Utah Tech University

F-1 Students

Maintaining Status

How to Maintain your F-1 Status

Entering the United States (I-20 and F-1 Visa)

You will need the following to enter the United States:

  • Utah Tech University I-20 Certificate for Non immigrant F-1 Student Status
  • Valid F-1 visa(the visa stamp in your passport) issued by the United States embassy/consulate overseas
  • Valid passport
  • Your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee receipt

Note: Canadian citizens do not need United States visas to enter the U.S. as an F-1 student.

When you enter the United States, you will receive either an admission stamp in your passport marked “F-1” and “D/S” (Duration of Status) or a small white I-94 card with the same notation.

Note: You may not enter the United States more than 30 days prior to the start date in section 5 on your I-20 (refer to “Travel”, later of this page).

Mandatory Immigration Check-in at Utah Tech University

You are required to attend a mandatory Immigration Check-In at Utah Tech University International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO). The Immigration Check-In is required by the United States Department of Homeland Security. If you do not attend, your academic program could be terminated which would end your lawful immigration status. For more information about the Check-In (such as how to schedule a Check-In, what documents are required, etc.) please contact Allison McMullin at alli.mcmullin@utahtech.edu.

Maintaining Legal F-1 Status

As an F-1 student, you are required to follow certain rules to maintain your legal immigration status. Maintaining this status is necessary to receive the benefits of F-1 status such as employment or program extension. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can cause serious problems with immigration and possibly lead to deportation.

To maintain lawful status, an F-1 student must:

  • Attend the mandatory Immigration Check-In at ISSO
  • Attend the university you are authorized to attend
  • Complete immigration school transfer procedure when necessary
  • Be in good academic standing and make progress towards an academic program
  • If you are unable to complete your academic program by the original expiration date, extend your I-20 prior to its expiration date
  • If you change your academic program or level, update your I-20 in a timely fashion in accordance with immigration regulations
  • Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year.

Note: 12 credit hours is considered full-time for an undergraduate student. The courses you take for “audit” or “visit” do not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement for immigration purposes.

  • Know that suspension, dismissal, enrollment withheld, expulsion, or any similar action which prevents enrollment may affect your legal immigration status.
  • Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during the academic year.
  • Not be employed without specific pre-authorization
  • Keep your passport valid at all times.

Note: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future on the day you return to the United States from a trip abroad.

  • Maintain health insurance coverage
  • Update your current and permanent address information on your myUT account within 10 days of moving.
Health Insurance Requirements

All international students are required to have health insurance coverage that meets the University’s standards. You must enroll in an approved insurance program at your Immigration Check-In. If your government or program sponsor is providing you with health insurance, you can apply for a waiver of the mandatory health insurance at Check-In.

Note: Your health insurance coverage must meet University standards, so please bring a copy of the insurance policy (including coverage dates) with you to Immigration Check-In.

Other Important Information

Traveling Outside the United States and Re-entry

While studying at Utah Tech University and traveling outside the U.S., you must have the following in order to re-enter the country:

  • Valid F-1 visa (the visa stamp in your passport)
  • Passport valid 6 months info the future
  • Your most recent I-20 with a travel signature less than 1 year old

Note: Citizens of certain countries returning from Canada, Mexico and the adjacent islands may be able to re-enter the United States with an expired F-1 visa using Automatic Visa Revalidation. 

Grace Period

When an F-1 student successfully completes their academic program or Optional Practical Training, there is a 60-day grace period during which the F-1 student and any F-2 dependents may stay in the United States. During the grace period, you may not work or re-enter the United Sates in F-1 status.

Extension of F-1 Student Status

The United States Department of Homeland Security requires that you finish your program of study by the completion date on your I-20. The end date on the I-20 (item #5) is established by the admissions office to reflect the average length of time it should take a student to complete the degree requirements. If you need to extend your I-20, our office can provide you with an I-20 extension if you are eligible and apply in a timely fashion.

Eligibility Criteria for F-1 Visa Extension

To obtain a program extension, you must show that you have maintained status and that the extension is needed for compelling academic or medical reasons, such as change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or a documented illness. Delays in completing your program caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension approval. You may be eligible for an I-20 extension if:

  • The delay was caused by documented academic or medical circumstances
  • You have sufficient financial resources to fund your students and living expenses
  • The extension is requested with sufficient time for processing before the current expiration

The following are not valid reasons for I-20 extensions:

  • To enroll in extra courses or repeat the same course for personal interest or to improve your GPA
  • To engage in research on or off-campus
  • To finish pending coursework for an incomplete grade
  • To engage in non-required Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • To enroll in course work delayed by participation in non-required CPT
  • An I-20 which has already passed the program end date cannot be extended.

