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F-1 Students Information for Departments

Maintaining Visa status:

To maintain visa status, students in F-1 visa status MUST be registered full-time during the academic year (Fall and Spring semesters; graduate students require 9 credit/hours, undergraduate students require 12 credit/hours). If a student is in their last semester and needs less than the required number of credit/hours to graduate, or is finishing up their thesis/dissertation/problem report, then you may recommend that we give them permission to register less than full time using our form.

If the I-20 expires, the student will be out of status and deportable. The student may file for an extension using this application link:

  • Extension of I-20
  • Please note that the official letter for an I-20 extension should:
    • be on department letterhead and signed by your academic advisor
    • provide a description of the academic reasons why the student's program could not be completed within the allotted time
    • specify an expected date of completion of the student's program
    • if the need for an extension is due to medical reasons, an additional letter from an MD/DO/Licensed Clinical Psychologist explaining the situation will need to be provided

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training must be directly related to a specific academic course and is to be used BEFORE completion of the academic program. There is no time limit, but 1 year or more of CPT makes the student ineligible for OPT. We have created a chart delineating the differences between CPT & OPT. Remember, CPT is NOT a jump-start for OPT.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students may engage in one year of employment anywhere in the U.S., directly related to the student’s major area of study. It may be used before completion of the academic program (part-time during the academic year, full-time during breaks including summer), but is usually used full-time following completion of studies.