Maintaining Visa Status

All F-1 and J-1 international students must follow immigration regulations as outlined by the US government in order to maintain their international student status:

Full Course of Study

International students must be registered for a full course of study in classes that meet their degree requirements during fall and spring semesters:

  • Undergraduate students – 12 units
  • Master’s graduate students – 8 units
  • Ph.D. graduate students – 6 units
  • Master’s/Ph.D. graduate students with an assistantship – 6 units

Online Courses: Only 3 units or one online course per semester is applicable to the full-time enrollment total.
Audit Courses: Audit course units are not applicable to the full-time enrollment total.

Exceptions:
  • International students are not required to enroll in courses during summer semesters unless it is their first or last semester at USC.
  • Ph.D. or master’s students who are working on their thesis or dissertation do not need to register for summer courses if it’s their final semester and they will be uploading their thesis that summer.
  • Ph.D. or master’s students registered in either the thesis or dissertation course during fall and spring semesters are considered full-time enrolled.

Maintaining Valid Immigration Documents

I-20/DS-2019:  International students must be aware of the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019. If students cannot complete their degree by the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019, students must request a program extension before the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who do not file a program extension in a timely manner will be considered out of status.

Passports must be valid at all times. If the passport will expire soon, students must renew it through the embassy or consulate of their home country. More details are available here.

Change of Local Address

Immigration regulations require all international students to report any change in their local address in OASIS within 10 days of moving. This information will be updated in students’ SEVIS records.

Instructions for updating address in OASIS:
  1. Login to OASIS
  2. Select “Other Services” tab
  3. Select “Change of Address”
  4. Type new address and save information
Tips on Entering U.S. Address:
  • The “Local Street Address Line 1” field can only contain street number and street name (Example: 333 S. Figueroa St.)
  • The “Local Street Address Line 2” field can only contain the unit number, applicable to those students living in an apartment complex or multi-unit USC housing (Example: Apt 210 or Unit 5). If you live in a house, leave this field blank.
  • Remember to enter the city’s name and zip code accurately (Example: Santa Monica 90401)

Grace Periods

F-1 students who complete an academic program or OPT have a 60-day grace period and J-1 students who complete an academic program or AT have a 30-day grace period.

F-1/J-1 students who have received prior authorization to withdraw from classes have 15 days to depart the US after the withdrawal date. Students who withdraw from classes without prior authorization are not eligible for a grace period.

Reinstatement of F-1 Status

Students who fail to maintain their F-1 status are considered out of status. If they wish to continue their education at USC as an F-1 student, they must correct their status. They can either travel and re-enter the U.S. with an initial attendance I-20 or if eligible can apply for a reinstatement of their F-1 status via mail. Call OIS to schedule an appointment with an advisor immediately to discuss these options.