Office of International Student & Scholar Services

Current Students

Student Status

Below is some important information concerning maintaining, extending, reinstating, and changing your international student status in the U.S. Use the links below to go to specific topics. On May 15, 2018 USCIS posted a policy memorandum changing how the agency calculates unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors in F, J, and M nonimmigrant status, including F-2, J-2, or M-2 dependents, who fail to maintain their status in the United States.

International students must be registered as full-time students during each fall and spring semester (Undergraduate students – 12 credits and Graduate students - 9 credits).  SEVP allows international students to Reduce Course Load to less than full time under certain limited circumstances.

Note: International students are not required but may choose to enroll in courses during summer semesters.  However, if summer is your last semester, you must enroll in the summer semester.

F-1 international students can only count ONE online class toward their minimum number of credits as their full-time enrollment during their normal semesters. If you only need one course to complete your program of study, the course cannot be online or distance learning. (The same rule also applies to TAMUK hybrid classes)

A full course of study for J-1 students must consist of "enrollment in an academic program of classroom participation and study, and/or doctoral thesis research." This focus on classroom participation probably means that J-1 students should not rely on distance or online courses to meet the enrollment needed to maintain their status.

Note: According to U.S. immigration regulations, F-1 students cannot pursue online degrees within the U.S.

International students in other visa categories (i.e. H-4, L2) are exempt from this limitation.

If you change your local address, you must report the change within 10 days of moving.  Please note that international student need to update your address through Blue & Gold connection AND Form OISSS-10, Address and Name Change Report.  If you are an international student with any visa status other than F-1 or J-1, you will have to file your address change with USCIS directly.

As an F-1 or J-1 student at TAMUK, you are eligible to request an extension of your non-immigrant status if the need for additional time is based on established academic reasons such as a change in level or field of study, research concerns, or documented medical reasons. You can determine if you require an extension of your I-20 or DS-2019 by looking at the expiration date found in Section 5 of the I-20 or Section 3 of the DS-2019. Requests for extensions of status can be made no earlier than 60 days prior to the expiration of your current document and may be requested for one year intervals. Please note: a request for an extension of your status must be made before your current I-20/DS-2019 expires.

To apply for an extension of your F-1/J-1 student status, you will need to submit Form OISSS-120, Request to Amend/Extend I-20, to OISSS with supporting documentation.  Your advisor must complete the section of the form that asks for the reason for the extension.  Program extensions can only be granted for because of a valid academic or medical reason.  You will also have to provide OISSS with proof of funding for the duration of the extension.  Funding can come from an assistantship, personal funds, family funds, or a combination of these.  All funds must be liquid (i.e. available to you) at the time of the extension request.

A final rule by the Department of Homeland Security published on April 29, 2015 provides greater incentive for international students to study in the U.S. by permitting accompanying spouses and children of academic and vocational nonimmigrant students with F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status to enroll in study at an SEVP-certified school so long as any study remains less than a full course of study. F-2 and M-2 spouses and children remain prohibited, however, from engaging in a full course of study unless they apply for, and DHS approves, a change of nonimmigrant status to a nonimmigrant status authorizing such study.  Children in F-2 status, however, may attend primary, middle, or high school in the US as long as the F-1 maintains their status.

It is important to note: DSOs are not responsible for overseeing or tracking dependent study. Unlike an F-1 student, a dependent still does not need to enroll or attend classes at the postsecondary level to maintain their status. However, recordkeeping and reporting responsibilities for F students and dependents remain the same.  Here is the link to an ICE chart that shows a listing of non-immigrants who can study.

OISSS can assist an international student in F-1 or J-1 status in inviting their dependents, a spouse or an unmarried child under the age of 21, to US in F-2 or J-2 status.  To invite your dependent to the US, please submit Form OISSS-190, Request for Dependent I-20  or Form OISSS-200, to request for Dependent DS-2019, with supporting documentation.

Dependents entering the US in J-2 status may pursue part- or full-time degree-seeking coursework and may apply for employment authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).