F-1 Immigration Requests


For additional information on the following immigration requests, please click on the following section. You will make your immigration request in Terra Dotta. 

What is Authorized Early Withdrawal?

International students should not take a leave of absence or withdraw from Texas A&M University without first speaking with ISS about the consequences of this action. This form should be completed by all F-1 and J-1 students who intend to do the following: (1) take a leave of absence or withdraw from Texas A&M, (2) enroll less than full-time during the semester(s) of their leave of absence or withdrawal, and (3) depart the United States. This form should not be completed by any student who intends to maintain their F-1 or J-1 status or any student who plans to participate in authorized research or study abroad.

USCIS and Texas A&M University Authorized Early Withdrawal Rules​
The Authorized Early Withdrawal Process:

  • The SEVIS record(s) of the student and their dependents will be terminated on the date that the ISS Advisor completes this form.
  • The student’s on-campus employment will be terminated on the date of the SEVIS termination or on the last day of the current semester, whichever comes first. Graduate assistants are responsible for discussing the impact of the leave of absence or withdrawal on their tuition and/or fee payment with their employer.
  • If the student will not enroll during their leave of absence or after withdrawing, a registration hold will be placed on the student’s record.
  • If the student will enroll during their leave of absence or after withdrawing and ISS has received an In Absentia Letter from the academic department, the student’s immigration status will be classified as “Abroad” with Texas A&M University.
  • The student should plan to depart the U.S.        
    1. F-1 students and their dependents are permitted a 15-day grace period in which to depart the U.S. following their SEVIS termination. F2 dependents are not eligible to remain in the U.S. once the student has departed.
    2. J-1 students and their dependents should plan to depart the U.S. as soon as possible after their SEVIS termination. They do not have a grace period. J-2 dependents are not eligible to remain in the U.S. once the student has departed

Health Insurance Considerations

  • If the student takes a leave of absence or withdraws during the current semester               
    • Those students who purchased or have been charged for a TAMU insurance policy will not receive a reimbursement for the remainder of the semester.
    • Those students who purchased an alternative insurance policy can speak with their insurance provider about possible reimbursement.
  • If the student plans to take a leave of absence or withdraw during a future semester:               
    • Those students who do not enroll during their leave of absence or after their withdrawal will not be required to show proof of insurance and should not be charged for the TAMU insurance policy                          
    • Those students who enroll in at least 1 credit hour during their leave of absence or after their withdrawal must obtain an In Absentia Letter from their academic department. Upon receipt of this letter, ISS will re-classify the student’s immigration status to “Abroad.” The student will not be required to show proof of insurance and should not be charged for the TAMU insurance policy.

How to Re-Enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 Status to Resume Study at Texas A&M University:

  • Contact your current academic department to determine if you will be able to resume your studies. If necessary, re-apply for admission to Texas A&M University.

  • Contact ISS to inform them about your plans for returning to the U.S.
  • Obtain a new Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) from ISS. ISS will inform you about the documents required to obtain the new I20 or DS-2019.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee (https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/).
  • Apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad.
  • After re-entering the U.S., check in with the ISS office and provide copies of your immigration documents. Your registration hold will be removed, if applicable.

Requirements of F-1 and J-1 Students Who Intend to Take a Leave of Absence or Withdraw from Texas A&M:

  • Meet with their Academic Advisor to discuss the academic implications of the leave of absence or withdrawal. Inform the Office of the Registrar and the Office of Graduate Studies (graduate students only) about your intention to take a leave of absence or withdraw and submit all paperwork required by these offices.
  • Meet with an ISS Advisor to discuss the immigration implications of the leave of absence or withdrawal.
  • Submit an Authorized Early Withdrawal request via Terra Dotta

How can I request an Authorized Early Withdrawal?

Students who are interested in learning more about the process to request an authorized early withdrawal can do so by visiting Terra Dotta F-1 Authorized Early Withdrawal.
If you change your degree level, you must get a new I-20 prior to the 15th class day of the semester or before you leave the U.S. Proof of financial resources are required to apply for a Change of Education Level. Refer to the Financial Resources section of our web site for more information and the below article:

SEVIS makes a distinction between 2 types of Degree Level Changes for F-1 students. ISS must report both types of Degree Level Changes to the Department of Homeland Security through SEVIS. Students will receive a new I-20 after completing either type of Degree Level Change. 

