International Programs Office

Maintaining Status

Maintaining status is your responsibility. When you sign your I-20, you certify that, "I have read and agreed to comply with the terms and conditions of my admission and those of any extension of stay as specified on page 2. I certify that all information provided on this form refers specifically to me and is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I certify that I seek to enter or remain in the United States temporarily, and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study at the school named on page 1 of this form." In order to maintain F-1 status, you must abide by all Department of Homeland Security rules and regulations related to your status. To maintain your status, you must:

Maintain your immigration documents

Always keep all of your immigration documents (Passport, I-94, I-20, etc.) up-to-date and valid.

Report changes to IPO

Keep the International Programs Office up-to-date on any changes related to your immigration status including changes to your address, degree program, financial support, etc. If a change is needed, please submit a document request form detailing the change needed.

Maintain Full-Time Enrollment

Below are the enrollment guidelines. You must maintain full-time enrollment except under certain circumstances specifically allowed under immigration regulations. All exceptions to full-time enrollment must be first approved by an IPO advisor. See below for details.

Enrollment Guidelines

Full-time status at ISU is defined as:

Only one online or distance education course (3 credits) may count toward your full-time enrollment per term. You must speak with your IPO advisor before withdrawing from any course if it will result in a drop below full-time enrollment!

Note: Students sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) are limited to 12 online credits for the duration of their degree program.

Failure to maintain full-time enrollment each semester may jeopardize your immigration status! If you have any questions about the enrollment requirement, please see your IPO advisor.


International students may be simultaneously enrolled at two USCIS approved institutions. Co-enrolled students must carry at least half of their credits at ISU. You must provide proof of enrollment from the other institution during the first week of the semester and an unofficial grade report at the end of each semester. It is advisable that you speak with you IPO advisor prior to co-enrolling.

Change of Education Level

If you have completed a degree and are accepted into another degree program at ISU, you must obtain a new I-20 form from IPO within 60 days of completing your first degree. When requesting a new I-20 you must submit new financial documentation 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 (RCL)

F-1 international students are legally required to maintain full-time enrollment status during normal enrollment periods (12 credits for undergraduates; 9 credits for graduates). If you are having difficulty maintaining a full-time class schedule, please speak with your IPO advisor immediately!

To request a reduced courseload, you must submit the Reduced Courseload (RCL) Form. This form must be submitted before registering for less than a full course load AND before dropping a course, or courses, that will result in less than a full course load. Failure to comply with this requirement could jeopardize your legal status in the U.S. A reduced course load may be authorized in the following exceptional circumstances:

Academic Reasons

Only one semester of under-enrollment may be authorzied for Academic Difficulty. The only USCIS-authorized reasons for an Academic Difficulty RCL are the following:

Medical Reason

Your IPO advisor may authorize an RCL of up to 12 months for medical reasons documented by a medical doctor, osteopath, or licensed clinical psychologist. If you are experiencing serious medical or psychological issues, please speak with your IPO advisor.

Final Semester

You may obtain reduced courseload authorization during your final semester of study. The Reduced Courseload Form (PDF) must be submitted prior to the beginning of your final semester.

Graduate Thesis/Dissertation

After completing all necessary coursework for your graduate degree program, graduate students may enroll for just 1 credit per semester while completing thesis or dissertation. You must submit to IPO the Reduced Courseload Form (PDF) signed by your academic advisor prior to the beginning of each semester.

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 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.

To request an extension, please download and read the Program Extension Information Sheet . If you qualify for an extension, you will need to download the Program Extension Form, have your academic advisor complete his/her section of the form and submit the form to the IPO. If approved, your IPO advisor will issue a new I-20 form. 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. Your IPO advisor can assist you with this process.