Maintaining F-1 Visa Status

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Full Course of Study

  • As an Undergraduate student, you must be registered for a full-time course load (12 credits) in order to maintain your student status
  • Graduate students must register at least 6 credits. M. Div students must register at least 9 credits
  • You must register within the specified University deadlines for each given fall and spring semester
  • Dropping below a full course of study without authorization by the International Office can result in a violation of your status


Reduced Course Load

In certain limited situations, a student may be authorized by the International Office to pursue a Reduced Course Load (RCL). The student must contact the International Office prior to dropping below a full-time course load.

A student may drop below a full-time course load for the following reasons:

  • Academic Reasons resulting from language difficulties in their study and improper course level placement
  • Temporary Illness/ Medical Condition with medical documentation from a licensed medical provider


Final Semester Program

For your final semester at Cairn, you may be eligible for a reduced course load depending on your program of study. Please contact the International Office for consultation before registering for your final semester of classes.


Leave of Absence

While you are in the US, you are required to be full-time for every semester of your academic career. If you take a non-medical leave of absence, withdraw voluntarily, or are suspended or dismissed from the university, you are required the US within 15 days of this action. The only exception to this rule is a medical leave of absence.

Authorized Medical Leave of Absence

A leave of absence is authorized to F-1 students when there is a compelling medical reason that requires the student to withdraw academically from the university but remain in the US. Students may be granted to take up to 1 year leave of absence for every academic level. Students must contact the International Office and the Registrar’s Office for further instructions.

    • Students must obtain an official letter from a licensed medical provider that explains that nature of their medical condition and why they are unable to be in school
    • Students must reapply for authorization every semester


Request for Program Extension

Immigration regulations require you to file for an extension of time when you are not able to complete your program of study by the date that appears on your I-20 Form issued by Cairn. A student qualifies for program extension if he/she has maintained F-1 status and meets the following requirements: You may not be eligible to a program extension if the delay has been a result of academic probation or suspension.

Important Academic Reasons

  • English language difficulties
  • Change of major
  • Change of a research topic or experiencing unexpected research problems.

Documented Medical Reason

    • You must communicate first with the Cairn School Nurse regarding your medical problem. Attach medical evidence from a medical doctor or psychologist on official stationery that states the nature of the illness and the period of time you were ill. The Cairn school nurse may require you to obtain a second opinion from a Cairn-approved health professional to confirm the nature or seriousness of the medical problem.

To apply for a program extension, please complete the Request for F-1 Program Extension Form and submit it to the International Office.


Completion of Studies

At the completion of your studies at Cairn, you are given a 60 day grace period for which you can legally remain in the United States. Prior to or during this time, you are expected to do one of the following:


Transferring from Cairn

Should you wish to transfer out of Cairn, you will be required to do the following:

  • Inform the International Advisor of your intent to transfer
  • Complete and submit a Transfer Out Request Form
  • Contact the School’s Designated School Official (DSO) of the school you wish to transfer to no later than 15 days of the new program’s start date

Please note that the transfer procedure must be completed within 30 days of the new program’s start date and before the end of your 60 day grace period.


Changes to Information on your I-20

Whenever information related to your I-20 changes, you must notify the International Office with the updated information within 10 days. Notification is required for any of the following:

  • Change in address (Home Country or current)
  • Changes to your name
  • Change in citizenship
  • Changes to financial support listed on your I-20
  • Change of major
  • Change in education level (Undergraduate to Graduate)


Replacement of Your Visa-related Documents

If your visa-related documents (I-20, visa, passport, etc.) are lost or damaged, you will need to request for replacements.

  • I-20 Form: Please contact the International Student Advisor for further information and assistance
  • Passport: Please contact your home country’s embassy or consulate in the US for the process of getting a new passport
  • I-94 Form: Please refer to the USCIS website on how to replace your I-94