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Student Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Important Disclaimer: As an international student, the maintenance of your legal status is ultimately your responsibility. It is your responsibility to understand and follow the rules and regulations that govern your status and visa (e.g., 8 CFR § 214.2(f)). The Office of Global Engagement (“GE”) and International Student & Scholar Services provide support and information related to U.S. immigration laws and regulations related to F and J status at Utah State University but are not ultimately responsible for your status and visa. GE and ISSS staff are not attorneys and any information provided by GE and ISSS should not be construed as legal advice. Individuals are welcome to consult a qualified immigration attorney for specific legal advice, particularly in complicated cases.
Do I need anything from ISSS in order to apply for OPT?
Yes! Your Designated School Official (DSO) must first submit the OPT recommendation in SEVIS indicating you are eligible for OPT. You will provide a copy of the Form I-20 showing this recommendation on page 2 as part of your application materials. 

When can I apply for OPT?

Here is a quick video highlighting our OPT information.
  • You can apply up to 90 days before your program end date, and no later than the end of your 60-day grace period. We recommend applying as soon as possible as it takes 90 - 120 days to receive your Employment Authorization Document which authorizes you to work.
OPT Timeline for Application
How do I fill out item 20 on the Form I-765?
  • Enter (c)(3)(A) for pre-completion OPT
  • Enter (c)(3)(B) for post-completion OPT

Are there any limits to OPT?
You may have less time or have exhausted your OPT benefit if you participated in Curricular Practical Training (CPT), see the CPT request for details. OPT is permitted for 12 months at each academic level. STEM eligible majors can apply for an OPT STEM extension up to 90 days prior to the completion of their original OPT request.

Be sure to file your OPT application within 30 days of the date on the I-20 recommending OPT.
Where do I mail my OPT application, especially if my mailing address is different from my living address?
  • Filing instructions for foreign students indicate the lockbox where you file is based on where you live. 
How long will it take for my OPT to be approved?
It usually takes DHS between 90 and 100 days to process and approve an OPT, but it can take up to 120 days. We recommend applying as soon as you can. 

Can I request USCIS expedite my OPT application?
Refer to the USCIS webpage How to Make an Expedite Request. This can only be for severe financial loss. Our experience has been a job offer with an upcoming start date does not qualify for the expedited request. We can make an inquiry with USCIS if your OPT application has been processing with USCIS for > 120 days. 

Can I work as an hourly wage employee for my department while waiting for my OPT to be approved?
No. You can only work after receiving the Employment Authorization Document indicating you have been approved for OPT and the timeframe for which you are authorized to work.

What should I do if I submitted an error in my application to USCIS? E.g. used the wrong version of the Form I-765, made out the check to another agency, etc. 
  • USCIS will most likely reject and return the entire application to the mailing address on Form I-765 within 15 days of receipt, including a cover letter explaining reason for rejection. Correct the error and resubmit.
    • ​Be sure the I-20 recommending the employment authorization will be < 30 days old by the time USCIS receives the application. Otherwise, request a new I-20 from your primary adviser.
    • Also be sure the application arrives before the application deadline. 

Should I enroll in the grace semester after applying for OPT?
You do not have to enroll in the grace semester if you apply for OPT. The grace semester is simply a mechanism to maintain your non-immigrant status while working on your thesis/ dissertation edits. Your application for OPT maintains your status while USCIS processes the application.

How do I check the processing status of my OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card?
  • To check the status of a pending application, visit Case Status Online. If you want to know how long it may take to get a decision on your case, visit our case processing times page. 
  • You can create a USCIS online account and receive all the benefits on the online account, including personalized case processing. 
After receiving the I-797 Approval Notice, how long will it take before my EAD card is mailed?
  • It will take roughly 1-2 weeks for your EAD card to arrive after receiving your I-797 notification
  • If you do not receive your EAD card, check the case status on the USCIS Case Status website using your receipt number
  • If it has been mailed but considered lost, call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability: TTY 800-767-1833). If you are outside the United States or a U.S. territory, you can call 212-620-3418. 
What if my mailing address changed after I applied for OPT? How is unemployment counted?
  • You must have a position where you work at least 20 hours/ week to be considered employed
  • As per the Study in the States blog
    • “When a student is considered unemployed, every day, including weekends and holidays, counts toward your unemployment limit.” (90 days for standard OPT, 150 days total for STEM OPT) 
How do I report employment?
Complete the Report/Update Employment form on the ISSS Portal. You will need to upload the employment offer letter as part of this process (on employer letterhead, include job title, responsibilities, hours per week, other relevant information).

You must work at least the following number of hours for your employment to be eligible for your OPT authorization. 
  • Regular Post-Completion OPT: an average of at least 20 hours per week, this could include part-time positions with multiple employers
  • STEM OPT Extension: an average of at least 20 hours per week per employer

Are regular holidays counted into unemployment days?
  • If you are an F-1 student participating in optional practical training (OPT) and your employer closes for an extended period during the winter holidays, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program does not consider this time as unemployment.
I forgot my password for the SEVP Portal. What should I do?
Can I travel while on OPT?
Be sure the travel signature on the Form I-20 will be < 6 months by the time you return to the USA.

From the ICE FAQ page

Can I reenter if my request for OPT is pending?
Yes, but traveling during this time should be undertaken with caution. USCIS may send you a request for evidence while you are away, however, so you would want to make sure you have provided a correct U.S. address both to your DSO and on the application and would be able to send in requested documents. Also, if USCIS approves your OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States. Like a request for further information, USCIS can only send the EAD to your U.S. address.

Can I reenter if I left while on OPT?
If USCIS has approved your OPT you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States, in addition to your Form I-20, valid passport and visa, and a letter of employment if you have one. If you exceed the limits on unemployment while outside the United States, you will not be eligible to re-enter the United States in F-1 status.

What should I do if I want to end my OPT employment before employment end date noted on my EAD card?
Report your employment end date to your immigration adviser, and let them know if you do not intend to seek additional employment. In this case, you may remain in the USA only until the end of the unemployment period and are ineligible for the 60-day grace period. Otherwise, report the start of your new employment, assuring the start date is before the end of your unemployment period.

Do I get a grace period at the end of my OPT employment dates?
You are only eligible for the 60-day grace period at the end of your OPT if you are working until the employment end date. Otherwise, you are accruing unemployment days and will need to leave the country before the end of the allotted unemployment period or your program end date.

Allotted unemployment days = 90 days total throughout the standard OPT period, 150 for STEM OPT.

What happens to my OPT employment authorization if I start a new program of study?
If starting at a new school: your employment authorization ends on the day your SEVIS record is transferred to the new school (if authorized to that point). 
If starting another program at USU: your employment authorization ends the first day of the semester you begin the new program of study (if authorized to that point).


Here is a quick video highlighting our OPT information.

When can I apply for the STEM OPT Extension?
  • USCIS will only accept the STEM OPT application up to 90 days before, and no later then, the end date on your Employment Authorization Document.
How do I know if I am eligible for the STEM OPT extension?
  • Compare the CIP Code noted next to the majors on your I-20 (in the Program of Study section) to the government's STEM CIP Code list.
  • A qualified student may apply for an extension of OPT while in a valid period of post-completion OPT. The extension will be for 24 additional months, for a total of 36 months of OPT. The following requirements must be met:
    • The student has not previously received a 24-month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree.
    • Student must currently be participating in a standard OPT based on a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree that is listed in the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program.
    • Student must currently be working for, or have a job offer from a U.S. employer for a position that is directly related to the student’s major area of study.
    • The employer must be an E-verify registered company. The employer should provide an E-verify identification number or, if the employer is using a designated agent to perform the E-verify queries, a valid E-verify client company identification number, and the employer is a participant in good standing in the E-verify program, as determined by USCIS.
How do I submit an application?
  • Complete the STEM OPT extension request on the ISSS Portal to obtain the I-20 recommending you for STEM OPT which needs to be part of the application to USCIS. 
  • A student meeting the eligibility requirement may file for a 24-month extension of employment authorization by filing Form I-765, application for employment authorization (Reason for Applying: Renewal of my permission to accept employment), with the appropriate fee, prior to the expiration date of the student’s current OPT employment authorization. If a student timely and properly files an application for 2 a 24-month OPT extension, but the form I-765, Employment Authorization Document, currently in the student’s possession, expires prior to the decision on the student’s application for 24-month OPT extension, the student’s Form I-765 is extended automatically pursuant to the terms and conditions specified in 8 CFR 274a.12 (b)(6) (iv).
How do I complete the I-983 form?
Instructions are available from the Study in the States page. There are also specific pages about the student's responsibilities for this form. Here is a video overview. 

What if I do not receive my new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by the end date of my current OPT EAD?
  • If you file your STEM OPT extension application on time and your OPT period expires while your extension application is pending, USCIS will automatically extend your employment authorization for 180 days. This automatic 180-day extension ceases once USCIS adjudicates your STEM OPT extension application.
My employer is asking for proof of my extension and I do not have my new EAD card.
  • We suggest providing your employer with the notification of receipt for your STEM OPT application and refer them to the USCIS website with information about the 180-day extension. 
What should I report on my Form I-765 if I have more than one employer?
  • Provide one of your employer's information in Part 2 questions 28.b. and c., and provide the other employer's information in Part 6: Additional Information.
Additional Information I Should Know
Employment Authorization period of the 24-month OPT extension begins on the day after the expiration of the initial post-completion OPT employment authorization and ends 24 months thereafter, regardless of the date of the actual extension is approved.

Periods of Unemployment during post-completion OPT 214.2 (f)(10)(ii)(E)
Students granted a 24-month OPT extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 150 days of unemployment during the total OPT period comprising any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial post-completion OPT authorization and the subsequent 24-month extension period.

Additional reporting obligations for students with an approved 24-month OPT 214.2 (f)(12)(ii)
Students with an approved 24-month OPT extension have additional reporting obligations. Compliance with these reporting requirements is required to maintain F-1 status. The reporting obligations are: Within 10 days of the change, the student must report to the students DSO a change of legal name, residential or mailing address, employer name, employer address, and /or loss of employment.
The student must make a validation report to the DSO every six months starting from the date the extension begins and ending when the student’s F-1 status ends, the student changes educational levels at the same school, or the student transfers to another school or program, or the 24-month OPT extension ends, whichever is first. 

Students must also submit a final evaluation on the I-983 Training Plan if they end employment before the 24-month STEM OPT end date.

Final reports must be submitted to SEVIS "no later than 10 days following the conclusion of the reporting period or conclusion of his or her practical training opportunity."

Do I need to complete the entire Form I-983 when submitting my 12-month and final reports if nothing has changed with my employment?
Neither the Form I-983 instructions nor the Study in the States website (also see the employer's responsibility site) indicate the need to complete the entire Form I-983 as part of the evaluation process. We do require you to upload the entire Form I-983 with the completed evaluation in the ISSS Portal to have a complete record of the Form I-983, which we upload into SEVIS as part of our report. 
Find more answers to FAQs on the Study in the States STEM OPT FAQ page

Cap-Gap FAQs

What is the OPT Cap Gap Extension?
A Cap-Gap Extension is a regulatory provision which extends an eligible F-1 student's status to bridge the gap between the end of F-1 status and start of H-1B status, thereby allowing the student to remain in the US during the "gap".

The Cap-Gap Extension is available to students who, as of April 1st (the beginning of each fiscal year), are either on approved OPT or in their 60-day grace period and have a pending or approved change-of-status H-1B petition for an October 1st start date with USCIS.  The H-1B petition must have been filed prior to the expiration of their OPT or 60-day grace period. 

NOTE: Mention of OPT includes the 12-month OPT and the 24-Month STEM OPT.

If the H-1B was filed via consular processing, you DO NOT qualify for the Cap-Gap Extension.  Confirm with your employer if the H-1B was/will be filed as a change-of status or via consular processing. You may be eligible for one of two Cap-Gap Extension benefits:If the employer filed your H-1B (change of status) petition and it is received by USCIS prior to your post-completion OPT expiration date, you qualify for an extension of your OPT employment authorization.
If the employer filed your H-1B (change of status) petition and it is received by USCIS after your post-completion OPT expires but during your 60 day grace period following OPT, your F-1 status and permission to remain in the US are extended but not your eligibility to work.

How is the Cap-Gap I-20 endorsed to indicate employment authorization?
ISSS will process an I-20 that takes into account the different stages of the H-1B filing, selection and adjudication process. The Cap-Gap Extension I-20 will contain an endorsement that F-1 status and employment authorization have been automatically extended to [the applicable date will be inserted].

USCIS will note an expiration date on the Cap-Gap Form I-20 as follows:
  • Qualifying H-1B petition properly filed but not yet receipted by USCIS: Preliminary extension of OPT to June 1.
  • H-1B petition (1) receipted by USCIS (i.e., it has been selected by USCIS), or (2) approved by USCIS: OPT and F-1 status extended to September 30.
During this period of time, you are authorized to remain in the United States and continue employment with an expired EAD (Employment Authorization Document). This is pursuant to 8 CFR214.2(f)(5)(iv) and 8 CFR274a.12(b)(6)(iv), as updated April 8, 2008 in a rule published in the Federal Register (73 FR 18944). 

