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Staying on Track: How the 5-Month Rule Impacts F-1 Students’ Educational Journey

For foreign students studying in the US on an F-1 visa, maintaining status is essential. To ensure that students follow the conditions of their visas, the U.S. government has set a number of requirements. The “5-month rule,” which applies to F-1 students who quit attending classes, is one such regulation. This post will go over the specifics of the 5-month rule, how it affects F-1 students, and how keeping status is crucial to avoiding any negative repercussions.

  1. Authorized Early Withdrawal

When an F-1 student wants to quit their program and stop going to classes, they must follow the correct protocol to achieve an “authorized early withdrawal.” The 5-month rule does not apply if the DSO (designated school official) is notified beforehand and permission is obtained. With this approved withdrawal, students can leave their program without risking their F-1 status or incurring potential repercussions.

  1. Unplanned Absence and the 5-Month Rule

The 5-month rule applies when an F-1 student quits attending school without getting a valid early withdrawal. This regulation states that if an F-1 student misses more than five months of classes, their F-1 status may have been compromised. The length of the absence and whether it was unintended or purposeful both have a role in whether this is a violation.

  1. Consequences of Violating the 5-Month Rule

When an F-1 student’s status is terminated due to a violation of the 5-month rule, it can lead to several significant consequences. First, the student might no longer qualify for F-1-related perks like work permission or possibilities for hands-on training. Additionally, it can make future re-entry into the country more difficult because an expired F-1 visa might worry immigration officials.

  1. Reinstatement Process for F-1 Students

An F-1 student may have the option to go through a reinstatement process if their status is terminated as a result of breaking the 5-month restriction and they want to recover their F-1 status. Application for reinstatement must be made to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and it must be shown that the student’s actions were not to blame for the infraction. These situations could involve unexpected occurrences like medical problems, family crises, or other things.

International students enrolled in American universities must adhere to the rules and specifications of an F-1 visa. The 5-month rule for class attendance places a strong emphasis on keeping good standing and avoiding any infractions that can result in negative outcomes. To ensure that allowed early withdrawals are made when appropriate, F-1 students should maintain proactive communication with their designated school officials (DSOs) and adhere to the required processes. F-1 students can protect their status and have a great academic experience in the United States by staying educated and following the rules.

If you are unsure of your situation or of which scenario above applies to you, you should speak with an experienced immigration attorney.

Reddy & Neumann has been serving the business community for over 20 years and is Houston’s largest immigration law firm focused solely on US. Employment-based immigration. We work with both employers and their employees, helping them navigate the immigration process quickly and cost-effectively. 

By : Juanita Deaver

Juanita Deaver is an Associate Attorney in the I-140 and AOS Department, where she assists clients in the middle and later stages of the green card process.

Juanita earned her J.D. from South Texas College of Law Houston in May 2021. As a law-student, Juanita interned at a non-profit organization where she discovered her passion for immigration while working on family-based cases helping file I-130 petitions and I-485 adjustments of status. During her time at South Texas, she further pursued her interest in the field of immigration law through enrollment in the school’s Immigration Clinics where she worked on TPS, T visas, and DACA cases. Her experience working with families and clients in emergency situations has provided Juanita the tools and experience to provide clear and concise explanations to the seemingly daunting immigration process.

Juanita joined Reddy & Neumann as a law clerk in December 2019. While clerking, she gained valuable experience by working closely under attorneys from each of the firm’s departments on drafting successful requests for evidence, appeals, motions to re-open, and through legal research on immigration matters. Juanita understands that every case is unique and hopes to provide each client with a better understanding of the ever-changing immigration process.