Making the decision to come to Minnesota State University Moorhead to pursue your academic goals is a huge step and we understand that reaching these goals is top priority. In additional to your courses, registration, books, health insurance and lab work, there is one more important subject you will need to "study" to ensure success during your stay at MSUM: how to maintain your F-1 or J-1 status. Please take time to review the information below. If you have any questions or concerns about how to maintain your immigration status and employment, please contact International Student Services at 218.477.2956 or email at email@example.com.
All international students who are in F-1 and J-1 visa status must follow a set of immigration regulations as outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to maintain the students international student status. The following rules and regulations is a guide to properly maintain international students status at MSUM.
International students must register for a full course of study during Fall and Spring Semesters:
On-campus employment is limited to
20-hours a week when school is in session during Fall and Spring
Semesters, and 40 hours a week during University vacations and summer
vacation. Please visit the Employment page for more information on
working on campus.
In order for international students to
work off campus, they must obtain a work authorization from
International Student Services and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS). Please visit the Employment page for more information
on how to apply for the below options.
For F-1 students, off-campus work authorization options are:
For J-1 students, off-campus work authorization options are:
Students must have a valid passport at all times. The passport must be
at least 6 months to the future. If the passport will expire soon,
student must make necessary arrangements to renew the passport. In most
cases the passport can be renewed from your home country embassy or consulate in the U.S. Please note: give enough time to renew your
passport. Certain countries may have to send your passport to your home
country for renewal.
International students must be aware of the expiration date on their
I-20/DS-2019. If it is not possible to complete your academic program by
the I-20/DS-2019 expiration date, students must request a program
extension a minimum of 2-3 weeks prior to the I-20 expiration date on
the I-20/DS-2019. Students who fail to complete a Program Extension Form
with International Student Services will be considered out of status.
International students who change their local address or move to a different apartment must report the change to International Student Services within 10 days of the move. Please complete the Update Information page as soon as you move to a different place. If you are a current international student, you can change your address at E-Services.
International students have a set of grace period regulations that must be met to their visa status.
F-1 or J-1 students who have received prior authorization to withdraw from classes have 15 days to depart the U.S. after the withdrawal date. Students who withdraw from classes without prior authorization are not eligible for a grace period.
F-1 or J-1 students are required by federal immigration regulations to be engaged in a "full course of study", which means 12 credits each for Fall & Spring Semester for undergraduate students and 8 credits each for Fall & Spring Semester for graduate students. You must obtain authorization from International Student Services to be enrolled less than full-time during any Fall or Spring Semester.
International Student Services must indicate the authorization in the SEVIS system in order to make it official. There are only a few exceptions to the full time enrollment requirements for Fall and Spring Semesters. Each exception has its own criteria, which are outlined below. The deadline for submitting the Reduced Course Load (RCL) Form from the Forms page is the last day to add/drop for that semester, and must be approved by the student's academic adviser prior to submission to International Student Services.
Students should not drop below full time enrollment unless the student have received authorization from International Student Services to do so. Student who drop below full time enrollment without proper authorization from International Student Services will be considered out of status.
Students may request an RCL due to academic difficulty only once per degree level. Academic difficulty could be due to the following reasons:
Students who receive an academic Reduce Course Load (RCL) must resume a fulll course of study in the next available semester in order to maintain status. Please submit the Reduce Course Load Form to International Student Services along with other supporting materials.
International Student Services may authorize a medical RCL due to a temporary medical condition with an appropriate official doctor's letter recommending the RCL for medical reasons. Students must receive prior approval from International Student Services for medical RCL. To submit a medical RCL, F-1 or J-1 students must meet with an International Student Advisor at International Student Services. Please see below for the medical RCL requirements:
International Student Services may authorize a final semester RCL for students who are in their final semester of study and only have a few credits remaining to meet the academic program requirements. Students may request a RCL due to final semester only once per degree program. Please complete the Reduce Course Load Form on the Forms page.
Graduate students who register for thesis, projects or qualifying exams are considered to be enrolled full time, although the number of credits enrolled will be below the normal full-time course load. Students must complete a Reduce Course Load Form and submit to International Student Services.
F-1 or J-1 international students who want to take a semester off during the academic year (Fall or Spring Semester) and not enroll in courses must receive authorization for a leave of absence from International Student Services.
Students must meet the following criteria for leave of absence:
It is the student's responsibility to meet with the relevant academic advisers and complete the leave of absence process for the relevant department. Students also need to confirm with their department if they are eligible to return back to the academic department, and must receive written approval from their academic department adviser. Please complete the Leave of Absence Form on our Forms page.
F-1 or J-1 students are eligible to take a leave of absence due to medical reasons. Students have the option to return to their home country or remain in the U.S. to receive medical treatment. Students who wish to remain in the U.S. must obtain a doctor's letter recommending the leave of absence for medical reasons. Students who remain in the U.S. without obtaining advance approval for a medical leave of absence from International Student Services will be considered out of status.
Requirements and limitations of medical leave of absence include:
Students considering to apply for a leave of absence due to medical reasons must meet with an adviser in International Student Services as soon as possible.
Students who will be out of the U.S. for longer than 5 months on a leave of absence must obtain a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID, pay the $200 SEVIS fee and obtain a new F-1 student visa from your country U.S. consulate in order to re-enter the U.S. and return regardless of your U.S. visa expiration date. The current I-20/DS-2019 will no longer be valid after being outside of the U.S. for more than 5-months.
It is the student's responsibility to contact International Student Services AT LEAST two months prior to returning to request a new I-20. If you are planning to return before the 5 month duration, it is the student's responsibility to contact International Student Services at least 4 weeks before your arrival date to the U.S. We recommend that you contact International Student Services before you depart the U.S. and make necessary arrangements.
Upon your return to the U.S. from a leave of absence, students must validate their return with International Student Services 21 days before the start of your new semester. Students must meet with an International Student Services advisor and submit the following:
F-1 and J-1 students are given a specific period of time to complete the academic program requirements. For F-2 students, this period of time is shown on #5 of your I-20 and for J-1 students, this period is shown on #3 of your DS-2019. Please note the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who are unable to meet the academic program requirements by that date must request a program extension from International Student Services before the I-20 expiration date. If the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019 has passed, students must meet with an international student adviser immediately, as the student is considered to be out of status.
If you need a program extension, please submit the Program Extension Form along with the supporting documents from your academic adviser and/or medical practitioner.
F-1 students are eligible for simultaneously takeing full-time enrollment with a combination of courses from MSUM and another SEVIS approved college or university, only if approved by MSUM International Student Services.
Please note: A student wishing to be a guest student at another institution for incidental courses while maintaining full-time enrollment or during the summer term does not need to be issued an I-20 for concurrent enrollment.
Reinstatement is an option for an F-1 student who fails to maintain status and wishes to regain status without leaving the U.S. An F-1 student must be in status to be eligible for any benefits such as work permission as practical training, program extension, school transfer and adjustment of status. Depending on the student's case, reinstatement may or may not be the best option. In certain cases we encourage you to consult an immigration attorney. Please consult International Student Services for more information. A student may be considered out of status if the student:
Read the Reinstatement Handout to obtain information on how to apply for reinstatement.