If your program end date (I-20, section #5) has expired or you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a program extension, you will need to pay a fee and file for reinstatement to F-1 status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Failure to apply for an extension of stay in a timely manner is a violation of F-1 regulations, which can carry heavy penalties.

Department of Homeland Security Address Notification Requirement

SEVIS Guidelines for F-1 Students require the following addresses and phone numbers to be properly reported and formatted:

  • Your “Current Address” must be your address in the USA
  • Your “Permanent Address” must be your address in your home country
  • Your “Current Address Voice Phone” must be your 10-digit U.S. phone number

Your address information must confirm to SEVIS guidelines for the entirely of your program regardless of whether you are currently in the U.S. or temporarily outside the U.S. If you are temporarily outside the U.S. and are maintaining your SEVIS status, you can use the U.S. address of a close family member or friend, your previous U.S. address, or your new U.S. address.

F-1 students are not required to report a U.S. phone number. However, if you have a U.S. phone number, then it must be reported as your “Current Phone Number”. This must follow the U.S. format of 123/456-7890. Non-U.S. phone numbers may be reported as Permanent or Mobile.

Note: Do not use the international prefix on U.S. phones in the U.S.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

CPT is temporary employment that is required to complete your chosen degree such as internships or cooperative education. CPT works best if you are interested in working off campus. CPT must be completed prior to the completion of your program. During CPT, you must be enrolled in a full-time course schedule, so it is best to limit your work hours to part time locally or remotely.

The purpose of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is for international students to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience directly related to their field of study. The desire for employment is not the main consideration in determining CPT eligibility. The school’s curriculum and the importance of the work to the student’s academic program are the determining factors.

USCIS Regulations state that an F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is “an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” “To grant authorization for a student to engage in curricular practical training, a DSO at a SEVIS school will update the student’s record in SEVIS as being authorized for curricular practical training that is directly related to the student’s major area of study.” -USCIS Citation: 8 CFR 214.2 (f) (10) (i) (B).

Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT

A student can work as much as is required by their academic program as long as labor laws and other relevant laws are considered; however, if a student engages in 12 months or more of full time CPT, they are not eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Periods of part-time CPT do not count towards the 12-month limit of full-time CPT.

  • Part-Time CPT is employment for 20 hours per week or fewer.
  • Full-time CPT is employment for more than 20 hours per week. 12 months or more of full-time CPT will eliminate your eligibility for OPT. During Fall and Spring semester, you must be enrolled full-time or have an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).

To be eligible for CPT, you must:

  • The student is in good academic standing with Utah Tech University
  • The student is in “Good Standing” with the ISS Office
  • Student must continue to make satisfactory progress towards degree completion
  • The student is currently in valid F-1 status at an SEVP-approved “college, university, conservatory, or seminary.” Utah Tech does not consider “pending reinstatement” as valid F-1 status
  • The student has been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year (fall and spring) at a SEVIS approved school. An exception may be made for graduate students who are required to participate in CPT during their first year of study. (This means all participants in that graduate academic program must do an internship within the initial year of study)
  • The student will continue to be enrolled for a full course of study during the CPT
  • The training is determined to be “an integral part of an established curriculum” and “directly related to the student’s major area of study”

Note: CPT is processed and authorized term by term. ISSO department has discretion in recommending CPT.

CPT Authorization Dates

Students may only be employed by a specific employer, at a specific location and for specific dates as approved by the ISSO, and a student can begin working with their CPT employer once they have received the I-20 reflecting the CPT work authorization and the start date has begun. Students should submit application materials well in advance of their desired start date. The ISS Office recommends that documents be submitted at least 15 days in advance.

