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International Students

F-1 Visa

F-1 Visa Status Students

An F-1 visa is a non-immigrant student visa that allows foreign nationals to study in the United States at accredited colleges, universities, high schools, or other academic institutions. The primary purpose of the F-1 visa is to enable international students to pursue a full course of study and engage in academic programs in the United States.

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

hen traveling outside of the U.S. you will need to carry the following documents:

  • I-20 Form (signed by the PDSO or DSO)
  • Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
  • I-94 Form
  • A valid F-1 visa
  • Unofficial Transcripts

In addition to the above documentation it is advisable to bring your evidence of financial support, such as a bank statement or scholarship letter.

Obtaining a Travel Signature

It is essential that you obtain a travel signature on your I-20 form from a PDSO or DSO before traveling outside the US! Please be aware that it takes from 3 – 5 days to obtain a travel signature, so it is important for you to plan ahead.

Canadian Students

Canadian students do not require a visa to enter the US. However, they are still considered international students and must have a valid I-20 when re-entering the US.

Airport and transportation information

Flights should be arranged to Boise International Airport (BOI). Taxi service, such as Lyft/Uber is available outside of the airport arrival area. The cost is approximately $75 to NNU. Public transportation around NNU is limited, we suggest you find other transportation service.


SEVIS Transfer to NNU

For your SEVIS record to be transferred to NNU from another school you must meet the following requirements:

  • Admission to NNU
  • Valid F-1 Status (demonstrated on the Transfer Information/ Clearance Form)
  • Full-time course load maintained at your previous school

Contact an International Student Advisor at your previous school to complete the procedures for transferring your SEVIS record to NNU. As soon as you have received confirmation of your admission to NNU, contact Rich Vasquez in Admissions for information about obtaining your new I-20.

Orientation and Immigration Check-in**

A mandatory orientation session is required for all new NNU students. This includes transfer students. You will receive email information about the orientation.

You are also required to check-in with the PDSO/DSO within 15 days of the start of the semester. Failure to complete your immigration check-in will place you in violation of your student status.

Frequently Asked Questions**

Q: My new I-20 from NNU doesn’t have an immigration stamp. Is that okay?
A: Yes. New I-20s are issued for a variety of reasons and are only stamped upon entry or re-entry into the US.

Q: I am transferring to NNU from another school. When can I start working?
A: After your SEVIS record has been transferred to NNU, as long as you have completed at least one academic term at your previous school. You may only work on the campus which currently maintains your I-20. You are eligible for off-campus employment after one full academic year in the US, including all schools you’ve attended. See Employment for more information.

Q: Do I need to keep my old I-20(s) or can I just throw them away?
A: Never throw away your old I-20s. They provide a record of your immigration history.

Q: I recently transferred to NNU and received a new I-20. Now I’m getting email saying that I need to pick up another I-20. Why do I need another one?
A: During the transfer process two I-20s are issued – one shows your intent to transfer and one shows that you have, in fact, transferred.

SEVIS Transfer from NNU

To transfer your SEVIS record from NNU to your new school, you must follow these steps:

  • Submit the NNU Transfer Request Form
  • Supply a copy of your admission letter to your new school
  • Supply proof that your government or embassy approves your transfer, if you receive support from them.

In your new school’s admission documents there may be a Transfer Clearance Form that verifies your F-1 status. NNU will complete this form for you, but will not transfer your SEVIS record until all of the above steps have been completed.

What is SEVIS?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an internet-based system allowing universities and other academic programs to exchange data on the visa status of international F-1 and J-1 students and J-1 scholars with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). SEVIS benefits students and scholars by improving the speed and accuracy of their application processes.

Study in the States is a good resource to learn more about the I-20 and F-1 Visa process.

How does SEVIS work?

