Benefits of F-1 Status

As an F-1 Student in good standing you may:

  • Obtain employment
  • Request dependents to join you
  • Travel outside the U.S.
  • Change your program of study
  • Extend your stay, if needed, to complete your degree
  • Transfer to another school
  • Change degree level
  • Change immigration status

Eligibility for Benefits

To maintain your F-1 status you must:

  • Maintain your immigration documents Ensure that all of your documents remain accurate and valid.
  • Obey Dept. of Homeland Security Regulations Follow all rules and regulations related to your status, such as those involving employment and enrollment.
  • Report Changes to the Registrar Keep the Registrar up-to-date on all changes related to your status including your address, phone, degree program, financial support, etc. Most changes must be reported within 10 days.
  • Maintain Full-Time Enrollment See below for detailed enrollment guidelines.

Enrollment Guidelines

International students must successfully complete a full-time class load every semester. Full-time is a minimum of 12 credits for undergraduate students and 6 credits for graduate students. Only one online or distance education course (3 credits) may count toward your full-time enrollment per term. Speak with the Registrar before withdrawing from any course if it will result in a drop below full time credit!

Post-baccalaureate students:

  • A minimum of 12 credit hours if pursuing a second undergraduate degree.
  • A minimum of 6 credit hours if pursuing a graduate degree, at least three of which must be at the graduate level (if you are pursuing a graduate degree but you are required by your department to enroll in preparatory undergraduate coursework only, you must enroll in 12 credits).

The following grades are acceptable for maintaining your status: A, B, C, D, and P (Pass). The following grades are NOT acceptable for maintaining your status: AU (Audit), W (Withdraw). If you receive an F (Fail) or an I (Incomplete) grade, it is advisable for you to talk with the Registrar about how this grade might impact your status.

Failure to complete the full-time credit requirements may jeopardize your immigration status! Contact the Registrar with any questions concerning enrollment requirements.

View NNU's Academic Calendar for information about add/drop and withdrawal deadlines.

Change of Level

If you have completed a degree and are accepted into another degree program at NNU, you must obtain a new I-20 form from the Registrar within 60 days of completing your first degree. When requesting a new I-20 you must bring new financial statements demonstrating your ability to pay all living expenses and tuition for one year. Failure to obtain your new I-20 in a timely manner may jeopardize your immigration status.

Reduced Courseload

Full-time enrollment (12 credits for undergraduates; 6 credits for graduates) is mandatory for F-1 students. If you are having difficulty successfully completing a full-time class schedule, talk with the Registrar immediately! Under-enrollment may be authorized in the following exceptional circumstances:

Academic Reasons One term of under-enrollment may be authorized by the Registrar for compelling academic reasons. You should receive authorization before the 4th week of the semester, and you must resume full-time enrollment the following semester. You may not drop below full time until the Registrar has authorized you to do so in SEVIS.

Medical Reasons The Regisrar may authorize up to 12 months of under-enrollment for medical reasons documented by a medical doctor, osteopath, or licensed clinical psychologist. Alternative medical providers and social workers are not authorized to provide documentation. Medical issues related to F-2 dependents are not valid for course reduction for the F-1 student. If you are experiencing serious medical or psychological issues, speak with the Registrar.

Final Term of Study You may be under-enrolled during your final semester of study. You must notify the Registrar by the end of the first week of your final semester using the Reduced Courseload Form.

Graduate Thesis/Dissertation/Project After completing all necessary coursework for your graduate degree program, graduate students may enroll for just 1 credit per semester while completing thesis, dissertation, comprehensive exams or graduate project requirements. You must submit a Reduced Courseload Form signed by your academic advisor to the Registrar by end of the first week of each term.

Extension of Stay

If you will not complete your degree program within the time period indicated on your I-20, you are required to apply for a program extension BEFORE the completion date on your I-20 form. To receive a program extension you must demonstrate that you are maintaining your immigration status, show financial documentation, and have legitimate academic or medical reasons for the delay. Acceptable reasons may include change in major, unexpected research problems, documented illness, or transfer to a different school. If approved, the Registrar will issue a new I-20 form and notify the Department of Homeland Security of the change.

Documents required for a program extension are:

  • New financial statements or guarantee
  • Memo from your academic advisor indicating the reason for the delay as well as an estimate of how much additional time you need
  • Detailed information about the financial requirements and additional information about the memo from the academic advisor can be found in the I-20 Extension Instructions. If you are unable to demonstrate valid academic or medical reasons for the delay, you will be considered in violation of your immigration status and must apply for reinstatement to F-1 status.