  • Students may be approved for CPT multiple times during their degree program, however, Advisor and DSO approval is required each semester. CPT requests submitted after the third week of classes will not be approved.
  • Internships/jobs longer than one semester require two separate CPT applications. Employer letter may be submitted per year however, student must submit a CPT form per semester.
  • For CPT approval students MUST be registered in CPT course available under student’s declared major, this can be done as early as registration is available for the next semester. CPT authorization start dates will be based on student’s enrollment per semester.
    • Fall semester –the day after the end of the 8-week summer semester block end date which includes at least a two-week vacation period
    • Spring semester – the day after the end of the Fall semester end date which includes winter break
    • Summer semester – the day after the end of the spring semester end date which includes at least a two-week vacation period
  • These are the earliest and latest possible CPT authorization dates for each semester:
Detailed Training Description

Your employer or company must officially offer you a training opportunity. Ask your employer to write a Detailed Training Description. It must:

  • Be written on the company’s letterhead
  • Be addressed to you
  • Include your job title
  • Provide a detailed job description (at least a few sentences describing specific duties, tasks, goals, etc.)
  • Specify the street address where employment will take place (street, city, state, and zip code). If you will work remotely, the letter should specify this and list the company’s physical address
  • Specify start and end dates of CPT employment

CPT Official Form

Optional Practical Training

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

OPT is temporary employment directly related to your field of study after graduation. During OPT, you remain in F-1 status and are issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Optional practical training (OPT) is defined in the regulations as “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” Students in F-1 status are eligible to apply for this benefit as long as they have been lawfully enrolled full-time for one academic year. An academic year would include fall and spring terms only. Like Curricular Practical Training (CPT), the training MUST be directly related to the area of study and not just serve as an opportunity to work. Students may engage in OPT for any employer in any location for the duration of OPT authorization, as long as the employment qualifies under OPT standards.


To be eligible for OPT, you:

  • Do NOT need a job offer to apply
  • Must be in legal F-1 status
  • Must have completed two full time semesters* (Fall & Spring; Summer does not count)
  • Must NOT have been previously authorized for 12 months of Full-Time CPT at the same degree level
  • Must NOT have been previously authorized for 12 months of OPT at the same level, or any OPT at a higher degree level
  • ESL (English as a Second Language) only students are NOT eligible for OPT

OPT Duration:

  • Eligible for 12 months of full time authorization with each higher level degree (Associates, Bachelors and Master’s)
  • Unused periods of eligibility from lower level degrees cannot be accumulated for use with later degrees at a higher level.

Paid employment:

Students may work part-time (at least 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full-time.

  • Multiple employers. Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program and for pre-completion OPT cannot exceed the allowed per week cumulative hours.
  • Short-term multiple employers (performing artists). Students, such as musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.
  • Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than employment relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-employed business owner. Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full-time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program
  • Employment through an agency. Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.

Unpaid employment:

Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.

How to Apply for OPT

Step 1: Understand what OPT is!  Are you eligible?  When can you apply?

Step 2: Create & Save Digital Documents of all supporting documents:

  • Passport page(s) showing your name, photo, and expiration
  • Visa page(s) showing your name, photo, and expiration
  • Most recent Electronic I-94 record; or paper I-94 card (front and back)
  • Recent passport-style photo (jpeg, jpg or png) (US passport photo guidelines)
  • Previously issued Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), if any (front and back)
  • If attended a school other than Utah Tech under a different SEVIS number, any previously issued OPT and/or CPT I-20s
  • Signed ISSO POST-OPT recommendation

Step 3: Start USCIS Online I-765 Application Form:

  • Go to US Citizenship and Immigration Services and create account 
  • After creating account, go to Form I-765 and click “File Online”
  • Begin the I-765 form (required)
    • Refer to the Online OPT Filing Tips as you work on your I-765 draft
    • You can upload the following evidence prior to meeting with ISSO Staff
      • Passport-style photo
      • I-94 record
      • Passport (upload this under “Employment Authorization Document” section)
      • DO NOT upload an I-20 until you have the OPT recommendation I-20 from ISSO
      • Do NOT pay the $410 filing fee until you have received your NEW OPT recommendation I-20 from your ISSO staff during your OPT appointment (filing fee is NON-REFUNDABLE)
      • Create PDF of draft I-765Once the I-765 is completed (other than a few final uploads), but before payment is made, download the “view draft snapshot” PDF from the “review and submit” section of the online application

Step 4: Make an appointment with ISS Staff:

  • Go to Navigate and select ISSO staff
  • ISSO staff verifies your F-1 status and creates a new OPT recommendation I-20
  • If applicable, the ISSO Staff shortens your program end date in SEVIS and on your new I-20
  • ISSO Staff reviews your documents and online application

Step 5: Finish I-765 Online and Submit Payment:

  • Log back into your I-765 application through the USCIS government website
  • Make edits to I-765 as recommended by ISSO Staff
  • Upload Additional Evidence (given to you during the ISSO appointment):
    • Upload new I-20 with OPT recommendation (under “Evidence” –> “Form I-20”)
  • Pay attention to any Alerts or Warnings!
  • Pay $410 application fee via bank account, debit card, or credit card
  • Your receipt notice will be automatically generated and available (under “Documents” –> “USCIS Notices”)

