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Washington State University
International On Campus

Maintaining F-1 Student Status

To maintain your F-1 visa status and your ability to continue studying at WSU, you will need to follow these rules and requirements.

Maintaining F-1 Student Status

To maintain F-1 visa status, you typically must enroll in a full-time course of study each semester:

  • Undergraduate students: At least 12 credit hours with no fewer than 9 face-to-face credit hours
  • Graduate students: At least 10 credit hours with no fewer than 7 face-to-face credit hours

Changing Your Course Schedule

If dropping a course would not place you at less than full-time enrollment, you can do so by simply completing a form in the International Student and Scholar Services office, Bryan Hall room 206.

Be Sure Your Classes Count

Audited Courses

Classes that you audit (i.e., that are not graded for credit) do not count toward the full course of study.

Online Courses

Only 3 online course credits may be counted toward your full-time enrollment requirement. If you are an undergraduate and want to take 6 credits online, you must still take an additional 9 credits in the classroom. Graduate students must take at least 7 credits in the classroom.

Concurrent Enrollment

You may take classes at other schools while taking classes at WSU. However, at least 50 percent of your classes must be taken at WSU. Classes you take at another school will count toward your full-time enrollment requirement at WSU if you submit a Concurrent Enrollment Request.

 Academic Reinstatement

If you need to seek reinstatement after insufficient academic progress:

If you are academically deficient or if your reinstatement was denied, contact an International Student and Scholar Services advisor immediately to discuss your options.

Summer Session Enrollment

Summer enrollment is optional for continuing full-time students. If you were enrolled at WSU for spring semester and plan to continue the following fall semester, you are not required to enroll during the summer semester.

Graduate Students Defending in the Summer

If you will be defending your dissertation or thesis in the summer, you are required to enroll in at least 2 research credits (700/702/800). Refer to the Graduate School for more information.

Summer Semester Is Your First at WSU

If you are beginning studies in the summer and a summer start date is on your I-20 (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students), then you must enroll for credits during the summer semester.

As a new graduate student, you must register for 3 credits during the summer. As a new undergraduate student, you must enroll in 6 credits during the summer.

Change in Program

Your Form I-20 must accurately reflect your current status as a student. You are responsible for keeping it up to date.

If you need to change your student status in any way, check the information below to be sure you are following proper procedure and meeting U.S. government requirements.

Changing Your Program of Study

Your Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status) must accurately reflect the program of study that you currently pursue at WSU. You are responsible for updating your I-20 once your change of program becomes official in the WSU system.

Change of Major

If you change your major, you must obtain a new I-20. Submit a new I-20 Request Form with supporting financial documentation.

Change of Level

If you complete 1 educational level and plan to continue to another at WSU (e.g., continuing from a bachelor’s to a master’s program), you must obtain a new I-20 within 60 days to reflect the change. The new I-20 notifies the Department of Homeland Security that you are changing educational levels.

Extending Your F-1 Immigration Status

If you cannot finish your program of study before the completion date listed on your I-20, fill out a form on myPassport or contact an International Student and Scholar Services advisor before your I-20 expires to request a program extension.

Contact an International Student and Scholar Services advisor


To be eligible for a program extension, your academic advisor must provide a compelling academic reason for the delay in your program completion, such as a documented illness or a change in major. In addition, you must be making normal progress toward your degree. Students with a history of poor academic performance (including I, W, and X grades on their transcripts) will receive extra scrutiny and may have their extension request denied due to a failure to make normal progress. An I-20 extension is never guaranteed.

Change of Address

If you move to a new local residence, you must update your address within 10 days of your move. Your new address will be sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security automatically via the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Update your address


If you plan to graduate in the current term, notify an advisor in International Student and Scholar Services or complete our departure form.

Canceling Enrollment

Canceling your enrollment affects your immigration status. Once you have submitted your cancellation request to the WSU Registrar and it has been approved, you have 15 calendar days to depart from the United States.

Follow the appropriate procedures for departing from WSU.

Departing the United States

If your visa status no longer authorizes you to remain in the United States, you must leave the country. If you are on an F-1 visa, departing the United States will be required within:

  • 60 days of your degree completion date
  • 15 days of your withdrawal date if you terminate your program early
  • 60 days after your Optional Practical Training (OPT) expires

Be sure to follow the appropriate procedures for departure.



The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the tax collection agency of the U.S. government. If you have F-1 immigration status, you must file a form with the IRS (Form 8843) regardless of whether you have earned income in the United States.

More about tax requirements

Status Violation

Just as F-1 and J-1 visa holders have rules they need to follow, the ISSS office has government compliance rules that we must abide by to host international students and scholars on campus. Be aware that the following status violations will result in the termination of your SEVIS record, and may require immediate departure from the United States.

  • Regulations require that international students maintain a full-time course load (graduate students: 10 credits; undergrads: 12 credits) except when approved for a reduced course load. Dropping below a full-time course load without prior approval from our office is a status violation.
  • International students are limited in where and how many hours they can work. Usually students can work on campus up to 20 hours/week and are not allowed to work off-campus. J-1 Scholars can work only on-campus but can be allowed more than 20 hours/week worth of work. Working beyond these limits is a status violation.
  • Our office is required to make sure that new students and scholars (including transfers in) are physically present on campus at the start of their first semester or employment. Failing to check in upon arrival to campus is a status violation.
  • For students, failing to register for classes in a semester when we expect you to be enrolled is a status violation. This includes a failure to enroll based on suspension or expulsion from the university. The proper way to exit your program early is to submit the Early Withdrawal Request form.
  • For J-1 visa holders, maintaining valid health insurance meeting the J-1 visa health requirement (please check page 2 of your DS-2019) is necessary throughout your entire program. Failure to maintain valid health insurance is a status violation.
  • For students, immigration regulations require they make normal progress toward completion of their degree. We expect undergraduate students to finish their program within 6 years and we will look closely at extensions beyond this period. Graduate students may also need to obtain approval from Graduate School for extensions beyond a certain point.

For information about regaining F-1 student status please see our page on immigration reinstatement.