Types of Degree Level Changes​

1. Program Information Update – Applies to any graduate student who would like to move to a new degree level without graduating from their current degree level. A Program Information Update will first have to be processed and approved by the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS). Once OGS has approved the Program Information Update and the new data has been updated in COMPASS, ISS will automatically update this information on the student’s SEVIS record. The student does not have to submit any paperwork or requests to ISS in order to complete the Program Information Update. The student will be e-mailed when their new I-20 is available for pick-up at the ISS front counter. The student does not have to submit any of the documents listed on this handout. The student will not receive an extension to the program end date on their I-20. If they are unable to complete their new degree program by the program end date on their I-20, the student must apply for an Extension of Stay. 

2. Change of Educational Level – Applies to any student who graduates and moves to a new degree level. The deadline to apply is the 15th class day of the semester in which you want the update to take effect or within 60 days after graduation, whichever is first. ISS must approve all Changes of Educational Level. Failure to obtain ISS approval will result in the student being out of legal immigration status. If ISS is notified that a student has graduated and changed educational levels, ISS will place a registration hold on the student’s record until the student applies for a Change of Educational Level. To apply, the student must meet all requirements and submit all documents listed on this handout. 

Change of Educational Level Requirements​

  • Any student who graduates and begins a new academic program must obtain a new I-20 reflecting the new Educational Level.
  • There cannot be a gap of 5 months or more between graduation and the start of the new program unless you leave the U.S. and re-enter to begin the new program or you continue authorized employment with Optional Practical Training (OPT) during the gap.
  • If a student has been accepted to begin a new program in the summer term, he/she is required to register for a full course of study in the summer. For graduate students, this means completing 6 credit hours in the 10-week session or 3 in each 5-week session. For undergraduates, this means completing 8 credit hours in the 10-week session or 4 in each of the 5-week sessions.
  • A student may not change educational levels during the second summer session.
  • A student must receive the I-20 for their new educational level before they may begin or resume oncampus employment. 

Documents Required:

  • Photocopies of the student and each F-2 dependent’s passport, visa, I-94 card, and most recently issued I-20.
  • Official University Proof of Acceptance into the New Program
    • Students beginning a new graduate-level program should submit one of the following to ISS:  
      • A Letter of Intent from OGS if you have completed one graduate program and are moving to another. You should apply for the Letter of Intent during the semester you will graduate.
      • An Acceptance Letter from the Office of Graduate Admissions if you have completed an undergraduate program and are moving to a graduate program.
    • Students beginning a new undergraduate-level program should submit an Acceptance Letter from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
  • Current evidence of all sources of financial support for the student and any dependents. For detailed information about acceptable proof of financial resources, please visit the ISS Proof of Financial Resources page.
  •  If the new educational level is a non-degree seeking program or other special program, submit a “Non-degree/Special Program” Form (available on the ISS website). This form must be completed by the Academic Advisor.
Terra Dotta Change of Education Level

What is Co-Enrollment (Concurrent Enrollment)? 

“Concurrent enrollment” means that a student is enrolled at two SEVIS approved schools at the same time.

  • Without ISS approval to co-enroll, an F-1 student will be considered out of legal immigration status.
  • During major semesters or final term, the combined number of hours enrolled must add up to a full course of study (12 for undergraduates, and 9 for graduates) and at least half of the total must be taken at TAMU. 
  • If the student is in their graduating semester and the required courses needed to graduate are not available at TAMU, they can be permitted to take more than half of their credit hours at the other school provided that they enroll in at least 1 hour at TAMU. Note: If the student will be enrolled less than full-time, they must also obtain Reduced Course Load (RCL) authorization.
  • Texas A&M students may enroll at another school instead of Texas A&M.  This is only possible during school vacation periods (such as the Summer term) and if it is authorized.

