Your I-20 is valid for 1 year from the date your program begins. You can continue to enroll for classes during the year your I-20 is valid. Your I-20 is “active” only when you are enrolled in an eligible program and studying full-time.
When you enter the United States with an I-20 and F-1 visa, the Customs and Border Patrol officer at the port of entry writes “D/S” on your I-94 card meaning “Duration of Status.” This means that your stay in the U.S. is lawful so long as your status as an F-1 student remains intact. If you fall out of status your lawful time in the U.S. will end.
Managing your status: You do this by meeting or exceeding academic progress and registration rules as they relate to your ALC program.
Your time begins with your reporting date for orientation, shown in section 5 on your I-20 form. You can enter the United States up to 30 days before your program begins. Failure to check-in by your reporting date could result in your being counted as a “no show,” resulting in termination of your I-20 and F-1 status.
Your time ends with the date indicated on the I-20 that says “no later than ___/___/__.”
Changing Your Length of Stay
The end date on your I-20 is fixed. To stay past your I-20 end date, you must enroll in additional eligible programs and apply for a new I-20 before your current I-20 end date, which is indicated in item #5 of your I-20.