Step 6: After you submit:

  • DO NOT continue working in an on-campus student position past your new I-20 end date.
  • DO NOT begin working before receiving the actual EAD (even if the online application status says it has been approved), before the start date on the EAD, or after the EAD expires.
  • DO NOT promise an employer you can start on a specific date or sign an employment contract with a specific start date unless you already have your EAD.
  • Maintain evidence of each job, internship, or training you engage in and report while on OPT (ex. job title, job description, number of hours per week, start/end dates, how it is directly related to your major, etc.)
OPT Reporting Requirements

Post-Completion OPT is Pending

If your post-completion OPT has not been approved yet (Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card is still not yet issued by USCIS), and you do not have a job offer, you may leave and then re-enter the U.S. to continue to look for employment.

In order to have the best chance of re-entering the U.S. without problems when your post-completion OPT is pending, you need the following documents:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S.)
  • Valid F1 visa stamp in your passport
    • The visa stamp requirement does not apply to Canadian citizens.
  • I-20 (with a travel signature no older than six month*)
  • I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797)

NOTE: If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa when your post-completion OPT application is pending, you should also be sure to have your I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797) in addition to the usual documents required for a visa application.

Post-Completion OPT is Approved 

If your post-completion OPT has been approved (EAD card has been issued by USCIS) and you have a job or a job offer, as well as a valid visa stamp, you may leave and re-enter the U.S. in order to begin or resume employment. If your post-completion OPT has been approved and you leave the U.S. before getting a job or a job offer, your OPT ends. You may not be able to re-enter the U.S. as an F-1 student.

After USCIS has issued an EAD card for post-completion OPT, in order to have the best chance of re-entering the U.S. without problems, you need the following documents:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S.)
  • Valid F1 visa stamp in your passport
    • The visa stamp requirement does not apply to Canadian citizens.
  • I-20 (with a travel signature no older than six month*)
  • EAD card
  • Evidence that you already have a job or a job offer in the U.S.
  • NOTE: If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa, you need your EAD card and evidence that you already have a job in the U.S. or that you have a job offer in addition to the usual documents required for a visa application.

*Regulations state that during post-completion OPT, the travel signature should be no older than six months. The International Student & Scholars Office recommends getting a valid travel signature every six months while on post- completion OPT.

STEM OPT Extension

F-1 students approved for standard post-completion optional practical training based on a degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field that appears on the STEM-Designated Degree Program List can apply to USCIS for a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT. A student who has applied for a STEM extension can continue working for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of the prior post-completion OPT EAD while the STEM extension application is pending. A student may change employers during the 24-month period, but all employers that a student will work for during the STEM extension period must be registered in the DHS E-Verify program, and the student must report the change in employment to his or her DSO. For more information on the STEM OPT Extension including information for those who are currently on STEM OPT 17-month Extension, please go to the Study in the States STEM OPT Hub.

A student authorized for a 24-month extension must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer in a position directly related to his or her DHS-approved STEM CIP.

For a student who is on a 24-month extension, this employment may include:

  • Multiple employers: A student may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to his or her degree program and all employers must be enrolled in E-Verify.
  • Work for hire: This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. The company for whom the student is providing services must be registered with E-Verify. If requested by DHS, the student must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract period and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-employment is not allowed.
  • Employment through an agency or consulting firm: Students on a STEM extension may be employed by an employment agency or consulting firm. The employment agency or consulting firm must be registered with E-Verify, but the third parties contracting with the agency or firm (for which the student is providing services) need not be.

Reporting: In addition to reporting any change of address, STEM OPT recipients must also make a “validation report” to the DSO every six months starting from the date the 24-month extension begins and ending when the student’s F-1 status ends, the student changes educational levels at the same school, the student transfers to another school, or the 24-month OPT extension ends, whichever is first. This report must be made by the student, and SEVIS updated by the DSO, even if the student’s employment has not changed.

The validation report must include the student’s:

  • Full legal name
  • SEVIS identification number (if requested by the school)
  • Current mailing and residential address
  • Name and address of the current employer
  • Date the student began working for the current employer

Travel outside the U.S. during the STEM extension application process is at the student’s own risk. In some cases, students have been denied re-entry to the United States even with proper documentation. If a student on a STEM OPT Extension wants to travel outside of the U.S., he or she should speak with a DSO before making plans.

