F1 Students Accordion

The list and links provided below are not comprehensive and only represent the most common themes for F1 students. Always consult with a Cal Poly Humboldt immigration advisor regarding immigration rules and regulations. Carefully read all correspondences/emails received from International Programs.

Immigration Advising

While International Programs (International Programs) strives to provide detailed information, processes and forms online, we understand that you may still have questions or concerns you wish to discuss with an advisor. The International Programs offers walk-in advising and private appointments to assist Cal Poly Humboldt international students with immigration-related concerns.

Walk-In Service

Anytime, Monday - Friday, 8 AM - 5 PM

Students enrolled in the ESL program, IELI, may walk-in to see our dedicated IELI Immigration advisor anytime their schedule permits.

Use this time to:

  • Ask quick, simple questions related to immigration forms, processes and maintenance of status.
  • Obtain travel signature

Walk-In Advising

9:30 - 11:30 AM, Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Private Appointments

You may wish to schedule a private appointment to discuss confidential or complicated issues with an immigration advisor. We recommend that you make an appointment if you anticipate needing more than 15 minutes.

Private appointments must be scheduled at least one day in advance.

To schedule a private appointment, please call 707-826-4142 or visit the front desk receptionist at International Programs.

Maintaining F-1 Status

An international student must be aware of, comply with, and maintain all of the information listed on the Immigration Responsibilities Contract signed and completed during online, pre-arrival IHOOP orientation. At any time, you may choose to review these requirements by viewing the contract on the Forms Page.

Maintaining status is the responsibility of the student. While International Programs (International Programs) is here to assist you in maintaining your status by sharing information, no student should expect International Programs to monitor document expiration, or to be independently notified of any changes impacting status. The International Programs is obligated to inform the U.S. government through SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information Services) of any known changes to an F-1 student's status.

It is the responsibility of the student to notify International Programs if they experience or anticipate changes to any of the following:

  • Changes/additions of major and/or minor
  • Change in program level
  • Graduate earlier than the Program End Date listed on I-20
  • Need additional time to complete their studies (extension)
  • Request/Change OPT employment (optional practical training)
  • Request/Change CPT employment (curricular practical training)
  • Transfers
  • Change in dependents
  • Terminations
  • Leaves of Absence/withdrawal
  • Any violations of status that might lead to termination
  • Any drops below full-time status
  • Disciplinary action
  • Suspensions/expulsions
  • DUIs or Felony convictions

For more information on maintaining your F-1 status, please visit the Department of Homeland Security – Study in the States website. Students can also contact International Programs if there is any question about maintenance of status.

Change of Address Notification Requirements

All F visa holders must be aware of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's regulations on address change notification. All non-U.S. citizens are required to notify the Department of Homeland Security of any changes of address within 10 days of moving.

F visa holders should comply with this requirement by submitting the change of address form to International Programs (International Programs) within 10 days of the change. The International Programs will update SEVIS accordingly.

Completing this form will update SEVIS only.  The change of address will not be updated on your Humboldt Account Center. To update your address with Humboldt, please login and make the update yourself through myHumboldt.

Additionally, the change of address will not be communicated to Department of Homeland Security service centers or district offices. If you have recently applied for an immigration benefit such as OPT, a written notice of the address change must be sent to the relevant Department of Homeland Security office processing the request. 

Failure to comply with the address change notification requirements may affect the ability to remain in the U.S. and the ability to re-enter the U.S. after travel abroad. Failure to give notice may be criminally punishable as a misdemeanor with a fine up to $200, imprisonment of up to 30 days, or both. The Change of Address Notification form is accessible on the Forms Page.

Obtaining a Social Security Number

A Social Security number (SSN) is necessary to receive any income for services while in the U.S. Social Security cards will be issued only to those students in lawful status who have been offered jobs on-campus, or who are authorized for certain off-campus lawful employment, as permitted under Department of Homeland Security regulations. Therefore, a job offer letter is required.

Many F-1 students wish to apply for a California driver’s license or state ID card, where an SSN is required. If they do not have a job offer letter, they can apply for a Letter of Denial from the Social Security Office, which can be used in place of an SSN.

OPT: If an F-1 student has not applied for a SSN before applying for optional practical training (OPT), once the employment authorization card (EAD) is received, it can be used to support an application for an SSN in place of a letter of employment.

For more information, please visit the Social Security Administration website.

For instructions on how to apply for a SSN card and further instructions about rules and regulations please review the Humboldt Social Security Guidelines packet.

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training is defined as "employment which is an integral or important part of a student's curriculum, including alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school." It is intended to provide work experience in situations where the work serves as an integral part of a student's academic program, prior to completion of that program.

