This site is NOT for IEP students

Intensive English Program students – go to Arriving and Maintaining Student Visa Status (IEP students only)

This page is for international students, on an F-1 visa, who are in a credit program such as:

  • SAC (Semester at CSUN)
  • SSP (Student Success Program)
  • ABA (M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis)
  • MPA (Master of Public Administration)


Keep your personal information updated in SOLAR. You’d be surprised how much it matters – and can matter in the future.

Go to Update Personal Information to see how to add or update your information. This affects any refunds you might receive, makes sure your diploma is sent to the correct address, who can obtain educational information about you, etc. In addition, you can select your preferred name to show in SOLAR, record how to pronounce your name, select your identity and pronouns, assign an emergency contact, you can even opt to add your student ID picture to class rosters!

New Students and Checking In at ARC

After arriving in the US, or after transferring into The Tseng College, every new student must check in with the Office of Admissions, Registration and Client Services (ARC).

To Check In, submit the following to ARC:

  • Bio Form.  Include apartment or dorm room number (if applicable).
  • Copy of F-1 visa (picture page)
  • Copy of Form I-94, available at
  • Copy of entry stamp in passport 
    The I-94 is THE SAME AS the entry stamp in your passport. 
    SUBMIT EITHER ONE, entry stamp in passport OR your most recent I-94.
  •  Proof of Health/Medical Insurance.  See “Health (Medical) Insurance” page.

Throughout the entire time you are on an I-20 issued by the Tseng College, you must report the following to a DSO in ARC. Failure to do so can lead to termination of your I-20!

  • Any address changes – within 10 days of change
  • Any changes to normal enrollment – except for emergency situations, must be reported and authorized PRIOR to change
  • Updated health/medical insurance policies (you must be covered at all times, even while on OPT)

Your International Office is ARC - not IESC

If Your I-20 was issued by The Tseng College, your International Office is in EU 200, in the Extended University (EU) Commons Building, in the Office of Admissions, Registration, and Client Services (ARC)

Although you are a California State University, Northridge (CSUN) student, you do NOT report to CSUN’s International and Exchange Student Center (IESC).

It can get a little confusing sometimes. Because you are a CSUN student, you are identified in the CSUN computer system (SOLAR) as a CSUN international student. As a result, sometimes you can be included in automatic emails from IESC (International and Exchange Student Center) and will often have the same ‘flags’ placed on your SOLAR record as all the other CSUN, international students.

  • If you receive email warnings from IESC, you should ignore them. You are NOT required to attend their orientation. You do NOT have to come into the US early to attend IESC’s orientation. You should not do their online ‘6 Steps’ for new international students.
  • In addition, IESC (International and Exchange Student Center) has OPT workshops which do have excellent information; however, IESC does not have access to the SEVIS records of any students on an I-20 issued by Tseng College, so they cannot request OPT, Optional Practical Training, or request any other SEVIS-related process.

ARC - Your International Office (for all SEVIS-related matters):

California State University, Northridge (CSUN)
The Tseng College, Office of Admissions, Registration and Client Services (ARC)
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8343

ARC is located on the Second Floor of Extended University Commons, EU 200
ARC is open 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday

DSO’s in ARC
Ayda Vardumyan, PDSO 818-677-7649
Susana Nieto 818-677-2626
Lesa Green 818-677-3404


Meanings of Commonly Used Abbreviations and Acronyms
OPT OPT is Optional Practical Training; CPT is Curricular Practical Training. OPT and CPT are types of work authorizations for F-1 Student Visa holders.
SEVIS SEVIS is Student and Visitor Exchange Information System. It is the database in which I-20s are issued and maintained. A student’s SEVIS record refers to the information on your I-20, the status of your I-20 and information about requests for employment or transfers to other schools.
Undergrad and Grad refers to Undergraduates and Graduates A Graduate is a student who has already received a Bachelor, or 4-year, degree. It can be a Bachelor’s Degree from a recognized U.S. institution or a Bachelor’s Degree from a recognized university in a country outside of the U.S. (“recognized” means that the university and degree is considered by CSUN to be equivalent to a U.S. degree).

An Undergraduate is a student who has not yet received a Bachelor, or 4-year, degree – from any country.

CSUN CSUN is the acronym for California State University, Northridge. CSUN is commonly said as ‘C Sun’ (See Sun). It is also common to hear it said as four letters ‘C-S-U-N’ and also ‘Cal State Northridge.’ It is one of the 23 universities in the California State University system. Other CSUs you may have heard of are CSULB (Long Beach), CSULA (Los Angeles), CSUSD (San Diego), and CSUCI (Channel Islands).
GPA GPA stands for Grade Point Average. GPA is a number that indicates a student's average grades.

F-1 VISA: Maintaining Your Visa Status

As a student in the U.S. on an F-1 visa, you have certain rights and responsibilities. Maintaining your status includes not forgetting that your purpose for coming to the United States was to be a STUDENT. The U.S. Department of State issued you your visa based on your intended purpose. This means that you came to the U.S. to study. You should not take any action that takes away from that purpose.

