The Office of International Student Support (OISS) guides our Muhlenberg international student population towards resources and connections for academic success, and supports our F-1 student population with immigraiton advising and support. Starting with a comprehensive OISS international pre-orientation, international students receive much support throughout their Muhlenberg journey from all corners of our campus, especially from their faculty. International students who are studying at Muhlenberg College through an F-1 visa status have an extra responsibility to maintain this immigration status while inside the USA. For academic advisors who may have an F-1 student on their advising roster, some key pieces of information may be helpful to know to ensure students are maintaining their F-1 visa status, which is directly tied to keeping their student responsibility their main focus while in the USA. Keep in mind, it is always the student's responsibility to maintain their immigration status.
- F-1 students must be enrolled full-time (3 units or more) per semester (fall and spring). Full-time includes class attendance, which cannot exceed the maximum allowed absences per the professor's discretion. F-1 students cannot withdraw below full-time.
- Summer courses (after the first year) are optional and F-1 students can choose to take summer classes to work ahead or catch up, but there is no immigration requirement to do so.
- F-1 students must make academic progress towards their graduation date, which typically means taking an average of 4 units per semester, or 8 or more per year. These courses must meet requirements for the Muhlenberg degree.
- Only 1 course per semester can be an online course.
- An F-1 student CANNOT extend their F-1 visa status for failing courses -- so passing courses is critical for an F-1 international student to keep on track to graduate. Please encourage students to make use of all campus resources, Academic Resource Center, Writing Center, Counseling Center, etc.
- An F-1 student CAN extend their F-1 visa status if they change their major and need more time to graduate, or take a personal leave of absence or otherwise take a break from study (in most instances they would need to leave the USA until they are ready to return to full-time study)
- F-1 students can take internship classes in their field of study for credit towards their graduation, but they must seek approval from OISS to utilize a benefit known as CPT (Curricular Practical Training). For this, they must have a registered internship course on their schedule that will count towards graduation.
- An F-1 student also has a work benefit known as OPT (Optional Practical Training). This work benefit can be used for an experiential internship in their field of study that is used prior to graduation and is not counting for Muhlenberg credit. It can also be used immediately after an F-1 student graduates to work in their field for 1 year. Again, the F-1 student must work with OISS in their application process and must follow a USCIS application process that can take several months. OPT working time is capped at 12 months total. Students in STEM majors are able to apply for a 24-month OPT extension for extended work experience in their major field of study.
- If students make a change to their major, or minor, or will graduate early (or later because of a major change), F-1 students must notify OISS so their immigration documentation can be updated.
- Students must follow all Muhlenberg student life and academic policies, in addition to following all federal, state, and local laws.
For any faculty that may have limited experience teaching international students, a recommended resource is Fostering International Student Success in Higher Education which is a helpful guide that can be a great foundation for ensuring international students are successful in your course. OISS is happy to provide this book as a resource for anyone who may find it helpful. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student research, “what international students want students and faculty to know”.
- International Students Academic Advising Guidebook
- Advising International Students - Voices From the Field