Maintaining F-1 Visa Status

F-1 Student Immigration Responsibilities

Initial registration requirements

New F-1 students must report to International Student Services no later than the program start date on their I-20s. Students who attend international student orientation satisfy this requirement at that time. Any student who is unable to attend orientation must contact their international student advisor to schedule a time to complete this registration.

Full course of study

F-1 students must register and maintain full-time enrollment of a minimum of 12 credits per quarter as an undergraduate student, or 6 credits per quarter as a graduate student. Of these credits, only one class may be on-line.

Students must make normal academic progress towards their certificate/degree completion.

Students may not drop below the minimum credit requirement without prior approval from their international student advisor. There are only limited circumstances in which students are eligible to have a reduced course load. These are initial difficulty with English, US teaching methods or improper course placement (first quarter only), medical necessity, or final quarter. Reach out to your international student advisor if you have questions about reduced course load.

Conditions of and restrictions on student employment

F-1 students may accept on-campus employment of no more than 20 hours per week during the school year and full-time during official school breaks.

Students may not engage in any type of off-campus employment/internship without first obtaining written authorization from their international student advisor (and, in some cases, USCIS).

Please see our Employment and Internships page for more information.

Change of residential address

Students must report a change of address or telephone number within ten days of a change. Email to report the new information.

Program changes and extensions

Students must inform their international student advisor of any changes to major or significant updates to financial support (e.g. a new scholarship).

Students must apply for an extension of stay if they will not graduate by the program end date on their I-20. They should apply for an extension of stay a minimum of 60 days prior to the program end date.

F-1 students need prior approval from their international student advisor to transfer schools, take a leave of absence, or engage in concurrent enrollment.

Students must inform their international student advisor if they change their non-immigrant status to a different classification.


Passports must be kept valid at least six months into the future at all times.

When traveling internationally, F-1 students will need a valid passport, valid visa stamp and their most recent I-20 with a travel signature on the back that is less than one-year-old to reenter the United States.

Students should contact their international student advisor for additional information about traveling or to request a new travel signature. Please see our travel page.

Health insurance

F-1 students are automatically enrolled in health insurance every quarter, including summer/vacation quarters and sometimes during leave of absence. Please see the Health Insurance page for additional information about SPU's health insurance policies.

Grace period

After the program end date listed on the I-20, students have 60 days to depart the United States, apply for optional practical training, or apply to change to a different non-immigrant status.


Marissa Ukosakul-Witt

Meet Marissa Ukosakul-Witt ’11

“I get to see exciting work that God is doing,” she says, “work that’s really impacting people for Christ.” Meet this missionary kid who never thought she would stay in the States.