  • NNU uses SEVIS to notify USCIS when it admits a new international student or invites a new J-1 scholar. USCIS approves the University’s request to issue form I-20 (for F-1 students) or form DS-2019 (for J-1 students or scholars) through SEVIS. The University sends the form to the student or scholar.
  • If you are a new F-1 student then you will pay a SEVIS fee of $350 to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. New J-1 students and scholars will pay a $220 SEVIS fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For information on paying the SEVIS fee, please see the US government SEVIS I-901 fee website.
  • A new F-1 or J-1 student or J-1 scholar visits a US Consulate abroad, which uses SEVIS to confirm the validity of the student’s or scholar’s I-20 or DS-2019. The consulate issues the student or scholar visa. For a list of US Consulates in your home country, please see the US Embassies website.
  • At the airport, a USCIS officer reports the F-1 or J-1 visa holder’s entry into the U.S. to SEVIS.
  • Upon arrival at NNU, the student or scholar checks in with the Registrar, who confirms the student’s or scholar’s arrival at NNU through SEVIS.
  • The University provides regular reports to SEVIS throughout the student’s academic career or scholar’s research or teaching program.
  • The student’s or scholar’s departure from the U.S. is recorded in SEVIS.

What data does NNU report to SEVIS?

  • F-1 and J-1 student enrollment or failure to enroll
  • Student’s or scholar’s change of legal name or address
  • Early graduation of a student prior to end date on the I-20 or DS-2019
  • Disciplinary action taken due to criminal conviction
  • Student’s un-authorized drop below a full course of study
  • Student or scholar termination date and reason for termination
  • Student’s failure to maintain status or complete program of study
  • Other data such as program extensions, school transfers, changes in level of study, employment authorizations and reinstatement

SEVIS Information Resources

Visit the SEVIS homepage or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for more information. Also see the SEVIS/I-901 fee website and US Embassies website.

International students are eligible to work on-campus 30 days before beginning classes. They may also work off-campus after 1 year or two semesters of full-time study by using Curricular Practical Training (CPT) if available, Optional Practical Training (OPT), or Pre-completion Optional Practical Training.

Students may also be approved for off-campus employment through Economic Hardship, provided they meet the eligibility requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When can my SEVIS record be transferred to a new school?
A: Your record can be transferred at any time, but you must maintain full time enrollment at NNU until your SEVIS record has been transferred.

Q: I plan to travel outside the US before classes start at my new school. Which I-20 do I need to come back into the US?
A: You will need the I-20 from your new school. Once your SEVIS record is transferred your I-20 from NNU is no longer valid.

Q: I have a job on campus. Can I work after my SEVIS record has been transferred? What about OPT or CPT?
A: No. All work authorization at NNU ends when your SEVIS record is transferred, including on-campus, OPT, CPT, and Economic Hardship.

Q: I finished my program at NNU and I’m in my 60-day grace period. I want to transfer to another school but their classes start after my grace period ends. Can I still transfer?
A: Usually, yes. However, it is important for you to contact the Registrar for more information related to your situation.

Q: I’ve completed my transfer to my new school. Can I throw away my old I-20 from NNU?
A: No. Never throw away your old I-20s. They provide a record of your immigration history, which you may need for filing for new immigration statuses in the future.

Economic hardship

You may be eligible for Economic Hardship Work Authorization if you have experienced a severe and unforeseen change in your economic situation. Examples of such unforeseen circumstances include loss of on-campus employment, medical bills, and substantial shift in the value of your home country’s currency. If granted, you will be allowed to work off campus in any job for 20 hours per week while school is in session and 40 hours during vacation breaks. Authorization is given one year at a time and may be renewed.

To qualify you must meet all eligibility requirements, be in good academic standing, and have been a full-time F-1 student for nine consecutive months. Authorization is required from Citizenship and Immigration Services. The application requires a significant fee and approval is not guaranteed. To apply, complete the Economic Hardship application.


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Are you an aspiring international student looking for an exceptional educational experience in the United States? Look no further! Northwest Nazarene University is your gateway to academic excellence and cultural diversity.