Enrollment Requirements: An F-1 student may co-enroll in two schools approved by SEVP if:

  1. Attendance at the other school does not occur without prior written permission of the Designated School Official (DSO) at the school where the student is enrolled in a full-time degree program (this form may be used for this purpose). Failure to receive prior written permission may result in the student losing legal immigration status.
  2. The combined number of hours enrolled adds up to a full course of study (12 hours for undergraduates, and 9 hours for graduates) in major semesters and at least half of the total credit hours must be taken at TAMU.
  3. Only one online or distance education course may be counted towards a student’s full-time enrollment per semester.
  4. The coursework at the other school is not avocational and will be accepted for fulfilling degree requirements at the school that issued the I-20.

How can I request a Co-Enrollment? 

Students who are interested in learning more about the process to request a Co-Enrollment or Other School Enrollment can do so by visiting Co-Enrollment / Other School Enrollment.
This request should be completed by any F-1 student requesting a replacement of a lost or damaged I-20 for themselves or any of their dependents. This form can also be used by any F-1 student requesting a copy of a previous I-20 for themselves or any of their dependents.

For more information about this request, please visit Terra Dotta Document Replacement.

What is F-1 Extension of Stay (EOS)?

Students who are unable to graduate by the expiration date of their I-20 will need to submit paperwork for an extension of stay.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Texas A&M University EOS Rules

  • Federal regulations require that F-1 students have a valid Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) at all times.
  • F-1 students are eligible for an EOS if he/she is in good academic standing, in legal status with DHS, and if the delay in completing degree requirements by the I-20 program end date has been caused by compelling academic or documented medical reasons. A student's overall academic progress, performance, and seriousness of purpose can also help to determine eligibility. Delays caused by any periods of academic probation, suspension or employment are not acceptable reasons for an EOS.
  • The length of time the Form I-20 will be extended is based on the Academic Department’s recommendation.
  • An EOS can be granted for a maximum of 12 months at one time.
  • If a student will be out of the country during the weeks prior to the program end date on the I-20, they should discuss how they can still apply for an EOS with an ISS Advisor before leaving the U.S.
  • Students who do not meet the eligibility criteria for an EOS or who have already exceeded the program end date on the current I-20 must meet with an ISS Advisor as soon as possible to discuss the need for Reinstatement or New Entry.
  • Students who are granted an EOS will receive a new Form I-20 and must complete a new Form I-9 with their employing department payroll office.
  • F-2 dependent extensions are included in the F-1 student's EOS.
  • Students who fail to extend their I-20 prior to the expiration date must stop working immediately and schedule an appointment with an ISS advisor.

Required Documents: 

  • Immigration Documents: Copy of the passport, visa, I-94, and current I-20 for the student and any dependents.
  • Proof of Medical Condition: If a medical condition caused or contributed to your need for an extension, it is necessary to submit a letter written by a recognized, licensed health care practitioner. The letter must be written on the practitioner's own professional letterhead stationery and it should state that a specific (explained) illness or medical condition compelled the student to reduce or to interrupt (state which one) his/her full course of study. The letter should also specify the semester(s) and dates involved. If the medical condition is considered to be ongoing or open-ended, this information should be stated in the letter. In this case, it may not be possible for the student to continue to hold a visa type that requires full time University attendance.

Deadline(s):

  • An EOS must be completed before the program end date on your current I-20.
  • ISS processing times are 15 business days from the time the student's request is complete.

Submitting an Extension of Stay Request:

In order to submit your Extension of Stay Request to ISS, students must do so through the Terra Dotta system. Detailed information can be found at Terra Dotta Extension of Stay.
F-1 students are eligible to invite their spouse or children to come to the United States as an F-2 dependent.
  • If the dependent is currently outside the United States:

Please refer to the for a list of the documents to be submitted to the ISS office. Please refer to the Financial Resources page since Finances are required.

 F-1 Invitation of Dependents Handout describes the procedure for inviting dependents to come to U.S.  ​​Students can also obtain information and the necessary documents from the International Student Services (ISS) office. Each eligible dependent will be issued an I-20/DS-2019 by ISS, and will then have to request a corresponding visa (F2 or J2) at a U.S. Consulate/Embassy in a foreign country.

Please be aware that while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations do allow dependents on F-2 visas to be enrolled in a degree program, they are not permitted to take a full course load (they must take less than 12 credits for undergraduate programs, and less than 9 for graduate programs). If dependents wish to take a full-time course load, they will first have to obtain F-1 status. In cases where a dependent wishes to begin a full-time course of study shortly after arrival in the U.S., s/he should apply for the F-1 visa, and not the F-2 visa.

