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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I arrive to begin school at SAU?

Students may enter the US up to 30 days prior to the first day of the semester. Students should check the academic calendar for orientation and moving days. All students are required to complete a check in with the International Office.

Who do I contact for class registration?

If you are a new undergraduate international student, please reach out to our First Year Experience Office. Their email is  fye@southern.edu.

If you are a returning student, please contact your advisor for help with class registration.

What happens if my visa expires?

A visa is an “entry document.” It is used to enter the U.S.

If it expires in the U.S. you do not need to be concerned as long as you are maintaining your status, your I-94 is marked D/S, and your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid. However, if you leave the U.S., you must obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy outside of the U.S. before re-entering

How long can I stay after I graduate?

On your F-1 visa, you can only stay in the US for 60 days after your graduation. If you applied for OPT, you can stay until you hear the results from USCIS.

During the 60 days, the students are not permitted to seek employement, the students are to prepare to leave the country during the period of 60 days. 

Can I drop below full-time status?

There are limited circumstances where students can drop below 12 credit hours. The following, with the proper documentation, may be allowed: illness or medical condition, academic difficulties, to complete a course of study in the current term. If you are a student in need of a reduced course, talk with your DSO as soon as possible.

You cannot drop below a full course of study unless your DSO approves it and updates your student record in SEVIS.

I-515A Form

If a student does not have all the proper documentation to enter the country and/or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer cannot verify the student's information after taking them to secondary inspection, the officer may either deny a student's admission into the United States or issue them a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.”

If a student receives a Form I-515A, they must contact their designated school official immediately in order to properly respond to the notice.

Failure to comply and address a Form I-515A will result in the termination of a student's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System record.

International Students and Online Classes

In order to maintain a full course of study, you must enroll in 12 credit hours, 3 of those may be online. If you choose to take more than 12 credits, you can take extra classes online. As long as you still meet the minimum requirements for a full course of study (12 credits, 3 of which can be online). 

Can I take summer classes?

If you have completed a full academic year, you may enroll in courses but do not need to meet full course of study requirements during this time. Students MUST consult their DSO before taking summer courses.

At Southern, F-1 students are not allowed to take SmartStart or other summer courses before their first year of study. The free SmartStart course will be offered to F-1 students the summer after they have completed one full academic year.

Can F-1 students work off campus?

Generally, no. There are few situations where F-1 students are allowed to work off-campus. Please, contact your DSO to review your specific circumstances. 

When can I apply for OPT?

Students can apply for OPT as early as 90 days before their completion date and up to 60 days after graduation.

What scores do I need to have on my SAT/ACT?

ACT Composite Minimum - 18
SAT Total Score Minimum - 960

Who can I contact about University Housing?

Contact housing@southern.edu for answers to your on-campus residence hall questions and spennington@southern.edufor family housing.