Types of Curricular Practical Training

  • Training required by the degree program: Training that is required of everyone in the program as part of that program's core requirements always meets the requirements for Curricular Practical Training.
  • Not required by the degree program: Training that is not required by the degree program, but meets the requirements for Curricular Practical Training if the work is an integral part of the program of study and the student received academic credits for the employment experience. Students can either sign up for an internship class or connect Curricular Practical Training to a relevant class taken during that semester.

Eligibility and requirements

  • Students who have been lawfully enrolled full time for one academic year, which is defined as two full semesters, may apply to participate in CPT; however, graduate students in programs that include immediate, mandatory training are not bound by the one-academic-year-in-full-time-status requirement as long as such employment is required of everyone in the program as part of the degree requirements.
  • The student must have a job offer, as the Curricular Practical Training employment authorization will be position and employer specific. If there are any changes in the terms and conditions of the Curricular Practical Training, please contact International Programs immediately as a new Curricular Practical Training authorization might be necessary.
  • During the mandatory semesters of fall and spring, F-1 students must be enrolled full time but may be authorized for full- or part-time Curricular Practical Training. Students may also participate in full- or part-time Curricular Practical Training during the annual summer vacation semester but are still required to register for at least one class that is directly related to Curricular Practical Training. Students may not take a reduced course load and then apply for Curricular Practical Training, except: 1) when a master's student has completed all coursework excluding theses; or 2) when a student is in the last semester before graduation and is getting the balance of credits for the degree program.

Additional information 

  • Although authorized part-time (20 hours or less per week, not average 20 hours per week) Curricular Practical Training employment is permitted with no penalties until completion of a degree, students who have received one year or more of full-time (21 hours or more per week) CPT are ineligible for Optional Practical Training, which is typically used immediately after graduation.
  • Should a student require additional time past the current CPT end date, the student will need to reapply with all new required documentation and receive new approval from International Programs.
  • Curricular Practical Training is authorized for specific dates of employment listed on the I-20. The student may not begin before the start date or continue working after the end date approved on the I-20. Working outside of the approved dates would be working illegally, which could cause loss in future immigration benefits.

Application procedure

  1. Fill out the Curricular Practical Training Request form, have it completed by an academic advisor, and submit all other required documents listed on the form.
  2. Make an appointment with an F-1 immigration advisor in International Programs to submit the request and all materials.

Upon reviewing and approval of the items above, an F-1 immigration advisor will prepare a new I-20 with the CPT endorsement. This endorsement serves as the authorization to work for a pre-determined amount of time. The student may only participate in Curricular Practical Training upon receipt of the endorsed I-20.

The Curricular Practical Training Request form is linked above, but also accessible on the Forms Page.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training is a benefit that allows an F-1 Student to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months in a supervised professional position related to their field of study (major). Some F-1 students will qualify for an additional 24-month extension for science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors (STEM). Optional Practical Training is available once for each degree level (i.e. bachelor's, master's, doctoral).

Brief Overview

Types of OPT:

  1. Pre-completion OPT (rare-please seek in-person immigration advising to discuss options)
  2. Post-Completion OPT (most common)
  3. 24-month extension of post-completion OPT for certain STEM degree holders


  • Student must have been enrolled full-time for one full academic year
  • Student must be in lawful F-1 status
  • Note: Students in English language training programs (IELI) are not eligible for OPT.
  • Prior use of full-time Curricular Practical Training for one year or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training


  • Standard OPT is available for a cumulative maximum of 12 months per educational level;
  • Use of pre-completion OPT impacts availability of post-completion OPT - Full-time OPT is deducted from the 12 month cumulative limit at the full-time rate; Part-time pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12 month cumulative limit at a 50% rate.
  • A one-time extension of 24 months (for a total of 36 months) is available to certain STEM degree recipients.


  • Must be directly related to the students major field of study.
  • No offer of employment is required to apply for OPT, but the student is expected to work. Students on OPT are limited to a maximum of 90 days of unemployment. Unemployment beyond the 90 day limit may result in the termination of OPT eligibility.

When to file

For standard post-completion OPT, Form I-765 and supporting documents can be filed with USCIS beginning 90 days prior to the program end date and up to 60 days after the program end date.

Applying for OPT

  1. Complete the Post-Completion Optional Practical Training Application Request Form, have it signed by your academic advisor, and prepare all other required documents listed on the form.
  2. Schedule an appointment to meet with your advisor in International Programs. A new I20 will be generated recommending OPT. Your immigration advisor will review all the documents at this appointment.
  3. Mail the complete packet to USCIS, as instructed on the Post-Completion OPT Application Request Form.

