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 and schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor 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 and schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor to seek advice or 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 should not drop a class without first meeting with an International Student Advisor to obtain the RCL authorization.
  • 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 completing a minimum of:
FULL TIME REQUIREMENTS Undergraduate Students*** Graduate Students***
Fall/Spring Semesters* 12 credits each 9 credits each
Summer C** 12 credits (or 6 credits Summer A and B each) 6 credits (or 3 credits Summer A and B each)
Summer B** 6 credits 3 credits

* International Student must be registered full time each Fall and Spring semester

** If an international student is admitted in a Summer A, B or C semester, he/she must be registered full time in the summer in which he/she are admitted. Future summers do not require full time registration.

*** International students may only count one online/distance education/correspondence study/EDGE course (3 credit maximum) toward their full time enrollment requirement, per semester.

NOTE: Students may not register for only online classes during the following semesters:

  • Fall
  • Spring
  • The specific Summer to which the student was admitted, if admitted in Summer
  • The specific Summer in which the student will graduate, if graduating in Summer

 

  • Undergraduate Students:
    • Students admitted to Summer C, Fall, or Spring: must register for at least 12 credits, and 9 of the 12 credits must be physical presence; the other 3 credits may be online or physical presence.
    • Students admitted to Summer B only: must register at least 6 credits, and 3 of the 6 credits must be physical presence; the other 3 credits may be online or physical presence.
  • Graduate Students:
    • Students admitted to Summer C: must register for at least 6 credits, and 3 of the 6 credits must be physical presence; the other 3 credits may be online or physical presence.
    • Students admitted to Summer B only: must register for at least 3 credits and they must be physical presence.
    • Students admitted to Fall or Spring: must register for at least 9 credits, and 6 of the 9 credits must be physical presence; the other 3 credits may be online or physical presence.
  • All Students:
    • The number of online credits you are allowed to complete in your final semester cannot be online only, cannot outweigh the number of physical presence credits, and cannot exceed 3 credits.

Final Semester Minimum Registration Requirements

If the student is in their FINAL GRADUATING SEMESTER (undergraduate and graduate students) or FINISHED ALL CORE AND ELECTIVE CLASSES AND ONLY NEED RESEARCH CREDITS (Thesis-Master and PhD students), the student is automatically allowed to register less than full time as indicated in the table below. No special authorization is required in this situation.

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

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.