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VISA Guidelines

The Office of International Education provides guidance on visa questions for F‐1 and J‐1 students. International students are encouraged to attend the orientation sessions held each fall and spring and to make appointments to discuss specific visa questions with the Office of International Education.

Maintaining Your Status

1. Report to Austin Peay State University.

Students must report to campus within 30 days of the I-20 start date and within 30 days of the current session start date.

2. Always enroll full time.

F-1 and J-1 students must maintain full-time student status every semester, this is defined as 12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 credit hours for graduate students. F-1 and J-1 students may only count 3 credit-hours of online courses toward full-time enrollment requirements.

IMPORTANT! If you are considering admission to the College of Graduate Studies, please note that some programs are not available to international students due to the F-1 requirements which restrict online course enrollment.  The following master’s degree programs are primarily online programs and are closed to international students: Management (M.S.M.), Communication Arts (M.A.), Professional Studies (M.P.S.), Industrial/Organizational Psychology (M.A.), Nursing (M.S.N.), Military History (M.A.), HHP/Health Services Administration (M.S.) and Advanced Studies in Teaching & Learning (M.Ed.).

3. Update your local address.

Federal immigration regulations require you to update your local residential address within 10 days of any address change within the U.S. including changes from one residence hall to another. Update your address with the

Update Information Form

4. Maintain the validity of your immigration documents.

If you are traveling outside the U.S., your passport and your visa  should be valid. Do not let your passport expire. You should keep your passport valid for at least six months into the future while you are studying in the U.S. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. You can find the contact information for your consulate at: If your visa expires while you are in the U.S. contact International Education prior to departure from the U.S. because you will need to apply for another student visa before you can return.

5. Change of program dates. 

If you finish your studies early or if you will finish your studies late (before of after the program end date listed on your I-20), you must  contact International Education. You must file for an extension of program dates. If you do not update the program dates on your SEVIS record, the record will terminate and you will be "out-of-status". Notify the coordinator of International Education when you leave the U.S. or change your visa status. When you finish your program and leave the U.S. permanently, or if you change to another visa status (for instance if an employer plans to do an H1B visa application for you after you graduate or you finish your OPT), let the coordinator of International Education know in person or by email. Change your program dates with the Update Information Form

6. If you change your degree program or level . . .

Contact International Education prior to changing your educational program or level. For example, if your I-20 states that you are studying chemistry and you want to change your program of study to marketing, you must notify the Office of International Education. All program changes must be updated in the SEVIS system. If you have graduated from an undergraduate program and will be beginning graduate studies, you must notify the Office of International Education and request a change of degree level. Change your degree program or level with the Update Information Form

7. Discuss transfer plans with a designated school official (DSO).

If you plan to transfer to another school or to go on to attend graduate school after you graduate from Austin Peay State University, notify a DSO and complete the Transfer to Another University Form

8. Keep copies of immigration documents.

Keep copies of all immigration documents including the passport photo page, the visa page of your passport, both sides of your I-94 Form (even if the back side has no writing), the I-20 (for F-1 visa students); the DS-2019 (for J-1 visa students) and keep all copies of any DS-2019 or I-20 issued to you during your time as an international student. Remember to keep all immigration documents in a safe place. If possible during an emergency, carry your immigration documents on your body.

9. If making plans for international travel . . .

You must have the third page of your I-20 or DS-2019 form signed by a university DSO before traveling. The signature date on your I-20 is valid for only one year of travel; check to make sure the signature is and will be valid upon return. 

 Before leaving you must check to make sure that your student visa will still be valid upon re-entry into the U.S. If not, you will need to apply for a new visa prior to your return to the U.S. 

You must make sure that your passport is valid up to six months after your re-entry date. 

Carry your I-20, passport, visa, financial support documentation, and other proof of student identification including transcripts, student I.D., and emergency contact information for the APSU SEVIS PDSO on your person when leaving and re-entering the U.S.

If you need to renew your visa stamp in order to re-enter the United States you must apply in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation: valid passport, current passport-size photographs, valid Form I-20 (3 pages), proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, or financial aid letter) and proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript).

10. If you want to work . . .

F-1 students are not permitted to work off campus (outside of the university) without prior authorization. Off-campus employment is any type of work or services performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or any other benefit that does not take place on the Austin Peay State University campus.  

Students with financial problems should speak with International Education but should never work off campus without first requesting the work through SEVIS. If you are currently authorized to work off campus due to economic hardship, your off-campus work authorization terminates when you transfer. You must re-apply for off-campus work authorization at your new school.

All F-1 students are permitted to work on campus for 20 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours per week during summer and winter breaks.

Maintaining Your Status


Tips for Students and Exchange Visitors

Upon Arriving at a U.S. Port of Entry

Social Security Administration (SSA) Find out how and when you can obtain a Social Security Number.

Practical Training

Practical training may be authorized for an F–1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis, in a SEVIS‐approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year. This provision also includes students who, during their course of study, were enrolled in a study-abroad program, if the student had spent at least one full academic term enrolled in a full course of study in the United States prior to studying abroad. A student may be authorized for 12 months of practical training and becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training. An eligible student may request employment authorization for practical training in a position that is directly related to his or her major area of study. There are two types of practical training available:

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Application

Curricular Practical Training