A “Dependent” is defined as the spouse and/or unmarried child (under the age of 21) of an F-1/J-1 student.

The student must provide International Student Services (ISS) with the following documents:

  • Official Documents: Student’s valid passport with visa, I-94 card, and the most recent I-20 or DS-2019 received
  • Current Financial Support: Current evidence of all sources of financial support for the student and any dependents. For detailed information about acceptable proof of financial resources, please visit http://iss.tamu.edu/Current-Students/Estimated-Cost-of-Attendance.
  • Dependent Information: First name, middle name, last name (as stated in passport), date of birth, city of birth, birth country, country of citizenship, country of residence, gender, relationship to student (spouse, child). This can be provided to ISS by submitting a copy of the dependent’s immigration documents (passport, visa, etc) or by typing out the dependent information on a piece of paper. 
  • Department Letter: This letter is necessary if you have already been in the current academic program for one academic year (9 months) or more at the time of this application. The letter has to be written by your academic advisor. It has to confirm that you are in good academic standing; that you meet departmental expectations; the requirements remaining; and your projected date of graduation (month/year). For graduate students, the letter needs to be signed also by the Graduate Advisor.
Note: After the I-20/DS-2019 for the student’s dependent(s) has been issued, ISS will put a registration hold on the student’s academic record.
  • Once the student’s dependent(s) enter the U.S., the student must provide copies of each dependent’s official documents (passport, visa, I-94, I-20/DS-2019) to ISS in order to have the registration hold removed. 
  • For students in J immigration status, the hold can only be removed after ISS has verified that health insurance requirements for all family members in J immigration status are fulfilled.
  • Please refer to http://iss.tamu.edu/Health-Insurance for additional information on health insurance coverage requirements.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR DEPENDENTS WHO HAVE BEEN ISSUED A DEPENDENT I-20 or DS-2019

The student’s dependent(s) shall present the following (and any other supporting documents required) at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy abroad to apply for an F-2 or J-2 visa:
  • Valid passport;
  • Marriage license/birth certificate (as appropriate);
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019;
  • Original financial support letters.
Please note: U.S. Consulate and Port of Entry Officials may request additional documents or information not mentioned above.

More information about applying for a visa can be found at http://iss.tamu.edu/Prospective-Students/Applying-for-Visa

Other documents a U.S. Consulate or Embassy may require:

  • Student’s personal income tax returns (Forms 1040, 1040NR, or NREZ, etc.) for each year while in U.S.
  • Student’s W-2 tax forms
  • Proof of health insurance in U.S. for the dependents
  • Copy of the student’s passport pages (visa pages, validity page, picture page, and pages showing all port-of-entry stamps).
Within a week after your dependent(s) have arrived in the U.S., it is necessary to complete the Dependent Check-In task in Terra Dotta found on our website: http://iss.tamu.edu/Prospective-Students/Check-In#1-F-2DependentCheck-In. Keep in mind that you must upload copies of each dependent’s stamped I-20 or DS-2019, I-94 or port of entry stamp, visa, and passport in order to have your registration hold removed.
 

HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR DEPENDENTS

  • J-2 dependents are required by federal law to maintain health insurance coverage as long as they have an active J SEVIS immigration record, including during periods when they are outside the U.S.
  • Learn about minimum health insurance requirements for persons in J immigration status by referring to http://iss.tamu.edu/Health-Insurance, or by contacting healthinsurance@tamu.edu.
  • F-2 dependents are strongly recommended to maintain health insurance coverage while they are in the U.S.
  • Regular medical insurance coverage from the home country may not be sufficient for U.S. conditions. Medical services in the U.S. are very expensive and a trip to the emergency room or hospitalization can result in large bills for those without adequate health insurance coverage.
  • Holders of F and J visas cannot access U.S. Public Assistance benefits, including low-cost health care services targeted at uninsured/underinsured U.S. citizens.
  • If the dependent is currently inside the United States in another visa category:

The F-1 will need to schedule an appointment with an ISS adivsor to discuss the options regarding a change of status to F-2. 

There are two ways through which a nonimmigrant can change their status to F-1:

  • Change of Status by Application - Obtain an I-20 from ISS and submit an application to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) while you remain in the U.S. by accessing Form I-539 on the USCIS website: http://www.uscis.gov/
  • Change of Status by Travel – Obtain an I-20 from ISS, depart the U.S., apply for an F-2 visa, re-enter the U.S. in F-2 status, and check-in with ISS (submit copies of all immigration documents).
Change of Status to F-2 Handout describes the procedures for doing a Change of Status by Application only. For Change of Status by Travel, consider the following:
  • If your primary F-1 student’s SEVIS record is managed by Texas A&M University (i.e. their most recent I-20 was issued by Texas A&M University and they have not transferred to another school), then refer to the F-1/J-1 Invitation of Dependents handout.
  • If your primary F-1 student’s SEVIS record is not managed by Texas A&M University, please contact the school that does manage their SEVIS record to discuss their Invitation of Dependent procedures.
If you request a Change of Status to F-2, then the person who is currently in F-1 status and wants to add you as their dependent is referred to as the “primary visa holder” or “primary F-1 visa holder.” If you are currently in a dependent visa status (i.e. F-2 or H-4) then the term “primary visa holder” refers to the person who has applied to have you as their dependent (i.e. the person in F-1 or H-1B status).

Information about Change of Status to F-2 by Application

  • All individuals interested in doing a Change of Status to F-2 by Application must schedule an appointment to meet with an International Student Services (ISS) advisor to determine your eligibility.
  • Both the applicant for F-2 status and the primary F-1 student must be in legal status in order for the spouse/child to apply for a Change of Status to F-2.
  • Individuals who have applied for Lawful Permanent Residence should speak with an Immigration Attorney before considering a Change of Status to F-1.
  • If a Change of Status to F-2 is granted by DHS, the applicant obtains F-2 status, but not an F-2 visa. The next time they leave the country, they must apply for an F-2 visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate in order to re-enter the U.S.

Information about F-2 Status

  • F-2s are not eligible to work nor are they eligible to apply for work authorization.
  • F-2s can enroll in a college-level, degree-seeking program, but may not take a full course load (they must be below 12 credit hours for undergraduate programs, and below 9 credit hours for graduate programs). If they wish to enroll in courses full-time, they must switch to another status that allows a full-time course load.
  • F-2s can also take courses that are avocational or recreational in nature.

Documents Required

(Please note that additional documentation may be requested as needed.)

  • Proof of financial resources. Current evidence of all sources of financial support for the applicant. For detailed information about acceptable proof of financial resources, please visit the ISS Proof of Financial Resources page at http://iss.tamu.edu/Prospective-Students/You-are-admitted-Now-What#1-ProofofFinancialResourcesI-20%2FDS-2019.
  • Original I-94 card or electronic record for the applicant for F-2 status.
  • Photocopies of all immigration documents ever received by the applicant for F-2 status. Immigration documents include the passport, visa, I-94, Approval Notices (if the applicant ever changed status within the U.S. in the past), Employment Authorization Documents, and any Certificates of Eligibility (i.e. I-20 or DS-2019). 
  • Photocopies of all immigration documents ever received by the individual currently in F-1 status. Refer to the explanation above for details.
  • Employer Letter. If the applicant, their current primary visa holder, or their requested primary visa holder is currently in a status that is dependent upon employment in the U.S. (i.e. H-1B or F-1 OPT), ISS must also receive written proof of that employment from the employer.
  • Academic department letter(s)
    • If the primary F-1 is currently enrolled as a student, ISS must receive a letter from their department.
    • If the applicant for F-2 status is currently a student, ISS must receive a letter from their department.
    • The letter must be composed on department letterhead and addressed “To Whom It May Concern.” The letter must state the following:  (a) when the student began the present program, (b) that the student is a full-time student in good academic standing, (c) the specific program requirements remaining, and (d) the student’s expected date of graduation (month/year). Titles and printed names should accompany all signatures.   
      • For undergraduate students, this must be written and signed by the Academic Advisor.
      • For graduate students, the letter must be written and signed by the academic advisor and also signed by the graduate faculty member identified by the Office of Graduate Studies as authorized to sign as Department Head (Department Graduate Advisor).
  • Personal Statement:  Addressed “To Whom It May Concern” stating (a) that the applicant (and primary F-1 student) is in legal status, (b) asking that the applicant’s status be changed to F-2, and (c) stating the reasons the change is desired or necessary.   
  • Transcripts:  Provide transcripts from all U.S. schools attended by both the primary F-1 as well as the F-2 applicant.  Print unofficial transcripts for Texas A&M University at https://howdy.tamu.edu
  • Marriage / Birth Certificate:  If the F-2 applicant is the spouse of the primary F-1 student, submit a copy of the Marriage Certificate (in English or translated into English).  If the F-2 applicant is the child of the primary F-1 student, submit a copy of the birth certificate or other legal document(s) verifying the relationship to the parent (in English or translated into English).   
After receiving your F-2 I-20 from ISS: Access the USCIS application system to submit Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status at http://www.uscis.gov/. You will pay the application fee electronically through the ELIS system as well.

