Maintaining Your Status as a F-1 Student in the United States

Tips – Maintaining Your Status During COVID-19

 Stay updated on any new developments by checking U.S. government websites regularly. A full list of resources can be found at the bottom of this document. Make sure to get your information from official sources and be wary of rumors.

  • Your Designated School Official (DSO) is the most important contact you have. If you do not know who your DSO is, contact your International Student Office. In many cases, they are the person who signed your I-20. Only they can confirm you are maintaining active student status. Notify them if:
    • You move or change address
    • You want to take online classes or need to drop below a full course load
    • You decide to leave the U.S.
    • You make any changes to your employment or optional practical training (OPT)
    • You have any academic, legal, or medical issues
  • If you decide to leave the U.S. with an expired visa, please note that U.S. visa processing has been suspended worldwide until further notice. You would not be able to return to the U.S. without a valid visa. However, as soon as visa processing restarts, U.S. Embassy Kuwait intends to prioritize all student visa applicants, especially student visa renewals.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 How and when can I apply for a new student visa?

 All visa appointments at U.S. Embassy Kuwait have been suspended since until further notice. At this time, we plan to have visa appointments available starting June 22. We have also scheduled visa appointments specifically for students on June 24, 28, 29 and July 1. However, please check our website for daily updates. If the COVID-19 situation in Kuwait requires a change to these dates, we will post an announcement there. The earliest you can apply for a student visa in advance of a program start date is 120 days.  The fee for the visa appointment (MRV fee) is valid for one full year.

My visa is still valid but I will be outside the U.S. for longer than five months. Will I keep my student status?

Yes, as long as you talk to your DSO in advance of travel and have no other academic issues. Given the current situation, in many cases the normal five-month rule may not apply. Please speak to your DSO to understand your individual situation BEFORE traveling. Only they can confirm the status of your I-20.

Is it true that I can renew my student visa by filling form I-539 online?

No. The only way to obtain a new student visa is to apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. There is a difference between your student status and your student visa.

Your visa is an entry document and does not determine how long you may stay in the U.S. You may stay in the U.S. with an expired F-1 visa as long as you maintain active student status in SEVIS by being in possession of a valid I-20 and by meeting normal academic requirements. Only your DSO can confirm or extend your student status in SEVIS. If you intend to stay in the United States and need to extend your student status, talk to your DSO before filling out any forms.

I have a specific question about my situation that you haven’t answered. Can I contact you?

Please email with details of your situation, and we’ll be happy to assist.

Helpful Resources

Maintaining Student Status:

Changing Status in the U.S.:

Travel Advisories and Visa Information:

  • Department of State COVID-19 Information

  • U.S. Embassy Kuwait Non-immigrant Visas Page

Health Guidance in the U.S.:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention