Guidelines on Maintaining Student Status

All F-1 and J-1 international students must follow the below set of immigration regulations as outlined by the U.S. government in order to maintain their international student status: 

Full Course of Study

International students must be registered for a full course of study during fall and spring semesters:

  • Undergraduate students - 12 units
  • Master's graduate students - 8 units
  • Ph.D. graduate students - 6 units
  • Master's/Ph.D. graduate students with an assistantship - 6 units 

Online Courses: Only 3 units or one online course per semester is applicable to the full-time enrollment total. 
Audit Courses: Audit course units are not applicable to the full-time enrollment total.

Please Note: International students are not required to enroll in courses during summer semesters unless it is their first or last semester at USC.

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours a week when school is in session during fall and spring semesters and 40 hours a week during University vacations and summer vacation. More details on on-campus employment are available for F-1 and J-1 students on the OIS website. 

Off-Campus Employment

In order for international students to work off-campus, they must obtain the proper work authorization through OIS and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).

For F-1 students, off-campus work authorization options are:

For J-1 students, off-campus work authorization option are:

Maintaining Valid Immigration Documents

I-20/DS-2019:  International students must be aware of the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019. If students cannot complete their degree by the expiration date on their I-20/DS-2019, students must request a program extension before the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019. Students who do not file a program extension in a timely manner will be considered out of status.

Passport: Students should keep their passport valid at all times. If the passport will expire soon, student must renew it through the embassy or consulate of their home country. More details are available here.

Change of Local Address

Students who change their local address must report the change to OIS within 10 days of moving by submitting the change of local address form.

Grace Periods

F-1 students who complete an academic program or OPT have a 60-day grace period and J-1 students who complete an academic program or AT have a 30-day grace period.

F-1/J-1 students who have received prior authorization to withdraw from classes have 15 days to depart the U.S. after the withdrawal date. Students who withdraw from classes without prior authorization are not eligible for a grace period.