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International Programs

East Tennessee State University

Current Students


Maintaining Your F-1/J-1 Student Status

Once you are admitted to the United States under the F-1 or J-1 status, you must follow certain regulations and procedures in order to remain in lawful F-1/J-1 status.


Your passport must be valid at all times. In addition, re-entry into the United States typically requires a passport is valid for at least six months.

For more information on re-entry and passport validity see the Department of Homeland Security webpage.

Full-time Study

All F-1/J-1 students must be enrolled full-time during the fall and spring terms. To be considered full-time students must take at least:

  • Undergraduates 12-credit hours
  • Graduates 9-credit hours.

Summer full-time enrollment is required for students whose summer is the initial semester of enrollment.

Important: Only one online or distant learning course can count toward full-time enrollment. Please note that IPS cannot consider an "on ground" course any course that is identified as "online."

Courses that are online, but require a physical presence, are so noted in the registration database and do not show up on our enrollment report as "online." If you receive an email from us telling you that you are registered for too many online credits, then you must switch the online course for an on ground course, or add an additional on ground course.

Full-time enrollment applies to the entire semester and IPS monitors enrollment accordingly.  If at any point after the 14th day of the academic semester students are not registered full-time, their SEVIS record will be 'Terminated' as dictated by the Department of Homeland Security regulations. 

Note: Students who are 'Out of Status' do not have employment benefits (including employment performed under GAs & TSs) until an application for 'Reinstatement' is made to and approved by USCIS. For more information please visit Study in the States Website:

There are limited exceptions to full-time enrollment. If eligible a Reduced Course Load (RCL) Form must be completed and submitted to IPS with the appropriate approval signatures. Only after IPS review and approve an RCL request, students may enroll part time.

Students who have NOT complied with this regulation within 14 calendar days from the start of the academic semester will be considered 'Out of Status' and will have their SEVIS record 'Terminated'. Students whose SEVIS records are terminated may apply for reinstatement and should consult with the International Students Advisor on the process.

Reduced Course Load reasons:

  • Initial Adjustment Issues (Difficulty with English, or American teaching methods)
    • Only in your initial semester (transfer students do not qualify)
    • Must be within 21 days from the start of classes
    • Requires Academic Advisor's Approval
  • Improper Course Level Placement
    • Only in initial semester (transfer students do not qualify)
    • Must be within 21 days from the start of classes
    • Requires Academic Advisor's Approval
  • Medical/Mental Health reasons (Doctor or Licensed Psychologist/Therapist's approval required)
  • Student is in the Final semester of an academic program; or
  • Student is completing Graduate/Doctoral Level Thesis or Dissertation.

Departmental or medical provider approval is required for all*reduced course load requests. Please complete this Request Form. Approval is only valid for one (1) semester. Please see the International Student Advisor for more information.


International students are eligible for on-campus employment of no more than 20 hours per week during the academic year (spring and fall terms). Students may work on campus full time during the summer.

Off-campus employment is available under restricted circumstances.

J-1 students must obtain specific written authorization to work on-campus and Academic Training (AT) for any off-campus employment (including internships).

Address Changes

You must keep the Office of International Programs informed of your current telephone number, mailing and physical address.

Extending Your Program

An F-1 or J-1 student who is currently maintaining status and making normal progress toward completing his or her educational objective, but who is unable to complete his or her course of study by the program end date on the Form I-20/DS-2019, must apply prior to the program end date for a program extension.

An F-1/J-1 student who is unable to meet the program completion date on the Form I-20/DS-2019 may be granted an extension by the Designated School Official/Alternate Responsible Officer (DSO/ARO) if the DSO/ARO certifies that the student has continually maintained status and that the delays are caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extensions. A DSO/ARO cannot grant a program  extension if the student did not apply for an extension until after the program end date noted on the Form I-20/DS-2019.

An F-1/J-1 student who is unable to complete the educational program within the time listed on Form I-20/DS-2019 and who is ineligible for program extension is considered out of status and may apply for reinstatement

To apply for a program extension, please read and follow the instructions on the  F-1 extension form.

Transferring to Another Institution

If you have attended ETSU for a semester or more and plan to transfer to another school in the U.S, you will have to request that we release your SEVIS records to the new institution.

To request SEVIS release, please complete the SEVIS release form, sign it and bring it, with the new acceptance letter, to our office at your earliest convenience. Please note that you must be in lawful F-1/J-1 status to transfer.


On-Campus Employment


F-1 and J-1 students have different eligibilities for on-campus employment.

