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Maintaining F-1 Status

The purpose of this section is to help you become aware and follow the regulations.  International Student Services is prepared to answer your questions or check with the proper authorities. Please be aware, however, it is your responsibility to abide by the laws and regulations affecting your status and not International Student Services’ job to keep your status in good standing. Your status is clearly your responsibility and no one else’s.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of State (DOS), are responsible for enforcing the immigration regulations and not International Student Services (ISS). ISS is available to assist you, when we can. You may visit the DHS website to check the latest regulations and/or download many of the DHS forms. 

DHS’s system Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (known as SEVIS), is an internet-based system that gives DHS a real-time student tracking system. This means that DHS will know, in a very real and timely way, where students are and what academic activities they are engaged in. What this also means, is that this system will be making status determinations and not allowing ISS staff to determine nor intervene in your status. 

Medical Course Load

Requirements and Restrictions

  • Medical reduced course load can only be authorized one semester at a time
    • A student wishing to request medical reduced course load for more than one semester must submit an updated request each semester to the ISS office for approval.
  • Medical reduced course load must be approved by the ISS office before a student reduces their course load.
  • A student is allowed a maximum of 12 months of medical reduced course load per degree level.
  • Students must request a medical reduced course load by the last day of the semester in which you wish to be enrolled less than full time.
  • Important note to students who are pregnant: A normal pregnancy and delivery are not medical conditions warranting reduced course load. If you are having a normal pregnancy or delivery with no other medical complications, the ISS office will not authorize reduced course load. If you have a medical complication or condition outside of a normal pregnancy or delivery, your doctor may recommend medical reduced course load.


for medical reduced course load.

if you are not sure whether your case will qualify.

to substantiate your medical condition.

once the ISS office has approved you for medical reduced course load.

Medical Professional: Letter Requirements

The letter must be printed on clinic/health care facility letterhead. It should include:

Reminder: federal law requires medical reduced course load to be substantiated by a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or license clinical psychologist. RNP, NP, PA, and other health providers must get an MD, DO, or licensed clinical psychologist to sign the letter, otherwise the letter cannot be used for medical reduced course load.

Applying for Driver's License

You should take the following documents when you apply for a driver's license:

The following can serve as a proof of residence: 
  • bank statement
  • cell phone bill
  • communication from the school
  • school ID (with letter from a Dean)

Social Security Number (SSN)

Reasons for needing a SSN:

  • Taxpayer registration
    • The U.S. Government uses SSNs to identify wage earners for tax purposes
  • Bank and cell phone account activation
  • On-campus employment
    • To obtain a job on campus, Human Resources at Southern requires a SSN for payment of wages

Social Security Number is required for all international students who work on campus. 

For questions/more information, please contact:

Kaylie Ackerman, Student Employment Coordinator


On-Campus Employment

How to find a job

  • All student jobs are posted on the Student Job Board.
  • International Students may ONLY work on campus. All jobs on the online Student Job Board are considered on campus.
International students can work up to 20 hours per week during the school year. During the summer, international students can work up to 38 hours per week.

Starting Employment

Once a department hires a student, they will receive a Labor Assignment Form to bring to the Human Resources (HR) office. After this form is brought to HR, the student will fill out hiring paperwork such as:

Tax Withholdings and Allowances

Department of Homeland Security Employment Eligibility Verification

The HR department will assist you in filling out these forms.

Southern Adventist University participates in E-Verify. International Students will need to bring the following documents to HR along with their Labor Assignment Form:

The HR office can also print this document

*The HR Office also helps international students obtain a Social Security Number and a Bank Account, if needed. They will not be permitted to work until they have completed this process.
For questions, please contact:

Kaylie Ackerman
Phone: 423.236.2278
Email: kaylieackerman@southern.edu

Full-Time Course of Study

Undergraduate students
 should satisfactorily complete a minimum of twelve credit hours per semester to fulfill DHS visa requirements. Normally, however, your program will require more than twelve credits per semester to complete your program in the recommended time frame.  

Graduate students should satisfactorily complete a minimum of nine credit hours per semester to fulfill DHS requirements.

Exceptions to a full-time course load must be cleared through ISS in advance of registering. 
Some academic, family, or health reasons may allow a load variance but will require proper documentation. Failure to enroll for full-time study may jeopardize your status with the DHS, including the loss of benefits (e.g. on-campus work and/or practical training) to which you are normally entitled.

Online Classes
Only one (3 credit) online class can count toward a full course of study for an F-1 student during each semester. If a student is enrolled in over 12 credits, they can enroll in additional online classes as long as they still meet the full-time requirement.