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International Programs

East Tennessee State University

Current Students

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Maintaining Your F-1/J-1 Student Status

Once you are admitted to the United States under the F-1 or J-1 status, you must follow certain regulations and procedures in order to remain in lawful F-1/J-1 status.


Your passport must be valid at all times. In addition, re-entry into the United States typically requires a passport is valid for at least six months.

For more information on re-entry and passport validity see the Department of Homeland Security webpage.

Full-time Study

All F-1/J-1 students must be enrolled full-time during the fall and spring terms. To be considered full-time students must take at least:

  • Undergraduates 12-credit hours
  • Graduates 9-credit hours.

Summer full-time enrollment is required for students whose summer is the initial semester of enrollment.

Important: Only one online or distant learning course can count toward full-time enrollment. Please note that IPS cannot consider an "on ground" course any course that is identified as "online."

Courses that are online, but require a physical presence, are so noted in the registration database and do not show up on our enrollment report as "online." If you receive an email from us telling you that you are registered for too many online credits, then you must switch the online course for an on ground course, or add an additional on ground course.

Full-time enrollment applies to the entire semester and IPS monitors enrollment accordingly.  If at any point after the 14th day of the academic semester students are not registered full-time, their SEVIS record will be 'Terminated' as dictated by the Department of Homeland Security regulations. 

Note: Students who are 'Out of Status' do not have employment benefits (including employment performed under GAs & TSs) until an application for 'Reinstatement' is made to and approved by USCIS. For more information please visit Study in the States Website:

There are limited exceptions to full-time enrollment. If eligible a Reduced Course Load (RCL) Form must be completed and submitted to IPS with the appropriate approval signatures. Only after IPS review and approve an RCL request, students may enroll part time.

Students who have NOT complied with this regulation within 14 calendar days from the start of the academic semester will be considered 'Out of Status' and will have their SEVIS record 'Terminated'. Students whose SEVIS records are terminated may apply for reinstatement and should consult with the International Students Advisor on the process.

Reduced Course Load reasons:

  • Initial Adjustment Issues (Difficulty with English, or American teaching methods)
    • Only in your initial semester (transfer students do not qualify)
    • Must be within 21 days from the start of classes
    • Requires Academic Advisor's Approval
  • Improper Course Level Placement
    • Only in initial semester (transfer students do not qualify)
    • Must be within 21 days from the start of classes
    • Requires Academic Advisor's Approval
  • Medical/Mental Health reasons (Doctor or Licensed Psychologist/Therapist's approval required)
  • Student is in the Final semester of an academic program; or
  • Student is completing Graduate/Doctoral Level Thesis or Dissertation.

Departmental or medical provider approval is required for all*reduced course load requests. Please complete this Request Form. Approval is only valid for one (1) semester. Please see the International Student Advisor for more information.


International students are eligible for on-campus employment of no more than 20 hours per week during the academic year (spring and fall terms). Students may work on campus full time during the summer.

Off-campus employment is available under restricted circumstances.

J-1 students must obtain specific written authorization to work on-campus and Academic Training (AT) for any off-campus employment (including internships).

Address Changes

You must keep the Office of International Programs informed of your current telephone number, mailing and physical address.

Extending Your Program

An F-1 or J-1 student who is currently maintaining status and making normal progress toward completing his or her educational objective, but who is unable to complete his or her course of study by the program end date on the Form I-20/DS-2019, must apply prior to the program end date for a program extension.

An F-1/J-1 student who is unable to meet the program completion date on the Form I-20/DS-2019 may be granted an extension by the Designated School Official/Alternate Responsible Officer (DSO/ARO) if the DSO/ARO certifies that the student has continually maintained status and that the delays are caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extensions. A DSO/ARO cannot grant a program  extension if the student did not apply for an extension until after the program end date noted on the Form I-20/DS-2019.

An F-1/J-1 student who is unable to complete the educational program within the time listed on Form I-20/DS-2019 and who is ineligible for program extension is considered out of status and may apply for reinstatement

To apply for a program extension, please read and follow the instructions on the  F-1 extension form.

Transferring to Another Institution

If you have attended ETSU for a semester or more and plan to transfer to another school in the U.S, you will have to request that we release your SEVIS records to the new institution.

To request SEVIS release, please complete the SEVIS release form, sign it and bring it, with the new acceptance letter, to our office at your earliest convenience. Please note that you must be in lawful F-1/J-1 status to transfer.


On-Campus Employment


F-1 and J-1 students have different eligiblities for on-campus employment.

  • J-1 students have limited opportunities for Academic Training. Please schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisor by contacting the IPS office for this information.
  • F-1 students are eligible for on-campus employment. It is limited to a total of 20 hours per week during fall and spring semesters and up to full-time hours (more than 20) during the summer.
    • On-campus employment for F-1 students does not have to be authorized in writing.
    • Work required by a university scholarship, fellowship or assistantship is also considered on-campus employment.
    • Work performed on ETSU premises for an outside contractor such as the cafeteria or bookstore is considered on-campus employment.
    • Eligibility to work on campus is contingent upon your maintaining your lawful F-1 status.

