A Division of the International Studies Office

Special Issues for International Students

Special Issues for International Students

Advising international students


International students have unique advising needs because they must maintain their immigration status and meet university academic requirements. This FAQ provides helpful tips on basic immigration regulations pertaining to their academic progress and employment. 


An international student holding either an F-1 or a J-1 visa status is required to enroll in a full course of study during the fall and spring semesters.

What is full-time enrollment for international students?
  • Undergraduates and Graduate Students: 12 credits per semester
  • Summer semester: 6 credits
Does a student need to enroll full-time in the summer?
  • Enrollment is usually not required during the summer semester; however, students must be enrolled full-time if the following conditions apply:
    • Summer is the first semester of the degree program
    • Summer is the semester in which the student will graduate and/or complete degree requirements
Can international students take online courses?
  • F-1 international students can only count ONE online class toward their minimum number of credits as their full-time enrollment during their normal semesters. If a student only needs one course to complete your program of study, the course cannot be online or distance learning.
  • International students in other visa categories (i.e. H-4, L2) are exempt from this limitation.
Can international students pursue online degree programs?
  • According to U.S. immigration regulations, F-1 students cannot pursue online degrees.
  • International students in other visa categories (i.e. H-4, L2) are exempt from this restriction.
Can international students ever register below full-time?
  • Under certain limited circumstances, international students may receive authorization for a Reduced Course Load (RCL), which gives them permission to enroll below full-time and still maintain valid immigration status. Prior authorization by the ISO is always required.
Can international students transfer to another institution?
  • Students may transfer their immigration and academic record to another institution under certain circumstances.  They should speak to the ISO before committing to a transfer to another institution.
What does a dismissed, recessed, or withdrawal international student need to do about their immigration status?
  • If an academic advisor sees a dismissed, recessed, or withdrawing international student, advise the student to come to ISO as soon as possible to discuss their immigration status before departing the U.S


U.S. immigration regulations, under certain circumstances, allow international students to pursue part-time or full-time employment during the course of their studies.

Can international students work on-grounds?
  • Yes, F-1 and J-1 students may work on grounds up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session. When classes are not officially in session, international students may work more than 20 hours on grounds.
  • A J-1 student needs the prior authorization of the ISO before commencing on-groiunds employment.  Please note that some students on J-1 visas with outside financial sponsorship may have additional restrictions on their work options.
  • Violation of the employment rules carry severe consequences, including loss of status and deportability.
Can international students work off-campus?
  • F-1 students may seek authorization for off-campus employment by applying for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). or Optional Practical Training (OPT).   CPT is not available for graduate students after the thesis or dissertation defense.
  • F-1 students who have completed their course work requirements or are in their final semester may seek authorization for off-campus employment by applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • J-1 students may seek authorization for off-campus employment by applying for Academic Training (AT).