F-1 Visa Policy for International Students at Lewis University

Updated: as of March 6, 2024

All international students are required to pursue their studies on a full-time basis.

Immigration Status and Maintenance

Full-Time Study:

  • International graduate student: minimum of 9 credit hours per semester
  • International undergraduate student: minimum of 12 credit hours per semester

In-Person Requirement: ALL students are encouraged to take all classes IN-PERSON to maintain legal F1 visa status and legally stay in the United States.

  • International graduate students: required to study a minimum of 6 credits (2 courses) in-person out of the 9-credit hour minimum requirement over each semester.
  • International undergraduate student: required to study a minimum of 9 credits (3 courses) in-person out of the 12-credit hour minimum requirement over each semester.
  • ALL students: can study any number of online credits after the minimum in-person requirements are met.

Hybrid/Blended Courses: The Course Catalogue will show a campus location, which can be used to identify online or in-person courses. ROM, ABQ, and OBK are the in-person locations. ONL is the designation for an online course. However, with some in-person courses, the instruction may offer hybrid learning options. “Hybrid learning, with some requirements for in-person learning” is permitted per C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(m)(9)(v).

  • Hybrid learning can be defined as: courses with a minimum of 50 percent contact hours in-person with an instructor. The 50 percent contact hour minimum can be met via traditional classroom instruction, as well as office hours, labs, clinical, or any other instructional method with direct contact that is documented with the instructor. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that when they are enrolled in an ROM, ABQ, or OBK course, that they attend a minimum of 50 percent of the classes in-person. This policy does not supersede the instructor’s policy on class attendance.

Summer term: Enrollment during the summer terms is optional, except for international students that begin their programs during a summer term, in which case, full-time enrollment is required.

  • Continuing international students who have completed at least one full semester at Lewis may elect to take summer classes. These continuing students may take any number of on-campus or online summer courses with no minimum on-campus or course load requirements.

Defining Full Course of Study

  • USCIS regulation regarding DSOs defining “full course of study” : [^ 17] See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iv). The DSO from the school where the F-1 student will earn the student’s degree is responsible for the reporting requirements to DHS. In instances where a student is enrolled in programs with different full course of study requirements (for example,clock hours vs. credit hours), the DSO is permitted to determine what constitutes a full course of study.
  • Programs such as MSN and Ed.D that have credit hours that differ from clock hours (as in, credit hours may be lower than 9, but clock hours could be much higher) we as DSOs can define these programs as “full time” at 6 credits. On-campus regulations are not affected in any way by this, so the student still needs to adhere to 1 online course to contribute to full time study. 
    • When we send warnings to students about being under enrolled, please note that MSN and EdD students will be considered “full time” at 6 credits.  This should also further reduce the use for the OCW liability form.

Last and Final Semester Policy

Reduced Course Load: This form must be approved by your Academic Advisor and the ISGSS Director or DSO through SEVIS before you can drop to a less than full-time load. Students failing to request & obtain advance approval of a reduced course load will be considered “out of status” by the SEVP.

One class remaining: A student’s last and final class (i.e., capstone or any other required course) must be taken in-person to maintain legal F-1 visa status. A Hybrid/Blended course may be acceptable, but requires DSO review (regardless of semester).

Broadcast Message 2305-04: Termination of SEVP COVID-19 Flexibilities

  • President Biden announced the termination of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency, effective on May 11, 2023, following the termination of the COVID-19 National Emergency on April 10, 2023. Original broadcast message.
  • SEVP originally published its COVID-19 flexibilities to accommodate the national emergencies as they pertained to SEVP-certified schools and nonimmigrant students, including restrictions and disruptions to travel and changes in teaching methods at the time. The flexibilities were always intended as a temporary measure to allow nonimmigrant students to continue their studies with the least disruptions as possible and did not signify or result in a permanent change to the regulations.

Important Reminder: Full-time enrollment may be defined differently for immigration purposes than how it is defined by other academic units or programs. It is your responsibility to ensure that your enrollment meets the requirements of your immigration status throughout the duration of your program at Lewis University.

For any questions or clarification, please email ISGSS@lewisu.edu.

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