Use this helpful link to find info and important additional links for the regulations you are responsible to know: Maintaining Status | Study in the States ( 

F-1 Students are required by DHS/ICE/SEVP to continuously enroll full-time, be physically present, and finish on time  

What is full-time at Harrisburg University?
The US government mandates that F-1 students maintain full time status at all times (unless advance DSO permission is granted for eligible students needing a reduced course load).

Undergraduate Students: F-1 visa holders must be enrolled for a full-time course load of a minimum of four (4) courses [12 semester credits] each semester. Any courses done as overloads beyond full time status may be online courses.

Graduate Students:  F-1 visa holders must be enrolled for a full-time course load of a minimum of two (2) courses [6 semester credits] each semester.  One (1) course [3 credits] of the full time schedule MUST BE in Executive format. Overloads may be online courses.

All students: To avoid SEVIS record Termination, you may not withdraw from a course leaving you with fewer than full time credits without special advance authorization from your DSO for Reduced Course Load (RCL) in your SEVIS record.

How do I meet the be physically present requirement?
The US government puts a limit on how many online courses students can take to ensure they are showing up and are accountable for in-person learning: only 1 course (3 credits) of a full time course load (12 credits undergraduate; 6 credits graduate) may be a designated online course. Stated another way:

Undergraduate students: at least 9 of the 12 full time credits must be in classes that meet on campus.

Graduate students: at least 3 of the 6 full time credits must be in Executive format which requires physical presence on campus.

All students: any credits beyond full time course load (called an overload) may be either on campus (Executive) or in online format.

How do I stay on track to finish on time? What if I fall behind in credits due to failed courses?
The US government expects you to complete your degree program on time (by your Program End date listed on page one of your I-20). Only rarely are program extensions allowed. 

Undergraduate students: be aware that even though 12 credits is full time, it is likely you will need a minimum of 15 credits each semester on average to finish on time.

Graduate students: If at any time you lose credits due to failed courses, to stay on track toward your Program End Date in SEVIS, you will have to overload credits (take more than the regular number of credits/courses you normally take). Reach out to to be advised about overload policies and course audits. An example of an overload: you normally take 6 credits (2 courses) for full time status. To make up lost credits because of a failed course, you take an overload of 9 credits (3 courses) in the next semester.

All students: Every program at HU has a recommended course sequence that allows for any required pre-requisite courses to be taken ahead of subsequent required courses. To stay on track, you must pay attention to course sequencing recommended in the Catalog, in your MyHU program portal, and recommended by the Registrar during course audit periods.

Additional requirements

Maintain a Valid Passport and I-94

Passport: If your passport will expire within 6-12 months, or if you need to replace a lost or stolen passport, you should contact your embassy or consulate in the U.S. for instructions on obtaining an extension or new passport. Federal regulations require you to maintain a valid passport at all times

I-94: Your I-94 Departure Record can be obtained online from USCIS

Obtain Proper Employment Authorization before Beginning Any Work or Internship

  • DHS considers working without proper authorization as one of the most serious violations of a non-immigrant's status
  • It is illegal to begin any work before obtaining written permission, even if the student has applied for work authorization and is anticipating approval. Refer to the Employment section for detailed information on employment opportunities and procedures to obtain approval
  • When in doubt, consult a SEVP Designated School Official (DSO) before accepting any offer of employment or beginning any work

Check for Valid I-20 Travel Signature and Proper Documentation before Traveling Outside the U.S.
If you will travel outside the U.S., you must have a valid U.S. Entry Visa and a valid DSO travel signature on the I-20 on page 2 of your I-20.

Each signature is valid for one year (365 days) while you are a full-time student

  • 6 months for F-1 students on post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Signatures can only be obtained by a P/DSO

Do Not Stay in the U.S. beyond the Grace Period

F-1 Students: You are allowed a 60-day grace period to stay in the United States after the completion date of his/her studies or post-completion OPT

If you withdraw early (prior to completion of the program) you are allowed a 15-day grace period to stay in the United States

F-2 Dependents may not work and or enroll in a degree program in the U.S.

If you have a spouse and/or children in F-2 status, please note that they may not work in the U.S. under any circumstances. Additionally, to enroll in a degree program, F-2s must change to F-1s. Please be aware that studying part time in classes that would fulfill degree program requirements is not permitted for an F-2 visitor.  Non-degree bearing, avocational courses are acceptable

Final friendly strong encouragement

Check your Harrisburg University Email

  • Your Harrisburg University email address is where important information will be sent from professors and other offices on campus. 
  • Not reading your email regularly can mean that you miss very important information and that can lead to immigration, academic, and other problems, including Termination of your SEVIS record