Maintaining student status means fulfilling the purpose for why the Department of State issued a student an F-1/J-1 visa and following the regulations associated with that purpose.

Since studying is the main purpose for an F-1/J-1 international student to come to the United States, it is very important international students not take any action that detracts from that purpose.

While studying in the United States, international students must:

  • Attend and pass all classes. If school is too difficult, the student should first speak with an Academic Advisor. If it is determined that dropping a course is needed and the reason for the drop is one allowed by the immigration rules, the student should review the Reduced Course Load (RCL) page to request approval for the RCL. If it is determined that taking a break from school is needed, the student should review the Leave of Absence (LOA) page to learn how to obtain authorization for the LOA.
  • International students are required to take a full course of study each term; if it is not possible to study full-time, the student should seek approval for Reduced Course Load (RCL). Students must receive authorization from their International Student Advisor prior to dropping below full-time registration. This can only be authorized once per degree level for academic reasons.
  • If the student believes that he/she will be unable to complete the program by the end date listed on the I-20/DS-2019 form, the student should request an Extension of the I-20/DS-2019 before the current expiration.

Below are actions to take in order to properly maintain student status.

  • Enter the United States no more than 30 days before the program of study begins.
  • Complete the Check-in process at UFIC after entering the United States, no later than the program start date listed on the I-20/DS-2019 form.
  • Have a valid, unexpired passport
  • Attend the school authorized to attend
  • Refrain from unlawful employment
  • Make normal progress towards completing a course of study
  • Have a valid I-20/DS-2019 and apply for extensions in a timely manner
  • Follow transfer procedures
  • Request a new I-20 for a change of major or degree program level (for F-1 students).
  • Be a full-time student by meeting the registration requiremets

REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS

MINIMUM FULL TIME REQUIREMENTS* Undergraduate Students Graduate Students
Fall/Spring Semesters 12 credits each semester
  • minimum 9 credits physical presence
  • additional 3 credits may be physical presence or online
9 credits each semester
  • minimum 6 credits physical presence
  • additional 3 credits may be physical presence or online
Summer C 12 credits (or 6 credits Summer A and B each)
  • minimum 9 credits physical presence
  • additional 3 credits may be physical presence or online
6 credits (or 3 credits Summer A and B each)
  • minimum 3 credits physical presence
  • additional 3 credits may be physical presence or online
Summer B 6 credits
  • minimum 3 credits physical presence
  • additional 3 credits may be physical presence or online
3 credits
  • must be physical presence

*This table is applicable to the semester of admission and any subsequent fall and spring semesters, except the final semester. In subsequent summer semesters, registration is not required unless the academic department requires registration, the student has an assistantship/fellowship,the student is authorized for CPT, or the student plans to graduate. Please refer to Final Semester Minimum Requirements table regarding final semester registration.

Online Enrollment Restrictions Applicable to All Students

Online refers to any course that is EDGE or offered principally through the use of “distance education, television, audio, or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, or satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing” that does not have any physical presence requirements in the course.

  • During fall and spring semesters, students may not take only online credits.  Up to three online credits can count towards the full time course load; the remainder of the credits that count towards the full-time course load must have physical presence requirements.
  • During summer semesters, students may take any number of online credits except in the semester of admission (if admitted in summer) or the semester of graduation (if graduating in summer).
  • In the final semester, if a student needs less than a full course load to satisfy graduation requirements, then the number of credits taken cannot be online only, online credits cannot outweigh physical presence credits, and online credits cannot exceed three.

Enrollment Requirements for Master’s Thesis and Doctoral Students

Students who are Master’s Thesis or Doctoral, and have finished all core and elective courses and only need research credits to complete their degree requirements may register for a minimum of three research credits each Fall/Spring semester and a minimum of two research credits each summer until they graduate. Graduate students with an assistantship/fellowship must maintain the minimum registration requirements set forth by the assistantship/fellowship contract.

