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Maintaining Your Status

The information on this page reflects F-1 / J-1 visa status-related policies and guidance of OIS and does not necessarily reflect the policies or requirements of other units on campus, such as the Graduate School.

International students in F-1 or J-1 status are required to meet the following requirements to maintain status:

Full-time enrollment at NC State University is normally defined as 12 or more credit hours for undergraduate students and a minimum of 9 hours per semester for graduate students. One (3 credit) on-line or distance education course may be used each semester to help satisfy full-time enrollment requirements. Students who will take only one course in a semester are not permitted to take that course through on-line or distance education. Read more about enrollment requirements on this page.

OIS does not determine the full-time / part-time enrollment status for international students and the standards for determining enrollment levels do not differ between domestic and international students. Instead, OIS adheres to the policies of the Graduate School when determining if an F-1 or J-1 student is enrolled full-time / part-time. OIS is only involved when the student is determined to be less-than-full-time.

Reduced Course Load

There are certain exceptions to full time enrollment requirements when reduced course loads can be authorized in SEVIS. Unauthorized drop in course-load, withdrawal, or part-time enrollment is a reportable visa violation and OIS is required by law to terminate the SEVIS record of students who fail to maintain full-time enrollment. More information available here.

Leave of Absence or Withdrawal Requests

International students who for some reason want or need to interrupt their program of study and either withdraw completely from their program or take a semester away from their studies must consult both their academic advisor (or DGP) and an OIS advisor. More information here.

All F-1 / J-1 students are required to uphold good academic standing (GPA of 3.0 or above for graduate students, 2.0 or above for undergraduate students) and make normal academic progress toward their degree objective.throughout their degree program in order to keep their visa status. The definition of good academic standing is determined by NC State University policy, not by OIS. For more information on the university’s policy, please refer to the respective graduate and undergraduate webpages.

F-1 and J-1 students are only allowed to engage in employment for which they are eligible according to their immigration status, which is authorized in writing in advanced if required, and which does not interfere with one’s studies or delay one’s program completion.  There are various types of employment which may meet these criteria such as on-campus employment, curricular practical training, optional practical training, etc. For each type of employment, there are different eligibility rules and requirements and procedures for obtaining authorization.  F-1 and J-1 students who want to be employed should read more about the rules for F-1 and J-1 student employment on OIS’s student employment page prior to accepting an offer of employment. In addition, OIS provides information on the following types of employment:

Unpaid work opportunities may also require students to ensure eligibility or obtain special authorization.  More information about unpaid work opportunities is available on OIS’s internships and volunteering page.

Purchasing of health insurance is a REQUIREMENT for all F-1 and J-1 students at North Carolina State University.  The NC State Health Insurance is currently provided through Blue Cross Blue Shield. Please note that the Voluntary Plan and dependent/spousal coverage under Student Blue are no longer offered. Current Student Blue information can be found at this sitePlease note: Students on Teaching and Research Assistantships will be provided NC State health insurance through the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP). Exchange Students attending NC State based on an exchange agreement through Fulbright or NC State’s Study Abroad Office (SAO) may also be eligible for a waiver of the NC State insurance requirement if adequate insurance is provided by the student’s home institution or government. Go to this page for more detailed information on health care and health insurance in the U.S. Details for Study Abroad, including access to and instructions for the waiver, are available at SAO’s Health Insurance.

ALL INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND SCHOLARS ARE REQUIRED TO MAINTAIN HEALTH INSURANCE THROUGHOUT THE DURATION OF THE I-20/DS-2019. To do so, the student/scholar must either purchase the mandatory hard waiver University health plan or waive out of this plan by showing proof of an alternative plan that meets a set of required criteria. J students and scholars must also show proof of insurance for their dependents valid for the duration of the principal’s DS-2019.

NC State University, along with the entire UNC System, participates in a system-wide mandatory hard waiver plan administered by Student Blue (Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina). Among the eligibility requirements for the Student Blue plan is minimum enrollment of one credit for graduate students and six credits for undergraduates. This broad system-wide requirement has several advantages:

  • Premiums (cost for participation) are lower than for comparable individual plans.
  • Enrollment in the plan is automatic for eligible students and the premium fee will be charged directly to students’ NC State account and paid through the University Cashier’s Office.

**New for Fall 2015 – The Voluntary Plan and dependent/spousal coverage under Student Blue will no longer be offered**

International students are eligible to waive out of the Student Blue plan. As this is a system-wide required plan with a waiver option, international students may be able to waive out of the Student Blue plan if proof of suitable alternate coverage can be provided. Minimum alternate insurance requirements for international students are as follows:

  •           Provides a minimum total coverage of $100,000 (USD) per accident or illness
  •           Provides a policy yearly deductible of no greater than $500 (USD)
  •           Provides repatriation of remains coverage of at least $25,000 (USD)
  •           Provides a minimum of $50,000 for medical evacuation to the home country 
  •           Policy must be currently active and cover you for the duration of the current semester

Check the Student Health Center page for deadlines to submit a waiver.

Please note: Students on Teaching and Research Assistantships will be provided NC State health insurance through the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP) and will be waived out of the hard waiver plan automatically.

F or J Exchange students attending NC State based on an exchange agreement through NC State’s Study Abroad Office (SAO) must adhere to SAO’s policies on NC State health insurance.

All students must update their local address information every semester in MyPack Portal (NC State’s Student Information System). The SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) database is updated from MyPack Portal and uses the SEVIS Local Address to update your local address and the SEVIS Foreign Address for your Foreign Address. Please select the SEVIS Local Address check box after adding a new address in order for your information to be passed successfully to the Department of Homeland Security.

Once you log into MyPack Portal,  follow these instructions to update your SEVIS Local Address, Phone Number, and Emergency Contact Information.

** NOTE: The ”SEVIS Foreign Address” option in MyPack portal should only be used for your Foreign Address. Your Foreign Address is your address in your home country. **

OPT – Optional Practical Training Validation
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) maintains record of the employment activities for F-1 students engaged in Optional Practical Training (OPT). DHS has required that all US universities ensure that their students who are engaging in OPT regularly update and maintain their employment and unemployment information.

If you are a student in F-1 OPT or OPT STEM status, you must report the following updates to OIS:

  1. Change in address (within 10 days of the change occurring). Your Unity ID and GlobalHome account remain active while on OPT, even after graduating from NC State University. You will need to update your personal address in the SEVP portal or via GlobalHome, via the Update US Address form.
  2. Change in employment situation. Once you receive your EAD card from USCIS, submit a scanned copy of the EAD to OIS. If you are in the first 12 months of OPT, update your employment information using the SEVP Portal when you start employment or have a change in employment situation, address or name. Students on STEM OPT should consult the STEM OPT page for full instructions on employment reporting requirements.
  3. Change in visa status. Please submit a copy of proof of your new status (e.g. I-797 Approval Notice), so we can close your F-1 record. You can scan/e-mail this information to
  4. Transfer to another school to start a new degree program. Visit the Student forms page and fill out the transfer out form.
  5. Change to a new degree program at NC State University. Visit the Student forms page and fill out the change degree form.
  6. Departure from the US. Visit the Student forms page and fill out the departure form.

If you experience any problems or have questions, please send an email to