week while school is in session, and a maximum of 40 hours per week when school is out of session.

When can I take a legal vacation?
F-1 students must be registered full-time (12 credit hours) in both Fall and Spring semesters in order to maintain status. The only optional semester at Dslton State is the Summer semester. However, students who BEGIN studies at Dalton State College in the Summer Semester MUST REGISTER FOR AT LEAST 12 CREDIT HOURS DURING THE FIRST SUMMER SEMESTER. Students beginning Summer Semester are not eligible for a legal vacation until the next Summer Semester. Students may take any semester off IF THEY ARE OUTSIDE THE US FOR THE US DURING THAT SEMESTER. In that case, the student must

  • Get their I-20 signed out by one of the international student advisors in ISE BEFORE THEY DEPART THE US, and
  • Remain outside the US for less than five months, and
  • Present a new I-94 form to ISE when they return. Students will not be able to register for classes until a new I-94 has been received by ISE.
Dalton State, 650 College Drive, Dalton, GA 30720
706.272.4436 • 1.800.829.4436 •