What is the Program Information Update Request Form? 

This form should be submitted by any F-1 or J-1 student with an I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Texas A&M University who is changing degree level and/or major without graduating from their current program.

Terra Dotta Program Information Update

What is a Reduced Course Load?

F-1 international students may request an exemption to full-time enrollment requirements by submitting a request for a reduced course load  (RCL) authorization. There are three specific situations allowed by immigration regulations for a SEVIS processed authorization:

  1. Reduced Course Load due to Academic Difficulty
  2. Reduced Course Load due to a Temporary Medical Condition
  3. Reduced Course Load due to Final Term

Each of these requests require specific documentation or confirmation from other individuals before these can be processed by ISS staff. The specific requirements for each request and detailed instructions and information on how to the complete each request is available within the individual Terra Dotta programs. 

An F-1 student who submits a Final Term or Medical RCL in Terra Dotta on or prior to the last day to add/drop for a given academic term is not required to enroll full-time before submitting their request. However, for all RCL requests submitted in Terra Dotta after the add/drop deadline, the student must not drop below full-time enrollment without prior approval from ISS. If an F-1 student were to no longer be maintaining full-time status due to being enrolled less than full-time without ISS approval after the add/drop deadline, they would be considered out of legal immigration status. 

DHS and Texas A&M University Reduced Course Load Rules

It is the responsibility of the student to uphold both Texas A&M University and U.S. Government laws and regulations.

Federal regulations require F-1 students to register full-time during both the Fall and Spring semesters. Full-time enrollment is defined as 9 hours for graduate students and 12 hours for undergraduate students at Texas A&M.

F-1 students must register full-time during the summer if it is their 1st semester (including their 1st semester after readmission, a change of status, or entering a new academic program) or if they plan to graduate during the summer session. Full-time enrollment during the summer is defined as 6 hours for graduate students and 8 hours for undergraduate students at Texas A&M. These hours can be taken during the 10-week summer session or the summer II session for those students planning to graduate during the summer. A student who is eligible and intends to register for the next semester is not required to register during summer unless their department requires it. University full-time enrollment exceptions are described here. Texas A&M policy requires graduate students with assistantships to be registered full-time regardless of the semester. Contact OGAPS (https://ogaps.tamu.edu/) if you have any questions about this requirement. Certain scholarships and fellowships also require students to enroll full-time so a RCL could make a student ineligible for these awards. All students will receive an e-mail from ISS when their RCL has been approved.

DHS Authorized Exceptions to the Full Course of Study Requirement:\

Medical Condition - Complete the Terra Dotta Reduced Course Load Authorization Request due to a Temporary Medical Condition and upload a letter written by a licensed medical doctor, a doctor of osteopathy, or a licensed clinical psychologist on their own professional letterhead stating that a specific (explained) illness or medical condition compelled the student to reduce or to interrupt (state which one) his/her full course of study. The letter should also specify the semester involved and whether the medical condition is considered to be ongoing. It may not be possible for an F-1 student with an ongoing medical condition to continue to hold a visa type that requires full-time University attendance.

  • Application Deadline: An F-1 student must apply and be approved by ISS prior to dropping the course(s).
  • Minimum Enrollment: None - An F-1 student may register for as few as 0 credit hours dependent upon the physician letter and the RCL form.
  • Duration: An F-1 student may receive a Medical Condition RCL for a maximum aggregate of 12 months per degree level.

