The International Student Services Office is able to advise and assist with immigration-related matters for the following student visa types.
- F-1 Student Visa
- J-1 Exchange Visitor
The ISS office is unable to give immigration advice or assistance with other visa types besides the student visas. Students with other visa types should speak with an immigration attorney or legal assistance for questions about their status. A complete list of non-immigrant visa types is available on the USCIS website.
Academics and Advising
What Are The Enrollment Requirements for F-1 and J-1 International Students?
Students with a student visa are required to enroll full-time each Fall and Spring semester with few exceptions. If a student withdraws themselves or is withdrawn by a faculty member and is no longer enrolled full-time, their student visa status will most likely terminate.
Undergraduate - 12 credits
Graduate - 9 credits
Undergraduate international students must meet the following online/face-to-face ratio, with at least one course at SEU for Fall, Spring or Final Term Summer
- Less than 12 hours: one online course allowed (3hrs) AND requires Reduced Course Load authorization from ISS
- 12 hours: one online course allowed (3 hrs)
- 15 hours: two online courses allowed (6 hrs)
- 18 hours: three online courses allowed (9hrs)
Please be aware that some degree completion options are not allowed for F-1 students in their final term. Early planning will avoid unintentional status violations, especially when summer is the final term. Please encourage consulting with ISS on final semester plans to avoid negative consequences and when plans change, the new plans should be reviewed again by ISS.
• Students may be underenrolled in their final semester when they have fewer than 12 credits remaining to graduate. ISS can authorize "final semester" in the student's record.
• Earning credit by examination does not count towards enrollment.
• Students may not register for an internship course if the credits are not needed to complete their program
• Students must be registered in a St. Edward’s in-person course.
• Students must meet the online to in-person course ratio, with at least one course face-to-face at SEU.
•12 hours or less - one online course (3 hrs)
•15 hours - two online courses (6 hrs)
•18 hours - three online courses (9 hrs)
One of the student immigration documents is called the I-20 and it is issued for 4 years. Many times, students need additional time to graduate and in order to extend the I-20, advisors should complete part of the I-20 Extension Request Form. The advisor is not help to any legal liability or standards when completing the Extension Request Form. Advisors are solely confirming that the student requires additional time to graduate.
Reduced Course Load
There are few allowable reasons per federal regulation for a reduced course load, such as illness, graduation in the final semester, and improper placement. Documentation is required in order to be approved for a reduced course load.
Reduced Course Load
Reduced Course Load (RCL) Regulatory Compliance
The request form for the reduced course load is uploaded under Forms page on the ISS webpage.
Category 1: Final Semester
Students who intend to enroll in less than a full course load (12 undergrad. 9 grad.) should
request an RCL for their final semester
Please review Final Term Rules on concurrent, face-to-face, online, and exam options for
international students, especially if a summer term
- At least one face-to-face course.
- No internship course if the credits are not needed to complete their program (CPTregulations)
- Online face-to-face ratio, with at least one course at SEU
• 12 hours or less-one online course (3 hrs)
• 15 hours- two online courses (6 hrs)
• 18 hours- three online courses (9 hrs)
Category 2: Academic Difficulty- May only be used once during program (completed by
Advisor and provide brief explanation/documentation). Student must be registered for a
minimum one-half full course load hours.
First Term only (rare due to PLUS model at SEU)
- Difficulties with English language or reading requirements in the first term of study in the US.
- Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
- Improper course level placement
*Although “imminent danger of failing a class “ is not a permissible reason authorizing RCL, it may be
that after documentation, it is clear that the student is on the verge of failure due to improper course
level placement. This reason should only be used if the student has completed required assignments and
exams has not had excessive absences that could have affected class performance.
Category 3: Medical Condition
The student must submit documentation from a medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO) or licensed clinical psychologist. (May use ISS template). The student may receive documentation to enroll in less than a full course load or even withdraw for a semester.
*Cannot accumulate more than 12 months of Reduced Course Load exemption for this reason.
Faculty and staff can be a great help to students from unknowingly violating their status. Those with the student visa are limited in their opportunities for employment which includes unpaid internships and practical experiences.
- On-Campus Employment: No more than 20 hours a week for Fall & Spring
- Off-Campus Employment: Off-campus work can include paid internships, unpaid internships, volunteering for a for-profit company. Students may work authorization for volunteer work. There are two main types of off-campus authorization:
- CPT (Curricular Practical Training) - Authorization to take a required internship that is included in an internship course.
- OPT (Optional Practical Training) - Students typically choose to apply for OPT in their final semester so that they may work after graduation.
Who can be hired?
NAFSA has prepared a guide for employers which can be reviewed here.
Volunteering or Unpaid Employment?
Please be careful when advising students about volunteering. There is a specific guideline differentiating volunteering and unpaid work. International students may volunteer as long as it fits within the parameters of the Department of Labor's guidelines. Unpaid work is not permitted without authorization.
According to the Department of Labor, a volunteer is an “individual who performs hours of service... for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered.” Volunteering refers to donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without remuneration or any type of compensation. Students may engage in volunteer work as long as it meets the criteria such as working at a homeless shelter, food pantry, or American Red Cross.
The definition of an employee is “An individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration”. Please note that the term “remuneration” is very broad and includes a variety of non-monetary benefits, such as free housing, food, gifts, professional experience, professional references etc. Internships and unpaid employment are primarily offered by the private sector and relate to the major field of study and therefore require authorization.
Will a student be deported if I drop them from my course?
Most often, a student will have to leave the US and re-enter in order to regain status but true deportation is uncommon for international students.
Can an international student take an internship off-campus?
Only when authorized for CPT, please see our section regarding employment
Resources and Policies