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There are a few federal regulations that we want to make sure all Bethel international students are aware of during their time in the U.S.

What Qualifies as Undergraduate Study

Undergraduate study at a college or university is what is certified by a school official to consist of at least 12 credits per term, except when the student needs a lesser course load to complete the course of study during the last term.

What Qualifies as Graduate Study

At Bethel University, six credit hours is considered a full-time graduate course load during the coursework phase of a graduate program. However, at many schools, the definition of what constitutes "full time" for a graduate student varies depending on the year of study.

The exceptions to the "full course of study" requirement are limited, but very important. In the situations described below, F-1 students are considered to be maintaining status even if they are not registered for a full course of study, and they continue to be eligible for F-1 benefits if they are otherwise eligible. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the Designated School Official (DSO) will be considered out of status. Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) limits the reasons for which a reduced course load can be granted to seven choices. The DSO must select one of these choices to process the reduced course load approval.

  1. Illness or medical condition
  2. Initial difficulty with the English language
  3. Initial difficulty with reading requirements
  4. Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
  5. Improper course level placement
  6. Completing course of study in current term
  7. Part-time border commuter student

According to the Federal Regulations, “F-1 students enrolled in classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken online or through distance education and does not require the student’s physical attendance for classes, examination, or other purposes integral to completion of the class. An online or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio, or computer transmission, including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing. If the F-1 student’s course of study is in a language study program, no online or distance education classes may be considered to count toward a student’s full course of study requirement."

Status Over a School Break or Vacation

If you have an F-1 visa, you are considered to be in status during the annual (or summer) vacation if you are eligible and intend to register for the next term.

Travel Over School Break or Vacation

Make sure the signature the principal designated school official, is valid on page 2 of the I-20 before you travel.

Travel Outside the U. S. after Visa was Expired

Contact Student Life for guidance on what documents you need to apply for a new visa to reenter the U.S.

Exceptions and Special Scenarios

  • Change in educational levels
  • Preparation for departure or transfer after completing a course of study (60 days)