Stay Legal

It is your responsibility to maintain F-1/J-1 student status, and the details of such status are outlined in your I-20/DS-2019 and during orientation.

You must be full-time each term (Fall and Spring). Students starting in the summer must be enrolled full time during summer.

Full-time is defined as 6 credits for Graduate students and 12 credits for Undergraduate students.  Other academic programs may require more credits per term but this is the minimum.

  • Reduced Course Load/Dropping a Course: you MUST seek approval from an advisor in OISS BEFORE enrolling or dropping below full-time using the Reduced Course Load.
  • Concurrent Enrollment: you must seek approval IN ADVANCE from an advisor in OISS if you plan to enroll at another U.S. institution in addition to the University of St. Thomas by using the Concurrent Enrollment Authorization.
  • Leave of Absence/ Withdrawal from courses at the University of St. Thomas: you must seek approval from an advisor in OISS BEFORE taking a leave of absence or withdrawing from your classes and/or enrolling at another U.S. institution.
  • Online/Distance learning course limit: only one online/distance learning course can count towards your full-time enrollment each term.
  • Change of Major/Level: you must receive a new I-20 from OISS should your major or level change throughout your stay at the University of St. Thomas. Please contact OISS for further details if this applies.  J-1 students cannot change majors.
  • Keep I-20/DS-2019 valid: if you are unable to complete your degree by the expiration date on your I-20/DS-2019, please submit the Program Extension- F1  to OISS BEFORE your I-20/DS-2019 expires. Failure to do this will result in your SEVIS record being terminated.
  • Passport: this must be valid at all times and should be valid 6 months into the future when traveling outside the U.S.
  • Grace Period: F-1 students can stay in the U.S. for 60 days beyond their program completion date.  J-1 students can stay in the U.S. for 30 days beyond their program completion date.

Update your address within 10 days of the change through your Murphy online account.

  • On-campus employment: limit of 20 hours/week while school is in session.  J-1 students must receive authorization in advance from OISS to work on-campus.
  • Off-campus employment: NEVER work off-campus without authorization from OISS. Working off-campus without authorization will result in your SEVIS record being terminated. For information regarding off-campus work authorization please visit our CPT page.

The F-1/J-1 visa holder must provide financial verification to OISS in order to have F-2 dependents (spouse and/or children) added to their I-20/DS-2019.

F-2 dependents (spouses) may only study part-time at an SEVP approved school (such as St. Thomas);   F-2 (children) may engage in full time study at K-12 level.  F-2 dependents are not permitted to work while in the U.S.

J-2 dependents can study full-time or part-time in the U.S. and are eligible to apply for employment authorization through USCIS.  Contact OISS for more information regarding how to apply for work authorization.


Dependent Handbook

Health insurance is required of all F-1 and J-1 international students. When you register for classes you will be automatically enrolled in and billed for the St. Thomas sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan with Student Assurance Services (SAS).   The insurance will assist in paying for accident and illness expenses that may arise while you are attending St.Thomas. F-1 students are eligible to waive the St. Thomas sponsored plan if they have a seperate U.S. based health insurance plan that meets the minimum coverage requirements. J-1 students are not eligible to waive the St. Thomas sponsored plan. 

Visit Health Services for more information regarding the current plan and waiver instructions.

Some J-1 and J-2 visa holders might be subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement (also known as the 212(e) rule). J-1 visa holders with funding from their home government or the U.S. government will be subject to the 212(e) rule. Individuals with expertise listed on the skills list might be subject to the 212(e) rule. See the skills list online HERE.

The 212(e) rule prevents an individual from changing their immigration status within the U.S. and requires this individual to live in their home country for 2 years before they are eligible to return to the U.S. in more permanent status. Individuals subject to the 212(e) rule can apply for a waiver of this requirement. The waiver process is complicated and can be time consuming.

See the 212(e) waiver information online HERE and contact OISS for assistance.