This page contains international student frequently asked questions (FAQs) that pertain to their F-1 immigration status and requirements. Please feel free to contact International Student Services if you do not see an answer to your question(s) or need clarification.



  • How many courses do I need to enroll in to maintain my status?
    • Undergraduate students must enroll in at least 3 credits each Fall/Spring semester to maintain their F-1 status.
    • Graduate students must enroll in at least 1.5 credits each Fall/Spring semester to maintain their F-1 status.
  • Can I take online courses?
    • Per F-1 regulations, you are only allowed 1 online course to count towards full course enrollment. A majority of your coursework must be taken in person.
  • I need help figuring out what courses to take. Who should I talk to?
    • Undergraduate students should contact their Academic Advisor; Graduate students should contact their Program Director. To find the name of your assigned Academic Advisor/Program Director, log-in to the MyElmhurst Portal, then go to Self-Service>Student Planning>My Progress. Click on “Show Program Notes.”
    • ISS staff cannot provide academic advising, only F-1 regulations advising as it pertains to enrollment requirements.
  • What if I need to drop a course or can’t be enrolled in the minimum required credits as listed above?
    • Discuss with ISS staff before withdrawing from any courses or enrolling in a course load that does not meet minimum requirements to maintain F-1 status. In limited cases, a Reduced Course Load might be possible, but this must be authorized in advance.
  • I don’t want to take Summer courses/I want to take Summer courses. Is that okay?
    • Summer (and J-Term) are considered periods of break within F-1 regulations, so taking courses is not required from an F-1 status standpoint. However, students can confirm with the Academic Advisor (UG)/Program Director (GR) if they are required, suggested, or a possibility based on academic program. Please note – Summer tuition is not included in your annual tuition, so you would be responsible for paying the Summer tuition rate based on any courses taken.

Health Insurance

  • How can I obtain my insurance card, check benefits and coverage, or ask general questions?
    • Email to speak to an ISO Customer Service member.
    • ISS staff cannot advise on medical questions or insurance coverage. Students can find more information and review the ISO Insurance plan on the Health Insurance

Tax Responsibilities

  • Do I need to file taxes and how do I do so?
    • Yes, you are required to file a tax return or a Form 8843. ISS partners with Sprintax to assist students. Review the ISS tax page for more information.
    • ISS staff cannot advise on taxes.

General International Student Advising

  • What is SEVIS, a SEVIS record, and a Form I-20?
    • SEVIS stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It maintains current information on nonimmigrant students, exchange visitors, and their dependents. As an F-1 student, you will be assigned a SEVIS number, and a SEVIS record will be created for you. SEVIS will track you from the time you receive your I-20 until you complete your program.
    • International Student Services is responsible for updating your SEVIS record (but you are responsible for maintaining your F-1 status). We are required to report:
      • Full-time enrollment
      • Failure to enroll
      • Dropping below a full-time course load without prior authorization
      • Any other failure to maintain student status or complete program
      • A change in legal name or address
      • Your graduation if it occurs prior to the expected program end date (or if you need an extension based on needing more time to complete your program)
      • Start date of your next session
      • Transfers
      • Program extensions
      • Off-campus employment authorization
      • Any other major changes to your program
    • What’s a DSO?
      • A DSO is a Designated School Official. DSOs advise international students on F-1 regulations and are responsible for updating and maintaining international student SEVIS records, which includes specific reporting requirements. A PDSO is a Principal Designated Official. The PDSO has the highest authority among all designated school officials and serves as the main point of contact for SEVP.
    • Who can I contact to discuss regulations?
      • Please schedule a meeting with an ISS staff member to connect with a DSO.
    • What immigration documents do I need to keep valid and active?
      • Your I-20, your passport, and your I-94 record. Your visa can expire after you enter the U.S., but you need a valid and active visa to re-enter the U.S. after travelling abroad. Review the Maintaining Status page for more information.
    • What else do I need to keep current to maintain status?
      • You must keep your contact information (local address, email, phone number) and academic programs (majors and minors) current. Please contact ISS staff to provide updates within 10 days of any changes.
    • I’m having non-regulations related issues or need advice. Can ISS staff help me?
      • Yes! While we might not hold the final answer or solution, we are always here to advocate for you and connect you to the appropriate resources. Please schedule a meeting with an ISS staff

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