How long can an F-1 alien student stay in the U.S.?

In contrast to most non-immigrants who receive a specific period of time to remain in the United States, a foreign national who obtains F-1 status is allowed to remain in the U.S. for the duration of status, which is the time it takes to complete the studies plus possible practical training.

Duration of status is defined as the time during which an F-1 student is pursuing a full course of study at an approved educational institution, or engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies, except that an F-1 student who is admitted to attend a public high school is restricted to an aggregate of 12 months of study at any public high school(s).

Generally, an F-1 student is allowed to enter the US for a period up to 30 days before the indicated report date or program start date listed on Form I-20. The student is considered to be maintaining status if he or she is making normal progress toward completing a course of study. Moreover, the alien student will also be allowed to stay in the country for up to twelve additional months beyond the completion of the studies to pursue practical training. There are three different types of practical training that an alien student may participate in while enrolled in their full-time studies; the three are: Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM OPT) Optional Practical Training, which actually allows the student to remain in the U.S. for up to seventeen months beyond the completion of studies. For more information about Curricular Practical Training, click here. For more information about Optional Practical Training, click here.


Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(5)

(Updated 10/12/2012 by AD)

For more information about F-1 visas, please click on one of the following links: