Currently Enrolled F-1 Students

Currently enrolled UCLA F-1 students are responsible for maintaining their F-1 status during their UCLA degree program and are eligible for the following benefits and services from the Dashew Center. 

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Maintaining F-1 Status

Once you have completed your mandatory check-in and visa workshop requirements at UCLA, it is your responsibility to review and understand DCISS' guidelines for maintaining F-1 status to ensure compliance with F-1 visa regulations during your academic program. 

Failure to comply with F-1 regulations may result in the termination of your F-1 status and loss of future eligibility to enter the U.S. 

Full-time Enrollment

F-1 students are required to maintain full-time enrollment and make normal academic progress toward completion of their degree program.

  • Undergraduate Students: minimum of 12 units per academic quarter (students are not required to enroll full-time for Summer Quarter).

  • Graduate Students: minimum of 8-12 units per academic quarter (please check with your department for full-time course load unit requirements). 

Failure to maintain full-time enrollment during your program will result in severe consequences for your F-1 status.

* F-1 students are not allowed to drop below full-time enrollment without receiving prior authorization for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) from DCISS.

Address Reporting

F-1 students are required to maintain a valid local U.S. address, overseas address, U.S. telephone number, overseas telephone number, and e-mail address at all times during their studies at UCLA Upon arrival to UCLA, please log in to MyUCLA, click on 'Settings,' then click on 'Official Email/Address/Phone' at the top right hand corner to update your contact information. Update your contact information as follows:

  • E-Mail: Must reflect a verifiable email address that you check on a daily basis.

  • Mailing Address: Must reflect your local U.S. address within the Los Angeles area.

  • Permanent Address: Must reflect your overseas address outside the U.S. country.

  • Primary Phone Number: Must reflect a valid 10-digit U.S. phone number. Input numbers only. No special characters, spacing, or parentheses (Example: 3109876543).

Note: Updating your contact information in MyUCLA is very important. DCISS cannot validate your arrival and F-1 status with U.S. Department of Homeland Security until your information has been updated.

Valid Passport

F-1 students must maintain a valid passport at all times. Your passport must always be valid for at least 6 months into the future.

Program Completion

F-1 students are allowed an additional 60-day grace period after their program completion date to prepare for their departure from the U.S., transfer to another U.S. school/degree program, or change their visa status in the U.S. During the grace period, employment or full-time study is not allowed. 

Upon departure from the U.S. during these 60 days, the F-1 visa status automatically expires and you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. to reclaim the rest of your grace period time.

Services for Continuing Students

I-20 Extension

F-1 students who are unable to complete their degree requirements by the end date indicated on their current UCLA I-20 may request an I-20 extension for the following reasons:

  • Change of Major

  • Need More Time To Complete Thesis/Dissertation

  • Change in Research Topic

  • Medical Reason (must provide medical documentation)

  • Unforeseen Circumstances

To request an I-20 Extension:

  • Step 1: Complete DCISS I-20 Extension Request Form
    Complete the top portion of the I-20 Extension Request form and have your Academic Counselor/Student Affairs Officer complete the bottom portion (your Academic Counselor/Student must indicate your new expected degree completion date and the reason for the I-20 extension).

  • Step 2: Obtain Proof of Funding
    Obtain proof of funding to cover the tuition and living expenses for the duration of your requested extension period. If you will be funded by your academic department, please obtain a verification of funding letter from your department indicating the type of support, duration of funding, and total funding amount.

  • Step 3: Schedule an Appointment with DCISS
    Schedule an appointment with an F-1 counselor to submit your I-20 Extension Request (appointment required). Your new I-20 will be ready for pick up 5 business days after the date your I-20 Extension Request was accepted.

* Note: Additional documentation than those outlined above may be needed for an I-20 extension to be granted.

* I-20s may be extended for a maximum of one academic year at a time. Students who require an extension of more than one academic year must submit another I-20 Extension Request the following year.

* Students who are changing their degree level at UCLA (i.e. Bachelors to Master’s, Master’s to Doctorate, etc.) must submit a Change of Education Level I-20 Request instead of an I-20 Extension Request.

Reduced Course Load

F-1 students may be authorized by DCISS to drop below full-time enrollment for the following circumstances:

  • Academic Difficulty: student has difficulties with a course due to improper course placement, initial difficulty with reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with UCLA teaching methods (this reason can only be used once during the degree program).

  • Illness/Medical Condition: student has medical condition (medical doctor's recommendation letter required).

  • Final Quarter at UCLA: student has less units remaining to complete their program than is required to maintain full-time enrollment.

To request authorization for a Reduced Course Load (RCL):

  • Step 1: Complete the RCL Request Form
    Complete the top portion of the RCL Request form and have your Academic Counselor complete the bottom portion of the form, confirming the reason for your RCL request.
    *Academic Difficulty RCL: Students must maintain at least 50% of full-time enrollment.
    *Final Quarter RCL: Students must be enrolled in at least one degree required course during their final quarter.

  • Step 2: Obtain a Recommendation Letter from a Medical Doctor (for Medical RCL Requests only)
    Obtain a support letter from a U.S. medical doctor recommending you to drop below full-time enrollment or drop all enrollment for a specific academic term due to a medical condition.

  • Step 3: Schedule an Appointment with DCISS
    Schedule an appointment with an F-1 counselor to submit your RCL Request form (appointment required). DCISS must receive Academic Difficulty and Final Quarter RCL Requests by the end of Week 2 of the quarter you will be dropping below full-time enrollment. An F-1 Counselor will confirm your RCL authorization after your request has been accepted.

Students must obtain authorization from DCISS prior to dropping below full-time enrollment.

I-20 Request

DCISS can issue an F-1 student a new I-20 for the following reasons:

Replacement I-20

  • Lost or damaged original I-20

I-20 Update

  • Change in source of funding

  • Change in major

  • Change in name

  • OPT Update (e.g. change of OPT status, employment update)

New I-20

  • Change of education level

  • F-2 dependent (spouse or children)

  • Returning from leave of absence

  • Readmission to UCLA

To request a new I-20:

  • Complete the DCISS I-20 Request Form and supporting documents (if applicable) to DCISS

    • Change in Funding: If the source(s) of your financial support has changed (i.e. change in departmental funding, change in scholarship/grants, change in personal or family funds), you must request an updated I-20 from DCISS. Please submit a completed I-20 Request form and your new proof of funding document(s) to DCISS.

    • Name Change: The first and last name on your I-20 and in MyUCLA must match the first and last names as indicated on your passport. If the name on your I-20 and/or on your MyUCLA does not match the name on your passport, please submit a Name Correction Form to the UCLA Registrar's Office. Once you have updated your name withe Registrar's Office, please submit a completed I-20 Request form and a copy of your passport to DCISS.

    • OPT Update: To request an updated I-20 with updated OPT employment information, please report your OPT employment through the SEVP Portal and submit a completed I-20 Request form and a copy of the front and back of your EAD card to DCISS.

    • Change of Education Level: Submit your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) for your new UCLA degree program, and submit a completed I-20 Request form, passport photo page, and proof of funding to cover 1 year of tuition and living expenses to DCISS.

    • F-2 I-20 Request (appointment required): Submit a completed I-20 Request form, copy of your dependent's passport photo page, proof of funding to cover the expenses of your dependent(s), and a copy of your marriage certificate to an F-1 Counselor during a scheduled appointment.

    • Returning from Leave of Absence/Readmission to UCLA: Submit a completed I-20 Request form, copy of your passport photo page and proof of funding do cover 1 year of tuition and living expenses to DCISS.

Your new I-20 will be ready for pick up 5 business days after the date your I-20 Extension Request was accepted.

SEVIS Transfer

If you have been admitted to an F-1 program at another U.S. institution that will begin within 5 months of your last date of enrollment at UCLA or your last date of OPT employment, you must request a SEVIS Transfer Out from DCISS to transfer your SEVIS record to your new institution so they can issue you a new I-20. To request a SEVIS Transfer Out:

  • Step 1: Obtain an Admission Letter
    Obtain an Admission Letter from a U.S. institution indicating the start term of your new program.

  • Step 2: Complete the DCISS SEVIS Transfer Out Request Form
    Complete the SEVIS Transfer Out Request form confirming your new school’s information and your requested SEVIS Release Date (the date you would like DCISS to release your SEVIS record to your new institution)

  • Step 3: Schedule an Appointment with DCISS
    Schedule an appointment with an F-1 counselor to submit your SEVIS Transfer Out Request form and admission letter (appointment required).

* Note: Students who are not completing their degree program at UCLA and would like to transfer to another U.S. institution must submit their SEVIS Transfer Out Request to DCISS prior to the start date of the UCLA academic term they do not plan to enroll to be transferred out in good-standing.

* Students who have completed their degree program have a 60-day grace period to legally remain within the U.S. after their degree completion. Students must submit their SEVIS Transfer Out Request to DCISS before the end of their 60-day grace period to be transferred out in good-standing.

Leave of Absence

F-1 students who are not planning to enroll for an academic term (Fall, Winter, or Spring Quarter) for personal or academic reasons must meet with an F-1 Counselor during a scheduled appointment to discuss their eligibility for a leave of absence and its consequences for maintaining F-1 status.

Registration In Absentia

Eligible F-1 graduate students planning to engage in degree-related research outside of California will be eligible to maintain F-1 status through registration in absentia.

To request DCISS approval for your Registration In Absentia, please complete the In Absentia Registration Petition and obtain your departmental signatures before requesting a signature from DCISS. Once you have received the appropriate signatures from your department, please contact the Dashew Center front desk to schedule an appointment with Tina Nguyen, F-1 Advisement Coordinator.

Travel Authorization

F-1 students traveling outside of the U.S. must have a valid travel authorization signature endorsed on page 2 of their UCLA I-20 to re-enter the U.S. in valid F-1 status. Each travel authorization signature is valid for one year from the date it was last signed and must be valid at the time of re-entry to the U.S. F-1 students must present the following documents at their port of entry to re-enter the U.S.:

  • Valid Passport (must be valid for at least 6 months into the future)

  • Valid F-1 Visa Stamp (Canadian citizens exempt)

  • Valid I-20 with travel authorization signature

To request a new travel authorization signature, please submit a completed Travel Authorization Request Form and your current, original F-1 and/or F-2 Dependent’s I-20(s) to DCISS at least one week prior to your scheduled travel date (no appointment required)

Your endorsed I-20 will be ready for pick up 5 business days after the date of submission.

* Note: Students who are on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or the STEM OPT Extension must report any/all of their employment through the SEVP Portal and must submit copies of the front and back of their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card with their Travel Authorization Request.

* F-2 dependents also require valid travel authorization signatures for re-entry to the U.S.

Employment

On-Campus

F-1 students are eligible to work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during the academic year and full-time (more than 20 hours per week) during vacation terms (e.g Summer Quarter). 

On-campus employment may include teaching assistantships, research assistantships, reader appointments, or student positions at the campus library, bookstore, food/dining services, etc. 

F-1 students may work on-campus without obtaining employment authorization from DCISS or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

F-1 students may not engage in off-campus employment (including paid and unpaid internships) before receiving proper employment authorization from DCISS (see CPT and OPT sections).

* Note: F-1 students are not eligible for federally-funded work-study appointments.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment authorization that allows F-1 students to engage in an off-campus academic internships or employment (paid or unpaid) that is a required or integral part of their academic curriculum.

CPT Types:

  • Part-time: up to 20 hours per week during the academic year (Fall, Winter and Spring)

  • Full-time: more than 20 hours or more per week (only available during the Summer) 

To be eligible for CPT, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • One Year of F-1 Status: you must have maintained F-1 status for at least one academic year before your requested CPT start date.

  • Enrollment in an Individual Studies Course: you must enroll in an individual studies course during the term you are requesting CPT authorization. If your internship/employment opportunity is during Summer, you must be enrolled in an individual studies course during Summer Session A or C. 

To request CPT authorization, students must have met all CPT eligibility requirements and must submit a completed CPT Request form and a copy of their internship/employment offer to an F-1 Counselor during a scheduled appointment at least 1 week before their off-campus internship/employment start date.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available to eligible F-1 students interested in engaging in employment in the U.S. directly related to their field of study after their degree completion. F-1 students are eligible for an initial 12 months of OPT per higher degree level achieved.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • One Year of F-1 Status: 
    Students must have maintained F-1 status for at least one academic year

  • Previous OPT Approval: 
    Students must not have had previous OPT authorization for the same degree level

  • CPT:
    Students must not have accrued 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for the same degree level

Application Timeline:

OPT applications may be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing as early as (but no earlier than) 90 days before a student’s program completion date. Please note that USCIS requires approximately 3 months to approve an OPT application. It is highly recommended that students submit their OPT application to DCISS at least 3 months before their requested OPT start date.

All documents listed in the OPT Application Checklist must be submitted to DCISS to request an OPT I-20 before an OPT application can be submitted to USCIS for processing. DCISS requires 5 business days to issue an OPT I-20.

To apply for OPT, please review the OPT Guidelines and OPT Workshop.

OPT Administrative Processing Fee:

The OPT Administrative Processing Fee is required for DCISS to maintain systems required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to maintain a student’s F-1 SEVIS record during their OPT period.

SEVIS maintenance fees are covered for current, enrolled UCLA students through their UCLA enrollment fees. Since students will not be enrolled at UCLA during their OPT period, they will be charged an OPT Administrative Processing Fee during their OPT period to allow DCISS to process F-1 benefits such as travel authorization, Cap-Gap I-20 Requests, and OPT employment and address reporting.

Students are required to pay the OPT Administrative Processing Fee each time they apply for Post-Completion OPT or the STEM OPT Extension:

OPT Reporting:

F-1 students engaging in Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) must report their employment status and any changes to their address or phone number within 10 days of the change through the SEVP Portal:

  • Employment Status: Report your current employer’s information, employment start date and previous employment end date (if applicable).

  • Address and Phone Number Change: Report your current U.S. residential address and local phone number.

STEM OPT Extension

Eligible F-1 students who have completed a designated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degree may be eligible to apply for a 24-month STEM OPT Extension. For a list of designated STEM degrees, please click here.

To be eligible for the 24-month STEM OPT Extension, students:

  • Must be in their initial, 12-month Post- Completion OPT period (EAD card must not have already expired).

  • Must have completed a designated STEM degree.

  • Must not have exceeded 90 days of unemployment time during their initial, 12-month OPT period.

  • Must have a bona fide employer-employee relationship with an employer enrolled in E-Verify (self-employment not eligible).

  • Must have a paid, full-time employment offer (20 or more hours per week) for a position directly related to their field of study and appropriate for their degree level. Volunteer/unpaid positions not eligible.

To apply for the OPT STEM Extension, please review the STEM OPT Extension Guidelines and STEM OPT Extension Workshop.

OPT Administrative Processing Fee:

The OPT Administrative Processing Fee is required for DCISS to maintain systems required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to maintain a student’s F-1 SEVIS record during their OPT period.

SEVIS maintenance fees are covered for current, enrolled UCLA students through their UCLA enrollment fees. Since students will not be enrolled at UCLA during their OPT period, they will be charged an OPT Administrative Processing Fee during their OPT period to allow DCISS to process F-1 benefits such as travel authorization, Cap-Gap I-20 Requests, and OPT employment and address reporting.

Students are required to pay the OPT Administrative Processing Fee each time they apply for Post-Completion OPT or the STEM OPT Extension:

STEM OPT Extension Reporting Requirements:

Every 6 months: (through the SEVP Portal)

  • Their legal name

  • Residential address

  • Employer name and address

  • Status of current employment

Self Evaluations: (submit via email to OPT@saonet.ucla.edu)

  • First self-evaluation is due 12 months after the STEM OPT Extension start date

  • Final self-evaluation is due at the end of the STEM OPT Extension period

Unemployment: (submit via email to OPT@saonet.ucla.edu)

  • Report unemployment by submitting a self-evaluation for your previous employment within 10 days of your last day of employment

Material Changes: (submit via email to OPT@saonet.ucla.edu)

  • Report material changes to an existing Form I-983 by submitting an updated Form I-983

  • Material changes include (but are not limited to): any change of the employer’s EIN, any reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked, any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity, changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983.

Employer Non-Compliance:

If a STEM OPT student believes that their employer is not complying with the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT Extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions, and the completed Form I-983 on file with their Designated School Official, the student may:

  • Contact the Student and Exchange Visitor Program at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Follow instructions provided here

  • Report violations through the Homeland Security Investigations tip submission form

Cap Gap Extension/Transition to H-1B

A “Cap Gap” extension is a period in which an eligible F-1 student’s status is automatically extended to bridge the gap between the end of their F-1 status and the beginning of their H-1B status. The most common situation occurs when a student’s OPT ends in early spring or summer, and the 60-day grace period following the completion of their OPT ends before their H-1B status, creating a gap in status. A Cap Gap I-20 can be issued by DCISS to extend an F-1 student’s authorized period of stay in the U.S. and OPT employment authorization until the start of their H-1B status (student will not receive a new EAD).

To request a Cap Gap I-20, please submit then following via email to OPT@saonet.ucla.edu:

  • Completed I-20 Request Form (mark 'Other': Cap-Gap I-20 Request)

  • Copy of your H-1B Receipt Notice or Approval Notice from USCIS

  • Copy of the front and back of your EAD card

  • Current shipping address with postal code
    Select preferred delivery method:

    • Option 1: Regular USPS Mail (no tracking number or expedited delivery available, complimentary service)

    • Option 2: FedEx Express Mail (tracking number and expedited delivery available, must provide DCISS with a FedEx Account #)

      • Open a FedEx Account #:

      • Online: www.fedex.com

      • By Phone: 1-800-Go-FedEx (1-800-463-3339)

      • In-Person: Go to a local FedEx Office location to open account #.

Additional Services

Certification of Status Letter

F-1 students who need certification that they are full-time enrolled and in good standing at UCLA can request a Certificate of Status (CoS) from DCISS. The CoS can assist students with visa renewals, passport renewals, and the transmission of funds, etc. 

To request a CoS, please submit a CoS Request form to DCISS (no appointment required). Your CoS will be ready for pick up 5 business days after the date of submission. 

* Note: DCISS CoS letters do not verify academic status, course enrollment, or registration (fee payments). For Verification Transcripts, Academic Transcripts, or Official Transcripts please contact the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) Letter

F-1 students receiving fellowships, scholarships, or grants must have a SSN or an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) to access GLACIER and report such awards to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax purposes.

F-1 students who are receiving awards, but are currently not eligible for a SSN must instead apply for an ITIN. 

To request an ITIN:

  • Step 1: Obtain an Award Letter
    Obtain an official scholarship/fellowship/grant award letter indicating the type of award, amount, and term of the award (provided by the awarding organization or academic department).

  • Step 2: Submit ITIN Request Form and Award Letter to DCISS
    Submit a completed ITIN Request form and your official award letter to DCISS (no appointment required). Your ITIN Eligibility Letter will be ready for pick up 5 business days after the date of submission.

  • Step 3: Schedule an Appointment with UCLA Tax Services

    • Take the following documents to your appointment with UCLA Tax Services:

      • DCISS ITIN Eligibility Letter

      • Scholarship/Fellowship/Grant Award Letter(s)

      • UCLA I-20

      • Passport

      * To schedule an appointment with UCLA Tax Services personnel, please call 310-794-0538.

* Note: You only need to apply for an ITIN if you are currently ineligible for a SSN. If you are eligible for a SSN, you do not need to apply for an ITIN. If you are currently receiving awards but plan to work in future quarters, then you must first apply for an ITIN first, and upon receiving your job offer in the future, apply for an SSN.

Social Security Letter

A Social Security Number (SSN) is required to receive wages, file taxes, and receive some types of government services in the U.S. Private industries such as mobile phone retailers, banks, apartment management companies, etc. may also require that you have a SSN to utilize their services.

F-1 students are only eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) if they have a paid job offer through on-campus employment or authorized off-campus employment. To request a SSN:

  • Step 1: Obtain an Employment Verification/Offer Letter
    Obtain an employment verification/offer letter from an on-campus or off-campus employer (valid off-campus employment authorization required). The letter must be on official employer letterhead and include your job title, dates of employment, number of hours of work per week, and location of employment.

  • Step 2: Submit a Social Security Letter Request from to DCISS
    Submit a Social Security Letter Request form to DCISS with your employment verification/offer letter (no appointment required). Your Social Security Eligibility Letter will be ready for pick up 3 business days after the date of your submission.

  • Step 3: Apply for a SSN at the Social Security Administration
    Take the following documents to Social Security Administration (SSA):

    • DCISS Social Security Letter

    • UCLA I-20

    • I-94 Arrival/Departure Card

    • Passport

Click here to locate your nearest Social Security Administration Office.

* Note: The earliest you can request a Social Security Letter from DCISS and a SSN from the Social Security Administration is 30 days before your paid employment start date.

* If you are receiving scholarships, fellowships, or grants, but are currently ineligible for an SSN, then you must instead apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Invitation Letter

DCISS no longer provides family invitation letters for B-1/B-2 visitor visas. The U.S. Department of State does not consider invitation letters when determining whether to issue or deny a visa:

"Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant's residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa." - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visitor.html

Students who would like to write their own invitation letters for their family members can use the Sample Invitation Letter template here.

Concurrent Enrollment Letter

F-1 students may concurrently enroll at UCLA and a California Community College (or other U.S. institution) under the following circumstances: 

  • During the Academic Year (Fall, Winter and Spring Quarters): while maintaining full-time enrollment at UCLA (course units enrolled concurrently at a community college or other U.S. institution do not count toward full-time enrollment at UCLA).

  • While Engaging in OPT: for incidental study only. Courses taken at a community college (or other U.S. institution) may not lead to a degree or be part of an academic program.
    *Students who begin their program in Summer (I-20 must have a summer start date) must be enrolled full-time in UCLA Summer Sessions courses for concurrent enrollment approval.

To request a Concurrent Enrollment letter, please submit a Concurrent Enrollment Request form to DCISS (no appointment required). Please list all course title(s) and name(s) on the request form. Your Concurrent Enrollment Eligibility Letter will be ready for pick up 5 business days after the date of submission.