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F-1 Visa Eligibility and Full-Time Enrollment

To maintain F-1 status, an F-1 Visa holder must enroll in a full course of study from their first semester of enrollment, and in every fall and spring semester thereafter as a continuing student through program completion. A full course of study is 12 credit hours for undergraduate students, and of these 12 credit hours at least 9 credit hours must be delivered in an in-person or hybrid format. A full course of study is 9 credit hours for graduate students, and of these 9 credit hours at least 6 credit hours must be delivered in an in-person or hybrid format. Additional hours taken to meet and/or exceed the 12 credit hour minimum (undergraduate students) or 9 credit hour minimum (graduate students), may be taken online. 
Continuing F-1 Visa holding students have the option, but are not required, to enroll during the summer semester. If an F-1 Visa holder is pursuing Curricular Practical Training during the summer semester, the student must be enrolled in coursework during the summer. 

Upon completion of all academic requirements, on or before the program end date printed on the student's I-20, F-1 Visa holders SEVIS records will be marked as complete and no additional coursework will be counted for the program issued for that specific I-20 [8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C)]. F-1 Visa holders have options within a specific grace period to either apply for Optional Practical Training (if eligible, and within the authorized timeline for USCIS applications), transition to a new academic program meeting F-1 eligibility, apply for a change of visa status, or return to their home country.

A student’s Change of Status to F-1 must be completed prior to being issued a Continued Attendance I-20 at TWU. All students must show proof of the required amount of accessible funds through the required Certification of Finances form for Initial and Transfer students.  

Students on a B-1/B-2 Visa may not submit a Change of Status request to F-1 through the ISSS office at TWU. These students must return to their home country and apply for an F-1 Visa as an Initial student. 

Students on other Visa types, who wish to change their status to F-1, may contact the ISSS office for information on the Change of Status procedure based on their current Visa type and current USCIS procedures related to the requested change. 

Students currently studying on an F-1 Visa who apply for, and are granted, a Change of Status to a Visa type other than F-1, may request a voluntary termination of their SEVIS record. This request must be made through the International Portal with an upload of the new Visa document or the Approval Notice from USCIS. An application receipt will not be accepted as proof of the change.


F-1 Visa holders who earn a degree at TWU and wish to re-enroll at TWU for a new program (i.e. earning a Bachelor’s degree and returning to TWU to begin a Master’s program), may do so. The F-1 Visa holding student will need to apply to the new program through TWU admissions and/or Graduate School, and once accepted, must request a Change of Program Level through the International Portal. The Change of Level request must be completed within the 60 day grace period after the Program End Date on the student’s I-20. 

An updated Certification of Finances form, and financial supporting documents are required, as well as the acceptance letter for the F-1 Visa holder’s new academic program.

International students who are F-1 Visa holders have the option to change their major, and must do so by first meeting with their academic advisor. Once the advisor has verified with the student that the new program will support F-1 regulations and has officially made the change, the student must submit a Change of Major request through the International Portal. Submission of the request in the International Portal initiates a review by ISSS of the academic program for F-1 eligibility, and upon verification an updated I-20 with new academic program information is issued to the student.
Upon initial registration at TWU, F-1 Visa holders are provided with a Program End Date on their I-20. This is the date F-1 Visa holders are expected to complete all of their academic requirements. If international students on an F-1 Visa change their major, or otherwise have extenuating circumstances which will delay the anticipated program completion date, students must request a program extension in the International Portal. This request must be submitted at least one semester before the Program End Date printed on the I-20.
Requests for a program extension must show that a student has continually maintained status and that they have compelling academic or medical reasons for the request, such as a change of major or research topic, or a documented illness. Academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension approval. A program extension request will be denied if it is submitted after the Program End Date noted on the Form I-20, per USCIS policy 8 CFR § 214.2 (f) (7) (iii). 
The limit for Program Extensions are two (2) requests for undergraduate students, and three (3) requests for graduate students. Each approved extension is limited to one calendar year.
An international student holding an F-1 Visa may take courses at another institution [8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iv)] as long as the student is enrolled in at least 1 credit hour at TWU. If coursework is not being offered at TWU in a particular semester, and is needed for the F-1 Visa holder to meet the full-time enrollment requirement or meet prerequisites for the following semester, the F-1 Visa holder may submit a request for Concurrent Enrollment. This request must be made in the International Portal after registering for both TWU credits and credits at the secondary institution. Full-time enrollment and qualifying course modality (6 out of 9 graduate hours must be in person or hybrid, 9 out of 12 undergraduate hours must be in person or hybrid) must be maintained at both institutions. F-1 Visa holding students must work with their academic advisor prior to enrolling in courses at a secondary institution to ensure that the courses will transfer back to TWU as appropriate equivalents and apply towards the student's degree plan.