On-Campus Employment for F-1 Students

What is On-Campus Employment?

On-campus employment includes work done as a teaching or research assistant as well as jobs in the university library, dormitory, dining facilities, laboratories, and administrative offices. F-1 students are eligible to work on-campus while attending classes. The work does not need to be related to your field of study. You must maintain legal F-1 or J-1 status while engaging in on-campus employment.

General requirements:

  • Students must be fully enrolled while employed unless there is an authorized reduced course load
  • Students may only work part-time and the work must be on the Utah Tech campus
  • Students may only work a maximum of 20 hours each week during fall and spring semesters
  • During official breaks when school is not in session, students may work up to 29 hours each week even if they are not enrolled for classes [TO1] – this includes Holiday Break, Spring Break, and Summer Break
  • Students are not required to have a job in order to be given work authorization; however, once a job is found the student will have to immediately apply for a Social Security Card which requires a letter from the employer and a letter from the ISS Office.
  • Students who are pending reinstatement are not eligible to work on-campus
  • Students should allow 5 business days to process paperwork
  • Students are required to be in “Good Standing” with the ISS Office.

Note: You are not eligible for the Utah Tech University work-study program.

What are some guiding questions to know if my job opportunity is on-campus?

  • Is the job located on Utah Tech University main campus?
  • Are you paid from Utah Tech University?
  • Is the employment providing direct service to Utah Tech University?

If you answered yes to the questions above, ISS believes your job may be on-campus

Applying for On-Campus Jobs

All on-campus student positions are posted through the online job portal, Handshake. With Handshake, students will be able to explore and apply to on-campus jobs and internships. To widen or limit the scope of your job search, use the Handshake filter system or search by entering keywords.

All international students at Utah Tech are eligible to work on-campus. In order to apply for on-campus jobs you must:

  • Download and Access Handshake with your Digital ID and password
  • Create a Handshake account and look for “On-Campus Jobs”

You may also contact Career Services for more information. Career Services helps you obtain the career of your choice at graduation by assisting you with self and career exploration, choosing a major, writing a resume, building your Handshake and LinkedIn profiles, taking career assessments, getting an internship or job shadow, and more.

Tips for Getting a Job:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want respectfully
  • Approach prospective employers with confidence
  • Practice answering questions employers might ask
  • Maintain good personal hygiene and appropriate dress
Do I Need a Social Security Number?

Yes, a Social Security number (SSN) is issued to track earnings over a worker’s lifetime. The Social Security number itself is not a work permit.

Students holding F-1 and J-1 status who are employed in the U.S. must apply for a Social Security number. Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible for a Social Security number.


In order to issue a Social Security number, the Social Security Administration requires evidence that you:

  • Are eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Are a full-time student
  • Have received a formal offer of on-campus employment, OR Have been authorized for off-campus employment through Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training, or Academic Training.
  • A Social Security number is not required to obtain a driver’s license, cell phone, credit card, insurance, admission to an academic institution or other “non-work” reasons. The Social Security Administration must also verify your immigration documents and status with Immigration before issuing the Social Security number.
How To Apply for a Social Security Number

New students: complete all steps in the Arrival Checklist. Wait 2-3 weeks after arriving in the U.S. to apply for the SSN.

To apply for a Social Security Number, you will need two letters from Utah Tech University before you visit the Social Security Administration Office:

  1. A campus Employer Letter from your UT hiring department
  2. An SSN support letter from International Student & Scholars Office

Follow these instructions to request the required letters and then apply for an SSN.

Step 1: Campus Employer Letter

Step 2: ISSO Support Letter

  • We must receive the employer letter before we can issue an ISSO Support Letter

Step 3: Apply for Social Security Number and Card

Step 4: Visit your local Social Security Office

  • When you visit the SSA Office, you will finish the process and share your documents. You must visit the Social Security Administration office and show your documentation within 45 calendar days of when you completed your online application.

Bring with you:

  • Original on-campus employment letter
  • ISSO Support Letter signed by an ISS DSO
  • Form I-20
  • Valid passport (along with old passport if it contains your F-1 visa)
  • I-94 card; or, a copy of your F-1 admission stamp in your passport and a printout of your electronic I-94 information, which can be obtained HERE
United States Taxes

Every international student (F and J status) has an obligation to complete a tax form once per year for the first five calendar years that you are in the U.S.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. government agency that collects taxes. As a nonresident F-1 or J-1 student, you may need to file forms each year with the IRS, even if you earned no income. It is your individual responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations. Tax returns are due by April 18, 2023.