For SEVIS-related questions and concerns, contact a DSO in Admissions, Registration and Client Services (ARC) in EU 200.

More information regarding studying in the United States can be found at:

Study in the States

Education USA

Student Process Steps: How to Navigate the U.S. Immigration System

To maintain SEVIS status, students are expected to:

  1. Arrive and enroll by the start date on their I-20.
  2. Enroll full time (see chart for specific programs)

    Full-time enrollment for various programs in the Tseng College:

    Semester at CSUN Program

    • Undergraduate students must enroll and attend 12 or more units of university classes per semester. (Undergraduates are students who have not yet earned a bachelor degree in any country)
    • On-line courses: SEVIS regulations state that – per semester – undergraduate students must enroll in at least 9 units taught in-person, or face-to-face. The other units can be an on-line course(s).
    • A maximum of 3 units of on-line instruction can be used toward meeting the full-time enrollment requirement.
    • Students who are considered graduate-level students must enroll and attend 9 or more units each semester. (Graduates are students who have earned a recognized bachelor degree in any country)
    • A maximum of 3 units of on-line instruction can be used toward meeting the full-time enrollment requirement.

    Student Success Pathway Program

    • This well-designed program combines credit and non-credit courses. When you follow the course schedule, you are considered full-time per SEVIS regulations.

    Open University Study Program

    • Students must enroll and attend 12 or more units of university classes per semester.
    • Only one 3-unit course can be on-line. You must be in a minimum of 9 units of classes that are taught face-to-face, or in-person.

    Master’s Degree programs and Grad-Level Certificates

    Graduate-level students in The Tseng College are either

    • in a Cohort, OR
    • in the Masters of Public Administration, MPA, program

    COHORT students are considered full-time based on simply following the regular class schedule for the individual cohort program they are admitted to (many are 6 units per term, but are required to attend classes in the summers).

    WARNING! Some cohort programs offer an option for either in-person or virtual participation (often referred to as Video-Conferencing, Virtual Classroom, Virtual Attendance, Online, and so on). As students on F-1 Student Visas, you are required to attend class in-person or face-to-face (F2F). You do not have the option of attending class through virtual mode. Attending classes virtually is a violation of the SEVIS regulations. In fact, you are required to sign and submit the Tseng College ‘VERIFICATION of Attending Classes FACE-TO-FACE (F2F)’ form to acknowledge that you have been informed of this.

    MPA students must be enrolled in 9 units in the fall and spring semesters. Summers are optional. The maximum number of units that can be taken online is 3 units per semester. In addition, the final course required for graduation cannot be an on-line course. See the Handout Maintaining SEVIS Status which is specifically for Tseng College Grad students.

  3. Make normal progress toward completing the program
  4. Report a change of address to the DSO within 10 days of the change.
  5. Not have any unauthorized employment (even unpaid). You must be authorized for employment (even unpaid internships) before beginning work.
  6. Avoid Academic Disqualification
  7. Not overstay the 60-day grace period after completion. After completing your last requirement for a degree or certificate, you have 60 days to leave the U.S., transfer to a new program/school, or work while on authorized OPT. See ‘Completion of Studies’ below for details. Students on OPT also have a 60-day grace after OPT ends.

Other Situations that can Result in Terminated I-20s:

In addition to the above, you risk “falling out of status” and your I-20 being terminated if the following circumstances occur.

SEVIS will Terminate I-20s if the SEVIS I-901 fee has not been paid for that specific SEVIS ID number.

  • Any time you receive a new SEVIS ID number, which happens if you receive a brand-new I-20, not during a SEVIS transfer, not due to reinstatement, but a completely new I-20, you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • The SEVIS fee is supposed to be paid after receiving the new I-20 and before scheduling the visa interview. However, sometimes the payment is not recorded in SEVIS and those students are sent notices to pay. If not paid, SEVIS terminates their I-20s.

SEVIS will Terminate I-20s if you do not respond in time after receiving a Form I-515A “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor” Form I-515A is given to students when CBP allows a student to enter the US, temporarily, for 30 days, despite not having all required documents, especially if trying to reenter the US without correct I-20.

  • Other reasons you could receive an I-515A are: have not paid the I-901 SEVIS fee, I-20 not endorsed (signed) for travel, using the wrong I-20, and also dependents (F-2) without proper documents receive a Form I-515A.
  • If you receive a Form I-515A, immediately contact a DSO in Admissions, Registration and Client Services (ARC) and show the form to the DSO. Next, send in all required documents to the address on the I-515A within 30 days!
  • Information about Form I-515A is at:

Termination due to violating SEVIS regulations is a permanent negative mark in a SEVIS record, but sometimes I-20s are terminated for reasons other than violations. In those cases, the termination is not a negative mark on a student’s SEVIS record. Those non-violation terminations are for specific situations, such as when students who are in status must withdraw from school and leave the U.S. Their I-20s are terminated, but the reason in SEVIS is “Authorized Early Withdrawal.” This type of termination is not a negative in SEVIS. Under these circumstances, students have a 15-day grace period to prepare for departure from the U.S.