F-1 Visa holding students enrolling at TWU and another higher education institution through concurrent enrollment may become ineligible for certain financial aid awards at TWU. F-1 Visa holding students should verify the conditions of their financial aid award with the TWU Financial Aid office before requesting concurrent enrollment. 
Per the TWU Incomplete grade policy, an F-1 Visa holding student who has successfully completed two-thirds of the assigned work in the class, and has an extenuating circumstance which delays completion of all remaining coursework by the scheduled course completion date may request an Incomplete. The student must discuss their circumstances with the instructor and an Application for Grade of Incomplete must be submitted. Students who are issued a grade of incomplete (INC) for a course must communicate with their instructor to determine the new date of completion for the course. An F-1 Visa holding student should never re-register for an Incomplete course. This will result in a failing grade for the first registration and a new grade for the second registration. 
International F-1 Visa holding students, who are issued an Incomplete, may not apply the hours of the incomplete course in the subsequent semester towards full-time enrollment requirements. The F-1 Visa holding student is required to register for the required full-time number of hours and complete the incomplete coursework in addition to full-time enrollment.
F-1 Visa holding graduate students enrolled in the appropriate number of thesis/professional paper or dissertation hours deemed equivalent to full-time status by the TWU Graduate School and the academic department, are automatically reported as maintaining F-1 Visa status in SEVIS reporting for that semester. No additional request by the F-1 Visa holding student is required. 

TWU Graduate School policy indicates the minimum required credit hours for graduate students holding an assistantship is 5 semester credit hours. F-1 Visa holding graduate students with an assistantship may submit a request for Full-Time Equivalency in the International Portal to have their full-time equivalency status reported each semester.

An F-1 Visa holding student in one of the following four situations has the opportunity to apply for a Reduced Course Load, either academic or medical.

  1. Academic difficulties - one (1) authorization to drop below a full course load of study (12 hours for undergraduates, 9 hours for graduate students) for academic difficulties can be requested during a student’s academic program at TWU, and only during the student’s first academic year in their program. Difficulty with the English language, reading requirements, U.S. teaching methods, or improper course level placement are options eligible for review by the ISSS office for an Academic RCL petition. Once the F-1 Visa holder has used one Academic RCL for academic difficulties, a second request cannot be made for academic difficulties.  
  2. Medical reasons - An F-1 Visa holding student facing a temporary illness or medical condition may request a Medical RCL not to exceed a total of 12 months throughout their academic program at TWU at each program level. The F-1 Visa holding student must submit medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, psychiatrist, doctor of osteopathy, licensed psychologist, or clinical psychologist. This information must be submitted each semester that the F-1 Visa holding student is requesting the Medical RCL for DSO approval to drop below full course of study. 
  3. Last semester of coursework - An F-1 Visa holding student in the final semester of their academic program, in need of fewer than full-time hours (12 hours for undergraduate students, 9 hours for graduate students) to complete academic requirements may request an academic RCL for their final semester. This is a request to register only for the remaining number of hours needed to complete the degree. If the F-1 Visa holding undergraduate or graduate student needs only 3 hours, those 3 hours must be taken in-person or hybrid. If the F-1 Visa holding undergraduate or graduate student needs 6 hours to complete their degree, at least 3 hours must be taken in-person or hybrid. If an F-1 Visa holding undergraduate student needs only 9 hours, 6 hours must be taken in-person or hybrid. 
  4. Students engaged in certain practical training opportunities - F-1 Visa holding students enrolled in an academic program in which a full-time internship or clinical rotation is required for completion of the degree - and this requirement is designated as full-time enrollment for all students by the academic department are considered to be enrolled full-time by the TWU ISSS office. In addition to a Curricular Practical Training request, the F-1 Visa holding student must also submit a request for an Academic RCL through the International Portal.