University of Nebraska Medical Center

F-1 Students

The primary purpose of the F-1 Visa is to allow an individual to pursue a full-time academic program at an accredited academic institution inside the U.S.

Information for F-1 Students

These topics include important information about F-1 status.

Maintaining status

F-1 students are responsible for maintaining legal status while in the U.S. Maintaining status primarily includes:

  • Maintaining full-time enrollment each semester.
  • Never engaging in employment without authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Maintaining a current passport.
  • Maintaining a current I-20.
  • Reporting any change of address within 10 days of the change.
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
This web-based database system, also known as SEVIS, maintains current information on F-1 students and their dependents for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State. UNMC is required to transmit electronic information and event notifications to the system throughout an F-1 student’s stay in the United States.
Full-time enrollment

Full-time enrollment is defined as nine credit hours per fall and spring semester for graduate students or 12 credit hours for undergraduate students. Professional or postgraduate academic programs may measure full-time enrollment differently, but the program and its definition of full-time enrollment must be approved by before UNMC can sponsor an F-1 Student in the program.

Exceptions: Designated school officials can authorize students through SEVIS for six hours of enrollment for one semester under the following conditions:

  • Initial difficulty with English (first-year students).
  • Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods (first-year students).
  • Improper course-level placement.
  • Medical conditions.
  • Student’s final semester.
  • Dissertation (graduate students).

Authorization must be granted through SEVIS before students may be less than full time or the students will be out of compliance with F-1 visa status.

Changing majors

If an F-1 student changes academic major, the record must be updated in SEVIS and a new I-20 must be obtained.

Transferring from UNMC

F-1 students are eligible to transfer their F-1 programs to other universities if they are maintaining legal status at UNMC.

Temporary departure from the U.S.

Before temporarily departing the U.S., an F-1 student must have the I-20 form signed on page 3 by a designated school official. If the visa has expired, a new one must be obtained from a U.S. consulate before re-entering the U.S. unless traveling to Canada for less than 30 days.

Completion of F-1 studies

There are generally four options for F-1 students after completing a degree:

  1. Depart the U.S. within 60 days of degree completion.
  2. Continue in F-1 status by pursuing another academic program.
  3. Apply for optional practical training before completing the course of study.
  4. Apply to change the status to another visa classification within 60 days after completing an academic program.
Optional practical training

After finishing a degree program, an F-1 student may apply for optional practical training, which allows the student to remain in the U.S. to be employed for one year in a job that is directly related to the program of study. Before beginning work, a work permit must be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The student should apply for optional practical training one to three months before completing the academic program.

Family Members, Guests of F-1 Students