  • J-1 students have limited opportunities for Academic Training. Please schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisor by contacting the IPS office for this information.
  • F-1 students are eligible for on-campus employment. It is limited to a total of 20 hours per week during fall and spring semesters and up to full-time hours (more than 20) during the summer.
    • On-campus employment for F-1 students does not have to be authorized in writing.
    • Work required by a university scholarship, fellowship or assistantship is also considered on-campus employment.
    • Work performed on ETSU premises for an outside contractor such as the cafeteria or bookstore is considered on-campus employment.
    • Eligibility to work on campus is contingent upon your maintaining your lawful F-1 status.

On-campus student worker job openings may be found at the Financial Aid Office website: On-Campus RSWP Jobs.

Students must have a Social Security Number before they can be paid. Students in F-1/J-1 immigration status are not eligible for a Social Security Number without a paying job offer. 

Graduate students with a Graduate Assistantship will receive a monthly stipend but may not received the first month stipend immediately upon arrival. As such, it is important to budget from personal funds for the financial obligations due at the beginning of the term: health insurance, service and activity fees, insurance, books, rent deposits, etc.

Off-Campus Employment


There are two main types of off-campus employment benefits to F-1 students:

For more information, please visit Immigration and Customs Enforcement website regarding off-campus employment:


In accordance with the ETSU Board of Trustees Policy on Admissions, please see the following: 

Insurance Video

The short video below offers information on the U.S. Health Care System. DISCLAIMER TO VIDEO: The video below was produced by international student We find the information within the video helpful for a general overview of the United Statues medical system and what international students and scholars should expect.

Insurance Information

ETSU health insurance requirements:


Condition of Enrollment
International students under the F and J visas must have and maintain medical and hospitalization insurance as a condition of initial or continued enrollment at ETSU.

Plan or Waiver
All international students will be required to enroll in the ETSU Student Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan or on another plan of their choice, provided that:
  • The private policy benefits meet or exceed those provided by the ETSU policy.
  • The student submits a request for a waiver from purchasing the ETSU provided coverage. A waiver may be denied if private plan benefits are lower than those provided by the ETSU plan or ETSU cannot otherwise ensure the private plan provides sufficient coverage for the student while enrolled at the university.

J Visa
Students must have coverage for 12 months (August 1st to July 31st)Students under any of the J Student Categories must also carry accident, illness, medical evacuation, and repatriation insurance for spouses and dependents.

Students must have coverage for 12 months (August 1st to July 31st).

Students who are enrolled at ETSU as of August 15 (fall term), and/or January 15 (spring term) but not in compliance with the health insurance requirement will have their enrollment cancelled on August 15 and/or January 15.




Vision and Dental
The health insurance coverage that you purchase at ETSU will not provide you with dental or eye coverage. We strongly recommend that you have a dental and an eye examination before departing for the United States.

The cost for insurance coverage is approximately $1700 per year.


ETSU insurance is provided through International Student Protection (ISP): Enroll Here

A dependent is considered a spouse and/or children of an F-1 or J-1 student. Students who want to add a dependent to their F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record must complete a Dependent Request form and submit it with the required documents to our email:  

For all dependents who will need immigration documents issued by ETSU, the passport biographical page for each dependent and updated financial documents are required.

Please note, you are required to submit updated financial documents, regardless if you just made a submission.

Financial documents must meet or exceed the estimated cost of attendance for the current academic year. Plus, an additional expense for each dependent is added to the total estimated cost of attendance as follows:




The estimated cost of attendance can be found here under Tuition and Fees.


Reinstatement to F-1 Status

If you failed to maintain lawful F-1 status (enrolled part time without authorization, worked without authorization, failed to renew I-20, etc.), you may apply for reinstatement to lawful status. Application for reinstatement procedures are as follows:

  1. Provide The Office of International Programs and Services with financial documents an an International Advisor will review your eligibility for a reinstatement I-20. 
  2. Complete form I-539.
  3. Provide letter of explanation, with documentation, about the reasons for falling out of status. Students who have worked illegally cannot be reinstated.
  4. Please see the following Checklist.

DISCLAIMER: Always confirm updated information with USCIS, as our office may not receive notice of changes.

This application package is mailed to the USCIS for adjudication. If an immigration officer reinstates you, you are again under lawful F-1 status. If not, you will be given a certain amount of time to leave the United States.

If you are denied reinstatement in the United States, you can obtain a new I-20, travel outside the United States, apply for a student visa, if necessary, and reenter in legal F-1 status. If this is your situation, please make sure to meet with the International Student Advisor.

Visitor Visa (B-2) for Family and Friends

Family and friends from abroad who wish to visit and/or attend ETSU international students’ graduation ceremony may apply for a B-2 visa from the United States consulate nearest to the place of their residence. International Programs & Services (IPS) advises that international students read the handout prepared by the U.S. Department of State on tips for Visitor Visas – Business and Pleasure ( ), and assist their guests by following the suggestions found here.[DCL1] IPS does not issue invitation letters to parents or guests of international students.

At times students may find themselves overwhelmed and stressed. Services, free of charge, to assist students in these hard times are available. Please don't hesitate to use these resources: 

Undergraduate Success Specialists

Graduate Success Specialists

Counseling Center

Bucky's Food Pantry

Dear Students, 

Our office is committed to keeping you informed of any updates, further developments, or changes to the respective visa statuses you hold. 

ZOOM Meetings

Our office will hold  Zoom meetings periodically for students to speak directly with the IPS staff and address their concerns. In these meetings, IPS will provide updates if there are any changes.

Students need to register in advance to receive information about joining the meeting. See below for the link and details. 



IPS Staff

Everyone is encouraged to follow recommended COVID-19 mitigation procedures and social-distancing. However, your IPS staff is still available to contact through email and other teleconferencing recourses. 

IPS Office
Melissa Noble
Ruby Young
Executive Aide
Katie Powell
Study Abroad Intern
Hopelyn Mooney
Study Abroad Coordinator
Chasity Drew
International Student Advisor
Danielle Olmo
International Student Advisor
Maria Costa


Our office will work diligently to keep you informed and updated with the rapid changes during this time. Please be aware all information on this page is subject to change. 


ETSU Coronavirus Updates

Student Information and Support Services

If you have questions about health, current campus employment,  Dining Services, Housing, ect. use the following link:

Fall 2020 Update

How does the guidance released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on July 6, 2020 impact my ability to be a student at ETSU?

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency issued guidance on July 6, 2020 for higher education for the fall semester. Since ETSU is planning to offer both online and on-ground courses for the fall, much of the guidance does not impact our international students at this time. However, if ETSU makes a decision to be fully online, your status as a student could be impacted. We are monitoring this situation closely and will communicate with you if changes to our curriculum delivery method are made.

Additional International Student Information can found on the Bucs are Back webpage.

Online Classes

ETSU has suspended face-to-face classes starting March 23rd and through the close of the Summer 2020 semester. 

You should continue monitoring your emails for any updates, and to keep in contact with International Programs and Services, your academic department, and academic advisor or graduate coordinator.

If you plan to return home before the end of term, please make sure to consult with your Academic Advisor or Graduate Coordinator beforehand to discuss registration for the fall term, any issues related to completing classes online, accessing D2L, etc. If you are employed on campus, talk to your job supervisors about your plans and how they may affect your job for the fall.

Consult with your International Student Advisor to make sure your immigration status is in order, and you have the appropriate documents to return to the U.S. in the fall.


With the situation evolving at a dizzying pace, we advise that you keep up with the Covid-19 information and updates provided by the following organizations:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel warnings, the World Health Organization travel advice, and  U.S. Department of State’s travel advisories.

If you need to talk about your travel concerns, have immigration questions, or need to talk, please contact us by phone, email, or join one of our Zoom meetings.


If you are graduating in May and planning to apply for OPT, we recommend that you consider staying in the United States, if possible and safe for you. While there may be options for you later on to apply for OPT from home, there is still much uncertainty in how that process would work. In any case, your health and safety are paramount and your decision should be made based on them.

Please see I-20 and DS-2019, below, regarding DSO signatures. 

I-20 and DS-2019

Currently, The Department of State has not approved electronic signatures from AROs for the DS-2019.

SEVIS has currently stated that DSOs may sign these documents electronically and send them to YOUR ETSU EMAIL only IF  this email is listed on your SEVIS record. If you are on OPT, you may want to update your SEVIS record via the SEVP Portal to your ETSU email address. 

**This only applies to current students with an Active status SEVIS record. Students in Initial status or students needing visas, we will have to ship I-20s to you when we return to the office (please see below)**

However, please note, at this time The Department of State (who oversees U.S. Visas) and Customs and Border Protection (the Port of Entry Officers) have not approved electronic or scan versions of the I-20. You will still need the original document I-20 for visa interviews and entry into the U.S. 


At this time, The Department of State has issued the following statement: "In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates."

For this and more information use the following links:



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