International Student Responsibilities

Students with F1 Visa status have certain rights and obligations under the regulations of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This webpage outlines the most important of these responsibilities.

Immigration Documents

Passport: Your passport must be valid at all times. If you lose your passport, contact your home country's embassy or nearest consulate to have it replaced.

I-20:  All F and M students that study in the United States need a Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status." Read and clearly understand the information on the I-20.

If you lose your I-20 or need to make any changes, request a new one from your Designated School Official (DSO). The I-20 is valid until the date indicated under the program end date in the third section of the front page. Keep your initial I-20 and any other copies you may be issued in a safe place.

Form I-94: The Arrival and Departure Record is the I-94, in either paper or electronic format, issued by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer to foreign visitors entering the United States. After April 30, 2013, most Arrival and /or Departure records will be created electronically upon arrival. Instead of a paper form, the visitor will be provided with an annotated stamp in the foreign passport. If provided a paper form, the admitting CBP Officer generally attaches the I-94 to the visitor's passport and stamps the form's departure date.

In both circumstances, an electronic I-94 or paper I-94, the visitor must exit the U.S. on or before that date stamped on the form or in the passport.

Before leaving Customs the student should ensure that the 1-94 is accurate for:

  • Port of Entry
  • Dates
  • Spelling of name
  • Category of entry (ensure they are F1)

If a visitor departs by commercial air or sea carrier (airlines or cruise ships), their departure from the U.S. can be independently verified, and it is not necessary to take any further action.

If a visitor departs by land and has a paper I-94 form, the I-94 must be turned in to a CBP Officer at a land border when exiting the U.S. on or before the date stamped on the form. Starting October 2021, a hard copy will be needed for domestic flights. 

Registration & Courseload

Registration and Attendance: All international students must enroll as full-time students. Full-time means they are registered and are making satisfactory academic progress in 12 credits. Of those 12 credits, no more than three credits or one online class can be counted towards full-time enrollment. After the full-time status is met, the International Student Liaison must approve additional online courses before registering for classes.

If you fail to attend classes, Iowa Lakes is obligated to report to ICE, resulting in the termination of your I-20 and thereby revoking your student status.

Withdrawals: You cannot withdraw from a class if it means that you will have fewer than 12 credit hours for the term. Doing so may result in the termination of your I-20.

Summer: The summer term is optional unless you enter the U.S. for the first time on an I-20 with a summer start date. These students must enroll in at least 12 credit hours.

Reduction in Course Load:  With approval, in advance, from the International Student Coordinator, you may register for less than 12 credit hours if:

  • Final Term of Study - If all requirements for your degree are met at the end of the term, you only have to take the courses needed to finish.
  • Special Circumstances - If you have an illness or other medical condition, a doctor can provide documentation that you need a reduced course load. You must resume full-time study when the condition is resolved.

On-Campus Only: You may work up to 20 hours per week on-campus while school is in session. This position may be for any student services or educationally affiliated employment opportunity.

Holidays & Vacation

You may remain in the U.S. and maintain your F1 status as long as you are in good SEVIS standing, intend to register for the next term, and you have not reached the completion date on your I-20 before you resume your studies.


Within the U.S.: You may travel if you maintain your lawful status and have your valid passport, I-94, and I-20 in your possession.

Outside the U.S.: You may leave the U.S. at any time. You have the right to return, provided you have:

  • Valid passport with valid F or M visa (if applicable)
  • Signed Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status” * The second page of your I-20 must be signed each year by a DSO at your college.
  • Proof of financial support
  • Designated School Official’s contact information
  • Iowa Lakes Acceptance Letter
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt

Return to a different school:

You must obtain a new I-20 from your new school before you attempt to re-enter the U.S. Entering the country using the I-20 for a school you do not plan to attend can cause serious immigration problems.

Length of Stay

You may study in your educational program until the program end date. If you need additional time and meet certain requirements, you may apply for an “extension of study” 30 days before the I-20 expires. An extension will not be granted when the extra time needed is due to having failed classes.

Completion of Degree Requirements

You have 60 days following your program's completion to decide if you wish to transfer to another school for a higher degree, apply for a different degree, or depart the U.S.

Your 60-day grace period begins at the end of your program, not at graduation. At the end of the 60 days, your SEVIS records and legal status will be automatically terminated.

Address Change

You must inform Iowa Lakes and ICE within ten days of moving. Students can download the immigration form (AR- 11) to  opens in a new windowreport address changes from

Health Insurance

Iowa Lakes purchases insurance for you, and it is part of your processing and health insurance fee. This insurance includes repatriation of remains as well as medical expenses. 

Failure to Comply with Responsibilities

If you fail to comply with your immigration responsibilities, you may lose your student status and not be eligible for benefits usually granted to F1 students.
We are pleased to offer information, counseling, and assistance on all federal regulations related to maintaining your F1 status.

Other important information

Helpful Websites

Iowa Lakes has compiled a list of websites to assist you with the admission process at Iowa Lakes.

Check out the list of websites below: 


On-Campus Housing

On-Campus Housing is available on the Estherville, Emmetsburg, and Spencer campuses. Housing contracts also include a meal plan. You must apply for housing online before the start of the semester.

Apply Now 

Off-Campus Housing

Many Iowa Lakes students live off-campus in private apartments, rooms, and rental homes. The conditions of rental opportunities may vary with each landlord. Costs per month range depending on the individual situation. Students should consider the following factors when investigating off-campus living arrangements: 

  • Utility costs, deposits, and contract requirements.
  • Distance from the college
  • Household Furnishings
Career & Technical Program Areas of Study

Iowa Lakes Community College offers career and technical programs in the following areas of study:

  • Agriculture, Natural & Environmental Services
  • Engineering and Construction
  • Arts, Design, and Visual Communications
  • Business, Management, and Marketing
  • Education, Public, and Human Services
  • Health Science
  • Hospitality 
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation & Logistics


Corey Meyer
Admissions Enrollment Coach / International Student Liaison
712-362-7919 Ext: 7919 | cmeyer@iowalakes.educreate new email
Estherville Campus