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Maintaining Your Visa Status

When you get a visa, you must follow a set of requirements. Those who follow the requirements maintain status and ensure their ability to remain in the United States. Those who do not follow the requirements are considered out of status, and could be required to leave the United States and might not be readmitted to the country.

If you fall out of status for reasons beyond your control, you may be eligible to apply for a reinstatement of status. Contact the Office of International Services to learn if that is an option for you, or if you have questions about the rules of your visa.

Upon Arrival to SLU

  • After arriving in St. Louis, F-1 and J-1 visa holders should stop by the Office of International Services to be registered in SEVIS, the national database for international visitors. Please bring your visa paperwork, passport and local address.
  • F-1 students arriving in time for orientation will complete their check-in as part of International Student Orientation.

During Your Study at SLU

  • Inform OIS when you move so we can update your address in the SEVIS database.
  • Maintain a valid passport at all times.
  • Do what you’re here to do: Students must take a full-time course load. Faculty and research scholars on J-1, H-1B or TN visas must engage in the teaching, research or employment described in their visa documents.
  • Follow the requirements for employment. Notify us two weeks before you plan to travel out of the United States; we must sign your I-20 or DS-2019 form before you leave the country.
  • Obey all state and federal laws.

Full-Time Status

All international students are required to enroll in a full course load during the academic year with only a few exceptions. A full course load for: 

  • Undergraduate students: 12 credit hours per semester
  • Graduate students: Six credit hours per semester or as determined by the program
  • Academic English and Pathway students: As determined by your academic program

Students enrolled full time for a fall or spring term are not required to take classes during the summer. If you arrive for a summer term, you will be required to enroll full time for that summer. If you are enrolled in an Academic English or Pathway program, your academic program might require you to take summer classes.

International students are permitted to count only one online course (three credits) per semester toward the required number of credits to be enrolled as a full-time student. (A student may be enrolled in more than one online course, but only one course counts toward the full-time course load.)

Dropping below a full-time status can only be authorized by the Office of International Services under the following conditions:

Medical Issues

You must provide current medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or a licensed clinical psychologist. You may be authorized to be less-than-full-time for medical reasons for no more than an aggregate of 12 months in any degree program.

Academic Difficulties

This includes initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods or improper course level placement. Students under this condition must still carry at least a half-time course load (for undergraduates, at least six hours per semester). After dropping below full-time, you must resume a full course load in the next available semester to maintain student status. A student previously authorized for this reason is not eligible for a second authorization.

Final Semester Before Completing a Program

If you do not need a full-time course load to complete the program in the final semester, you must receive approval from your international advisor at the beginning of the semester. Simply being enrolled in courses is not sufficient to maintain your status. In addition, you must attend most classes. University professors will notify our office if you miss more than a few classes.

Ending Your Studies

  • If you will not graduate or complete your program by the end date on your I-20 or DS-2019, request an extension before the end date.
  • Notify us if you are transferring to a different school or program.
  • Complete required tax forms, even if you do not have income.

Other Requirements

Report any dependents (spouse or children) to the Office of International Services.
Each individual with J-1 and J-2 visa status must prove insurance coverage. (Saint Louis University has an arrangement with Lockton Companies if you need to buy insurance.)