Immigration Basics

Immigration Documents

In general, the UA issues an immigration form called an I-20 for degree-seeking students in F-1 status and an immigration form called a DS-2019 for J-1 students part of an exchange visitor program, or if required by a program sponsor.

F-1 International Students: 

  • I-20 

  • F-1 visa stamp in passport (exceptions may apply)

  • Port of Entry stamp in passport

  • Passport

  •  I-94 arrival/departure record 
     

J-1 International Students: 

  • DS-2019 

  • J-1 visa stamp in passport (exceptions may apply)

  • Port of Entry stamp in passport

  • Passport

  • I-94 arrival/departure record 
     

The F-1 or J-1 visa is only used to enter the U.S.; it is acceptable for an international student to remain in the U.S. on an expired visa as long as the other immigration documents listed above are accurate and valid. 
 

Maintaining Status

International students must make normal progress towards their degree and enroll full-time every semester. Dropping below full-time without authorization from International Student Services (ISS) is a violation of immigration status. If a student drops below full-time without prior authorization, their SEVIS record could be terminated and they may be required to leave the U.S.

If an undergraduate international student needs to be administratively dropped from a course due to nonattendance, please contact ISS for assistance.
 

Normal Progress

International students must make normal progress towards completing their degree. We rely on you to confirm whether students are making normal progress.

If your students submit a request to ISS, we may ask you to provide additional information about their academic progress, such GPA, degree requirements remaining or expected degree completion date.  For many requests, you'll be able to provide this information directly in UA International, our online system for managing international student records. Your students will initiate the requests by submitting an e-form in UA International. After submission, you’ll receive an email with a direct link to the advisor portion of the e-form. 

While we are transitioning our requests to UA International, there will still be some immigration requests that require a department signature or printed letter.  As additional paper requests are replaced by e-forms, we will post the update to Immigration: UA International.
 

Full-Time Enrollment

Undergraduate Students
  • Must enroll in a minimum of 12 units every fall and spring semester. Winter and summer courses do not count toward full-time enrollment.

  • Must enroll in a minimum of 6 units if beginning their program in summer

  • After the first day of the semester, the minimum unit load in UAccess will be set to 12 units, to prevent undergraduate students from dropping below full-time. Student should use the swap function or add, then drop to change their schedule. If a student needs to be administratively dropped from a course due to nonattendance, please contact an international student advisor for assistance.

  • Only 1 class or 3 units of online courses can be counted towards full-time (students must have at least 9 units in-person each fall and spring semester). 

  • Final term: If a student is completing during the summer or winter term, they must enroll in at least 1 in-person class during their final term. If completing during the fall or spring term and the student needs less than 12 units to complete their degree, they must submit the Full-Time Enrollment Exemption e-form in UA International before the semester begins. After students submit the e-form, you will receive an automatic email with a link to log into UA International so you can complete the advisor portion of the e-form. Students cannot use GRO in their final semester if it is their only class and they do not need to receive a higher grade for the class in order to earn their degree.

  • Students who receive a grade of “incomplete” for a class cannot remain in the U.S. for additional semesters to finish the requirements without enrolling.

  • Read more about concurrent enrollment under Full-Time Enrollment: Undergraduate Students.
     

Graduate Students
  • Must enroll in a minimum of 9 units, or 6 units with an assistantship, every fall and spring semester. Winter and summer courses do not count toward full-time enrollment. See chart below for additional enrollment scenarios.

  • Must enroll in a minimum of 6 units if beginning their program in summer

  • Final term: If a student is completing during the summer or winter term, they must enroll in at least 1 in-person class during their final term. Doctoral students completing during the summer or winter are not required to enroll for any units if they have already completed coursework and the required 900-level thesis/master’s report/dissertation/recital units. If a student is completing during the fall or spring term and needs less than 9 units to complete their degree, they must submit the Full-Time Enrollment Exemption e-form in UA International before the semester begins. After students submit the e-form, you will receive an automatic email with a link to log into UA International so you can complete the advisor portion of the e-form.

  • Students who receive a grade of “incomplete” for a class cannot remain in the U.S. for additional semesters to finish the requirements without enrolling.

  • Students who have completed all coursework or all coursework and 900-level thesis/master’s report/dissertation/recital units may be eligible to be considered full-time with fewer units (see the chart below).

ScenarioEnrollment Required for
Full-Time Status
Required FormsAction by Department
No assistantship9 units each fall and springNo 
Assistantship6 units each fall and springNo 
Completed coursework3 units of 900-level thesis/master's report/dissertation/recitalSubmit the Graduate Coursework Completion e-form in UA InternationalAdvisor e-form (you will receive an email with the link after the student submits)
Completed coursework and minimum required 900-level units1 unitSubmit Application for Advanced Status to Registrar. ISS may also request the Graduate Coursework Completion e-form in UA International if the student has a pending request with our office.Advisor e-form (you will receive an email with the link after the student submits)

 

What classes count toward full-time enrollment for undergraduate and graduate international students? 
Class TypeCounts Towards Full-Time Enrollment?Additional Information
AuditNo 
CorrespondenceNo 
HybridYes 
Independent StudyYesExchange students can only count 3 units toward full-time enrollment, and should submit a copy of the independent study plan to ISS.
In-personYes 
OnlineYes1 class or 3 units count towards full-time; cannot be only units in the final semester or term including summer and winter
 
Exemptions to Full-Time Enrollment

International students can be exempted from full-time enrollment if they meet one of the conditions below and receive prior written approval from International Student Services (ISS).

Last Semester
If they need less than the units normally required for full-time enrollment in their last semester, students can submit the Full-Time Enrollment Exemption e-form in UA International before the semester begins. After students submit the e-form, you will receive an automatic email with a link to log into UA International so you can complete the advisor portion of the e-form. If students do not graduate in the semester for which they were approved, they may be out of status.

Medical Conditions
If a student cannot attend classes due to a severe illness or injury, they must contact ISS to request an exemption. Students must submit a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or a licensed clinical psychologist. They are eligible for up to 12 months of medical reduced course load per degree level and must apply for an exemption each semester.

Academic Difficulty
If a student is having severe difficulty understanding classroom lectures due to lack of proper English and/or reading skills, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods or improper course level placement, they can be authorized for a reduced course load. Students must submit a letter from their department explaining why the exemption is needed. Exemptions for academic difficulty are normally approved during a student’s first semester, and only once per degree level. If approved, students must register for a minimum of 6 units. For more information, contact an international student advisor.