F-1 and J-1 Immigration Basics

To maintain your student immigration status, international students must:

Maintain a valid, accurate I-20/DS-2019:

  • Be aware of the program end date found on item 5 of the I-20 and Item 3 of the DS-2019. If you need more time to finish your program than your documents allow, submit a Program Extension Request at least 30 days before your expiration date.
  • Keep your program information up-to-date. If you change your major or begin a new program level, you must request an update to your I-20/DS-2019.

Enroll full-time

  • Undergraduate full-time enrollment is at least 12 credit hours per semester in the fall and spring semesters.
  • Graduate full-time enrollment is at least 9 credit hours per semester in the fall and spring semesters.
  • Summer sessions are not required unless:
    • Your degree program has mandatory summer enrollment (such as the IELP) or
    • Your I-20/DS-2019 has a summer program start date

Don’t take too many online courses

  • Meet the physical presence requirement before taking online courses.
    • Physical presence for undergraduate – 9 credits
    • Physical presence for graduates – 6 credits
  • Online courses taken at another institution may also count toward your full-time enrollment (once physical presence is met). You must submit a request for Reduced Course Load and keep a copy of your online enrollment on file with International Student Services.

Work only with authorization

  • International students may work on campus up to 20 hours during the spring and fall and up to 40 hours during the summer.
  • Specific work authorization must be approved for any off-campus employment including
    • Curricular Practical Training
    • Optional Practical Training
    • Severe Economic Hardship
  • Any unauthorized off-campus employment will result in termination of your immigration status in the United States. If it looks like work, it is work, so “volunteering” for a friend’s company is not authorized.
  • See the Employment webpage for detailed information on employment options for internationals on student visas.

Learn more on our Immigration Documents page.