Maintaining F-1 Status
F-1 students are responsible for maintaining their F-1 status by complying with the following rules and regulations.
F-1 students must pursue a full course of study by enrolling full time each semester and making normal progress toward completion of their program of study. Each school and program within Pepperdine has its own definition of what is considered full-time. Undergraduate students are required to be enrolled in 12 units. Graduate students should consult their program administrator to ensure maintenance of full-time enrollment.
Students must not drop below "full-time" level of enrollment without prior authorization from the OISS. Please note that there are very limited circumstances in which pursuing less than full-time study is allowed. On the OISS portal, please access the pertinent Reduced Course Load e-form to request authorization for reducing your course load below the full-time level. Do not withdraw from your class(es) until you have been authorized by a DSO to do so.
The DSO may authorize a reduced course load on account of a student's initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, or improper course level placement.
The DSO may authorize a reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) due to a student's temporary illness or medical condition for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. In order to authorize a reduced course load based upon a medical condition, the student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist, to the DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The student must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must reauthorize the drop below full course of study each new term, session, or semester. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to illness or medical condition for an aggregate of 12 months may not be authorized by a DSO to reduce his or her course load on subsequent occasions while pursuing a course of study at the same program level. A student may be authorized to reduce course load for a reason of illness or medical condition on more than one occasion while pursuing a course of study, so long as the aggregate period of that authorization does not exceed 12 months.
The DSO may authorize a reduced course load in the student's final term, semester, or session if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study.
An F-1 student may be enrolled in two different Service-approved schools at one time as long as the combined enrollment amounts to a full time course of study. If Pepperdine students wish to take courses at another school concurrently, evidence of approval from their program or academic adviser must be submitted to the OISS. If F-1 students at other schools wish to take courses concurrently at Pepperdine, a letter from the DSO permitting the students to do so must be submitted to the OISS.
You must complete two terms before taking an "annual vacation break" in the US. A break in studies of 5 months will result in the termination of F-1 status. Consult your DSO if you plan to be out of school for 5 months or more.
For 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. F-1 students must enroll in at least one course that requires physical attendance in their final academic term.
Immediately report to the OISS and consult your DSO if you are unable to pursue a full course of study due to personal or academic reasons.
Students should regularly check the accuracy of the program end date printed on their Form I-20. If you are completing your program earlier, be sure to report the new expected program end date. If you need more time to complete your program, federal regulations require that you request an extension before the program end date printed on your Form I-20. If you fail to obtain an extension prior to this date, your status will be terminated.
Students must report this change within 10 days by submitting the Travel Permission or I-20 Update Request form.
Students must report this change within 10 days by submitting the Travel Permission or I-20 Update Request form. Passports should be kept valid for at least 6 months at all times.
Students must report this change within 10 days by submitting the Address Update form.
Students must report this change within 10 days by submitting the Address Update form.
In order to successfully obtain more time to complete your program, you must request and obtain a new Form I-20 with the new program end date before the program end date printed on your current Form I-20. If you fail to obtain an extension prior to this date, your status will be terminated. Submit the Program Extension Request form as soon as possible, and allow sufficient time for your academic adviser to approve the extension and the OISS to process the request. Be sure to provide specific information about the courses you will take during each term in order to complete your program.
Leave of Absence
Students who decide not to complete their program at Pepperdine University should consult their DSO and submit the Exit or Transfer Request form to the OISS before they withdraw from their courses or program, due to the regulatory requirement that they depart the US within 15 days after they are authorized by the DSO to withdraw from the University.
Students who are withdrawn from their program due to suspension or dismissal from the University should be aware that regulations require that they depart the US within 15 days of the withdrawal. Immediately report to the OISS and ask for your DSO to provide information that may enable you to maintain status, transfer to another school, or apply for reinstatement if your visa status is terminated.
Students who wish to return to the University after taking a leave of absence should contact the Admission Office and the OISS to obtain instructions on obtaining clearance to enroll for courses and a new Form I-20.
Exiting the US or Transferring from Pepperdine
F-1 students must submit the Exit or Transfer Request form to report the date and reason of their departure from Pepperdine. Students may remain in the US for 60 days following the program end date (if they have not applied for OPT) to prepare for departure, to transfer their SEVIS record to another school, or to apply for a change to another visa status. Individuals in F-1 status may also remain in the US for 60 days following the expiration date of post-completion OPT, as long as they have not exceeded the 90 allowed days of unemployment during their authorized OPT period.
Students may also remain in the US during the grace period to transfer their SEVIS record to another school. Students who have made a commitment to attend another institution must submit the Exit or Transfer Request form in order to request that their SEVIS record be electronically released to the new school. It is advised that students discuss their travel plans, any remaining OPT days, and new program start date with their DSO before settling on a SEVIS transfer release date. After the student's grace period has expired, the SEVIS record can no longer be transferred in "active" status.
Individuals intending to remain in the US beyond the 60-day grace period without applying for OPT should take the initiative, during the grace period, to submit proper paperwork to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to apply for change to another visa status.
Resolving a Termination of Status
If your F-1 status has been terminated due to a violation of status, you will start to accrue days of unlawful presence. The penalty for being unlawfully present for more than 180 consecutive days but less than 1 year is a 3-year bar from readmission to the US, and the penalty for being unlawfully present for 1 consecutive year or more is a 10-year bar from readmission to the US.
You may depart and re-enter the US in order to start a new F-1 record. You must request a new Form I-20 (with a new SEVIS ID#) and pay the SEVIS I-901 fee for the new record. The "full academic year clock" will start over for purposes of earned vacation break, practical training and off-campus employment authorization purposes.
The unlawful presence count is paused (tolled) between the filing date and adjudication date of a timely-filed, non-frivolous application for F-1 reinstatement. If reinstatement is approved, no unlawful presence is accrued.
To request reinstatement to lawful F-1 status, you must file an application for reinstatement on Form I-539 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), accompanied by a new form I-20 indicating the DSO's recommendation for reinstatement. Your application should be filed within 5 months of the termination of status, but it is recommended that you file as early as possible due to the lengthy processing time at the USCIS. Your application must contain an explanation of the reason you fell out of status, and the reasons you believe you deserve to be reinstated to lawful F-1 status. Evidence such as transcripts, letter of support from people who can verify the events and circumstances of your case, evidence of financial support, and previously issued Form I-20s should be included.