F-1 International Students

Also see our handout, Know Your Facts: The International Student Handbook [PDF]

Entering the U.S.

To enter the USA you will need the following:

  • A valid passport
  • An EMU issued I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F-1 Student Status
  • An I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • A valid F-1 visa (the visa stamp in your passport) issued by the U.S. embassy/consulate overseas
      • Canadian citizens do not need U.S. Visas.

Please be advised that you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date in section 5 on your I-20. When you enter the U.S., you will receive an I-94 card marked "F-1" and "D/S" (duration of status). Please enter your name exactly as it appears on your U.S. Visa.

Mandatory Check-in and Orientation

All new students are required to check-in with the Office for International Students and Scholars prior to the starting date on your I-20 or within five business days of your arrival, as required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. EMU also provides a mandatory International Student Orientation Program to assist you with settling in at EMU.

Maintaining Legal F-1 Status

Maintaining status is necessary in order to receive the benefits of F-1 status such as employment and program extension, and can be crucial to a successful application for a change or adjustment of visa status in the future. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S.

  • Attend the university on whose I-20 you entered the USA or complete the appropriate school transfer procedures
  • Complete the mandatory check-in process and attend the mandatory international student orientation
  • Keep your passport valid at least six months into the future, at all times
  • Maintain full-time enrollment, attend classes and make normal progress toward your degree
    • Undergraduate (bachelor's) students: minimum of 12 credit hours per term
    • Graduate students: minimum of eight credit hours per term
    • Students may choose not to enroll during the summer term, unless it is your first or last term at EMU
    • All F-1 students are allowed to only count one online course per term toward full-time status. If you are only enrolled in one class, this class cannot be online.
    • If you are unable to be enrolled and attending classes full-time, you must have prior approval from an OISS advisor. See the reduced hours form for additional information.
    • Be in good academic standing and making progress towards your degree. Suspension, dismissal or other similar action may affect your immigration status.
    • Courses in which you have a grade of Incomplete (I) or In-progress (IP) do not count towards your full-time enrollment credits
    • Courses taken at another college or university (Concurrent/Guest Enrollment [PDF]) can be used to meet up to 50% of your full-time credit requirements during the fall and winter terms or summer semester (if summer is your first or last term)
  • Notify OISS of any change in either your local or permanent address, by updating your my.emich. All F-1 students must update their my.emich addresses within 10 days of a change of address. The OISS will notify the Department of Homeland Security, through the SEVIS system, of your new address.
  • Maintain a valid, unexpired I-20 at all times. This includes correct education level, major, current funding sources and correct personal data.
    • Extend your I-20 [PDF] prior to its end date if you are unable to complete your program by the original expiration date using the Extension of Stay form.
    • Notify OISS of any authorized change of major when displayed in the my.emich system
    • Notify OISS of any graduate assistant awards or scholarships, by providing us a copy of the award letter
  • Only work with proper authorization. F-1 students are permitted to work on campus up to a maximum of 20 hours/week during fall and winter terms. See employment information for additional details.

Notifying OISS – you must notify OISS when:

  • There are changes in either your local or home country permanent address, telephone number and email address. Update your address on my.emich.edu.
  • Changes in any information on page one of your I-20
  • You renew your passport or visa
  • You receive a new I-94 card
  • You are not enrolled in classes full-time

Maintain Health Insurance Coverage

All international students are required to maintain health insurance coverage that meets the University's standards. Information can be found on the Health Center website.

Dependents (F-2)

Dependents are defined as spouse and minor children less than 21 years of age.  Each dependent will have their own I-20, which will be used to obtain their F-2 visa at the U.S. embassy/consulate and for entry into the U.S. Persons in F-2 status are not able to accept employment or engage in business enterprises while inside the U.S.

The F-2 spouse may not engage in full time study and the F-2 children may only attend full-time study if it is in an elementary or secondary school (K-12). F-2 spouses and children are allowed to study for recreational or non-vocational reasons.

Grace Period

When an F-1 student completes their academic program or Optional Practical Training they are allowed a 60-day grace period during which the F-1 student and any F-2 dependents may stay within the U.S., but are not allowed to work or to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status.


F-1 students must file federal tax forms for every year they are inside the USA, whether or not money was earned.

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