Maintaining F-1 status as a student
Students admitted to the United States (U.S.) on the F-1 visa must fulfill certain obligations in order to maintain status. Students must:
1. Have a passport which is kept valid at all times. Note: Some countries have an agreement with the U.S. that a passport is valid only 6 months after the date of expiration.
2. Attend the school which they are authorized to attend or attend an approved transfer school.
3. Have a copy of the I-94 form on hand. The I-94 form should be available to print within a few days of arriving in the U.S. For additional information and to print an I-94 Form, please visit:
I-94 Official Website
4. Maintain fulltime course enrollment status during the fall and spring semester each year. Summer enrollment is not required unless it is the first or last semester of enrollment at the University.
- Undergraduate – 12 hours per semester (only one online course can be used to meet the 12-hour requirement)
- Graduate – 9 credit hours per semester (only one online course can be used to meet the 9-hour requirement)
Note: Dropping below the fulltime enrollment requirement must be approved by an PDSO/DSO. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accepts the following academic difficulties as reasons for a reduction of a student‘s course load:
- Canceling or dropping from a course or courses due to improper course level placement (support from the academic advisor is required).
- Initial difficulty with the English language and/or with reading requirements (support from academic advisor is required).
- Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods or reading requirements (support from academic advisor is required).
- Medical issue or emergency. A letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist that clearly states the student is unable to maintain fulltime enrollment is required. The reduced course load for medical reasons is limited to 12 months per academic program level. After 12 months with a reduced course load for medical reasons, F-1 students must either leave the U.S. and recuperate in their home country or apply for a change of visa status to allow for continued medical treatment in the U.S. (support from academic advisor is not required).
- Final semester: Students may carry a reduced course load if they have filed an intent to complete a program of study by the end of the semester (support from Associate Registrar for graduation is required).
The Reduced Course Load Form must be completed for each semester that a student is not enrolled fulltime. The Reduced Course Load Form should be submitted to and approved by the DSO prior to enrollment for less than a full course of study or prior to a course drop/withdrawal that results in less than a full course of study. Failure to obtain prior approval for a reduced course load will result in the loss of legal status. The DSO will make the final decision on the acceptability of the reduced course load request.
Note: The Reduced Course Load Form is available in the Registrar’s Office by request only.
5. Notify the DSO within 10 days when following occurs:
- Changes in permanent international address
- Changes in current US living address
- Changes to name, or citizenship status
- Financial Information (if a student’s financial information changes, he or she must inform the DSO and provide new proof of finances to the University)
6. Notify DSO of any of the following prior to the event:
- Working on campus
- Graduation date changes (extensions must be requested before the end date on I-20 form)
- Dropping below fulltime status (requires Reduced Course Load Form)
- Changes in degree program or academic major
- Completion of degree program requirements prior to the date listed on the I-20 form
- Requesting a transfer to another school
- Moving from one level to another (i.e. undergraduate to graduate)
- Withdrawal from the University
7. Refrain from unauthorized off-campus employment. Unauthorized off-campus employment will result in termination of status.
8. Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session, including academic employment pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship. You must obtain a Social Security Number (card) after you have been offered a job on campus. Contact the DSO to obtain a employment letter to apply with the Social Security Office.