On-campus student worker job openings may be found at the Financial Aid Office website: On-Campus RSWP Jobs.

Students must have a Social Security Number before they can be paid. Students in F-1/J-1 immigration status are not eligible for a Social Security Number without a paying job offer. 

Graduate students with a Graduate Assistantship will receive a monthly stipend but may not received the first month stipend immediately upon arrival. As such, it is important to budget from personal funds for the financial obligations due at the beginning of the term: health insurance, service and activity fees, insurance, books, rent deposits, etc.

Off-Campus Employment


There are two main types of off-campus employment benefits to F-1 students:

For more information, please visit Immigration and Customs Enforcement website regarding off-campus employment:


In accordance with the ETSU Board of Trustees Policy on Admissions, please see the following: 

Insurance Video

The short video below offers information on the U.S. Health Care System. DISCLAIMER TO VIDEO: The video below was produced by We find the information within the video helpful for a general overview of the United Statues medical system and what international students and scholars should expect.

Insurance Information

ETSU health insurance requirements:


Condition of Enrollment
International students under the F and J visas must have and maintain medical and hospitalization insurance as a condition of initial or continued enrollment at ETSU.

Plan or Waiver
All international students will be required to enroll in the ETSU Student Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan or on another plan of their choice, provided that:
  • The private policy benefits meet or exceed those provided by the ETSU policy.
  • The student submits a request for a waiver from purchasing the ETSU provided coverage. A waiver may be denied if private plan benefits are lower than those provided by the ETSU plan or ETSU cannot otherwise ensure the private plan provides sufficient coverage for the student while enrolled at the university.

J Visa
Students must have coverage for 12 months (August 1st to July 31st)Students under any of the J Student Categories must also carry accident, illness, medical evacuation, and repatriation insurance for spouses and dependents.

Students must have coverage for 12 months (August 1st to July 31st).

Students who are enrolled at ETSU as of August 15 (fall term), and/or January 15 (spring term) but not in compliance with the health insurance requirement will have their enrollment cancelled on August 15 and/or January 15.




Vision and Dental
The health insurance coverage that you purchase at ETSU will not provide you with dental or eye coverage. We strongly recommend that you have a dental and an eye examination before departing for the United States.

The cost for insurance coverage is approximately $1700 per year.


ETSU insurance is provided through International Student Protection (ISP): Enroll Here

A dependent is considered a spouse and/or children of an F-1 or J-1 student. Students who want to add a dependent to their F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record must complete a Dependent Request form and submit it with the required documents to our email:  

For all dependents who will need immigration documents issued by ETSU, the passport biographical page for each dependent and updated financial documents are required.

Please note, you are required to submit updated financial documents, regardless if you just made a submission.

Financial documents must meet or exceed the estimated cost of attendance for the current academic year. Plus, an additional expense for each dependent is added to the total estimated cost of attendance as follows:




The estimated cost of attendance can be found here under Tuition and Fees.


Reinstatement to F-1 Status

If you failed to maintain lawful F-1 status (enrolled part time without authorization, worked without authorization, failed to renew I-20, etc.), you may apply for reinstatement to lawful status. Application for reinstatement procedures are as follows:

1. Provide The Office of International Programs and Services with financial documents so that we can issue you a new form I-20
2. Complete form I-539.
3. Provide letter of explanation, with documentation, about the reasons for falling out of status. Students who have worked illegally cannot be reinstated.
4. Please see the following Checklist.

DISCLAIMER: Always confirm updated information with USCIS, as our office may not receive notice of changes.

This application package is mailed to the USCIS for adjudication. If an immigration officer reinstates you, you are again under lawful F-1 status. If not, you will be given a certain amount of time to leave the United States.

If you are denied reinstatement in the United States, you can obtain a new I-20, travel outside the United States, apply for a student visa, if necessary, and reenter in legal F-1 status. If this is your situation, please make sure to meet with the International Student Advisor.

Visitor Visa (B-2) for Family and Friends

Family and friends from abroad who wish to visit and/or attend ETSU international students’ graduation ceremony may apply for a B-2 visa from the United States consulate nearest to the place of their residence. International Programs & Services (IPS) advises that international students read the handout prepared by the U.S. Department of State on tips for Visitor Visas – Business and Pleasure ( ), and assist their guests by following the suggestions found here.[DCL1] IPS does not issue invitation letters to parents or guests of international students.

At times students may find themselves overwhelmed and stressed. Services, free of charge, to assist students in these hard times are available. Please don't hesitate to use these resources: 

Undergraduate Success Specialists

Graduate Success Specialists

Counseling Center

Bucky's Food Pantry


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