I-20s that are terminated because students failed to maintain status due to SEVIS violations are not eligible for a grace period after their I-20 has been terminated and are expected to depart the US immediately. In fact, every day in the U.S. after this type of termination counts as days of unlawful presence.

Passports and Visas

Passports must be valid when entering the United States. If you travel outside of the US, make sure to renew your passport before reentering the U.S. to continue your studies, if necessary.

Passport Expiration Dates and Reentering the US

  • Try to keep your passport current at all times. You need to determine your country’s requirements and timelines for renewing passports. It’s best to renew your passport when you return home for a visit, but many countries will allow you to renew your passport while in the United States.
  • In some cases, you may want to delay leaving the United States until you have renewed your passport. You will not be able to re-enter the United States without a valid passport.
  • If your expired passport has a valid visa, you can still use that visa if you kept the old passport. Present the old passport, along with the new passport when you reenter the country.

Visas must be valid for at least six months past the date you enter the United States. Students are permitted to stay in the U.S. with an expired F-1 visa as long as they stay in status in SEVIS.

However, whenever students travel outside of the United States, they must have a valid visa to re-enter. Students who leave the US with expired visas, must apply to a US Consulate for a renewed visa before attempting to re-enter the US.

Lost or Stolen Passports, Visas, I-20s

  • If your passport is lost or stolen, contact your local embassy in the U.S. for a replacement passport. If it was stolen, report the theft to the police, too.
  • If your I-20 was lost or stolen along with your passport, request a reprinted I-20 before requesting a replacement passport.
  • Passports can be replaced while in the U.S., but visas are not replaced. (Visas are only needed to enter the US.)

See “Frequently Asked Questions” on the Study in the States website.

Extension of Stay

If you will not be able to complete your program of study by the end date on your I-20, request an extension of stay.  Submit a request at least 3 weeks prior to program end date on I-20.

I-20s are issued for the average length of time a program takes to complete – with some extra time added to cover the potential need to retake a class or two or other unforeseen events. As a result, the time printed on I-20s is not necessarily how long you will be in a program – or how long you are authorized to stay in the U.S. You could be in a program a much shorter time.

Number of months on I-20s for Tseng College programs: Master’s degrees – 36 months; GCBA – 24 months; IEP and SAC – 12 months.

But remember that you are only in status when you have been reported to SEVIS as enrolled – and that is done every session/term/semester. If not enrolled, that is reported to SEVIS and your I-20 will be terminated by SEVIS 60 days following your last day of enrollment. Of course, that scenario is only for students who just stop attending and do not report to a DSO. Students who transfer from one school to another, in a timely manner, and students on OPT are not automatically terminated after 60 days.

Keep all I-20s issued for different reasons by different schools. You need copies of them when applying for OPT, applying for an H1-B visa, applying for permanent residence, and at other times.

Completion of Studies

Only for students who maintained their SEVIS status:

After completing your last requirement to receive your degree or certificate, you have 60 days to (1) prepare for departure from the U.S., (2) work under authorized OPT. (3) transfer to another school, or (4) change to a different non-immigrant or immigrant status.

Completing your last requirement means your last class, the last comprehensive exam (if applicable), whatever was necessary to earn your degree or certificate. It does not include the graduation ceremony. If your graduation ceremony occurs after your 60-day grace period, you must leave the US and then return to the U.S. on a different visa type to attend the graduation ceremonies.

If you are leaving the United States and not returning within the next 5 months, you have 60 days to prepare for departure from the US. During that 60-day grace period, you:

  • can leave the U.S. permanently on any day during the 60-day grace period
  • can stay in the United States and not attend school
  • can travel WITHIN the U.S. only
  • CANNOT travel outside of the US and re-enter the US
  • should tell a DSO in ARC that you are not returning

If you will be on OPT after completing your studies, you:

  • can still apply for OPT within the 60-day grace period but you really should have applied earlier (see Employment & Tseng College Students, “Working in the United States” at, and “Practical Training at
  • should NOT travel outside of the U.S. until receiving your EAD (Employment Authorization Document)
  • can travel WITHIN the U.S.
  • cannot start working until OPT is authorized
  • cannot be unemployed more than 90 days
  • will have a 60-day grace after OPT ends

If you are transferring to a new school, you:

  • must request to transfer out
  • must provide a written proof of admission to the new school in enough time to be transferred before the 60-day grace period ends
  • must attend the first available session at the new school
  • can travel in and out of the U.S. in the time before the new school starts, or not travel at all
  • must use the new school’s I-20 to re-enter the U.S. if you travel while between schools

If you are interested in changing to a new status,

If you are on OPT, and remained employed and in status, you have all the same options listed above, except, of course, applying for OPT.

NOTE: A student on OPT can transfer to a new program/new school at any time, but OPT permanently ends on the day of the transfer. In other words, you can transfer out in SEVIS before OPT ends or during the 60-day grace period after OPT ends.