Maintaining F-1 and J-1 Student Status

While studying at Drexel University, it is important for F-1 and J-1 students to maintain their visa statuses.

Failure to maintain an international student visa status could result in the loss of the student visa and removal from the United States.

Maintaining status means:

  • Fulfilling the purpose for why the visa was issued (being a full-time student which includes maintaining full-time enrollment and making academic progress).
  • Following the regulations associated with the visa (not working without written work authorization).

Course Registration

  • F-1 and J-1 students must be registered as full-time students each term. Full-time registration is 12+ credits for undergraduate students and 9+ credits for graduate students.
  • Under certain circumstances, F-1 and J-1 students may be eligible to enroll in less than full-time (LTFT) credits. F-1 and J-1 students must have written permission from ISSS to enroll in less than full-time credits before the term begins. 
  • F-1 and J-1 students should NOT drop or withdraw from a course during the semester without first getting approval from an ISSS advisor.

Online Courses

Online courses are courses that take place in a virtual space, not in a physical classroom. F-1 and J-1 students are limited by how many online courses they can take. To maintain status, F-1 and J-1 students must take at least 9 credits (for undergraduate students) or 6 credits (for graduate students) that meet face-to-face or in a hybrid format each term. 

Work Authorization

On-Campus Jobs: If you obtain an on-campus job at any of the Drexel campus(es), you could work no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. On-campus employment is only allowed if your I-20 has not expired, you have not graduated, and you are a continuing student maintaining valid F-1/J-1 status administered by Drexel. Check Human Resources for available on-campus student employment opportunities.

Off-Campus Employment: F-1 and J-1 students should NOT engage in off-campus employment without appropriate work authorization. Working without authorization is considered a serious violation of student visa status and can result in loss of a student's legal immigration status and potential issues for future immigration applications. Possession of a social security number/card alone does NOT grant F-1 and J-1 students the right to work in the United States.  

Please review information regarding the types of employment authorizations available to F-1 and J-1 students on our employment page

Personal Changes

F-1 and J-1 students (and their F-1/J-2 dependents) must report the following to ISSS within 10 days of the change:

  • Change in legal name
  • Change in local home address
  • Change in major or program education level
  • Filing or approval of an application/petition to change immigration status

Program Completion

F-1 and J-1 students are responsible for being aware of the program end dates on their Form I-20/DS-2019; F-1 and J-1 students are not legally allowed to study in the United States past the end dates on these forms. F-1 students may request to extend the end date on their Form I-20 by contacting ISSS and submitting a Program Extension form at least two (2) weeks prior to the expiration of their Form I-20. The delay must have been caused by compelling academic and/or medical reasons and not by academic probation or suspension.  

Final Term of Study

In their final term of study, F-1 and J-1 students should connect with ISSS to report the following:

  • Intentions to apply for Optional Practical Training (F-1 students only)
  • Plans to transfer to another school
  • Plans to begin a new degree program/level at Drexel University
  • Plans to depart the United States

Transferring to Another School

F-1 and J-1 students planning on transferring their SEVIS record to a new institution must connect with ISSS in a timely manner.

SEVIS Transfer Conditions:

  • The international student must be maintaining their current visa status.
  • The international student must contact an ISSS adviser and complete a Transfer Out form.

SEVIS Transfer Notes:

  • F-1 students’ start date at the new institution must be within five (5) months from the previous institution’s program completion date or the first available start date, whichever is sooner.
  • F-1 students that have graduated or are on Post-Completion OPT, must apply for their transfer before the end of the 60-day grace period following either the program completion date on their I-20 or their Post-OPT expiration date list on their EAD.
  • J-1 students that have graduated or are on academic training, must transfer their SEVIS record prior to the expiration of their DS-2019 form.
  • The international student’s employment authorization (on campus, CPT, OPT, academic training, etc.) at their previous institution is automatically terminated on the release date of their SEVIS transfer.

The 60- and 30-Day Grace Periods

F-1 and J-1 students have a grace period after their program ends that allows them to remain in the United States. F-1 students (and their dependents) have a 60-day grace period while J-1 students (and their dependents) have a 30-day grace period.

During the grace period, the F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents may:

  • Pack their belongings/prepare to leave the U.S.
  • Travel within the United States

F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents may NOT work or study during their grace period.

Students who are not applying for OPT or securing an extension of their legal status in the U.S. are expected to depart from the U.S. during their grace period. Students who depart the U.S. prior to the end of their grace period will not be able to re-enter under their F-1/J-1 status following their I-20/DS-2019 expiration date.

Traveling Outside the U.S.

F-1 and J-1 students with international travel plans should consult our travel information page and discuss any concerns with ISSS prior to traveling outside the US. In addition:

  • F-1 and J-1 students must obtain a travel signature from ISSS for re-entry to the U.S.
  • F-1 and J-1 students' passports should always be valid for at least six (6) months in the future.
  • F-1 and J-1 students should always hand-carry updated copies of all immigration related documents, including I-20s and DS-2019s, I-94 records, academic transcripts, proof of financial support, etc. each time they (re)enter the United States.

Taxes and Health Insurance 

F-1 and J-1 students are required to file non-resident tax forms each year as required by U.S. federal regulations. Drexel University's Office of Tax Compliance website has more information.

F-1 and J-1 students are required to maintain adequate medical insurance coverage during their time studying at Drexel University. Drexel University's Office of Counseling and Health Services has more information.

Contact Us


Monday–Friday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Visit during office hours to drop off/pick up documents or to request a travel signature.

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Fridays: 9:30–11:30 a.m.

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