The U.S. government requires students studying in the U.S. to hold a proper Visa and to maintain proper SEVIS status. The Tseng College is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to issue I-20s for admitted students, pursuing a "full course of study" toward a specific educational or professional objective, to obtain an F-1 student visa. Once the student's educational or professional objectives have been attained, he or she is expected by the U.S. government to return to his or her residence abroad.
To navigate through this page, select the following:
- General Steps for Admission and Student (F-1) Visa
- Maintaining Your Visa Status
- Other Resources and Website
General Steps for Admission and Student (F-1) Visa
Apply to your program of interest
Upon admission, receive Form I-20
An I-20 is issued upon admission to an approved degree or language program.
For language programs, an I-20 is issued for the purpose of language training. For Conditionally Admitted students, a statement on page 1 of the I-20 clearly indicates that the students will be admitted to their pre-approved degree/certificate program and major after completing the English requirements.
Pay SEVIS I-901 Fee.
Pay SEVIS I-901 Fee. Proof of payment of this fee enables the student to make a Visa interview appointment. Student should save the proof of payment receipt for their Visa interview.
Apply for F-1 Visa (No more the 120 days before program start date on I-20)
Student must assemble all the required documents for the visa interview. Review the Required Documentation. Visas are not issued at the time of appointment.
Enter the U.S. (No more than 30 days before the Program Start Date on your Form I-20).
Student must bring their Visa and Form I-20 to the U.S.
Obtain I-94 Card from airline personnel.
Students must provide proof of Visa and Form I-20 when arriving to the immigration officials in the U.S.
Welcome to California State University, Northridge
Maintaining Your Visa Status
As an F-1 student visa holder, students have certain rights and responsibilities. Below are some of the basics. Complete information regarding studying in the United States can be found at the websites listed on the last page.
Student must attend the school specified on their Form I-20. Student must submit the following to their school upon arrival:
- Biographical Information form ("Bio Form")
- proof of health insurance
- copy of I-94 and visa
- copy of I-20 if it was recently stamped
NOTE: Each session these documents need to be updated. Students are responsible to ensure that they hold a valid Form I-20 and valid passport at all times. Should any of the above information change prior to a new session, contact a DSO immediately.
- IPP students will submit all of the above documents to the IPP Student Life Office upon arrival.
- All other Tseng College International students submit all of the above documents to the Tseng College Office of Admissions, Registration and Client Services.
Full course of study and normal progress
Students must pursue a full course of study and make normal progress towards by satisfactorily passing all classes and completing their program or until transferring to another program/institution. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval will be considered out of status. A "full course of study" is as follows for each program in The Tseng College:
- Intensive English Program students must enroll and attend all three core classes per session.
- Open University Study Program students must enroll and attend 12 units of university classes per semester.
- Semester at CSUN Program students must enroll and attend 12 units of university classes per semester.
- Graduate-level degree and certificate program students must enroll and attend all classes scheduled for the individual cohort or degree program (most are 6 units per term). Note: In the cohort format, the course sequence for each program is designed in advance to ensure that each course builds on those that preceded and prepares students for success in the course/s that follow. Tseng College cohorts generally consist of 20 to 35 students, who enter the program and proceed through the pre-determined course of study as a group (cohort). Learn more about the cohorts.
Falling out of status
The following are possible reasons to fall out of status:
- Less Than Full-time Enrollment - Students must immediately contact DSO (designated school official) in the Office of Admissions, Registration and Client Services if they cannot maintain full-time status. Authorization can only be given under certain circumstances and it must be approved PRIOR to reducing enrollment. Dropping below full-time without authorization is cause for termination of your I-20.
- Unsatisfactory Grades/Disqualified - Students falling below the required GPA for their program or who are considered to be in disqualified student status have the options to transfer to another school, or leave the US. For advisement, student should contact the program coordinator.
Completion of studies
After completing a degree or certificate course of study, an F-1 student is allowed 60 days, after the last class attended, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.
- Departing the United States - To avoid a negative record in SEVIS, student should report to a DSO that they are leaving the U.S. and do not plan to return in the next five months and/or do not plan to return on current I-20.
- Transfer to another school (that is authorized to issue I-20s). Student MUST use the new school's I-20 to reenter the US.
- Request OPT (Optional Practical Training) - Allows students to work up to 12 months following completion of a degree (and under some circumstances, following completion of a graduate-level certificate). However, I-20s are terminated if unemployed for a total of 90 days.
- IEP or SAC DO NOT HAVE THE OPT OPTION - As a student in a non-degree, non-credit English language program, you are not authorized to work. You cannot accept employment on or off campus. Unauthorized employment is a violation of your student visa status. If you are unable to pay your tuition and related school fees, it is recommended that you return to your home country.
A student authorized by the school to withdraw from classes will be allowed a 15-day period for departure from the U.S. However, a student who failed to maintain status for any reason is not eligible for an additional period for departure.
Leaving and reentering the U.S. requires valid visa expiration date. Students should go to a U.S. Consulate to apply for a new visa to reenter the U.S. if their visa has expired. Students with an expired visa and who are not leaving the U.S. are permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as they abide by the terms of their non-immigrant status and the valid period of authorized stay as indicated on the Form I-94.
Extension of stay
Students unable to meet the program completion date on your Form I-20, may request to extend their stay as many times as needed. Requests should be reported to a DSO in the Office of Admissions, Registration and Client Services, in Extended University Commons (2nd floor). Allow at least a full month, prior to the expiration date of your Form I-20, to request and get approved for an extension of stay to avoid falling out of status.
See Traveling and Re-Entering Requirements at Travel Requirements page.
F-2 dependents VISAS
An F-2 visa holder is a dependent of an F-1. Only the dependent(s), the spouse and/or children(s), of a student on an F-1 visa are eligible to apply for an F-2 Visa. To request dependent I-20s, provide the following:
- copy of passport
- proof of relationship such as birth certificates or a marriage license
- country of birth, if not stated on passport
- some passports do not clearly identify surnames and given names, if not completely clear on passport, provide that information as well.
The following applies to dependents:
- Children on F-2 visas are allowed to attend Kindergarten through 12th grade only.
- Spouses can NOT work and can NOT attend school while in F-2 status.
- Should an F-2 Student decide they want to attend any school while in the U.S., they must apply for admission and upon receiving an I-20, must change visa status from F-2 to F-1. F-2 students CANNOT attend classes until change of status is completed.
Other Resources and Website
Maintaining Immigration Status information
"Fact Sheet: Maintaining Your Immigration Status While a Student or Exchange Visitor" available in Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, and English on 'ice.gov' website:
- Fact Sheet: Maintaining Your Immigration Status While a Student or Exchange Visitor or
- Student Process Steps: How to Navigate the U.S. Immigration System
Wait until I-20 has been registered, or 'Activated,' in SEVIS before applying for a California driver's license. I-20s are registered at the beginning of every session or semester, once enrollment and tuition payments are confirmed. More information available at:
- Applying for a Driver's License or State Identification Card
- How to apply for a driver license if you are over 18
Receiving a Social Security Number
- Documents You Need For A Social Security Card
- Fact Sheet: International Students And Social Security Numbers
Travelling and Renewing Visas
- Reentry For F-1 Nonimmigrants Traveling Outside The United States For Five Months or Less
- Reentry for F-2 Nonimmigrants
Working (CPT & OPT)
- International Students And Social Security Numbers
- Student Process Steps: How to Navigate the U.S. Immigration System
- Application for OPT, Form I-765, see Forms
- Filling out tax forms when hired, taxes and paychecks, paying Income Taxes, see International Taxpayers Topics > Foreign Students and Scholars