F-Visa Student Regulation

Maintaining Status

It is the responsibility of each student to be familiar with the immigration requirements related to their status. Following the guidelines below will help you to maintain your SEVIS status.

Basic Guidelines:

Keep your passport valid for at least 6 months
Contact your home country's embassy in the U.S for information about renewing your passport validity.

Keep your local address updated
Keep your local residential address current by completing the Address Reporting Form. You must report your new residential address within 10 days.

Maintain full-time enrollment
F-1 undergraduates must enroll for 12 credit hours each semester. Graduates must enroll for 9 credit hours each semester. F-3 visa holders are allowed to drop below the full-time requirement; however, they must enroll every semester.

Get approval before a withdrawal
If for some reason you must withdraw from your program or drop below full-time enrollment, you are required to have approval from International Engagement before doing so.

Attend the school noted on your I-20
You must have a current, valid I-20 from the school you are attending. If you transfer from another school to TAMIU, the transfer process must be completed before the semester begins.

Keep your I-20 valid at all times
If the completion date on your I-20 will expire within the next 30 days and you need more time to complete your program of study, you must submit an Extension Request Form. The completion date can be found in Box #5 on the I-20. You must also request a new I-20 if you change your major or your degree level, e.g. Ph.D. to Master's. See below for more information on Extension of Program.

Get a travel signature
Before you depart from the U.S., request a travel signature for re-entry from a Designated School Official (DSO) in International Engagement. The DSO will sign page 3 of the I-20 for travel purposes. The signature is valid for one year, but it is recommended to obtain a new signature every 10 months. A new signature is required every 6 months while on OPT.

Get proper employment permission

Reporting Requirements

All F and J students are required to report and maintain a local U.S. address with the Department of Homeland Security. Any change must be reported within 10 days. This must be your local residential address complete with room number (if you are living on campus) or apartment number. Campus departmental addresses, P.O. Boxes, and foreign address are not acceptable addresses for immigration purposes.

Please report residental address changes using the Address Reporting Form.

OPT address and employer reporting requirements:

Go to OPT Reporting Requirements and report within 10 days any changes to the following information:

Students who fail to report this information as required will be in violation of their F status and may jeopardize their opportunities for future benefits in the United States.

Registration Requirements

F and J students must be registered full-time within 30 days of the start of each semester.

Registration is defined as:

Registration each semester
As per United States and Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) regulations, students are required to enroll each semester. If a student has not registered for the semester, the student's SEVIS record will automatically terminate and the student will be out of status with USCIS.
Please visit the Bursar’s Office  (ZSC 137) to inquire about emergency loans, payment plans, and tuition payment options.

Full-time enrollment requirements
Immigration regulations require international students in F or J status to be in full-time enrollment each semester. For immigration purposes, full-time enrollment is defined as:

On-line Coursework
Immigration regulations limit the number of online courses a student can count towards the full-time requirement. International students may count only one (3 SCH) course of online coursework towards the full-time requirement. If the full-time requirement for a session can be satisfied with three SCH or one course, the full-time requirement cannot be satisfied with online coursework alone.

Reduced Course Load

A student must have written approval before dropping below the full-time requirements. A reduced course load is only granted in limited circumstances. You must make an appointment with an international student advisor (SC 226) before you register for less than full-time.

Requesting Approval for a Reduced Course Load

Immigration regulations permit exceptions to the full-time registration requirement in very limited circumstances and only with prior approval from International Engagement. Students will be considered for a reduced enrollment based on the reasons listed below. To be considered for an exception, submit a completed Reduced Enrollment Request Form to International Engagement prior to dropping any courses below full-time.

Reduced enrollment for academic reasons

Acceptable academic reasons for dropping below full-time include:

An academic advisor (college or major advisor) or professor must recommend the reduced enrollment.
Reduced enrollment for academic reasons may be approved for only one semester during the student's degree program. Students should consider this carefully before requesting an approved reduced enrollment for academic reasons since it can only be used once.

Reduced enrollment for final semester

Degree-seeking students who are completing their degree requirements in a specified semester can enroll for as many or as few courses as needed to graduate. The final course cannot be satisfied with online coursework alone. To be eligible, students must meet the following criteria:

Reduced enrollment for medical reasons

Students may drop below full-time for physical or mental health reasons.
The reduced enrollment must be recommended by a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist.
Reduced enrollment for health reasons may be approved for no more than a cumulative period of 12 months during the student’s degree program.
Approval for reduced enrollment will be given for only one semester at a time, thus continuing health problems may need more than one approval if continued beyond one semester.

Withdrawal for medical reasons

International Engagement must approve medical withdrawal requests. Only students who are approved will be considered to be maintaining their visa status and can remain in the U.S. for the stated semester.

Students will only be approved for one semester of medical withdrawal for visa purposes. In order to remain in the U.S. in the following semester, the student must choose one of the following:

SEVIS reporting requirements

U.S. federal law and regulations require schools to update and maintain the SEVIS records of nonimmigrant students in F and J visa categories. There are certain "automatic functions" that will occur on a student's record in the SEVIS database system if these updates are not made in a timely manner. For example, if a student's record is not updated to show registration each semester, that record will automatically "terminate." A terminated record means that the student is considered to be out of status with USCIS.

International Engagement (IE) is designated to manage SEVIS reports for the University. It is our intention to be as proactive as possible in preventing the automatic termination of SEVIS records; however, it is the students’ responsibility to communicate information to IE regarding their situation. It is extremely important for you keep your Dusty email, telephone and address information updated as much as possible so that we can contact you in urgent situations.

Extension of Program

If you don’t complete our degree program by the end date noted on your I-20, you can request an extension of your program. The length of time allowed for an extension is based on the recommendation of your academic advisor.

Deadline for extensions
An extension of your I-20 must be completed before the end date of the document. If your I-20 expires while you are still a student, you will be considered to be in violation of your status.

Application instructions

  1. Complete the I-20 Extension form.
  2. Have your academic advisor sign the I-20 Extension form.
  3. Submit the I-20 Extension form to International Engagement. If your request for an extension is approved, a new I-20 will be ready for you in three business days. If important information is missing, or if there is any problem with your request, we will contact you.

*J visa students must visit with International Engagement (SC 124) to request an extension on their DS-2019.

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