If students are not able to finish their required coursework by the program end date on the I-20, they are able to request an extension in certain cases.
- The student must apply to the DSO for the extension *BEFORE* the program end date.
- The student has maintained valid F-1 status.
- The DSO must be able to certify that the delay in completion is “caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses.”
- The regulations state that “delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for a program extension.”
In order to request an extension, students must complete the I-20 Extension Request form found here: I-20 Extension Request Form. The completed form, along with your revised degree plan, must be submitted to the DSO at least 30 days before your current program end date.
International students are required to maintain full-time enrollment each term, with the exception of summer if your school does not require summer enrollment. SEVIS does make allowances under certain circumstances for the Designated Signature Official (DSO) to approve a reduced course load. The DSO must authorize a reduced course load (RCL) and update SEVIS prior to the student reducing his or her course load. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the DSO will be considered out of status. There are limited reasons for which RCL can be granted. Please note: The Department of Homeland Security does not consider financial difficulties nor poor grades to be valid reasons for enrolling less than full-time.
- Academic (can only be used one semester per program level-minimum enrollment requirement of half time)
- Initial difficulties with the English language, or initial difficulties with reading requirements (Allowed in 1st semester only)
- Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (Allowed in 1st semester only)
- Improper course placement (Academic Advisor must provide rationale Note: Failing a course is not a reason in itself to drop a course
- Medical (cannot exceed a total of 12 months-no minimum enrollment)
- Cannot be approved without medical documentation from a licensed MD, DO, or clinical psychologist
- Must be reauthorized each semester
- Last semester (or in thesis or dissertation)
- If a student does not need a full course load to graduate, students can take just the courses needed to complete their program
- If a student with RCL authorization fails a course in the last term, a second RCL may be granted under certain circumstances, but the student would not be eligible for a third RCL
- Students who have completed all formal coursework and are enrolled only in thesis or dissertation will be considered full time as long as they are meeting the conditions for full-time enrollment as defined by each school in the catalog
Students that are granted RCL must then return to a full course of study at the start of the next available university term, excluding summer unless that term is required by your school.
To request RCL, students must submit an Exemption From Full-Time Enrollment form to the International Services Office before they drop below full time.
Transferring Your SEVIS Record INTO UNTHSC:
- Your current DSO will need to release your records in SEVIS to UNTHSC. (School code DAL214F00610001).
- In order to accept your records, you must be admitted to one of our programs as a degree-seeking student, and you must be starting the next available semester. This next available semester must be less than 5 months from your transfer-in date.
- If you are transferring after completing a program, you must get your record transferred to our office before the 60 days grace period ends (60 days from your last class date (*NOTE: In most cases, this is not the date of graduation but the date you were last enrolled in class).
- Students must supply proof of financial support before the record will be accepted.
- Once the record has been accepted, the transfer I-20 will be given to the student.
Transferring Your SEVIS Record OUT from UNTHSC:
- Students must supply the International Services Office with an acceptance letter from the school to which they wish the record to be transferred to and the Ending Studies Form.
- The student must be enrolling in that school’s next available semester, which must begin no more than 5 months from the transfer-out date.
- If you are transferring while classes are in session, you must not withdraw from your classes until after you have met with the DSO. Doing so could result in a terminated SEVIS record.
- Students must request a transfer out at least 5 business days before their grace period end date.
An online course is defined as a course in which all work is done via the web and no significant in-person class time is required.
A hybrid course is defined as a course in which most work is done via the web, but at least one significant in-person meeting is required. This in-person meeting must be an integral part of the course. For example, a class that requires your testing to be done in person is considered a hybrid course. The technology-mediated courses offered as a part of the School of Public Health Curriculum are hybrid courses.
- Only 3 hours of your full-time enrollment requirement may be taken as an online course per semester.
- A maximum of 6 hours of your full-time enrollment requirement may be taken as hybrid courses.
- In a semester in which you have been approved to enroll in less than full-time, 3 credit hours must be taken entirely on-campus with the exception of an approved medical reduced course load.
- In a semester in which you have been approved to enroll in less than full-time, only one of your courses may be hybrid.
- For students who are required to attend the summer term, where 6 hours is full-time enrollment, only 3 hours of your 6 may be hybrid or on-line.
- If you only have one course left to take, that course may not be taken as an online course.
Can I change to F1 inside the United States?
In many cases, it is possible to apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status. Please consider the following before applying:
- USCIS will consider your entry visa type, and whether you actually intended to be in the U.S. for the purpose you stated at the port of entry. For example, if you entered on a B-1/B-2 visitor’s visa, then they must be convinced that you actually came to be a visitor, and that is what you have been until you decided to change.
- Entry on a visitor’s visa when intending to study may be considered fraudulent entry. It is not advisable to attempt a change of status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 status.
- Visitors who entered on a “visa waiver” (it will say WT or WB on your I-94 card), are not eligible to study, extend their status, or to change status in the U.S.
- When the application to UNTHSC, the issuance of the I-20, and the application to USCIS is prior to 60 days of B status in the U.S., the request will quite likely be denied.
Contact the Assistant Director of the International Services Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) regarding your particular case.
F-1 students are only allowed to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) when offered employment. Once you have secured a job, your employer will need to provide you with an employment letter. The International Services Office can provide a template if needed. You will also need to apply for a letter from the International Services Office. The SSN letter request can be found HERE. You can learn more information about SSNs for F-1 visa holders. You will find in the States that many people ask you for your SSN. In this case, please provide the information that you are an F-1 non-immigrant visa holder and currently do not have a Social Security Number and ask if you can be assisted without it.
The ISO suggests that you get a state identification card so that you will have a legal form of ID to carry with you at all times that is not your passport. More information about ISO legal ID. Below is a list of documents that you will need in order to apply for the state identification card after you have lived in Texas for 30 days.
- Your Continued Attendance I-20.
- Certification of Enrollment, which you request from the Registrar’s Office and is only available after the census date each term.
- Your original passport and I-94.
- Two forms of proof of Address. (lease, phone bill, or something similar in your name)
- If you have an SSN card, bring it with you, but you can get a state ID if you don’t have an SSN.
This page was last modified on October 2, 2019