Office of International Students and Scholars

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Information for Current F-1 Students

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How to Stay in Status

You must maintain a full course of study during the regular semester.


At least 12 units/semester for undergraduates
At least 9 units/semester for graduates

(Please contact OISS first if you have plans to drop below full-time, file for a leave of absence, withdraw from a class, or withdraw from your program. Failure to inform OISS may seriously jeopardize your immigration status.)

You are responsible for taking note of your I-20/DS-2019’s completion date. Should you need more time to complete your degree, contact OISS immediately for advising.

You must first consult with OISS before engaging in any type of employment. Remember that most types of employment require some form of authorization from OISS.

You must report any changes to the following within 10 days:

Address (residence)
Contact Information (Email and Phone Number)

Know your immigration documents! Be responsible for keeping them valid:

Passport – Keep valid 6 months into the future.

Visa – Usually valid for a specific amount of time. It is used only to enter the United States under a specific status. The expiration date on your visa does not affect how long you may stay in the U.S. If you know that you will be traveling and will be coming back to the U.S. to resume your studies, please contact OISS to obtain assistance on visa renewal or extension (if necessary).

I-20 – Please make sure that all information listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 are true and accurate. Please contact your OISS adviser as soon as possible if changes need to be made.

Remember to obtain an endorsement signature from your OISS adviser before traveling.

F-1 students – 1 year
J-1 students – 6 months
F-1 students on Optional Practical Training – 6 months

Apply for an extension of your program if you cannot complete your degree by the end date listed on page 1, item 5 on your I-20.  You may apply for a program extension at any time.

Abide by special requirements, such as Special Registration, if they apply to you.

Complete an official immigration transfer if you plan on changing educational institutions (please contact your OISS adviser for more details).

If you are traveling outside the U.S. to a country other than your own, you need to contact that country’s consulate or embassy to find out if an entry visa is required.

You need to bring your passport, your signed I-20, and print out your I-94 admission number when going to Tijuana, Mexico.


USD's Health Insurance Requirement

All F-1 students and visiting scholars must demonstrate health insurance coverage for their time at USD. Please refer to the Health Insurance section of our website for more details about this requirement. Please get in touch with OISS if:

  1. You have applied for Post-Completion OPT and would like to continue coverage with the University's health plan
  2. You are a student studying abroad next semester; or
  3. You are a student returning to USD next semester either from study abroad or from a Leave of Absence

For students who have waived the University's health plan, please remember that you will need to fill-out the online waiver every school year (before the start of the Fall semester).


International Student F-1 Employment

F-1 students may engage in on and off campus employment. For more information please refer to the International student f-1 employment section.


International Student and Scholar Handbook

The International Student and Scholar Handbook is a great resource for your pre-departure planning.  This handbook covers topics such as finding a place to live in San Diego, purchasing or renting a car, opening a bank account, etc.