Academic Difficulty - Complete the Terra Dotta Reduced Course Load Authorization Request due Academic Difficulty. The only Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorized reasons for an Academic Difficulty RCL are the following: (1) Initial Difficulties with the English language, reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods and (2) Improper Course Level Placement.

  • Application Deadline: An F-1 student must apply and be approved by ISS prior to dropping the course(s).
  • Minimum Enrollment: An F-1 student must register for a minimum of 6 credit hours.
  • Duration: An F-1 student can only be authorized for an Academic Difficulty RCL once during each academic program level (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, etc.). An Initial Difficulties RCL can only be approved within an F-1 student's first year in the U.S. An Improper Course Level Placement RCL is not restricted to an F-1 student's first year in the U.S.

Final Term - Complete the Terra Dotta Reduced Course Load Authorization Request due to Final Term. If a student is unable to graduate within the semester for which they request a Final Term RCL, they should report to ISS immediately because they may be subject to losing legal immigration status and may require a reinstatement. All students who apply for a Final Term RCL will be blocked from registering for class in future semesters.

  •  Application Deadline: An F-1 student must apply by the 1st class day
  •  Minimum Enrollment: An F-1 student must register for a minimum of 1 credit hour and must apply for graduation.
  •  Duration: An F-1 student may receive a Final Term RCL during their final academic semester only.

If you believe that you have fallen out of F-1 immigration status please schedule an appointment to speak with an ISS advisor by calling our office at 979-845-1824.

It is the student’s responsibility to maintain legal status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while in the United States. International Student Services (ISS) can provide information about how to maintain legal status.

Students who violate their F-1 status are not eligible for F-1 immigration benefits such as work authorization, co-enrollment permission, program extension, degree-level changes, school transfers, etc. Also, the ISS office cannot provide these students with certain services, letters or endorsements on some legal documents.

Students who lose legal F-1 status and who wish to apply to regain legal status have two choices:
Reinstatement: The student may file an application for Reinstatement with USCIS by filing a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, by mail.
Reasons USCIS may grant Reinstatement (Note: The applicant for Reinstatement is very likely to be called by USCIS for an interview with a District Adjudications Officer at San Antonio – Fourwinds):
  • The student has not been out of status for more than five months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement.
  • The student does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of USCIS regulations.
  • The violation results from circumstances beyond the student’s control or if failure to receive a reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student;
  • The student is pursuing or will pursue a full course of study at the school that issued the I-20 in the next major semester of term (Fall or Spring);
  • The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment (a student who has worked illegally should not apply for Reinstatement but discuss the possibility of a “New Entry” with an ISS Advisor – *see below)
  • The student is not otherwise deportable.
  • New Entry: The student might choose to perform a New Entry by leaving and re-entering the United States.
    • This is the only option available to students that have engaged in unauthorized employment.
    • If you choose the option of a New Entry, it is necessary for you and any accompanying dependents to check-in with ISS upon your return. After you have re-entered the U.S., please bring your I-20’s, passports and I-94 cards to our office so ISS can verify in the SEVIS system that you have checked-in and resumed your studies.
    • Once you return to the United States and begin your studies again, you must be enrolled full-time for one academic year before you will become eligible for Practical Training.

Important Information about Reinstatement:

  • A student cannot be employed while out of legal status. This includes the time that the application is pending with USCIS.
  • If USCIS grants Reinstatement, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the employer (Texas A&M employees should contact their departmental payroll office) so that a new I-9 can be issued and suspended work may be resumed. A copy of the processed I-20 must be presented.
  • Students who are out of legal status should discuss the situation with an ISS Advisor before traveling outside the U.S. This requires that a new I-20 be processed at a U.S. port-of-entry, and may not be possible for all situations. It may also require the student to obtain a new visa stamp in his/her country, even if the visa stamp looks current. Your re-entry will be treated as an initial attendance. You will then have to be full-time for one academic year before becoming eligible for Practical Training.
  • Students must be registered full-time at Texas A&M while the application is pending, or the first available major semester (Fall or Spring) after it is granted by USCIS.

