Ohio University

Current F-1 Students: Maintaining Status

Federal Immigration regulations in the United States are taken very seriously, and it is critical that international students in F-1 visa classification maintain their legal status in the country. Students must be aware of and comply fully with the requirements set forth by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Current Address and Phone Number

As an international student in F-1 status you are required to have a current US local address (SEVIS US address) as well as a permanent foreign address (SEVIS Foreign address) on file with Ohio University at all times. Failure to update either of these addresses within 10 days of moving is a violation of your immigration status. Similarly you are required to designate a "preferred" phone number, which will also be reported to SEVIS.

For instructions on how to update your address or phone number in your MyOhio Student Center, please use the following links:

The Office of International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) will electronically send your new address to SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System), the US federal web-based database used by immigration officials to record and track international student data.

Fulltime Enrollment

F-1 students must enroll in a full course of study during normal enrollment periods, which are fall and spring semesters at Ohio University. Summer enrollment is generally optional. However, there is one exception; any F-1 student who begins their program of study or ends their program of study in the summer semester must be enrolled full-time for that summer.

A full course of study for an undergraduate or OPIE student is 12 credits

A full course of study for a graduate student is 9 credits.

Online Classes

When choosing courses to enroll in, it is important to consider if the course will be taught online or in-person. No more than one online course, up to 3 credits, may count towards full-time enrollment. For example, if an F-1 undergraduate student enrolls in a 3 credit online course, the student must enroll in 9 more credit hours that are all in-person. Once that total 12 credit requirement is fulfilled, additional online credits may be added.

Reduced Enrollment

Federal Regulations limit the circumstances in which students may register less than full-time.

Academic Difficulties

One time during the degree program, students may request to enroll less than full-time due to academic difficulties. Those difficulties must fall within one of the following areas:

  • Unfamiliarity with US teaching methods (Limited to first semester only)
  • Initial difficulties with the English language (Limited to first semester only)
  • Initial difficulties with reading requirements (Limited to first semester only)
  • Improper course level placement

The student must submit a Reduced Courseload Request form to ISFS and be supported by the academic department. ISFS written approval must be obtained before dropping the courses, and the student must remain enrolled in half of the full-time credits. Once this option is used, it cannot be used again.

Final Semester

During a student's final semester of an academic program, the student is only required to register for the credits necessary to finish the degree. The student must submit the ReducedCourseload Request form to ISFS, and the academic department must provide confirmation. The request should be submitted before the start of the semester.

Medical Recommendation

If a student develops a medical condition that requires reduced enrollment (or no enrollment), the regulations allow it under the following conditions:

  • The student must have a written recommendation from a licensed US doctor or a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. The recommendation must be provided on the Medical Recommendation form.
  • The recommendation can only cover one semester at a time.
  • The cumulative limit on authorization is 12 months per degree program.
  • The documentation is submitted to ISFS before the courses are dropped.

Students who believe they may need this option should talk with an ISFS advisor as early as possible. The request may be submitted in iCats.

Program Extensions

Your I-20 form was issued for a standard timeframe. You will find the program start and end dates in the “Program of Study” section of your I-20. You may find that you are unable to finish your program by the end date. In that case, you will need to request an extension of your F-1 program.

Eligibility Requirements for Program Extension: You may apply for an extension of your study program if:

  • Your current I-20 has not already expired
  • You have continuously maintained lawful F-1 status
  • The delay in completing program requirements has been caused by compelling academic reasons (such as changes of major field or research topics, or unexpected research problems), or compelling and documented medical reasons.

Delays in completing program requirements which are caused by academic probation or suspension (such as retaking courses) are not acceptable reasons for extension of a program of study. If your I-20 has expired or if you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for program extension, you may need to apply for reinstatement of status. In this case, immediate consultation with an International Student Advisor is necessary.

You can request a program extension by submitting a completed Program Extension request form. New financial documentation will be required. Students being sponsored by family or friends will need to submit a Financial Sponsor Form from each sponsor.

Transferring your SEVIS record

At some point during or after your academic program, you may wish to move to another US institution to continue your studies. In this scenario, you would need to request a transfer of your SEVIS record, so that it is available to your new school. ISFS will work with the international student office at the new school to transfer your record to them.

A transfer can be requested any time prior to the end date on your current I-20, and up to 60 days after. In order to request a transfer, you must complete the SEVIS Transfer Out Request in iCats. You will be required to upload a copy of the admission letter from the new school.

Once your request has been processed, ISFS will send an email to your OHIO email account confirming that your SEVIS record has been transferred or to confirm that it is scheduled to be transferred (if your requested release date is in the future). If you decide that you do not want to transfer to the school noted on the eform, ISFS can cancel the transfer if you notify us about your decision before the SEVIS release date you selected. If you change your mind after the SEVIS release date, you will need to work with the new educational institution to correct your SEVIS record.

Important Note: Your OHIO authorized employment must end the day before the release. This includes on-campus employment, CPT, and OPT. You are eligible to begin employment at the new school on the day of transfer. However, each University's policies vary so check with the new institution for more information.

In addition to requesting that ISFS release your SEVIS record, you should also work with your academic department, Residential Housing, Registrar, Bursar, Campus Care and the Library to make sure all academic, housing and financial pieces of your record are resolved.