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F-1 Regulations & Requirements

F-1 students are required to be Full-Time

International students who are admitted to the United States in F-1 status are required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain the terms and conditions of their nonimmigrant status. Failure to do so can result in deportation. One of the requirements for maintaining F-1 status is to pursue a "full course of study" every semester, not including the summer break. A “full course of study” is considered full-time study, which at Texas State University is defined as 9 credit hours for graduate and non-degree graduate students and 12 credit hours for undergraduatesYou can learn more about what the regulations say about a "Full-Course of Study" under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)

F-1 students need to have an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL) before dropping a class or enrolling less than full-time at Texas State.

There are two situations when an F-1 student may be allowed to enroll in less than a Full-Time Course Load, or when he/she may be allowed to drop a course. These are categorized as Academic RCL or a Medical RCL.  Learn more about the two types of RCLs and how to get them approved below.

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Academic RCL

The only applicable academic reasons that may allow you to drop a course for academic reasons are:

  • Initial difficulty with the English language and/or reading requirements or
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods or the US educational system
  • Improper course placement (This means that after enrolling in the course, you discover that you do not have the proper background for the course. Failing grades in the course can be considered evidence of improper course placement.)

Authorization for a reduced course load based on an academic reason listed above may be used only once during your degree program. If you use an academic reason more than once, you will violate the terms of your F-1 status and must apply for reinstatement to DHS or leave the U.S. and reenter using a new I-20.

Thesis-Only or Final Semester

You may fill out an Academic RCL form indicating you are a graduate student who has completed all required coursework, and are completing a thesis or comprehensive exams. Please note: you must continue to maintain normal progress when completing your thesis or exams.

You may fill out an Academic RCL form indicating you are completing your final semester and need fewer courses to compete your course of study.

Procedure for Academic Reduced Course Load
Complete the Reduced Course Load Request Form, refer to request forms

Medical RCL

If a physician or licensed clinical psychologist recommends that you drop below full-time hours for health reasons, you may do so for up to a cumulative total of 12 months and still be considered in status.

Procedure for a Medical RCL:

Complete the Medical Reduced Course Load Form, refer to request forms

Concurrent Enrollment

Besides the two primary types of circumstances mentioned above, there are a few other circumstances in which international students might be below hours yet still be considered full time and still maintain legal status.

Concurrent Enrollment

You may concurrently enroll in the Texas State Intensive English Program for a combined total of hours that amounts to a full course of study.

You may concurrently enroll at another school (ACC, for example) for a combined total of credit hours that amounts to a full course of study. Evidence of completion of the coursework is required at the end of the semester.

Complete the Concurrent Enrollment form, refer to request forms

F-1 Students are Required to Report Personal/Address Information

Use the International Office Address Change Portal to Keep Information Up to Date

All students must report changes of location address and home country address to the International Office within ten days of the change.  You must report the local U.S. address where you live (not a post office box number).  Upon receipt of the update, we update our own office records, and we report those changes in SEVIS, thus relieving you of any obligation to report directly to DHS.

Address changes as well as changes on alternate e-mail address and phone numbers MUST be reported. You may use the portal on our website linked above to enter your address for the International Office' Records. If you have problems with the portal please call or email the office & we will enter your address change manually.

We also request that you provide various phone numbers and alternate email address such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail (etc.)in case we need to contact you with urgent information.

Reporting to Registra's Office (CatsWeb)

For proper routing of your university mail such as grades and bills, all students must report address changes to the Registrar’s Office through CatsWeb.  CatsWeb uses the terms “temporary address” and “permanent address.” We recommend you use your United States address in BOTH the temporary and permanent address fields in CatsWeb because your university mail is sent to your CatsWeb permanent address.

Reporting to the International Office while on OPT

During OPT, those in F-1 status can continue to report changes in address, changes in employment or temporary unemployment by using the OPT Change of Personal Data form. 

You may return the form by email/fax/mail to the International Office.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), within the Department of Homeland Security require that schools ensure the accuracy of certain information in SEVIS for all students on OPT.  To comply with this requirement, those on OPT must report certain information using the OPT Change of Personal Data form

1)      Those on OPT are required to report changes in their location address within 10 days of any move.  The address reported must be a current location/living address and not a P.O. Box number.
2)    Those on OPT are also required to report their employer’s name and address.  Again, the address reported must be the employer’s location address and not a post office box number.  When reporting an employer’s name, if working for a company, the name of the actual company must be reported (not the name of the supervisor).  Those who are unemployed must report this also.
This reporting requirement is ongoing.  After your initial report, it is important to continue to keep this information updated and to have an I-20 that correctly reflects your employer. 

Reinstatement Application: for F-1 Students who "Fall out of Status"

(Reinstatement is an option for students who did not maintain status but are still in the U.S.)

F-1 students that fail to comply with the Department of Homeland Security rules and regulations are considered to be out-of-status. When you are “out-of-status” you are not longer eligible to the F-1 status benefits such as on-campus work, CPT, and OPT among others. Students under this circumstance that wish to continue studying as an F-1 student at (or transfer to) Texas State University must regain valid status. To regain F-1 status you can apply for reinstatement to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or, alternatively, you may leave the U.S. and re-enter under a new I-20, a valid visa, and current passport.  Working without authorization is a violation of your status that CANNOT be corrected through reinstatement. You can only regain status by departing the U.S.

For more Information on the Reinstatement Process, please download the handout on Reinstatement

Important Noteson Traveling with a New I-20 to Reestablish F-1 Status:  When you re-enter you will be considered an initial student for SEVIS purposes. You will have to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again and you will lose any time that you have accrued toward the one -year as a full time student qualification for training (OPT) or employment.

You must have the new Form I-20 showing that you are entering on a new SEVIS ID number.

You should be aware that the CBP inspecting officer will determine whether or not to admit you to the United States with the new Form I-20. If you did not comply with the terms of your status during a prior stay in the United States, the CBP officer may decide that you are not eligible to reenter.

I-20 Extension: extend program of study dates before I-20 end date

One simple proceedure to remember is to extend your I-20 before it expires if you need more time to complete your studies.

Notify the International Office if your Visa Type changes

Immediately after having an approval to change status from F-1 to something else, you should inform our office by scanning a copy of the I-94/I-797/greencard/or other immigration status approval document so that we can terminate your F-1 record and leave you with your new status.