Final Semester Minimum Registration Requirements

In the final semester, students are automatically allowed to register less than full time as indicated in the table below. No special authorization is required in this situation. If a student needs less than a full course load to satisfy graduation requirements, then the number of credits taken cannot be online only, online credits cannot outweigh physical presence credits, and online credits cannot exceed three.

Final Semester Minimum Requirements Undergraduate Students Graduate Students Graduate Business Students
Fall 1 credit 3 credits 2 credits
Spring 1 credit 3 credits 2 credits
Summer 1 credit 2 credits 1 credit

Recognize and Avoid Status Violations

If an international student violates the requirements that govern his/her immigration status, the ability to remain in the United States as a student would be jeopardized. Examples of violations include but are not limited to the following:

  • Failure to enroll by the date specified by the student’s school.
  • Failure to maintain a full course load without prior authorization for a reduction from the student’s International Student Advisor.
  • Unauthorized employment during the student’s stay.
  • Failure to leave the United States following completion of the student’s course or program-related employment.
  • Failure to maintain insurance coverage for the student and his/her dependents (for J-1 Students)

* Please note that this is not a complete listing of potential status violations. Check with an International Student Advisor for more information.

An International Student Advisor (ISA) must authorize a Reduce Course Load or Leave of Absence and update SEVIS prior to the student reducing his or her course load. If a student drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the ISA, the student will be out of status. If an international student falls out of status for reasons beyond their control, the student may be eligible to apply for a Reinstatement of status. International students must work with an International Student Advisor to determine if reinstatement is an option.

Dependent Spouse or Child

  Spouse Child
F-2

Is only in status while the F-1 is in status

Is not eligible for ANY employment authorization

Is allowed to enroll in a degree program as a part-time degree seeking student

Is only in status while the F-1 is in status

Is not eligible for ANY employment authorization

May enroll in educational institutions (K-12) and as a part-time degree seeking student

J-2

Is only in status while the J-1 is in status

Is eligible for employment; must be authorized by USCIS

Is allowed to enroll in a degree program

Is only in status while the J-1 is in status

Is eligible for employment; must be authorized by USCIS

May enroll in educational institutions (K-12) and as a degree seeking student

Employment Authorization

Students and dependents are eligible for employment as indicated below:

  Student Dependent
F Status

On campus, without prior approval from the International Center

A maximum of 20 hours per week during fall/spring semesters; full time permitted for summer semesters

Full time during official vacation periods (i.e. spring break and winter break)

Through Practical Training (CPT and OPT)

F-2 DEPENDENTS ARE NOT PERMITTED TO WORK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
J Status

On campus, with prior approval from the International Student Advisor

A maximum of 20 hours per week during fall/spring semesters; full time permitted for summer semesters

Full time during official vacation periods (i.e. spring break and winter break)

Through Academic Training during the degree program or after its completion

J-2 DEPENDENTS ARE PERMITTED TO WORK WITH EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION FROM USCIS. THE EMPLOYMENT AUHORIZATION DOCUMENT (EAD) MUST BE RECEIVED AND EFFECTIVE BEFORE EMPLOYMENT MAY BEGIN.

NOTE: Students should contact the UFIC prior to any employment which occurs off campus (paid or unpaid) and prior to accepting payments from United States sources.

Grace Period

F-1 students have a 60 day grace period after the date of graduation (or OPT end date, if applicable) and J-1 students have a 30 day grace period after the date of graduation (or Academic Training end date, if applicable). During the grace period, the student may remain in the United States while making preparations to depart the U.S. before the grace period ends. The student may also either apply for a change of visa status or request a SEVIS transfer to attend another school; both of these cases require action to be taken before the grace period ends.

However, if the student departs the U.S. during the grace period, the remainder of the grace period is forfeited; that student may NOT re-enter the United States in F-1/J-1 status any longer using the I-20/DS-2019 from the program that was just completed. If an international student leaves and later needs to re-enter the United States to pick up his/her belongings, the student should consider the possibility of entering the United States on a tourist visa.