USCIS rejected/denied my H-1B petition after I applied for the Cap-Gap Extension.  What happens now?
If USCIS denies, rejects, or revokes an H-1B petition filed on behalf of an F-1 student covered by the automatic Cap-Gap Extension, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period (from the notification date of the denial, rejection, or revocation of the petition) before they are required to depart the U.S., change degree level, transfer to another SEVIS approved school, or change status as long as the student has not otherwise violated status. The student cannot (1) leave and re-enter the U.S. during this time and (2) cannot work.

For denied cases: It should be noted that the 60-day grace period does not apply to an F-1 student whose accompanying change of status request is denied due to discovery of a status violation. Such a student in any event is not eligible for the automatic Cap-Gap Extension. Similarly, the 60-day grace period would not apply to the case of a student whose petition was revoked based on a finding of fraud or misrepresentation discovered following approval. In both of these instances, the student would be required to leave the United States immediately.

May a student eligible for a Cap-Gap Extension of status and employment authorization apply for STEM OPT Extension while they are in the Cap-Gap Extension period?
Yes, the STEM OPT Extension application must be receipted by USCIS before the cap-gap extension period is terminated (e.g., notice of rejection, denial, or revocation of the H-1B petition) and the student enters the 60-day departure grace period.

Does my dependent’s status also get extended under the Cap-Gap Extension?
Yes, an automatic extension of your duration of status also applies to the duration of status of any F-2 dependents.

Am I allowed to travel with my OPT EAD and Form I-20 if I have a Cap-Gap Extension?
Please note: traveling outside the U.S. may interfere with the processing of your H-1B petition. You need to consult with your H-1B employer and their H-1B processing team regarding all travel plans before departing the U.S. 

In general, during the cap-gap period, you can travel and re-enter the U.S. on the Cap-Gap Extension if:
  • you have a valid F-1 visa at the time of re-entry.
  • you have an I-20 that reflects the cap-gap extension benefit, and you have a valid travel signature (signature needs to be from within 6 months from the time you will re-enter the U.S.)
  • the H-1B petition filed on your behalf has been approved before you travel, and you have spoken to your H-1B employer regarding your international travel.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security policy states that an applicant who departs the U.S. while a change of status application is pending is considered to have abandoned their application.

My employer is filing a petition for H-1B for me. Should I also apply for the STEM OPT Extension?
My visa is expiring. Do I need to get a new visa?​
  • You are able to remain in the USA and continue your program, even with your visa expiring, as long as your SEVIS program end date is at the end of the current semester or beyond. Verify your I-94 shows you were admitted until D/S - meaning duration of status. This way you can maintain status as long as your SEVIS record is active and you are meeting the enrollment requirements. 
    • You would only need to renew your visa if you leave the country and need to come back to continue enrolling in classes. 
Can I travel on a previous F-1 visa if I have a new Form I-20/ SEVIS ID Number?
  • Yes. A valid F-1 visa is valid for travel, regardless of the SEVIS ID Number listed on the visa. Refer to this article on Study in the States for more information. 
What should I do with my old I-20s?
  •  Keep them!  They are an important and necessary record of your student status. You will need copies of your current and all previous I-20s for any change to your immigration status in the future.
What should I do if my I-20/DS-2019 is going to expire before I can graduate?
  • Request an I-20 extension prior to it expiring by completing the Program Extension (F-1) Request
  • You will need to upload/do the following:
    • Upload financial documentation showing financial support for your academic program and any applicable dependents.
      • If the funding is not coming from an account in your name you will also need to fill out an Affidavit of Support (link in the application) and have it signed by the individual providing the support.
    • Upload your passport.
    • Upload all previous I-20s.
    • Upload your most recent I-94 record.
    • Upload your current unofficial transcript.
    • Upload a Zero Balance Summary from your TouchNet account.
    • Request electronic verification from your academic advisor.
    • J-1 Students will also need to upload Proof of Insurance
What do I need to do if I received notification of approval of change of status (e.g. H-1B, Permanent Residency)?
Upload your I-797A notification through the New Document Upload record. We will assure your SEVIS record is completed according to the change of status authorization date noted on the Form I-797A.
Students Graduating

Apply for Optional Practical Training as soon as possible if you intend to work after graduation.

Complete the Student Departure Request if you will leave the country permanently after graduating from your program of study.
The Registrar’s Office can help you work with the State of Utah to obtain an Apostille seal on your transcripts/ diploma.

·         You will purchase your transcripts on the Clearinghouse

·         For the mailing delivery address, use the address:

·         Office of the Lt. Governor, PO BOX 142325, Salt Lake City, UT 84114.

