Maintaining F-1 Student Status
Once a student is admitted to the United States in F-1 status,
s/he must meet certain obligations relative to the student visa.
The student in F-1 status must:
- Maintain a valid passport all times;
- Attend the school the student was authorized to attend;
- Maintain a full course of study;
- Apply for extension of stay before expiration of present I-20;
- Follow proper procedures to continue in F-1 status from one
educational level to another;
- Follow proper procedures
to transfer to another school;
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours or less per week while
school is in session;
- Refrain from off-campus employment, including internships,
without proper authorization from the Designated School Office
in International Student and Scholar Services and/or the U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services;
- Report a change of address to the Designated School Official
in International Student and Scholar Services within 10 days of
In order to assure that you are complying with these requirements,
you are required to present yourself to International Student and
Scholar Services at the beginning of each semester to complete a
biographical form and provide copies of your most recent I-94, passport,
I-20 and visa.
Maintaining a Full Course of Study
Except in very limited circumstances an international student must maintain a full course of study throughout his/her education. At JMU an undergraduate full load is considered 12 credit hours, and a graduate full load is considered 9 credit hours. If you meet any of the following criteria you MAY be eligible for a waiver of this requirement for some of the time you are a student:
- In the first semester of study, if the language transition is too difficult to maintain a full load;
- In the final semester of study, if you are not required to be full-time in order to complete your studies;
- If you have a special medical need which requires that you are not a full-time student;
- If you were improperly placed in a course without having the requisite requirements to complete that course.
If you believe you may be eligible for a waiver of the full-time requirement, you must complete a Request for Underload Form (found here) and return it to the ISSS office along with documentation verifying your circumstances BEFORE DROPPING ANY CLASSES. We are unable to approve an underload after the courses have already been dropped - the permission to drop below full-time must be approved in SEVIS first, then classes may be dropped at the Registrar's Office if your request for a waiver is granted.
Extension of I-20
You may find that the time given on your I-20 is not sufficient to meet your education requirements. This is especially true if you have changed or added a major or you wish to obtain several minors prior to graduation. If you find that you need an extension of your I-20, you must complete the Request for Extension Form (found here) and return it to staff at ISSS PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF YOUR CURRENT I-20. We are unable to extend the I-20 in SEVIS after the expiration of your current I-20. Also, please note that we are legally not permitted to extend your I-20 if you need the extension only because you have performed poorly academically and have therefore not accrued the number of credits you need to graduate.