Checking Your Status

If you have an application receipt number, you may check your application case status online.

Reporting Requirements/What to do after receiving OPT Approval

  1. Submit a copy of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) to International Programs immediately upon receiving it. The card copy can be scanned and sent by email to international@humboldt.edu
  2. Employment: You must notify your immigration advisor in International Programs as soon as possible once you accept an offer of employment so that they can update your SEVIS record and stop the 90 day unemployment “clock”. You will need to report the following information:
    1. Name and Address of Employer
    2. Employers Employment Identification Number (EIN)
    3. A statement of how the job is related to your field of study
    4. Start Date & End Date (if known)
    5. Full-time or Part-time

To report this information, please submit the OPT Reporting Form, also found on the Forms list.

To maintain status, students on Optional Practical Training must report to International Programs, within 10 days, any changes to the following information:

  • Changes to or additions of employment
  • Name
  • Address
  • Participation in OPT – if you return country and decide not to complete OPT.


Optional Practical Training students may not accrue a total of more than 90 days of unemployment during the 12-month period of OPT. Failure to secure a job within 90 days of approval may result in the automatic termination of your OPT eligibility.

Travel and OPT

Traveling outside the U.S while on OPT is not advised and can be very risky.

There is no guarantee that you will be allowed to re-enter the US while your application is pending or if your application has been adjudicated. Students are advised to avoid traveling outside of the United States prior to adjudication of the EAD and secure employment. If leaving the US cannot be avoided before receiving an EAD and securing employment the student is risking forfeiture of his or her OPT opportunity.

If you have a job you may travel and reenter to resume work at the same job. Your I-20 must be endorsed for travel within the last six months and you must have the EAD in hand, along with a letter from the employer stating their expectation that you return to the position, upon your reentry to the US. There is no guarantee that you will be allowed to re-enter the US.

If your OPT has been approved and you depart before you get a job, you risk the cancelation of your OPT and may not be allowed to reenter.

Although traveling abroad in the context of OPT is discouraged, if it is unavoidable, be sure to have the following items with you when you travel to facilitate possible reentry to the United States:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa stamp in your passport
  • Original (not a photocopy) SEVIS I-20 with:
    • Endorsement for post-completion practical training
    • DSO signature for re-entry obtained within the last six months
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • If employed, a letter from your employer verifying your current employment and affirming their intention to have you resume employment upon your return to the US

Health and Medical Insurance

It is STRONGLY recommended that you obtain new health insurance coverage, or maintain your Humboldt health insurance coverage while waiting for approval and/or adjudication of OPT. Policies may be purchased at the Office of Extended Education (OEE) which is located in SBS 211. The phone number is (707) 826-3731.

Withdrawing/Canceling an OPT Application

You may withdraw/cancel a post-completion OPT application that has been filed with USCIS but not yet adjudicated (approved). If you request a withdrawal it may not be retracted and DHS's acknowledgement of a withdrawal may not be appealed. Your fee will not be refunded. You may or may not receive a response from USCIS.

Transferring While on OPT

F-1 students on Optional Practical Training who wish to transfer out must begin their new course of study at the transfer-in school within five months of the end of OPT or the transfer release date, whichever is earlier. If the student has completed Optional Practical Training, the transfer must be completed before the end of the 60-day grace period.

STEM extension

Not all majors are eligible for the 24-month Optional Practical Training STEM extension. A full list of Classification of Instructional Programs codes are available online. The Department of Homeland Security will announce any future changes to the list.

Eligibility and requirements

  • The student must be currently participating in a 12-month period of Optional Practical Training and working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student's major area of study.
  • The student must have successfully completed a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in a STEM eligible major from a SEVIS-certified school.
  • The student must have a job offer from an employer registered with the E-Verify employment verification system.
  • The student must not have previously received a 24-month STEM extension.
  • The immigration advisor will recommend the 24-month extension in SEVIS after eligibility has been verified and the student has made a commitment to maintain reporting responsibilities every six months while on the extension.
    • The student and employer will need to provide International Programs Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students as part of the STEM OPT Extensions request.
  • The student will apply for the 24-month extension by filing Form I-765 with the required fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • A student who timely and properly files an extension application with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will be able to continue employment while the application is pending up to 180 days or until the final decision is made, whichever is earlier.

The Optional Practical Training STEM Extension Request form is accessible on the Forms page.

