As an international student, you have certain responsibilities, benefits and restrictions that must be kept in mind to safeguard your status. When you lose your status because you fail to abide by immigration rules, you lose your J-1 student benefits including on-campus employment and work authorizations. Even more important, you could possibly become subject to arrest and deportation and future visa applications might be compromised. Depending on the type of violation, you could even be barred from coming back to the U.S. for many years.
In order to enjoy your stay in the United States and have a great experience as an international student, take the time to learn about your immigration status and closely follow immigration regulations.
My responsibilities as an international student at Georgia State are to
- Register full time every semester
- Maintain a valid unexpired passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future at all times)
- Be aware of grace periods
- Request authorization from ISSS before dropping below a full course load
- Report all changes in the address via PAWS within 10 days
- Report all changes in name, dependents and status through ISSS
- Request my transfer to another school in a timely manner
- Report a change in my program of study (such as moving from one-degree level to another or a change in major) to ISSS
- Request travel signatures before traveling
- Request a DS-2019 Extension at least two weeks before my document expires
- Provide ISSS with any updates regarding passport extensions and visa renewals
- Become familiar with immigration rules
- Check my Georgia State email account regularly for communication from ISSS & the university
- Read the ISSS newsletter as it contains important immigration updates.
My restrictions as an international student
- I cannot work off-campus without previous authorization from ISSS or U.S. immigration, whichever is applicable.
- I cannot be under-enrolled or not enrolled at all unless previously authorized (Please see Enrollment Requirements.)
- I cannot work more than 20 hours/week while school is in session unless required by my program of study and authorized by ISSS.
- I cannot maintain status with an expired DS-2019.
My benefits as an international student
- I can work on campus with approval from my program sponsor.
- I am eligible for Academic Training.
- I can maintain my J-1 status as long as I follow immigration regulations until the designated program end date.
All J-1 students are required to be enrolled full-time during the Fall and Spring semesters, except with approval for Reduced Course Load (RCL). Please see #3 below for details. The summer semester is considered a break/vacation period, so you are generally* not required to take classes even if you stay in the U.S. You may enroll part-time also if you wish.
- *Certain programs require full-time enrollment in the summer, regardless of the break period.
- J-1 Non-Degree Seeking Students are not eligible for Reduced Course Load their final term.
Click the topics below for more details about J1 Enrollment Requirements.
Full-Time Enrollment Requirements
- Undergraduate (Associates & Bachelor’s Degrees) = 12 credit hours
- Graduate students (Masters & PhD Degrees) = 9 credit hours
- IEP (Intensive English Program) students = 18 credit hours
- Continuing students: no enrollment is required and part-time is permitted.
- New students: 6 credit hours required if summer is your 1st semester.
- Change of Status: 6 credit hours required if your change of status was approved after spring semester registration closed.
- IEP (Intensive English Program) students: 18 hours required if summer is your 1st semester. No enrollment is required if you were full-time the Spring semester prior to summer.
J-1 Degree Seeking student in Final Term
- If your final term degree requirements do not add up to full-time enrollment, you must request authorization for "Reduced Course Load" (RCL). Please see below for more details.
Online & Audited Courses
- Only one online course (3 credit hours) may count towards full-time enrollment each semester.
- This does not prevent you from taking additional courses in any given semester. This is sometimes referred to as “overload.” Those courses can be online or in-person but may be subject to academic limits or requirements. Always check with your academic advisor before registering for additional / overload courses.
- Audited courses do not count towards enrollment requirements. You may only audit a course over and beyond the minimum requirements above for credit-bearing courses.
Reduced Course Load (RCL)
- Do not withdraw from courses without ISSS advisement, even if you are failing.
Reasons for RCL:
- Final Term: you are in your final term, and less than a full course load is required to complete your program, and the class(es) left are required for degree/program completion.
- Dissertation / Thesis: you have completed all courses, and you are currently working on a dissertation or thesis only.
- Research Abroad: you will be conducting research abroad that is directly related to your thesis or dissertation. Note: You must still be registered in at least 1 credit hour at GSU during your time abroad.
- Difficulty with the English Language: you are experiencing difficulties with the English language during your 1st semester only.
- Improper Course Placement: you have been placed in an improper course level in error by the university. This requires a written statement from a university official. Students cannot request this type of RCL based on their own opinions.
- Medical Condition: you have a medical condition with written documentation from a Medical Doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O) or a Clinical Psychologist that recommends temporary part-time enrollment or no enrollment for a specific academic term. Pregnancy - see below. For all medical RCL's, a representative from The Access and Accommodations Center (AACE) (see below) will also review your request. *
Duration: An RCL is approved for only 1 semester. Students must return to full-time enrollment the semester following an approved RCL, except in the case of a Medical RCL, which requires new documentation each semester.
Pregnancy: a normal pregnancy or delivery is NOT considered a medical condition eligible for an RCL unless there are medical complications outside of a normal pregnancy/delivery. In that case, ISSS may authorize medical RCL on a case-by-case basis. Contact ISSS if you have any questions.
How to Request RCL
- Academic RCL requests are due by 5:15 p.m. on the last day of the 1st week of class.
- Requests for RCL are submitted via iStart.
The Access and Accommodations Center (AACE)
The Americans with Disabilities Act
At Georgia State, international students and domestic students receive access to the same services and resources to support access and accommodations. The Access and Accommodations Center serves students with:
disabilities that substantially alter a major life activity. Examples of major life activities include, but are not limited to:
- thinking and learning
It is important to note that many students have non-visible disabilities such as diabetes, arthritis, HIV/AIDS, depression and other conditions.
For more information about ADA, please contact the Access and Accommodations Center.
Grace periods are periods of time that are given to you in order to take care of certain events, such as transferring between schools, changing your status, starting a new program after work authorization (Academic Training) or departing the U.S. Not being mindful of these grace periods could cause you to fall out of status.
Students cannot travel internationally (including cruises) and re-enter in J-1 status during their grace period. If you have questions about travel during your grace period see an ISSS advisor.
After completing your program of study
After withdrawing from classes
If you withdraw from classes without previous authorization from ISSS, you have no grace period and must depart the U.S. immediately.
After work authorization
Once exchange students have entered the United States, they are required to attend new international student orientation held the week prior to the start of classes. An ISSS International Student Advisor can be consulted for services provided to current J-1 students.
ISSS is committed to maintaining support and services to you during this time and will continue to operate under normal operating procedures for the remainder of the semester, just from a remote and online platform. This means you can call us directly or email us to request information and/or telephone/web appointments for advisement during our regular advisement hours.