The Office of International Student and Scholar services (OISSS) provides F-1 and J-1 visa status students, scholars and their dependents general information related to their immigration status including but not limited to guidance on how to apply for a visa, changing visa status in the U.S., maintaining lawful immigration status, transferring between schools, and employment authorization matters. Other requirements, benefits, and deadlines apply to F-1 and J-1 students and scholars in addition to the general information below. Students should consult the OISSS for more details.
Maintaining F–1 and J–1 Status
The U.S. federal regulations require F-1 and J-1 visa status students to maintain full-time enrollment in each spring and fall semester. Summer enrollment is optional unless it is the student’s first semester at UST. Students beginning in a summer session must enroll for a minimum of six credit hours in the summer sessions. No more than one online course or three credit hours can be counted towards their enrollment minimum each semester. A student may take less than a full-time course load in their final semester or for other reasons permitted by the federal regulations.
Students must obtain the OISSS’s permission before dropping below a full-time course load, changing degree programs, or withdrawing from the University. International students are also responsible to maintain valid documents such as passport and I- 20 or DS-2019 at all times. If students cannot complete their program by the program end date on their I-20/DS-2019, students must obtain a program extension as soon as possible and no later than the end date. The OISSS reserves the exclusive authority in adjudicating such requests. Failure to obtain the required authorizations in a timely manner will result in termination of the student’s lawful immigration status.
F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to work on-campus for up to 20 hours/week during spring and fall semesters. More than 20 hours/week is permissible during official school breaks. J-1 students must obtain authorization from the OISSS before starting the employment.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is temporary employment for F-1 students that is directly related to his or her major area of study and is an integral part of the established curriculum. The employment must be a degree requirement or bearing academic credit(s) towards an internship/clinical/field study/practicum or similar course that requires practical training.
In order to be eligible for CPT, a student must:
- Have maintained F-1 status
- Have enrolled full-time for one academic year. If the program requires immediate participation, there are exceptions for some graduate students.
- Meet the academic criteria for the course requiring practical training as determined by academic policies such as academic level requirement and prerequisites for an internship course.
- Obtain an employment/training offer directly related to the field of study that meets the practical training course requirements.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) grants an eligible F–1 student an opportunity to work full–time for twelve consecutive months in the U.S. in a field that is related to their degree program at each degree level.
In order to be eligible for OPT, a student must:
- Have maintained F-1 status
- Have enrolled full-time for one academic year (including one spring semester and one fall semester)
- Have graduated or be eligible for graduation in the current semester.
- Have not already participated in post-completion OPT or exceeded 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) at the current degree level.
Health Insurance Requirement
All F-1 international students are required to enroll in the University’s international student health insurance plan unless they already have health insurance that meets the waiver requirements. All J-1 exchange students and accompanying J-2 dependents are required to maintain adequate health and accident insurance coverage during their exchange program in the U.S. as mandated by federal regulations.