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. Summer admits are required to enroll in a full course load during their first summer session.

Minimum unit requirements by degree level:
  • Undergraduate students – 12 units
  • Master’s graduate students – 8 units
  • Graduate Certificate students – 8 units
  • Ph.D. graduate students – 6 units
  • Master’s/Ph.D. graduate students with an assistantship – 6 units
  • Ph.D. or master’s students registered in either the thesis or dissertation course during fall and spring semesters are considered full-time enrolled.
  • Summer enrollment is optional for international students unless it’s required by their academic department.
    • Summer graduates are required to enroll in their remaining units during their final summer session.
      • 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.
Online Course Restriction

No more than 3 units of online course(s) per semester is applicable to the full-time enrollment. See examples for clarification:

  • Undergraduate student may enroll in 9 units of on-campus courses and a 3 unit online course.
  • Undergraduate student may enroll in 10 units of on-campus courses and two 1 unit courses.
  • Undergraduate student may enroll in 12 units of on-campus courses and 6 units of online courses.
  • Graduate student may enroll in 5 units of on-campus courses and a 3 unit online course.
  • Graduate student may NOT enroll in a 4 unit on-campus course and a 4 unit online course.
Audit Courses

Audit course units are not applicable to the full-time enrollment total.

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.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Local U.S. Address Entry in MyUSC/OASIS Account

  1. Login to myUSC
  2. Under My Services Menu, click on “OASIS”
  3. Select “Other Services” tab on the top of the page
  4. Select “Change of Address”
  5. Under Local Address, select the option: “Update my local address and phone” and click on “Submit”
  6. Type your new U.S. local address and new local U.S. phone number and click on “Submit” to save changes
    • Please enter only local U.S. address information NOT your permanent home country address
    • Please leave the “Permanent Address” section unchanged as this is reserved only for your permanent home country address and should NOT contain your local U.S. address
    • All U.S. phone numbers contain a three-digit area code followed by the remaining seven digits

Tips on Entering U.S. Address

  • The “Local Street Address Line 1” field can only contain street number and street name (Example: 325 W. Adams Blvd.)
  • 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.
  • The U.S. ZIP code section must be properly filled out with five digits and the additional four digits at the end are unnecessary and can be omitted
  • Please enter the city’s name and zip code accurately (Example: Santa Monica 90401)
  • If you are unsure of any part of your local U.S. address, such as the street name, city name and zip code, please utilize Google Maps for address verification and accuracy

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.