F-1 REINSTATEMENT REQUIRED DOCUMENTS​


Federal regulations require a student to request Reinstatement after falling out of legal immigration status. The ISS Advisor will issue a new Form I-20 for the student and the student will submit the Reinstatement application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office. The following items are needed by ISS to complete the Reinstatement request:
  • Current evidence of all sources of financial support for the F-1 student and dependents : (i.e. student’s bank letter, employer’s letter, assistantship letter, etc.). Financial bank documents must be presented on letterhead, dated, and signed by an official. Please ask the bank official to include the account holder information, the account number, the date the account was opened, the current balance, and the average balance. An ISS Advisor can supply exact amounts of funding required by Texas A&M. No matter what other sources of support exist, if the student is funded by Texas A&M, he/she must provide a departmental letter (from the departmental payroll office) stating: job title, dollar amount of award or monthly/hourly salary, expected duration of the funding (i.e. 9 months or 12 months), and whether it makes the student (and any dependents) eligible for in-state tuition and/or health insurance benefits. For more information, please see the ISS website: http://iss.tamu.edu/Current-Students/Estimated-Cost-of-Attendance.
  • Official immigration documents: Original valid passport, visa, I-94 card, and all issued I-20’s or DS-2019/IAP-66 forms for the student and any F-2 dependents.
  • Student’s letter of explanation addressed “To Whom It May Concern” including:
    • Reason(s) for falling out-of-status (breaking one or more F-1 regulations) and a request to be put back in legal status to complete specific degree requirements (if possible, list requirements remaining);
    • All the applicable reasons the student deserves a reinstatement (see list on the other side of this handout);
    • The expected graduation date (month and year) agreed upon by the student and academic advisor;
    • A statement that the student has not worked illegally in the U.S. or a full explanation of any illegal employment (name and location of employer, dates of employment and reasons for working). (Please note, if the student engaged in unauthorized work this will require a New Entry rather than Reinstatement.);
    • If applicable, an explanation about all major semesters in a U.S. school in which student registered for and/or completed less than the minimum number of credit hours. (Copies of Reduced Course Load and Co-enrollment forms should be included in the application);
    • A statement that the student will follow F-1 regulations if reinstated.
    • If doing a new entry, a statement that the student will check-in with ISS after re-entering the U.S.
  • Departmental letter addressed “To Whom It May Concern.” The letter must state the following: (a) when the student began the present program, (b) that the student is a full-time student in good academic standing, (c) the specific program requirements remaining, and (d) the student’s expected date of graduation (month/year). Titles and printed names should accompany all signatures.
    • For undergraduate students, this must be written and signed by the Academic Advisor.
    • For graduate students, the letter must be written and signed by the academic advisor and also signed by the graduate faculty member identified by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies as authorized to sign as Department Head (Department Graduate Advisor).

Additional Items Needed for Reinstatement/New Entry:

  • Transcript(s) from all schools attended in the U.S. as an F-1, including Texas A&M. You must obtain unofficial copies from all U.S. schools at the Transcript Office in the General Services Complex (GSC) for your USCIS application or visa interview.
  • I-901 Receipt (SEVIS Fee), if applicable. If you are completing a New Entry or if you have been out of legal status for five months or more, then you must pay the SEVIS Fee at https://fmjfee.com. Do not pay the SEVIS fee until after receiving the new I-20.
  • Submit Application for Reinstatement/New Entry:
    • Reinstatement Applicants: Complete Form I-539 at http://www.uscis.gov/You will also be required to pay the application fee. This is not necessary if the student is doing a “New Entry.” 
    • New Entry Applicants: Complete the DS-160 electronic form through the Department of State at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ and complete any additional requirements for a New Entry (visa interview, pay the visa application fee, travel, etc).
 F-1 Reinstatement Handout
Any F-1 student with an I-20 issued by Texas A&M University who intends to transfer out of Texas A&M and fully enroll at another educational institution would submit this request to ISS. Completion of this request authorizes ISS to release the student's SEVIS record to another school.

Where can I get more information about transfer release?
Students who are interested in learning more about the process to request a transfer release can do so by visiting Terra Dotta F-1 Transfer Out.
F-1 students must have a valid travel signature on their Form I-20 in order to return to the United States after traveling abroad. To request a travel signature, please refer to the  Terra Dotta Travel Signature Request in Terra Dotta. 

For additional Travel Information and Visa Renewal, please visit the following the F-1 Travel and Visa Renewal.