ISSO Advisory: Reminders to Students about Maintaining your F-1 Status

in Uncategorized
November 6th, 2019

We are writing to highlight a few key pieces of information that will be useful to you in maintaining your F-1 status while you are enrolled at Boston University.

  • A link to the ISSO webpage on maintaining your status is here

While the webpage above contains more complete details of what we highlight below, please take note of the following key requirements while you are in F-1 status:

We are required to report certain events in SEVIS

If you change your major, change your address or drop below full-time, we must report this information in SEVIS. In some cases, like a change of major, you will receive a new I-20 from ISSO. In some cases, like an address change, we update the information but do not issue a new I-20. It is important that you make sure your “Immigration – U.S.” address in StudentLink is up-to-date at all times.

Full-time enrollment and online classes

You are required to enroll full-time each semester. For most students, this means enrolling in at least 12 credits. Graduate students who are fully funded by teaching or research assistantships may enroll in fewer credits, and some schools and colleges have slightly different enrollment requirements. It is important that you are enrolled for what is considered “full-time” for your major.

Many schools and colleges are offering more online and hybrid courses. Please note that the immigration regulations limit international students in the number of online classes that found towards full-time enrollment. This means that you may only take one class (up to 4 credits) of the 12 credit minimum in an online or hybrid format each semester.

Program extensions

If your I-20 lists a program completion date that is earlier than you will actually graduate, you must request a program extension from ISSO prior to your I-20 expiring! You can find details about how to apply for a program extension on the ISSO website. If a program extension is required, we strongly suggest that you apply early to avoid any problems. Extensions require up to 10 business days for processing.

State Law vs. Federal Law

It can be important for international students to understand the difference in state law versus federal law. This is especially significant since Massachusetts legalized the use of cannabis products/recreational marijuana. Anyone in the United States on a non-immigrant visa (such as a student on an F-1 visa) is subject to federal law, which considers cannabis possession and use to be a federal criminal offense. International students who possess or use cannabis products may be subject to severe consequences (for example, visa refusal or revocation). In this case, where state and federal law conflict, and international students are always subject to federal law. It may also be useful to review BU’s Policy on Alcohol & Drugs.


We know that maintaining status can be complex.

Your ISSO advisor and all of the ISSO staff are committed to helping you make the most of your experience here at BU. Do not hesitate to contact your ISSO advisor with any questions involving employment, travel and maintaining status so we can be of assistance.

Warm Regards,

The Staff of the ISSO