F-1 Rules

All F-1 international students must follow the U.S. immigration regulations as outlined below to maintain valid student status at CSULB:

International students must be registered for a full course of study at CSULB during Fall and Spring semesters. Enrollment for summer and winter sessions is optional.   

Required Units Fall/Spring:

Online Courses:

  • Only 3 units or one online course per semester is applicable to the full-time enrollment total.
  • For students sponsored by their home country's government or organizations, there may be additional limitations. Please consult with an International Student Advisor before enrolling in online courses.

Enrollment Below Full-time Units
In special, limited circumstances, enrollment below a full course of study may be approved (See the section below). Meet with an International Student Advisor to discuss any circumstances that may impact your ability to enroll in a full course of study.

To be enrolled below full-time, students need authorization from an International Student Advisor prior to the beginning of each semester. 

Students who are enrolled for less than full-time without authorization will be in jeopardy of losing their F-1 student status and will need to resolve the status issue in order to legally continue their studies in the U.S.

Possible Exceptions
The following is a list of possible reasons for enrolling below a full course of study (Note: the reasons listed are not a guarantee for approval):


International degree-seeking students must be aware of the expiration date on their I-20. If students cannot complete their degree by the Program End Date on their I-20, students must make an appointment with an International Student Advisor to request a program extension as soon as possible. The process of reviewing an extension request may take some time and must be completed prior to the program end date on the I-20 form. Failure to obtain a program extension within the time limit allowed will result in the cancellation of your F-1 student immigration status. See the Program Extension section below for more information.


Students should keep their passports valid at all times. If the passport will expire within 6 months, students must renew it through the embassy or consulate of their home country. All international students must provide an updated copy of their passports to their respective international program offices.

F-1 students who are unable to complete their degree programs prior to the program end date on their I-20 form (under the Program of Study section on Page 1) must make an appointment with an International Student Advisor prior to the expiration of the I-20.

Reasons for possible considerations of program extensions: 

  • Medical
  • Academic

The process of reviewing an extension request may take some time and must be completed prior to the program end date on the I-20 form. 

Failure to obtain a program extension within the time limit allowed will result in the cancellation of your non-immigrant F-1 student status.

International degree-seeking students who change their U.S. address must report the change to CSULB within 10 days of moving by changing your mailing address in your MyCSULB account.

F-1 students who complete an academic program or OPT have a 60-day grace period and J-1 students who complete an academic program have a 30-day grace period. During the grace period, students need to leave the U.S., gain a new F-1 status, or seek another immigration status.

F-1 students who have received prior authorization from an international student advisor to withdraw from classes have 15 days to depart the U.S. after the withdrawal date. Students who withdraw from classes without prior authorization are not eligible for a grace period.

International degree-seeking students wishing to file for an educational leave of absence during a fall or spring term must meet with an International Student Advisor for an appointment to discuss important F-1 student status and university policies in detail. We recommend that you plan ahead and meet with an international student advisor to gather more information before filing a leave of absence at CSULB.

According to CSULB regulations:

Any registered student, undergraduate or graduate, in good academic standing may request an Educational Leave. Students requesting an Educational Leave must complete an Educational Leave Form, in advance, including an explanation of their reasons for seeking the leave and a statement of when they intend to resume academic work. The completed form should be submitted to the Office of Enrollment Services, Brotman Hall 101.

The minimum initial leave will be one full semester; the maximum will be one calendar year. A student may submit, in advance, a new educational leave request form for an extension of leave. Under no circumstances will the total number of approved educational leaves exceed two, nor will the duration of approved educational leaves extend beyond two calendar years.

Students returning from an approved educational leave are not required to submit an application for readmission to the university. Students returning from an absence for which an educational leave was appropriate but not approved in advance must reapply for admission and pay the reapplication fee.

Graduate students who plan to enroll for credit at another institution of higher education during the leave period must obtain prior approval for the transfer of course credit to the student's program from the department graduate advisor, department chair, and the College Dean or designee.

The period of educational leave is counted in the calculation of elapsed time under the regulations governing the maximum period for completion of degree and remediation requirements. (See Baccalaureate and Graduate sections of this catalog.)

For the period of educational leave, the student's rights under the 'Election of Regulations' rule are preserved, maintaining the right of the student to elect regulations as if he or she had maintained continuous attendance.

An educational leave presupposes no expenditure of University resources during the period of the leave. No computer facilities, no library privileges, and no student services are available to a student on educational leave.

(CSULB University Catalog, 2015)

Change of Status Guidelines: Other Non-Immigrant Visa to F1 student status

Here are the guidelines for students looking to change their current non-immigrant status (i.e., F-2, H-4, or J ) to F1 student status:

 Change of Status to F1.pdf


Regaining F1 Student Status

The termination of a SEVIS record by our office or by a previous institution is usually the result of a student that has not maintained F-1 student status during the regular standard semester terms, excluding Summer/Winter sessions. The following options are discussed between a student and an International Student Advisor, in an effort to resume F-1 student status at CSULB:

Guidelines for Retrieving F1 Status.pdf