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Full Course Load

You are required to register for a full course load (at least 12 credits for undergraduates; 9 for graduate students) every semester for each semester of your academic program. This is a federal regulation as well as Roger Williams University policy for all students. You must maintain a full course load the entire semester. At no time may you drop below a full course load (see exception below).

On-campus Employment

You are permitted to work on-campus part-time (no more than 20 hours per week) during the academic semester and full-time (40 hours a week) during winter, spring and summer vacations.

Off-campus Employment

F-1 visa holders are not allowed to work off-campus at any time, except in certain circumstances and only with prior approval of the Intercultural Center (IC). Students found working off-campus are in violation of immigration law.

Exceptions include Curricular Practical Training (for required academic internships), Optional Practical Training (both are for work related to your field of study only), international internships and severe economic hardship.

This includes any internship, paid or unpaid. All of these must be authorized by the Intercultural Center and sometimes by USCIS before work begins. Contact the IC to discuss any of these options.

Address Changes

If you live in an off-campus apartment, you must notify the Intercultural Center of your new address within 10 days of a move. You must register your new address with both the IC and teh Registrar.

Semester Registration

Each semester you are required to come to the Intercultural Center and complete the digital "Semester Check In." This is an immigration regulation requirement. You must come within 3 days of the start of classes (fall and spring only). This registration will take no more than 10 minutes.

Passport Validity

You are required to keep your passport valid at all times. Contact your embassy for information about extension procedures at least six months before the expiration of the passport.


You must make certain before you leave the country that the U.S. visa in your passport is valid. If your visa is not valid, you will need to obtain a new entry visa to be allowed to return to the United States. It does not matter if your visa expires while you are within the United States; the visa is only needed for reentry.

Travel Abroad

To travel abroad, you will need to obtain a travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 from a DSO at the Intercultural Center. Travel signatures are good for one year. (Unless you are on OPT in which signatures are only valid for 6 months) You may come by the office with your passport and I-20 for a new signature (keep in mind you must be registered full time to receive a signature).

Reduced Course Load

You are required to carry a full course load. You may only take a reduced course load in your last semester of study. You must seek prior approval from the Intercultural Center to do so. Please fill out the request form available in the Intercultural Center. You should also discuss your academic situation with the Student Advocacy Office and your advisor.

Program Changes, Extensions and New I-20s

You will need a new I-20 if you change your major or degree program, receive an additional scholarship or need to extend the length of time required to complete your degree. You must report any changes to the Intercultural Center. You should contact the Intercultural Center at least 45 days before the expiration date on your I-20 if you need an extension. If you do not apply for an extension before your I-20 expires, you will be in violation of immigration law and out of status.

This may affect your ability to complete your studies in the U.S. To apply for a program extension you will need to fill out a request form available in the Intercultural Center. Correction of any errors on your I-20, such as spelling of your name or your date of birth, must also be corrected as soon as they come to your attention.

Any time you receive a new I-20, you should keep your old one in your files. You will need all of your I-20s when applying for any immigration-related benefits (such as work permission).

If your I-20 Is Lost or Stolen

You need to come to the Intercultural Center and fill out a request form for a new one. The process takes up to 10 days, so keep your I-20 in a safe place and double-check it well before traveling.


You are required to file an annual income tax form with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), even if you do not owe any taxes. Look for more information via email from the Intercultural Center about how to do so during February or March.

Leave of Absence or Withdrawal

If you are taking a leave of absence or withdrawing from the University, you must speak with the Student Advocacy Office and then with the Intercultural Center. Students who take a leave of absence or withdraw from the University for non-medical reasons without the approval of the Intercultural Center are required to depart the United States immediately. With approval, you have a 15-day grace period to depart the country. The Intercultural Center should be your first stop if you are planning to take a leave of absence or withdrawing. 

Medical Leave

Students requesting medical leave must seek permission from the Dean of Students. Requests must be accompanied by documentation by a licensed physician or psychiatrist.


Reinstatement is a process by which a student who falls out of status by violating student immigration regulations may apply to the USCIS to regain status. The process is complicated, and in order to qualify, a person must file an application for reinstatement within 5 months of committing a violation. For further information regarding reinstatement, please contact the Intercultural Center.

Transfer Students

If you intend to transfer to another university in the United States, you must inform the Student Advocacy Office and the Intercultural Center and complete the necessary transfer forms.

Grace Periods for Departure from the United States

Students who complete their program of study are given a 60 day period to depart from the United States. During this time you can prepare for departure or travel domestically, but not leave the country and return.

If you have a question and do not know the answer, contact the Intercultural Center before contacting USCIS or asking a friend. Call your international student advisor at the Intercultural Center at (401) 254-3400.