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ISSS – Visa Regulations and Information


SEVIS stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.  SEVIS is an electronic database run by the US government to maintain accurate information about J-1 and F-1 students, as well as their F-2 or J-2 dependents.

I-20s and DS-2019s are printed based on the information that is in SEVIS.  This includes your program start and end dates, your major and other biographical information.  All universities have to update SEVIS with information about F1 and J1 students attending their universities, such as the following:

  • Your local address, email and phone number
  • Your program of study (including your major/minor)
  • Your registration each semester (full-time, part-time, on-campus, or not enrolled)

It’s really important that you keep the International Student Services Office updated with any change in this data, so that Boise State can keep your SEVIS record accurate.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding SEVIS

What are the regulations about study?

All F1 and J1 students must study full time.  For undergraduate students that is 12 credits per semester and for graduate students that is 9 credits per semester.  Only 1 class (that class can have a maximum of 3 credits) of that full time load can be online.  There are some limited exceptions to this full-time study requirement for medical and academic reasons.  They are called Reduced Course Loads (RCL).  Contact the International Student Services Office before you drop below full time to learn if you qualify for an RCL, or if you have questions about RCL authorization.

What are the regulations about work?

F1 and J1 students may work on-campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and more than 20 hours during semester breaks.  Off-campus employment is quite restricted for F1 and J1 students. Any off-campus employment requires authorization from International Student Services and/or USCIS before work begins and not all internships and jobs qualify for an authorization.  In some cases, employment authorization can take 3-4 months for approval so it is best to plan ahead.  In addition, J-1 exchange students must have specific authorization from International Student Services in advance of working on campus.  More information about employment can be found on the Employment tab of the International Student Services website.

What do you need to report to ISS?

  • Change of name or other contact details (within 10 days of the change)
  • Change of address (use the Change of Address form within 10 days of any change)
  • Change of major, minor or degree program
  • If you plan to study abroad
  • If you plan to take a semester off classes (report before you take the semester off)
  • If you need to drop below fulltime (this must be approved in advance of dropping classes)
  • If you plan to transfer to another university or degree program (Transfer Out form)

What are the approved reasons for a Reduced Course Load (RCL)?

An advisor in International Student Services may authorize a reduced course load for the following academic reasons:

  1. student is having initial difficulty with American teaching methods
  2. student is having initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements
  3. student was improperly placed in a particular course level
  4. student is in the last semester of the academic program and will graduate at the end of that particular semester

Students authorized for a reduced course load based on approved academic reasons must enroll for at least six credit hours during that semester.  Initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements is only available for the first semester of your degree program.

Contact the International Student Services Office before you drop below full time to learn if you qualify for an RCL, or if you have questions about the paperwork that must be completed to be considered for an RCL authorization.

An advisor in International Student Services may authorize a reduced course load, including an authorization not to enroll in any classes, for medical reasons.  This is available for a maximum of one year, and is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis.  Please contact your advisor in ISS if you would like further information regarding the paperwork required to be considered for a medically-related RCL.

What happens if a student completely withdraws from all of their classes?

It is important to talk to the International Student Services Office before withdrawing from all classes.  US immigration requires students on F1 and J1 visas to take a full course load each semester to remain in status.  There are very limited exceptions to this rule.  In most cases, if a student is granted a complete withdrawal from the Dean of Students office and/or from the Registrar, their SEVIS record is terminated and they must leave the United States within 15 days of the complete withdrawal approval.  In order to return, the student will need to apply for reinstatement.  This is the case even for a past semester complete withdrawal.

What is the best advice to give an “F” or “J” student?

Students should meet with their International Student Services advisor before dropping a course that takes them below full-time; before accepting employment; before transferring to another school; and before traveling outside of the United States.



If you plan to leave the U.S. at any time during your studies at Boise State, you must bring your I-20/DS-2019 to International Student Services to be signed. The signature is valid for a year (6 months, if you are on OPT).

A Boise State official’s signature on your I-20/DS-2019 confirms for the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) that you are returning to Boise to continue your education program and that you are maintaining your visa status. Attempting to enter the US without a current signature on the I-20/DS-2019 will delay your clearance through customs/immigration and may require extra paperwork.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to bring the I-20/DS-2019 to the ISS office at least 72 hours prior to your scheduled departure from campus.