When you get an on-campus job, you will be required to pay tax on your earnings. You may qualify for exemptions if your home country has a tax treaty with the United States. Please visit our Taxes page for more information. Moreover, while employers do withhold money from your paycheck throughout the year and send it to the IRS, it may not equal the exact amount owed at the end of the year. If too much was withheld, you may be eligible for a refund. The only way to get this money returned to you is to file an income tax return. Otherwise, the Federal government will keep your refund. They will not send you a reminder!



Documentation Needed After Getting a Job

When you get an on-campus job, you will need to complete the following forms:

Severe Economic Hardship Employment

What is Severe Economic Hardship Employment?

If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, you (an eligible F-1 student) may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. These circumstances may include a loss of financial aid or on-campus employment that was not your fault, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and /or living costs, or unexpected changes in your financial condition, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses. Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]


You are eligible to apply for employment based on severe economic hardship if:

  • You have been in F-1 Status for one full academic year
  • You are in good academic standing and are taking a full course load
  • Employment will not interfere with your studies
  • You can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control
Employment and Volunteering

While volunteering may seem simple, it is actually a complex area where immigration regulations and labor laws intersect. If you are interested in volunteering, you must be aware of the relevant regulations so that you do not violate any laws and participate in unauthorized employment.

Any off-campus employment for F-1 students must be authorized. Without proper work authorization, off-campus employment would be considered a violation of your F-1 requirements and you could lose your legal immigration status in the U.S., be deported the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or struggle getting a visa in the future. Source: 8 Code of Federal Regulations 214.1(e).



During the academic year, international students in F-1 non-immigrant status must either be enrolled full-time or receive permission from ISSO for a reduced course load or a full-time exception.

You must be registered for classes full-time by the end of UT Drop/Add period. If you are not registered full-time by the deadline, your SEVIS record will be terminated and you will lose your F-1 status. There is no grace period to remain in the U.S. following status termination.

For most students, the academic year is Fall and Spring semesters, while summer is considered the vacation semester. Generally during the academic year, the minimum full-time enrollment for international students is 12 credit hours for Undergraduate students, and 9 for Graduate students.

Note: Pass/Fail classes count towards full time enrollment. Courses that you visit or audit do not count towards full-time enrollment.

Reduced Course Load (RCL)

If you cannot or will not meet Enroll in a full-time course schedule, you must request a Reduced Course Load (RCL). Federal immigration regulations severely limit a student’s ability to be less than full time, but it may be allowed in some circumstances. If you drop below full time without authorization after the drop/add deadline, ISSO is required to report this to SEVIS and you will lose your F-1 status.

The Designated School Official (DSO), which is the ISSO Advisors, may allow you to take less than a full course of study if you obtain the approval from a DSO in advance. If you drop below a full-time schedule (after the Add/Drop period) without prior approval of a DSO, you will be considered out of status. Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)]

Note: Lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce course load according to immigration regulations. If approved for reduced course load, you are still eligible for on-campus employment benefits.

Academic Difficulties

You may apply for RCL due to academic difficulties if an academic advisor verifies your situation. You can apply for RCL based on academic difficulties if you have:

  • Initial difficulties with the English language (usable only in student’s first year)
  • Initial difficulties with reading requirements (usable only in student’s first year)
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
  • Improper course level placement

A student may be authorized for an Academic Difficulties RCL basis only for a single semester during any one course of study at a particular program level, and must resume a full course of study at the next available semester (excluding summer). A reduced course load for academic difficulties must consist of at least 6 credit hours for undergraduate students and at least 4 credit hours for graduate students. Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(A)]

Medical Conditions

You may apply for RCL if a temporary illness or medical condition prevents you from taking a full course load (or any courses at all). You must provide documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to the DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition.

The letter from the medical provider cannot be dated more than 30 days before the start of the semester for which the RCL is requested and must recommend that the student either be enrolled part time or not at all due to medical circumstances.

An RCL for a medical condition can be granted for no more than 12 months while you are pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. You must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must authorize the drop below full time for each new semester. Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(B)]

Completion of Course of Study

If your final semester requires less than a full-time schedule to complete the program, you must apply for RCL. You must obtain a letter from your academic advisor to verify the situation. Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C)]

International Students & Scholars Office

Email: iss@utahtech.edu

Phone: 435-879-4687

Office: Student Activity Center (SAC), 106