·         When you use this as the mailing address it lets the Registrar’s Office know you want to send it to obtain the Apostille Seal.

·         Complete the Authentication Request form (on the website noted below) and email this signed to the Registrar’s Office.

Information about the Document Authentication (Apostille) can be found on the state of Utah’s website


Can I register for only 1 credit for my defense semester?
  •  Graduate students must enroll in 3 credits for their defense semester to meet the full course of study requirement as per the School of Graduate Studies website:

How many credits do I need if I am a doctoral student who has finished my coursework and only need to work on my dissertation?
We can report to SEVIS you are enrolled in a full course of study if you have a Full Time at 3 Credits (FT3) form on file with the School of Graduate Studies and you enroll in 3 credits for the semester.

Can I audit a course? 
You cannot count a course you are auditing toward the full course of study requirement. As noted in the catalog, no credit or grade points will be granted. 


Can I work as an international student?
  • International students are allowed to work on campus 20 hours per week during the spring and fall semesters. This includes during a graduate student's grace semester. Students can work on campus up to 40 hours per week in the summer semester and during school breaks (e.g. winter, spring). This is true even if they enroll in summer classes, as long as it is not their first or last semester, as enrollment is optional. Talk to your immigration adviser to obtain an Employment Authorization Verification letter proving you are eligible to accept the employment offer.
  What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
  • This is employment in the form of an internship and for credit. The credit(s) would need to be tied to your plan of study and required for graduation. See the CPT section of this FAQ page for more information.
  • Here is a video about CPT. 
How do I apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)?
Information is available in this handout Social Security Number Application Process. You need an employment offer letter to obtain a SSN.

Can I continue working on my assistantship during the grace semester (USU 7777)?
As per section E.6 of the catalog: "because the course is not associated with any credits, students who enroll are ineligible for graduate assistantships or subsidized health insurance." You may work as an hourly employee for the department during your grace semester before your Form I-20 program end date.


How do I submit a request?

Here is a video explaining how to do this. 
  • Access the form on the Student Forms section of this ISSS Portal. 
  • You will need to complete all items listed under "Questionnaires", "Learning Content", and "Signature Documents". If there are required documents to upload, they will be listed in the instructions to the application and you will have to upload those file types before the application can be submitted.
    • Once all of those things have been completed, click  the "Submit" button located at the top of the page to submit your request for review by one of our advisors.
    • We do ask that you give us 3 - 5 business days to review your application. You can also always email if you have questions and we will be happy to help you!

What do I need to do to transfer my SEVIS record to another institution?
Complete the transfer-out form on the ISSS Portal. You can submit the other institution's transfer-in form here for your primary immigration adviser to complete as needed. 

What should be my transfer release date? 
This is the date we release your record to the new institution. We cannot release your record while you are still studying or are engaged in academic activities at USU. It also needs to be before the end of your 60-day grace period if you completed your program at USU.

Can I continue with my Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment after you transfer my record?
No, your employment authorization ends once we transfer your SEVIS record, even if the dates on your EAD card are valid. See the Study in the States website to learn more.  

How long do I have to transfer-out after my program of study is complete or my program end date?
We can transfer F-1 visa student records within the 60-day grace period. We can only transfer J-1 visa records before the program end date.

Can I remain in the USA after a transfer and before my new program start date?
Yes. However, you may not work after the SEVIS release transfer date to the other institution. Also, you must enroll in the next session offered at the new institution (e.g. transfer release date of May 23rd and the next session start date is August 25th can remain in the USA).

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
Curricular Practical Training is work experience (internship) tied to academics. This may be a paid or unpaid position. The experience must be in the student’s major field of study and the credits must count toward completing the degree. Such experience must be an integral part of the established curriculum, listed in the course catalog, documented and supervised by college faculty. A course offered for the primary purpose of facilitating employment authorization does not qualify for curricular practical training.

Here is a video about CPT. You can also learn more about this on the U.S. government's Study in the States website.

Am I eligible for CPT?

Student must have been in lawful F-1 status for at least one academic school year (2 semesters) and must currently be in status. Graduate students in programs that require immediate participation in CPT may begin their training before they have been here one academic year.

Note: Students enrolled in English language training programs are ineligible for CPT.

Students must register for internship credit during the semester in which they are engaged in the CPT employment (as per SEVIS guidance).

