Visas & Immigration

Students in F-1 status have certain privileges and obligations under the regulations of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This document outlines the most important of these rights and responsibilities. For more detailed information, please speak to Minda Thrower, Registrar and PDSO.

Immigration Documents

Your passport must be valid at all times. If you lose or need to renew your passport, immediately contact your home country's embassy or nearest consulate to have it replaced.

USCIS Form I-20
Read and clearly understand the information on USCIS Form I-20. If you lose your I-20, you should immediately request a new form from ISSS. The I-20 is specific to the program and major indicated in Items #4 and #5, and is valid until the date indicated in Item #5 or the date you finish your program, whichever comes first. Contact the Office of the Registrar if there are any changes made (such as change of level or major) that are not reflected on your I-20. Please keep in mind that you are expected by USCIS to "safekeep the initial I-20 ID bearing admission number and any subsequent copies which have been issued" to you.

USCIS Form I-94
This small white card is the record of arrivals to and departures from the U.S. It is normally stapled in your passport at the port of entry and should remain there until your departure from the U.S. If you lose your I-94, you should immediately apply to USCIS for a replacement. You can find the application forms on USCIS web-site at:

Registration, Attendance and Course Load

Registration and Attendance
You must register for classes and attend the school which USCIS has authorized you to attend. You must register for both the fall and winter semesters.

Registration during the summer semester is optional

Course Load
You may register for as many credit hours each term as your school allows, provided you register for at least a "full course load," as defined by USCIS.

Full Course Load Minimum Requirements

Undergraduate Students
To maintain nonimmigrant student status, F-1 and J-1 undergraduate students must enroll and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of instruction each fall and winter semester. Prior to dropping below a full-course load, you must consult with your International advisor and obtain permission to reduce your course load.

Graduate Students
To maintain nonimmigrant student status, F-1 and J-1 graduate students must enroll and complete 9 credit hours each fall and winter semester. If you are employed through a graduate assistantship, this employment is considered to be a part of your program of study, and you may register for a minimum of 6 semester hours. If you have completed all required coursework for the degree program and the remaining academic requirements, e.g., thesis, dissertation, research project, etc., do not require 9 units of course registration each term to maintain normal progress toward degree completion, and submit to your International advisor for review and approval prior to the beginning of the term. International graduate students must maintain enrollment in credit bearing course registration each fall and winter term.

Summer Session Enrollment
International students are not required to enroll during the annual summer vacation break, unless they are issued a Form I-20 or DS-2019 to begin their initial program of study with the summer session as noted on the Form I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1). In this case, a student beginning his/her academic program with the summer session must enroll full-time (4.5 credits for graduate students, and 6 credits for undergraduate students). These students will continue to be required to attend full-time throughout the subsequent fall/winter terms.