Pre-completion Optional Practical Training

Pre-completion Optional Practical Training authorizes employment related to the student's field of study before completion of all degree requirements. Most students prefer to apply for Curricular Practical Training rather than applying for pre-completion Optional Practical Training. If you are considering pre-completion OPT, please schedule an appointment with your immigration advisor in International Programs to discuss your situation.

Transferring while on Optional Practical Training

F-1 Students on Optional Practical Training who wish to transfer out must begin their new course of study at the transfer-in school within five months of the end of OPT or the transfer release date, whichever is earlier. If the student has completed Optional Practical Training, the transfer must be completed before the end of the 60-day grace period.

I-20 Program Extension Request

When a student is unable to complete their degree program within the allotted time frame stated on their I-20 they may request an extension of their I-20 by completing the Extension of Time to Complete Program form.

Extremely important: An application to request a program extension should be made prior to the end date on the Form I-20. Program extensions are not granted after the Form I-20 has expired.

To apply for a program extension you must submit the following documents to International Programs:

  1. Extension of Time to Complete Program
  2. Proof of funding for your degree level

If you will complete your degree requirement before the Program End Date please contact International Programs to obtain a new Form I-20 for your shortened program.

Enrollment Requirement/Reduced Course Load Requests

International students in F-1 status are required to maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year; federal immigration regulations limit a student's ability to enroll less than full time, but it may be allowed in some circumstances.

A student who wishes to drop below full-time enrollment must obtain the approval from an immigration advisor in International Programs in advance, regardless of the reason. Note: Lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce the student's course load. Immigration Services is federally mandated to report to SEVIS any international student who falls below the full-time enrollment requirement without authorization and the student will violate their F-1 status.

Definition of full time

  • According to immigration regulations, undergraduate students must register for and complete at least 12 credit hours per semester; graduate students must register for and complete at least 9 credit hours per semester.
  • Courses taken for audit do not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement.
  • F-1 students are not permitted to take more than 3 credits of online classes toward their full course of study.

The Center for International Programs may be able to authorize a student for a reduced course load for the following reasons:

  • Initial difficulty with the English language (first or second academic semester only)
  • Initial difficulty with reading requirements (first or second academic semester only)
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (first or second academic semester only)
  • Improper course level placement (first or second academic semester only)
  • Master’s students on thesis track
  • Completion of study in current term (only possible in final term of academic study)
  • Medical condition (must have doctor’s request/recommendation)

Reduced Course Load Request forms must be submitted no later than the second week of each semester the student expects to be under enrolled.

Please complete the Reduced Course Load Request form, accessible on the Forms Page.

If you fail to enroll because you plan to withdraw or take a temporary leave of absence, please review the Notification of Departure/Withdrawal portion of our website and complete the Request to Leave of Absence or Withdrawal Form.

Notification of Early Withdrawal/Leave of Absence

International students are required to notify International Programs if they are unable to continue their studies at Humboldt due to certain circumstances. This notification is for immigration reporting purposes only and does not replace the student's responsibility to comply with Humboldt’s academic drop/add policy.

Before withdrawing or taking a temporary leave of absence from Humboldt, be sure to take care of any financial obligations to the University. Any employment authorization ends with non-enrollment.

If you voluntarily withdraw and receive authorization by International Programs in advance, you are eligible for a 15 day grace period to depart the U.S. If you are academically or administratively withdrawn or disqualified, or, if you do not request and receive approval from International Programs in advance, you are not eligible for a grace period and required to leave the United States immediately.

To request a withdrawal or temporary leave of absence from International Programs, please review and complete the Leave of Absence or Withdrawal Form.

Process Overview

  1. Inform your academic advisor and/or department and the Office of the Registrar of your plans to take a leave of absence, or withdrawal. Information on the University’s withdrawal process can be found online here.
  2. Notify International Programs of your intent to leave by completing and turning in the Leave of Absence or Withdrawal Form and all supporting documentation.
  3. Maintain status until International Programs notifies you that the request has been approved.
  4. After receiving approval, drop/withdraw from all courses. If you do not withdraw from the courses, you may be charged tuition and fees even if you do not attend. A refund may not always be possible.
  5. Pay all outstanding bills at Humboldt.
  6. Update your address with International Programs and on your Student Center Account so that all future documents and communications can be sent to you.
  7. If you are requesting a temporary leave of absence, you must notify International Programs at least 6 weeks prior to your plans to return to the U.S. to resume study.

Transferring to another U.S. institution

If a student is in lawful status and is completing or leaving their current program with confirmed arrangements to continue studies in the U.S. at a different institution in the next academic semester, the student must submit the I-20 Transfer Out Form form along with the other required materials to International Programs. The transfer process is a multistep process and it is the student's responsibility to make sure all steps are completed.

