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Maintaining Lawful Student Status

The following information is provided to help you become acquainted with the regulations governing your status as an F-1 or J-1 international student. If you have questions please contact the International Student Services Office, who will be happy to address your specific concerns.

  • Keep your passport valid.
  • Maintain full time enrollment and normal full time progress toward your degree or educational objective.

Full-time enrollment requirements

    • English as a Second Language:  18 units
    • ALL Undergraduate degrees, MBA, and MFA:  12 credits
    • ALL other Graduate degrees:  9 credits

Online courses: 

  • Only 1 online course counts towards your full-time enrollment requirement each semester.  Meaning, you cannot take more than1 online course per semester and have it count toward your full-time F-1 enrollment status for immigration purposes.  
    • Example 1. If your full-time enrollment requirement is 12 credits, and you are registered for 12 credits, only 1 of those classes (3 credits) can be online.  
    • Example 2. If your full-time enrollment requirement is 12 credits and you want to register for 2 online classes (6 credits), than you must register for 15 credits.
  • In your final semester, you must take a seated course.  In your final semester, you cannot register for only one online course;
    • Example 1. If you only need one course to graduate and that final, required course is an online course, it must have some seated or physical presence requirement on campus, like an examination, presentation, or periodic meetings with the professor in class. 
    • Example 2.  If you only need one course to graduate and that final, required course is an online course, you must take a seated course in addition to the online course.
  • Do NOT work more than 20 hours per week in your on-campus job during the academic year. You may work more than 20 hours per week during the longer vacations.
  • Accept no off-campus employment of any kind without written permission from International Student Programs or, if necessary, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Beginning work without proper authorization is considered by the USCIS the most serious violation of its regulations. It is most important, therefore, that you consult the International Student Services Office before you accept an offer of employment or begin to work. The advisers will assist you with your application for employment authorization.
  • Make sure you meet eligibility criteria before you transfer visa sponsorship to another school in the United States. You must be a bona fide nonimmigrant student, must have been maintaining status at the previous school, must intend to pursue a full course of study at the new school, and must provide documentation that you are financially able to attend the new school.
  • Obtain extensions, as needed of your permission to stay in the United States. F-1 visa holders are granted permission to stay for the period of time reasonably required to pursue a full course of study in an educational program, plus a grace period of 60 days in which to depart from the United States or change to another status.  J-1 visa holders have a grace period of 30 days.
  • If you want to change programs of study or levels of study, you must notify the International Student Services Office. 
  • If you need additional time to complete your current program, you must apply for permission to do so before the completion date of your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1). If you believe that you will need more time than is permitted on your current visa document, you should contact the International Student Services Office for complete information.

For additional information on F-1 student status, check out STUDY in the STATES

For additional information on J-1 exchange/visiting student status, check out U.S. Department of State


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