F-1 Visa Status

F-1 international students MUST:

  • Have a valid, unexpired passport
  • Attend the school you are authorized to attend
  • Refrain from unlawful employment
  • Make normal progress towards completing a course of study
  • Have a valid I-20 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
  • 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

* You must be registered full time each Fall and Spring semester
** If you are admitted in a Summer A, B or C semester, you must be registered full time in the summer in which you are admitted. Future summers do not require full time registration.

On-line course registration requirements

F-1 students may ONLY count one online/distance education course (3 credits maximum) toward their full time enrollment requirement. Students are NOT allowed to do only an online/distance education course in their final semester. If a student only has one course remaining in their final semester, it must be a physical presence course.

Final Semester and Minimum Registration Requirements

If you have FINISHED ALL CORE & ELECTIVE CLASSES AND ONLY NEED RESEARCH CREDITS or are in your FINAL GRADUATING SEMESTER, you are allowed to register less than full time while completing your thesis/dissertation as indicated in the table below (students who have an assistantship/fellowship must still be registered full time, in accordance with the requirements of the assistantship). No special authorization is required in this situation.

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

Recognize and Avoid Status Violations

If you violate the requirements that govern your immigration status, you may jeopardize your ability to remain in the United States as a student. Examples of violations include but are not limited to the following:

  • Failure to enroll by the date specified by your school.
  • Failure to maintain a full course load without prior authorization for a reduction from your ISA.
  • Unauthorized employment during your stay.
  • Failure to leave the United States following completion of your course or program-related employment.

* Please note that this is not a complete listing of potential status violations. Check with your ISA for more information.
Note: If you fall out of status for reasons beyond their control, you may be eligible to apply for a reinstatement of status. You must work with your ISA to determine if reinstatement is an option.

F-2 Dependent Spouse or Child

  • F-2 Spouse:
    • Is only in status while the F-1 is in status
    • Is not eligible for ANY employment authorization
    • Is not allowed to enroll in a degree program, but may take recreational classes or English language classes, incidental to status
  • F-2 Child:
    • Is only in status while the F-1 is in status
    • Is not eligible for ANY employment authorization
    • May only enroll in K-12th grades

Employment Authorization

    • 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
    • Through Practical Training (CPT and OPT)

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

Grace Period

As an F-1 student, you have a 60 day grace period after your date of graduation (or OPT end date, if applicable). During the grace period, you may remain in the United States but you may NOT exit and re-enter the United States in F-1 status. If you only need to re-enter the United States to pick up your belongings, you should consider the possibility of entering the United States on a tourist visa.