Once the student has completed the requirements to request a transfer of their SEVIS record, the SEVIS record will be electronically released to the new school.

Transfer eligibility

  • Student must be maintaining lawful F-1 status.
  • If the student completed the program, the transfer must be completed before the end of the 60-day grace period.
  • The student must initiate the transfer by submitting the Transfer-Out SEVIS Record Request form.
  • The new program start date at the transfer-in institution must be within five months of the current program end date listed on the I-20 or the next mandatory semester, whichever is sooner.
  • Transfer students are eligible to remain in the U.S. in the summer between two programs.
  • Transfer students may travel outside the U.S. during the transfer pending period; however, the student must obtain and use the I-20 for the new school for re-entry.
  • The new, transfer-in school is responsible for issuing the student a new I-20 for that institution.
  • The transfer-in school will not be able to issue the student a new I-20 until the transfer release date. If the student decides to cancel the school transfer, they must notify an immigration advisor before the transfer release date. Once the transfer release date has been reached, Humboldt will no longer have access to the SEVIS record.
  • Before a student leaves Humboldt, they should be sure to take care of any financial obligations to the University, drop classes, and notify the department and academic advisor of their departure. Any employment authorization ends upon transfer out or non-enrollment.

Students on Optional Practical Training

F-1 Students on Optional Practical Training who wish to transfer out must begin their new course of study at the transfer-in school within five months of the end of OPT or the transfer release date, whichever is earlier. If the student has completed Optional Practical Training, the transfer must be completed before the end of the 60-day grace period.

Grace Period

F-1 students may remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days following the successful completion of their degree program.

Students authorized for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) may also remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days following the expiration date listed on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), provided they have successfully maintained their status while participating in OPT. The 60-day grace period applies in its entirety even if it has been used on a previous occasion. In other words, if a student's OPT does not begin until 60 days after they complete their studies, that student is still eligible to utilize a 60-day grace period after completion of OPT.

During your grace period you may choose to:

  • Transfer to another SEVIS approved school.
  • Change degree levels at Cal Poly Humboldt (for example: ESL to academic study or bachelor's to master's).
  • Apply for a change of visa/immigration status (please note that Humboldt does not usually provide assistance with COS. Most likely, if you wish to change your visa status, you will need to work with an immigration lawyer)

During your grace period you may not:

If a student decides to withdraw from the University without completing their degree, they do not have a 60 day grace period. In this instance, if the withdrawal is authorized, they have 15 days in which to leave the U.S. To request authorization to withdraw for immigration purposes, please complete the Leave of Absence or Withdrawal Form.


F-1 Students who have overstayed their authorized period of stay or who have otherwise failed to maintain status may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services may reinstate the student to lawful status if the student:

  1. Establishes to the satisfaction of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control, or that failure to receive reinstatement to lawful status would result in extreme hardship to the student.
  2. Is currently pursuing a full course of study at Humboldt.
  3. Has not engaged in unauthorized employment.
  4. Is not deportable on any ground other than overstaying/failing to maintain status (Source: INA 241(a)(1)(B); 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(i)).


  • If the student is working on campus, they must notify their supervisor and stop working immediately. The student may resume on-campus employment only if the reinstatement application is approved.
  • If the student has engaged in any unauthorized on- or off-campus employment, they are not eligible to apply for reinstatement.
  • The student must enroll full time while the reinstatement is pending.
  • Applying for reinstatement does not guarantee that it will be granted. Prepare the application thoroughly and completely.
  • If the student has previously been granted a reinstatement, it is less likely that the second reinstatement will be approved.
  • Remember, reinstatement is not the only option available. The student may choose to obtain a new I-20, apply for a new F-1 visa, and depart (travel abroad) and re-enter (return) to the U.S. to resume study. Please consult with an immigration advisor.
  • If the student leaves the U.S. while the reinstatement application is pending, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will consider it as abandonment of the reinstatement application. If the student decides to withdraw the application, he/she should consult with an immigration advisor.

Application procedure

It is important that the student does not delay in applying for reinstatement. Even with a status violation reason that was beyond the student's control, failure to file for reinstatement within five months of the violation may result in ineligibility for reinstatement. Make an appointment with an immigration advisor in International Programs to review the application requirements and receive a reinstatement I-20. If the reinstatement application is approved, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will send the processed I-20 and reinstatement approval to the student. Upon receiving these documents from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the student must immediately provide copies of them to International Programs.

For more information and to notify/request reinstatement, please review and complete the F1 Reinstatement Form.