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Federal regulations require that students in F-1 and J-1 status be registered for a full-time course load for the duration* of each fall and spring semester. International students are not required to meet any enrollment requirements during the summer semester if it is not their first semester in the US. Students who begin study in the US in a summer semester must be enrolled full-time during that summer semester as their first semester in the US. Failure to be registered as a full-time student is a violation of the F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status and can result in the loss of F-1 or J-1 benefits (including employment eligibility both on and off-campus), the loss of immigration status, and may require the student to depart the United States or risk arrest and deportation.
*NOTE: Because international students must maintain full-time enrollment for the duration of the semester, withdrawing from a class resulting in active enrollment below full-time is a violation of the students immigration status even though they still appear full-time in the UW record with a grade.
Exchange Students (Undergraduate) 12 credits per semester; at least 9.0 credits must be main/on-campus
Exchange Students (Graduate) 9 credits per semester; at least 6.0 credits must be main/on-campus
Undergraduate Students (Bachelor's Level) 12 credits per semester; at least 9.0 credits must be main/on-campus
Graduate Master's Level 9 credits per semester; at least 6.0 credits must be main/on-campus
Graduate PhD Students 9 credits per semester; at least 6.0 credits must be main/on-campus
Students may count up to three credits per semester of distance or online courses as part of their full-time enrollment. Students can take additional distance/online courses if they choose to do so, but they will not count as part of the full-time course load.
An F-1 student may be concurrently enrolled in two different schools at the same time as long as the total enrollment for both schools equals a full-time course of study. The majority (at least 50%) of their coursework each semester must be enrolled at the school that issued the Form I-20 for the student. Students on UW-issued documents who take any course(s) from a school other than UW must submit a Concurrent Enrollment Agreement form to ISS and if the credits will count as part of their full-time enrollment they must also submit proof of enrollment to ISS as described on the CEA form.
There are some very limited exceptions to the full-time course requirement including: initial difficulties with the English language or reading; unfamiliarity with American teaching methods; inappropriate course placement; and a documented medical or mental health situation that prevents full-time study.
All exceptions require documentation and must be approved in advance by International Students and Scholars (ISS) before the start of the semester, or before a student drops/withdraws from courses that reduce their enrollment to less than full-time. ISS must note the approval in the student's electronic immigration SEVIS record prior to the student dropping below full-time on the UW record. Failure to receive approval from ISS before falling below full-time enrollment will put a student's immigration status in jeopardy.
Undergraduate or graduate students in their final semester prior to official graduation, and graduate students who are finishing all required coursework listed on the program of study (with the exception of the final thesis or dissertation) are allowed to enroll less-than full-time in their final semester. Students who believe that they will graduate at the end of the current semester should consult with ISS staff to discuss their situation and see if it meets the requirements for part-time status in last semester. ISS staff will work with students to collect the required documentation for their particular situation.
The requirements discussed above apply to students on the F-1 an J-1 student visas. Students on other visa types may have different enrollment requirements/limits. Questions about enrollment requirements or limits can be directed to ISS staff. Note: It is common to have dependents of F-1 visa holders register for classes at UW. These students usually hold an F-2 visa and are limited in their enrollment and employment opportunities. F-2 visa holders can be degree-seeking and can earn their degree at UW while in F-2 status. F-2 visa holders can NOT enroll full-time at UW or in combination with enrollment at another institution. F-2 visa holders can NOT be employed in the US. This includes UW graduate assistantships. F-2 visa holders who want to enroll full-time or be able to receive a graduate assistantship or other student employment will attending classes should contact ISS to discuss changing their status to F-1.
Direct all enrollment questions to ISS staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-766-5193.
While USCIS regulations provide a variety of opportunities for you to be employed during your time in F-1 status, working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your status. You should therefore consult with an ISS staff member before accepting any employment. It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations that apply to F-1 students. If you fail to meet your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students in the future.
Severe Economic Hardship is work authorization that allows for off-campus employment
if jobs on-campus are either unavailable or insufficient, and a student is facing
hardship that is caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control.
Authorization is granted by USCIS for periods of up to one year at a time, and may
To apply for Economic Hardship you must schedule an appointment with the ISS office and our advisors will help you prepare a packet of material to mail to USCIS. Conditions for eligibility as well as the required documents can be found on the ISS Economic Hardship Employment PDF below.
A Social Security Number (SSN) is needed for employment in the United States. Students and scholars are eligible to apply if they are employed in the U.S. or have been offered a job. If you are paid in the U.S., you must have a SSN to file a U.S. income tax return. Students who do not have a job will not be eligible to apply for a SSN. Please refer to the Social Security Administration for more information about International Students and Social Security Numbers.
You must apply at the Social Security Administration Office in Cheyenne, WY. You may not apply until one month after the beginning of the semester for a student, or until one month after your arrival for a visiting scholar. You should receive your social security number in the mail within 4-6 weeks after you apply.
Employer Letter from your department/employer on department letterhead. On-campus employers can use our form letter. Letter should be completed by the department where you are working.
ISS letter - Complete survey below to request letter
I-20 or DS-2019
Must attach the Employer Letter (offer letters are not acceptable). See form letter above.
After you recieve the ISS letter, you will travel to the Social Security Administration in Cheyenne to attend an appointment for your Social Security Number. You can view the operating hours for the Social Security Administration on their website, noted below.
Social Security Administration
3001 E. Pershing Boulevard, Suite 140
Cheyenne, WY 82001
Phone (800) 772-1213
It can be very exciting to think about having your spouse and/or children join you in the United States while you are studying at the University of Wyoming. Knowing that your family will be with you enables you to feel a sense of security and peace of mind. You may believe that you will be better able to concentrate on your studies if your family is here. Unfortunately, that is not always true. There are many things that must be considered before you make this important decision.
The following information is designed to help you and your family decide whether or not you should have your dependents join you in the United States. It describes some of the major obstacles which have been observed as contributing to the adjustment problems of international spouses. It is important that you and your spouse be aware of these concerns and address them appropriately in your family.
The information is provided to you by International Students and Scholars because it this office that will ultimately prepare the documents needed by any dependents to travel to the U.S. and because we have your well being and that of your family in mind.
The Dependent Invitation Request will require you to upload these documents in addition to providing name, date of birth, city and country of birth, country of citizenship, and gender for each family member:
Scan of passport page for each family member
Financial support – Additional $5500 for spouse, additional $3250 for each child
Graduate Assistantship – Letter from your department confirming your assistantship and amount of your stipend. This cannot be your original assistantship offer letter. It must be a current letter.
Personal Funding – Bank statement/online summary or letter from your bank. Personal and sponsor funding documents must show name, date of statement/letter, current available balance, currency type if not in US dollars. Statement/letter cannot be more than six months old.
Sponsor (family or friend) Funding – Bank statement/online account summer* AND Affidavit of Support for SEVIS Update
Scholarship – Letter confirming your current scholarship award
Upon approval from ISS, you will receive an updated F1 I-20, F2 I-20 for each dependents, invitation letter from ISS, and list of documents that you should email to your family with their F2 I-20s. Original I-20s are no longer required so you are not required to ship anything to your family for their appointment.
It is our hope that you will discuss the information we have provided with your family and that it will assist you in making this very important decision in your life as a student studying at the University of Wyoming.
If you have children under the age of 5 you may have to pay for qualified day care or babysitting. Under no circumstances should young children be left alone at home unsupervised; it is against the law. If your children are of school age (5 or older), you will be required by law to enroll them in an appropriate public school. The school will be determined by your place of residence in Laramie; therefore, you are encouraged to secure your housing before having your children join you in the U.S. Schools are also limited in services that they can provide to students who do not speak English which is also a serious consideration. To learn more about schools in Laramie, please see the website for the Albany County School District at www.acsd1.org/acsd.
Dependent F-2 spouses may enroll in classes at UW and pursue a degree, but cannot be classified as a full-time student (undergraduate F-2 spouses can take up to a maximum of 11 credits of coursework per semester, and graduate F-2 spouses can take a maximum of 8 credits). There is currently no prohibition on J-2 dependents engaging in post-secondary study full-time but a J-2 dependent would be wise to check with International Students and Scholars in advance of enrolling in courses.
Many spouses who come to the U.S. are not as fluent in English as the principal F-1
or J-1 visa holder. Therefore, he/she may face great frustration and difficulty communicating
with others on a daily basis without your assistance. You will find that your study,
research and library time are critical. Therefore, your spouse is likely to feel very
lonely staying at home when you are busy at the University, in the lab, or, in the
library. You may not be available to assist in simple tasks outside the home (such
as shopping) where English fluency may be necessary. Remember, family members will
want your time and attention, and you will need to balance those demands with your
In order to alleviate some of this loneliness, International Student and Scholars encourages students to bring their spouses/children to our weekly international coffee hours as well as other UW activities. We also have a weekly American Conversation Club that spouses are welcome to attend in order to help with their understanding of English. All of these activities provide an excellent opportunity to practice English, to learn about day-to-day living in the U.S., to become involved in community activities, to socialize with other spouses, to learn from each other's experiences.
Employment for Dependents
The high cost of living in the U.S. often requires both husband and wife to work. However, your spouse will likely not have employment as an available option. F-2 dependents are not eligible for any form of employment (even babysitting) under any circumstances and J-2 dependents may apply for work authorization only under specific immigration guidelines. This often causes frustration since your spouse may be well established in a profession in your home country.
It cannot be emphasized enough that the overall cost of living in the U.S. is very high, and when an emergency occurs it can be devastating. Therefore, you must consider whether you can afford the extra time commitment and financial expenses you will have to make so that your family's presence in the U.S. will be a comfort and not a burden.
Unfortunately, financial constraints and cultural pressures of this nature often affect the marital relationship of students. Differing cultural values and expectations can create emotional, physical, and legal problems, especially when an unforeseen crisis occurs.
Per guidance from U.S. Department of State officials, ISS does not provide invitation letters for students’ family members to visit them in the US. Family members who would like to visit you in the U.S. for a short period of time should follow the procedures outlined by the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. ISS recommends that you email a personal invitation letter and additional documents to your family as outlined in the Invite a Guest information.
International students in the US must always have a valid passport to be considered “in status”. A valid passport is also required for many immigration-related applications such as Optional Practical training (OPT). If your passport is lost or stolen, you should follow these steps right away!
Driver’s license laws differ from state to state within the U.S. Make sure that you are aware of the specific laws for the state(s) where you will drive! In Wyoming, international students may drive legally with a valid driver’s license from their home country, or they can obtain a Wyoming driver’s license (recommended) by following the state testing requirements. You can study the Wyoming driving laws online in the Wyoming Rules of the Road manual and then contact your local testing location.
The US court system regularly places pools of people on notification to serve on a jury in the local, county, state, or federal courts. These pools of people are often chosen from voter registration, but also from those who have a US driver’s license. Only US citizens are eligible to serve on a jury in the US, but international students are something chosen for the jury pool because they have a US driver’s license.
If you receive a Jury Summons notice in the mail (these notices will never come via email or phone call) you MUST respond to the court to let them know that you are not a US citizen so that they can remove you from their list. Most jury summonses will have a form for you to fill out where you can indicate that you are not a US citizen. You should return the form directly to the court either in person or by mail right away so that they can update their jury list. The court’s address or contact information will be given on the form and you should call them if you have any questions about how to return the form to them.
International students on the F visa are not eligible to serve in the US military and are therefore EXEMPT from the Selective Service registration.
If you receive a letter from the US Selective Service you MUST return the completed form and supporting documents no more than TEN days after the date on the letter. Failure to return the form and documents may result in an expensive fine!
Use this document to help you complete the form and collect the documents needed.