CPT or internship may be required or it may be elective - but it must count as credit toward earning the degree. The training program must be listed in the university course catalog with the assigned number of credits and name of the faculty members teaching the course clearly indicated. There should also be a description of the course with the course objectives clearly defined. Students enrolled in such a course may work out the details of their specific projects within the established course objectives under the supervision of the instructor. The internship experience must be approved by the overseeing CPT faculty of the student’s department at USU for work experience related to major field of study.

If the CPT takes places during fall or spring semester, student must be enrolled full-time. Students can only work up to 20 hours/ week during the academic semester when they are required to be fully enrolled. They may work more than 20 hours (and no more than 40) if they are on a reduced course load or in the summer vacation semester.

Immigration advisers will follow the federal standard credit hour for courses. 40 – 45 hours of work = 1 credit unless there is another university standard. 

Can I enroll in CPT during the grace semester?
No, there is no curricular justification for the employment authorization. The grace semester is an option to maintain status while you complete the edits to your thesis/ dissertation. All of your degree requirements are complete at that point. 

You are eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) as a graduate student once you have finished all of your coursework.
Spring 2022 Enrollment
Students must return to the USU campus for the Spring 2022 semester.
- We will have to terminate SEVIS records for authorized early withdrawal for those who do not return to study courses face to face.
- Students with a terminated SEVIS record should contact when they are ready to return to the USU campus.
- Remember, your SEVIS record must be active for at least a full academic year to be eligible to apply for OPT. 

Students can only count 3 credits of online/ web broadcast courses towards the full course of study requirement.
- Undergraduate students need to enroll in at least 12 credits (of which 3 can be online)
- Graduate students need to enroll in at least 9 credits (of which 3 can be online)
       Graduate students with an assistantship need to enroll in at least 6 credits (of which 3 can be online)
       Graduate students who have completed all coursework (except for thesis or dissertation credits) or are in their defense semester should submit the 
       Full Time at 3 Credits form if they are not registering for the credit loads indicated in the previous bullet points

Students must register for a full course of study to maintain their non-immigrant status.

·         Intensive English: 18 credits
·         Undergraduate: at least 12 credits
·         Graduate: at least 9 credits
·         6 credits with a .5 FTE assistantship

Not enrolling in full-time credits? Complete the Reduced Course Load form on the ISSS Portal.
·         Regulations permit less than full-time enrollment only under specific circumstances, indicated on the form.

Visit USU Ready for tips to help you enroll and be successful in your studies.

Can I drop a class?
You may only drop a class if you will not fall below the required number of credits for an international student. 
     - A "W" on your transcript does not equate to enrollment in a course, and will not count toward the full course of study requirement.
     - A reduced course load can be authorized for specific reasons only. Please seek immigration advising prior to dropping below a full course load to obtain           authorization (if your situation qualifies) and to avoid a termination of your SEVIS record and student visa.


I'm defending my thesis/ dissertation this semester. How many credits do I need to enroll in to maintain my status?

You need to enroll in at least 3 credits as noted on the School of Graduate Studies website. You will also need to have a Full Time at 3 Credits form on file.

Should I enroll in the grace semester (USU 7777) if I applied for OPT?
You do not need to enroll in the grace semester if you applied for OPT. The grace semester is simply a mechanism to enable you to maintain  your non-immigrant status while working on corrections for your thesis/ dissertation. Participation in OPT provides for your status maintenance.

Can I have an assistantship during the grace semester?
No. As per the general catalog, "the course is not associated with any credits, students who enroll are ineligible for graduate assistantships or subsidized health insurance."
What can I do if I want to change my status? e.g., F-1 to F-2, J-2 to F-1, etc.​
There are 2 ways for you to change your status in the USA:
​1. Depart the USA., apply for a new visa at a U.S. embassy/ consulate, re-enter the USA. using the new visa. You will gain the class admission of admission associated with the visa you present to the Customs and Border Patrol official. 2. Apply for a Change of Status to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS - Form I-539). You will receive a new class of admission if the application is approved. USCIS will include the updated Form I-94 showing this new class of admission on the approval notice.
  • There may be delays to the processing of the new visa
  • The visa application may be denied
  • The processing time for Form I-539 applications takes ~13 - 17 months
  • You should not undertake activities related to the visa status for which you are applying unless they are allowed for the visa status you currently have
  • You should maintain the requirements for your current visa status while waiting for the application to be adjudicated
  • You will need to apply for the new visa if you travel outside the USA after being approved for the change of status
  • Exiting the USA before the application is adjudicated cancels the application
​Contact an immigration attorney for further guidance if you are considering a change of status