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International Student and Scholar Support

General Information About F-1 Students

Chances are, you have met an international student studying at the University of South Carolina while working here as a faculty or staff member. International students are a dynamic and important part of the student population. F-1 international students make up the vast majority of our international student population at the University of South Carolina. For more demographic information about our international student population, please see here. The F-1 visa has specific requirements that international students must maintain. A brief synopsis is included here.

General F-1 Requirements

  1. Full-time enrollment: F-1 international students must enroll full-time during the fall and spring semesters. For undergraduate students, this means 12 credit hours. For graduate students without assistantships, this means 9 credit hours. For graduate assistants, this means 6 credit hours.
  2. Online coursework: Only one fully online 3 credit course may count towards full-time enrollment. International students can enroll in multiple fully online courses, but again, only 3 credit hours of fully online courses go towards maintenance of full-time enrollment. Some degree programs are not appropriate for F-1 international student enrollment, particularly if there are not enough fully in-person courses for an international student to maintain their status appropriately. It is the department's responsibility to consider this prior to admitting international students into a program that has a heavy online component.
  3. On-campus Employment: F-1 international students have strict limits on how much and where they can work. In general, F-1 students can only work up to 20 hours/week on-campus. 
  4. Off-campus employment: If F-1 international students have an internship or other required employment component for their degree, they must obtain CPT work authorization before starting their internship.

Supporting International Students

International students are far from home and have specific needs. Their home academic departments play a huge role in their sense of belonging and satisfaction at the University of South Carolina. We encourage you to speak a kind word to your international students, to ask about their homes, and to engage with them. You might learn something new, and it will mean a lot to them. Also, please reach out to ISS if you have any concerns about an international student. We are here to help!

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