We assist international students and scholars from more than 50 countries each academic year. All international students on F-1 and J-1 visas have to comply with US federal regulations to keep their student immigration status during their stay in the United States. We have listed common topics that may assist with advising international students. Please also feel free to reach out to the OIE staff or direct students to us with questions.

Immigration Regulations about Enrollment

  • Full-Time Status: International undergraduate students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are required by federal regulations to complete a minimum of 12 credits (9 credits in person) each academic semester. The regulations allow for a few specific situations where students can receive authorization from the OIE to drop below full-time enrollment. Please advise students to contact OIE staff to discuss their situation and to complete the Reduced Course Load Application before dropping/withdrawing from any course(s) that will result in less than full-time enrollment. If a student withdraws without prior authorization from the OIE, they will be considered out of status (loss of student immigration status). We want to help students avoid this if possible. If students do lose status, OIE can assist with reinstatement, but the process is costly, processing time is lengthy, F1 benefits are negatively impacted, and approval is not guaranteed.
  • Reduced Course Load: Students are permitted, with prior OIE approval, to take a reduced course load (less than 12 credits with at least 9 credits in person) for the following reasons: academic difficulty in the first semester, medical condition, or final semester. Students must complete a Reduced Course Load Application and receive approval from the OIE.
  • Online Classes: Federal regulations only permit one online course per academic semester to count toward the full-time enrollment requirement (12 credits). Additional online classes can be taken provided this minimum enrollment requirement has been met. Hybrid classes that predominantly require in-person attendance would be considered in-person courses. 
  • Summers: Unless a program requires summer classes, international students are permitted to take annual vacation. They can travel or stay in the U.S. without enrollment. They can also study at IUP (in-person or online classes) or enroll at another institution. If summer is the final semester of study, students should meet full-time enrollment requirement or complete a reduced courseload.
  • Extension of Program: When a student needs to continue in an educational program beyond the originally estimated completion date, he or she must apply for an extension at least 30 days before the expiration date on his or her I20 or DS2019. Students must complete an Extension of Program Application in our office.

Immigration Regulations about Employment

  • On-Campus Work: International students may work on-campus for 20 hours per week when classes are in session. During breaks, when a student is not enrolled in classes, they can work additional hours on campus.
  • Internships: International students are permitted to participate in an internship (paid or unpaid) provided it is an integral part of the curriculum, they are enrolled for IUP internship credits, they have been in valid F1 status for an academic year, and they have applied for and received immigration permission before the start of the internship. Please direct students to the Office of International Education's Employment page for more details and application forms.
  • Working after Graduation: Students are eligible to apply for one year of work permission, Optional Practical Training and Academic Training to begin following graduation and, in some cases, before graduation. Please direct students to contact the Office of International Education for additional details.

Resources for International Students

  • Tutoring or Help with English: If you feel students are struggling with their English or need additional help with their classes, you can refer them to a variety of resources in the community.
    • The American Language Institute is IUP's intensive English program with classes designed to prepare students for university study in the U.S. Tuition and fees are charged for ALI classes. 
    • ARIN Adult Education Center offers English classes for the community. ARIN primarily offers survival skills in English at no cost.
    • The SkillZone is a drop-in tutoring center for international students. Tutors can assist with English language skills and academic coaching.
    • The IUP Writing Center, with support from the OIE, has tutors who specialize in helping multilingual writers. 
    • Conversation Partners and is a program organized through our office to help international students share culture and language.
  • Financial Assistance: Non-US citizens or residents do not qualify for financial aid. Our office awards partial tuition waivers to those who qualify. International students who qualify can work with our office to apply for off-campus work permission after two semesters of coursework.
  • Request for Longer Test Times: International students are required to meet English proficiency requirements for admission to IUP, but individuals may still experience challenges related to language and cultural adjustment. International students sometimes request extended time on tests to allow additional time for language processing. IUP does not have a policy regarding accommodations for English learners, and test proctoring services are not available through the OIE or through D2A2 unless students have a verified disability. Faculty and departments may offer extended test time at their discretion. The OIE can assist with verifying international student status: email intl-education@iup.edu. English learners who are not at IUP on a student visa may self-identify.

Other Information You May Find Helpful

  • International Students' Pathway to the United States: Once an international student is admitted, the Office of International Education receives the original admission letter, verifies immigration requirements, creates an immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019), and emails the admission package and immigration documents to the student. International students then apply for a visa (F-1 or J-1), go to the interview at their local U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and, upon receiving a visa, make housing and flight arrangements to come to the United States. 
  • Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) sponsored students: Many students who attend IUP from Saudi Arabia are sponsored by their employer or government. There are very strict criteria for obtaining and continuing a SACM sponsorship. Read more about the SACM scholarship program and view a list of IUP programs that are approved for study for students from Saudi Arabia.
  • Fulbright-, IIE-, Muskie-, and Government-Sponsored Students: As these students are being sponsored, they must gain the approval of their sponsor for reduced course loads, travel, internships, working after graduation, and other issues. Sponsored students are held to the same requirements as other degree-seeking students regarding full-time status. Some sponsored programs have even stricter guidelines for online classes. Please contact our office if you have questions about a sponsored student.
  • Orientation: Our office holds a week-long orientation program every fall and spring semester to assist international students with registration, immigration validation, and cultural adjustment to the United States.
  • Deferrals: International students outside of the United States must obtain a new admission letter and immigration document every semester they defer to obtain a visa or enter the United States. If you know a student is deferring, please direct them to our office.