Requirements for Maintaining F-1 Visa Status

In This Section

FULL-TIME Registration and Making Normal Progress Towards Program Completion:

     Students in F-1 status must enroll and complete a full time course load during each semester of the student's degree program in which full time enrollment is required (for example, fall and spring).

  • Undergraduate students at Rutgers Newark: Full time registration is minimum 12 credits
  • Masters students at Rutgers Business School - Newark and New Brunswick: Full time registration is minimum 12 credits
  • JD students at Rutgers Law School: Full time registration is minimum 12 credits
  • Graduate School students: Full time registration is minimum 9 credits 

NOTE: Hybrid courses are described differently depending on the program and sometimes the professor. Some define it as hybrid-live Zoom classes (no in-person requirement), and some hybrid within Zoom classes, asynchronous work, and in-person meetings.  You cannot rely on how the class is listed in the scheduling (webreg) system. Students will need to check with the professor and get evidence in writing that the hybrid classes they are enrolled in have an in-person requirement. 

Online or Distance Learning:
Only one (3 credits) online or distance learning class can be counted toward full time enrollment each semester of the student's degree program in which full time enrollment is required.  For example, when a program requires 12 credits for full time enrollment, only 3 credits may be online while 9 credits must be traditional on-campus courses. If you are registered for 12 or more+ credits, 9 credits must be in person while the rest can be online.

Students intending to conduct research abroad must consult with an OISS advisor regarding eligibility requirements and necessary procedures.

If an F-1 or J-1 student needs only one course to complete the program of study in their final semester and intends to remain in the U.S., then the student's final course must be in a traditional, on-campus format.

If an F-1 or J-1 international student chooses to take online courses during their final semester, then that student must work with their department to complete a leave of absence procedure with the university (including OISS) and depart the U.S.  In this case, a student will no longer be eligible for work authorizations such as Optional Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1).

Please review further details here: Full Course of Study | Study in the States ( 

Full Time Exceptions & Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request:

      An F-1 student in the last semester to complete a degree program, OR, in the semester(s) after all coursework is completed except thesis/dissertation, or in one of the other situations allowed by law, may take less than full time course load with OISS approval through the Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request. The Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request E-Form is available through your RGlobal student portal under the student services tab for your visa type. 

    SPECIAL NOTE for students in last semester with only one class to complete degree: You are strongly advised NOT to take the last class online or by distance learning. If you engage in approved CPT, your site of employment should be within commuting distance from the University. 

Obtaining Work Authorization BEFORE Starting Employment:

  • On-campus employment is limited to less than 20 hours per week during the Fall or Spring semester, even if you are on approved Reduced Course Load enrollment; you may work full time during official school breaks. 
  • Off-campus employment: F1 students are not allowed to engage in any employment off campus without USCIS's official Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD). They would be considered in violation of their visa status and would be subject to deportation if they do so. 
  • Curriculum Practical Training (CPT): OISS Authorization for Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) on your I-20 is REQUIRED for internships off campus BEFORE starting the job. For CPT policies and procedures, F-1 students should check OISS website at

Keeping Visa Documentation Valid:

  • I - 20 has to be valid at all times. A student holding an expired I-20 is out of status in the U.S..
  • I - 94 card should be marked as "F1" and "D/S" (D/S stands for Duration of Status).
  • Passport has to be valid six months into the future at all times unless the passport is issued by one of the countries on the Six-Month Club List
  • A valid F1 visa stamp is needed to enter the U.S. from abroad. It will not put an F1 student out of status if it expires during the time the student is studying in the U.S. while maintaining legal status.

Reporting Address Change within 10 Days of Move:

F1 students are required to report change of residence address within 10 days of move to the Department of Homeland Security through SEVIS. To report the change:

  • Login to MyRutgers
  • Click on the Address update tab.
  • Enter and verify your address in the “Local Address” part of the screen.

Reporting Change in Major or Minor:

An F1 student who changes major, adds a second major or minor should work with an academic advisor and the Registrar. Once  the major is changed in the Rutgers system, OISS would upload it to SEVIS and issue a new I-20 for the student.

Reporting Legal Name Change :

If an F1 student changes legal name, it has to be reported to SEVIS and obtain a new I-20. A passport bearing the new name must be presented for name change in SEVIS. Please contact the Registrar's Office to have your name changed in the University's system before requesting OISS for name change in SEVIS. 

Key Contacts

Honors Living Learning Community (HLLC)226 & 227
48 New StreetNewarkNJ07102

OISS In-Person Walk-In Hours:

* No appointment necessary. *
Monday - Thursday: 10:00am – 3:00pm

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: CLOSED

Virtual one-on-one appointments available at  Rutgers Newark - OISS (