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Frequently Asked Questions: F-1 Visas

Full-Time Enrollment

  How many units do students need to be enrolled full-time?

Undergraduate students at Seaver and Graziadio need to be enrolled in at least 12 units.
Graduate students from all Pepperdine schools need to consult the academic advisor at their school for more information.

  Can the I-20 program end date be extended?

Yes. Failure to secure an extension prior to the program end date will result in loss of F-1 status and accrual of unlawful presence. The e-form to request a program extension needs to be submitted on the OISS Portal before the program end date printed on the latest I-20.

  Can an F-1 visa holder drop below full-time enrollment?

Only in certain cases. Students curious whether they fit the criteria can read our website under "Maintain "full-time" enrollment, or apply for permission to reduce course load").



  Can F-1 students work on-campus?

Yes. For more information on on-campus jobs and other types of employment in F-1 status, please visit this webpage.

  Can F-1 students work off campus?

Yes, with authorization from their DSO before starting to work. For more information on on-campus jobs and other types of employment in F-1 status, please visit this webpage.

  Do F-1 visa holders need to fill out tax forms? Even without having worked?

Generally, all F-1 students must submit at least a form 8843 for the first 5 years in F-1 status. For more information on tax requirements for students in F-1 status, please visit this webpage under "Report your tax status to the US government").


Travel Outside of the U.S.

  What does the OISS Portal do?

The OISS Portal is the location of most the OISS' e-forms. You may also make an appointment for an OPT Workshop (applicable within 4 months of your Program End Date).

  What do students need to travel abroad?

Step 1: Access the portal at oiss.pepperdine.edu, click "LOGIN," and enter the Pepperdine Network ID and Password.
Step 2: Click on "F-1 Student Services" to expand and show available forms. Click "Travel Permission or I-20 Update".
Step 3: Complete the form, making sure that all required fields are correctly filled in. Click "Submit" to submit the form.

*Note: You may also access the form on the OISS website by clicking on "OISS Forms" in the left-hand column.

For technical issues that arise on the OISS Portal, feel free to contact oisstech@pepperdine.edu for support.

  What if a student needs to leave the US because of an emergency? 

 Please follow the steps outlined in the Travel Permission question above as soon as possible. Calling our office at 310.506.4246 after submitting the Travel Permission eform is highly recommended.

   Can a dependent travel outside of the US without the visa holder?

 Yes. A dependent can travel without the F-1 visa holder, as long as they have a valid endorsed I-20, a valid passport, and F-2 visa. For more information on travel, please head to our Travel for F-1 page (page to be created)


Changing Status

  What if a student needs to withdraw due to personal reasons or dismissal?

After submitting the Exit or Transfer e-form on the OISS Portal, the student needs to call our office at 310.506.4246. Regulations require the F-1 student to depart the US within 15 days upon withdrawal."

  What if a student changes from F-1 status to a different visa status?

The student should fill out the Exit or Transfer e-form on the OISS Portal.

  What should students do before completing their program of study?

Graduating students should either apply for Optional Practical Training (starting with submitting the OPT Request e-form) or submit the Exit or Transfer Request e-form. Both e-forms are available on the OISS Portal. For more information on post-graduation options, please visit this webpage under "Provide an "exit statement" and depart within the grace period").


Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  How and when should students apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training)?

Read the OPT Manual  at least 4 months before your expected program end date.

  Can F-1 students travel while OPT is pending?

Travel while an OPT application is pending is to be undertaken with caution. Please fill out a Travel Permission e-form on the OISS Portal 2-3 weeks before leaving the US.

  Can F-1s travel during OPT?

Please read page 28 of the OPT Manual for more information on travel during OPT.

  What types of employment are allowed on OPT?

Please read page 27 of the OPT Manual for more information on what types of employment are allowed during OPT.

  What do F-1s need to report while on OPT?

Please read page 24 of the OPT Manual for more information on reporting requirements to maintain F-1 status on OPT.

  Are the SEVP Portal and OISS Portal the same thing?

The SEVP Portal is not a replacement for reporting the information to the OISS! If you choose to use the SEVP Portal to make changes, you must also continue to report these changes to the OISS. For more information regarding the SEVP Portal visit https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov.