Each year we have new international students join our campus, which is an exciting and positive experience for everyone involved. We enjoy having them in our classrooms to lend a global perspective and we value their friendships as we celebrate each other's cultures. However, there are important facts that you should know before advising or supervising an int'l student. By understanding all there is to consider when advising an international student, we can make the experience better for everyone.

Work Supervisors

International students are limited to 20 hours of work while school is in session and up to 40 hours per week during academic breaks and summer vacation. However, a student cannot work 10 hours one week and 30 hours the next, as this is a violation of immigration law and the F-1 student visa. Doing this puts the student 'out of status' and requires a long and expensive application to be reinstated to F-1 student status, which is never guaranteed. Please do not put an international student into a position where he/she must knowingly disregard regulations in order to 'keep a job.' Please contact me with any questions or clarifications.

In order to get a social security card for payment an international student needs a letter from the on-campus employer detailing the work being done, the name of the department and hours worked per week. This letter, along with a letter that I issue, my signature on the back of the I-20, and immigration documents, allows the student to obtain a social security number.

Students are never permitted to work off-campus unless they've applied for and been granted express permission to do so from the Department of Homeland Security. This permission will also appear on page 3 of the I-20. 'Volunteering' for a position/internship that would otherwise be a paid position/internship constitutes illegal work and violates labor laws. It also puts the student 'out of status.'

Academic Advisors

International students must pursue a full course of study to maintain the F-1 student's visa. This is defined as 12 credit hours per semester for an undergraduate and 9 credit hours for a graduate student. International students are given a vacation period, usually during the summer months, but can occur during any semester the student chooses, after the completion of two consecutive semesters maintaining full time status.

International students cannot drop below 'full time status' without permission from the Int'l Student Office. If you allow an international student to drop below full time (12 credits for an undergraduate or 9 credits for a graduate student), then you have advised them to violate their legal status in the United States. Any drop from full time status needs to be thoroughly discussed with the International Student Services before the student drops a class putting them below full time. This must also be recorded in the SEVIS (student and exchange visitor information system) computer system.

Dropping below a full course of study can be permitted for a language barrier in the classroom, health issues or improper placement in a class. . International students are also permitted an RCL (reduced course load) during their last semester, but again, must be recorded in the SEVIS system.

Educational Systems Worldwide

Educational systems are quite different around the globe and many students have been taught that it is disrespectful to speak up in class or offer opinions that differ from those of the professor. Plagiarism is viewed differently in other countries, as well. The informality of the US classroom such as the dress code, casual conversation, addressing a professor by a first name and eating during class, is all new to an international student. Also, take into consideration that. International students must often read assignments several times for comprehension, and may be struggling with class assignments/projects, though a language barrier may not be evident.

The Adjustment Process

Keep in mind that in addition to their new legal and academic status, a newly arrived international student is also adjusting to their new home, which, literally, may be 'worlds away.' The language may be different, as well as the sights, sounds, smells, food and the way people interact with each other. This, sometimes difficult, adjustment period is referred to as Culture Shock and can take many months to overcome and can express itself in many ways. A seemingly well-adjusted international student may suddenly develop headaches, loss of appetite or other physical ailment, as well as withdrawing from the new environment. Irritability, depression or lack of motivation are also symptoms of culture shock and usually appear during months 4 -7, which is known as the 'middle wave' of culture shock. This is often the most difficult and most critical period of the adjustment process. Please keep me informed of any issues you may have observed with the International students in your classroom.

Study Abroad

International students are permitted to study abroad if they have completed 2 consecutive semesters at the institution's US based campus. All international students must obtain permission from International Student Services before being accepted into a study abroad program and are still subject to the SEVIS registration requirement each semester.

Advising International Students - FAQs

International students have unique advising needs because they must maintain their immigration status and meet university academic requirements. This FAQ provides helpful tips on basic immigration regulations pertaining to their academic progress and employment.  


An international student holding either an F-1 or a J-1 visa status is required to enroll in a full course of study during the fall and spring semesters.

What is full-time enrollment for international students?

  • Undergraduates: 12 credits per semester
  • Graduate: 9 credits

Does a student need to enroll full-time in the summer?

  • Enrollment is usually not required during the summer semester; however, students must be enrolled full-time if the following conditions apply:
    • Summer is the first semester of the degree program
    • Summer is the semester in which the student will graduate and/or complete degree requirements
    • Student took the previous fall or current spring semester off

Can international students take online courses?

  • F-1 international students can only count ONE online class toward their minimum number of credits as their full-time enrollment during their normal semesters. If a student only needs one course to complete your program of study, the course cannot be online or distance learning.
  • International students in other visa categories (i.e. H-4, L2) are exempt from this limitation.

Can international students pursue online degree programs?

  • According to U.S. immigration regulations, F-1 students cannot pursue online degrees.
  • International students in other visa categories (i.e. H-4, L2) are exempt from this restriction.

Can international students ever register below full-time?

  • Under certain limited circumstances, international students may receive authorization for a Reduced Course Load (RCL), which gives them permission to enroll below full-time and still maintain valid immigration status. 

Can international students enroll concurrently at more than one institution?

  • Yes, students may enroll concurrently. However, at least half of their credits toward full-time enrollment must be at Walsh University. Students must complete a dual enrollment form and get approval signature from their advisor/major professor
  • Summer semester exception:
    • Students that registered full time for Spring and will register full time for Fall semester, are not required to take classes in summer. If they wish to take classes in summer, they can and there are no restrictions on the type of classes.
    • If summer is the student's first or last semester, then it is not considered a vacation semester and the student must comply with all the full time enrollment rules. These students should seek advice from International Student Services to make sure that they are in compliance with immigration requirements.

Can international students transfer to another institution?

  • Students may transfer their immigration and academic record to another institution under certain circumstances. They should discuss this with International Student Services

What does a dismissed, probationary, or withdrawal international student need to do about their immigration status?

  • If an academic advisor sees a dismissed, a student on probation, or withdrawing international student, advise the student to contact International Student Services to take care of immigration status before departing the U.S.

Please direct any and all concerns to International Student Services at kcampbell1@walsh.edu or 330-490-7105 or by simply stopping by the office in Student Affairs located in the David Campus Center.

Downloadable Docs: