Maintaining Visa Status

Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground. --

International students, holding a Student Visa, must comply with all immigration rules and regulations. Failure to comply will place you out-of-status. You must then apply for reinstatement of status with USCIS.

These rules fall into four categories: registering in a timely, maintaining full-time course load, reporting changes in a timely manner, and requesting leave authorization.

Registering and Paying for Classes

Students are required to register for all classes before the beginning of each term. You must pay all tuition and fees before the beginning of each term. If you have not registered and paid for classes by the deadline and are not on authorized leave, you will be automatically placed out-of-status.

Maintaining a Full-time Course Load

All international students, holding a Student Visa, must maintain the full-time course load shown below. These courses must be residential courses and cannot be taken online.

Students who wish to accelerate their degree may take additional courses up the maximum load shown below. The additional courses, beyond full-time, may be taken online.

Academic LevelFull-time Load per TermMaximum Load per Term
Graduate Two courses 9 term credits Four courses 18 term credits
Undergraduate Three courses 13.5 term credits Four courses 18 term credits
You must take at least a full-time course load to stay in-status.

International students can drop below a full-time course load during their last term if the number of courses required to complete is less than the full-time load. Other exceptions are possible, but rare. All such exceptions require approval by the International Student Office.

If you drop a course and fall below a full-time course load, you will be placed out-of-status.

Reporting Changes in a Timely Manner

Students must report the following changes within ten (10) business days to the International Student Office.

  • Change of name
  • Change of address
  • Change of major
  • Change of program of study
  • Change in dependent status
  • Change in CPT or OPT employment

All changes should be submitted in writing. Email is the preferred method of communication.

Requesting Leave Authorization

Students may take three types of leave: annual vacation leave, personal leave, and medical leave.

  • Annual Vacation Leave -- Annual vacation leave can only be taken after attending school as a full-time student for one academic year in the US. It should be noted that one academic year corresponds to three terms at Stratford. Annual vacation leave cannot extend beyond one term. If you intend to leave the US, you must have your Form I-20 endorsed by the ISO in order to re-enter the US.
  • Personal Leave -- Personal leave applies only to cases where you leave the US to return home. Personal leave cannot extend beyond one term. You must have your Form I-20 endorsed by the ISO in order to re-enter the US. You must provide proof that you have purchased tickets to return home. The ISO will grant personal leave only after reviewing your travel documents.
  • Medical Leave -- Medical leave is available only when a doctor has certified in writing that you are unable to attend classes due to your health. The ISO will grant medical leave only after reviewing and accepting your medical documentation.

If you fail to request leave and do not report for classes, you will be placed out-of-status.

Requesting Reinstatement of Status

If you go out-of-status, you can request reinstatement with USCIS The International Student Office can assist with this reinstatement request. The reinstatement fee is currently US $370. Your case will reviewed by USCIS to determine if any mitigating circumstances warrant reinstatement. If your request is denied, you will be required to leave the country.

We are focusing on real-life experiences in the classroom. Professors share how they experience particular situations in their profession and what decisions they've had to make. This makes me more confident and prepares me for the real-world.

Natalia Bogdanova , Bulgaria

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Maria Paula Quintana , Colombia

I chose the MS in Information Systems program because in my old school we didn't have many online resources, most things were done offline. Kazakhstan is behind in information technology, so once I get my Master's degree I want to go back and contribute to the IT aspect of my Country's development.

Kamilya Nurgaliyeba , Kazakhstan

Before I came to the United States, I was working at a mining company and a travel company... but I decided I want to have my own business. I enrolled in the MBA program to develop my skills and capabilities. That's why I came to Stratford!

Enerel Chuluunbat , Mongolia

The United States is an organized country, most things are easy to understand, easy to follow. Teaching methods at Stratford make classes very interesting. I want to be a university professor and spread this education concept in my home country too.


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