F-1 Regulations & Resources
Maintaining F-1 Status
F-1 nonimmigrant students who follow the rules governing their stay are maintaining status. Status ends at the end of the authorized period of stay, abandonment of the nonimmigrant’s authorized status, or when the nonimmigrant violates a rule governing status. F-1 students should consult with a Designated School Official (DSO) at International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).
The following regulations govern F-1 and J-1 international students enrolled at Texas State: International students are required to:
• Attend a mandatory F-1 Student Immigration Check-in session or J-1 Orientation.
• Enroll in a full course of study every fall and spring semester; summer is an authorized break period, however, full-time enrollment is required in summer for students whose first semester begins in summer.
• Obtain permission from ISSS before dropping below a full course of study for any reason. (See Reduced Course Load)
• Not work more than 20 hours per week while participating in on-campus employment in the fall and spring semesters. Students may work more than 20 hours per week during the summer and authorized break periods. (See On-campus Employment)
• Report address changes or personal information to ISSS within 10 days of the change. (See Change of Address Update)
• Report any changes in program of study (change of major, adding a minor/concentration, etc.) to ISSS.
• Apply for a program extension from ISSS prior to the end date on the I-20. (See Program Extension)
• Apply for concurrent or transient enrollment approval when taking courses at an instituton other than Texas State University. (See Concurrent Enrollment)
• Obtain a travel signature from ISSS for all international travel.
• Request a transfer of their SEVIS record from ISSS to transfer to a new SEVIS-certified institution. (See SEVIS Transfer-out)
• Notify ISSS upon approval of a change of nonimmigrant status, or an adjustment of status to permanent residency.
• Provide proof of health insurance coverage each semester enrolled by obtaining coverage under the designated international student health insurance policy, or apply for a waiver and present acceptable proof of other comparable and adequate health insurance coverage. (See Health Insurance)
Pursuant to 22 CFR 41.112(d) which states, "(i) The validity of an expired nonimmigrant visa issued under INA 101(a)(15) may be considered to be automatically extended to the date of application for readmission”.
As an F-1 student, you are eligible to travel to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands, except Cuba, for less than 30 days and return back to the U.S. without a valid U.S. visa.
Note: You may need a visa to enter Mexico or Canada. Please check the respective government websites before arranging travel to neighboring countries.
The automatic extension of validity at ports of entry benefit is only available to a nonimmigrant who:
Checklist: Eligibility for automatic extension of validity of visa at port of entry
- Was admitted to the United States on the basis of a nonimmigrant visa.
- Has a Form I-94 valid for an unexpired period of admission or extension of stay, or for duration of status (D/S).
- If the individual had been issued a paper Form I-94 (e.g., had last entered the United States prior to I-94 automation), a paper form must be presented in order to comply with revalidation requirements.
- If the individual had been admitted with an electronic I-94, it will be best if he or she travels with a print-out of the I-94 record; that electronic I-94 record will be revalidated to reflect the new entry, on the same electronic I-94 record.
- If in F, J or M status, has a current Form I-20 or DS-2019 endorsed for reentry.
- If in a petition-based category such as H-1B or O-1, has a current Form I-797 approval notice.
- Is applying for readmission after an absence not exceeding 30 days solely in Canada or Mexico or, if in F, J, or Q-2 status only, after an absence not exceeding 30 days solely in Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands in the Caribbean other than Cuba.
- Note that the rules are different for F students and M students on this point. F students can also reenter after travel to adjacent islands other than Cuba, M students cannot.
- Has maintained and intends to resume nonimmigrant status.
- Is applying for readmission within the authorized period of initial admission or extension of stay.
- Has a valid passport.
- Has not applied for a new visa during this particular trip.
- Is not inadmissible as a nonimmigrant under INA § 212.
- Has never had a visa canceled under INA § 222(g).
- Is not a citizen or national of a country that has been designated as a "state sponsor of terrorism."
Current Countries Designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism
Date of Designation
December 29, 1979
January 19, 1984
August 12, 1993 - 58 FR 52523 (October 8, 1993)
November 17, 2017 - 82 FR 56100 (November 27, 2017)
For more details about State Sponsors of Terrorism, see:
- "Overview of State Sponsored Terrorism" in Country Reports on Terrorism
- Department of State list of countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism
Use caution when reentering the US with an expired F-1 visa. Bring a hard copy of the following CBP Automatic Visa Revalidation Notice. If you experience difficulty with reentering, kindly ask the CBP Officer to contact your DSO at International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Call ISSS at 512-245-7966 (M-F, 8am-5pm) or the University Police Department after hours (M-F, 5pm CST) at 512-245-2805.
F-1 students are required to enroll 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 undergraduates.
Only one (1) distance learning class/online course per semester may be counted toward the full-time requirement.
- class considered “Distance Learning” is taken online or through correspondence and does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination, or other purposes integral to completion of the class.
- If you are not sure if a course is distance learning, check the syllabus, ask an academic advisor, or ISSS.
- A hybrid course that requires both online learning and required face-to-face classroom meetings, for all students enrolled, count as a face-to-face course.
Use the following chart to see how many hours are required to maintain full-time enrollment (9 hours for graduates, and 12 hours for undergraduates) when taking an online course.
Online Face-to-Face Grad 3 hours 6 hours Undergrad 3 hours 9 hours
Online Classes in the Final Term
Per immigration regulations students may not enroll in online only courses in the student's final term. See below:
If students only need one course to complete their program of study, the course cannot be completed through online or distance education.
If a student needs more than one class in the final term to complete the course of study, the student must still comply with the standard limit on distance/online education of 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) , which allows no more than one class/three credits to be counted towards the full course of study count. The "final term of study" rule of 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C) does not allow a student to count more than one distance/online course towards the full course of study requirement.
Notify ISSS if your Visa Type changes
Immediately after receiving an approval to change status from F-1 to a different visa status or permanent residency, you should inform ISSS by completing the Immigration Status Update Portal with a copy of the I-94, I-797, Green Card, or any other immigration status approval document. ISSS will terminate your F-1 SEVIS record and update your immigration status in the university system.
Use the ISSS Address Change Portal to keep information up to date
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 three 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, Medical RCL, or Final Semester RCL. Review the RCL website to learn more about RCLs and how to request approval to enroll less than full-time.
Reinstatement is an option for students who did not maintain status but are still in the US.
F-1 students that violate the conditions of their visa by not complying with the Department of Homeland Security rules and regulations are considered out-of-status. A student who is out-of-status is no longer eligible for F-1 status benefits such as on-campus employment, CPT, and OPT among others.
Out-of-status students who 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, a student may apply for reinstatement in cases where the violation was outside of the student’s control and the student continues to attend, or plans to attend, a program of study. Alternatively, you may request a new SEVIS record with new I-20, depart the US and re-enter under a new I-20 and new SEVIS ID, a valid visa, and valid passport.
For more Information on the Reinstatement Process, visit the reinstatement website.
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.
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) acts as the bridge for varied government organizations which have an interest in information on foreign students. SEVP uses web-based technology, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to track and monitor schools and programs, students, exchange visitors and their dependents throughout the duration of approved participation within the U.S. education system. SEVP collects, maintains and provides the information so that only legitimate foreign students or exchange visitors gain entry to the United States. The result is an easily accessible information system that provides timely information to the Department of State, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.Important Links:
U.S Immigration & Customs Enforcements SEVIS