Immigration Rights & Responsibilities

This information is for the use of international students in F-1 status at the University of New Hampshire. After reading the information on this page and subsequent pages under "Current F-1 Students", you should have a basic understanding of the important rights or benefits you have in relation to U.S. immigration regulations. You should also have an understanding of your responsibilities for maintaining your lawful immigration status as an international student in F-1 status. You will not, however, have an understanding of the actual procedures which must be followed in order to apply for certain benefits. Consultation with, and assistance from, the staff of the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) will be necessary in order for you to exercise many of your rights.

Registration, Attendance and Course Load

Registration & Attendance: You must register at and attend the school indicated on your I-20.

Course Load: You must register as a full-time student when school is in session. For undergraduate students, full-time is defined as a minimum of 12 credits. For graduate students the requirement is 9 credits (6 credits if on a full assistantship) or registration for Master's Thesis or Doctoral Research.

Reduction in Course Load: You may register for a lesser course load if

  • you will complete all degree requirements by the end of the semester and do not need a full course load to graduate
  • you are experiencing academic difficulties due to
    • initial difficulties with the English language
    • initial difficulties with reading requirements
    • unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
    • improper course level placement
  • you have a documented medical condition

You must complete and submit OISS’s online Reduced Course Load Request eForm at least two weeks before the start of the semester you would like to take a lesser course load.

  • Login to eOISS
    • Under the heading F-1 (or J-1) Student Services, choose “Reduced Course Load Request".
  • Before submitting your eForm, please meet with your Academic Advisor.
    • After you submit your eForm, your advisor will be sent an email notification to approve your request.

After your eForm has been approved by your Academic Advisor (and the Graduate School, if applicable), an OISS Advisor will authorize your reduced course load in SEVIS.

Medical Insurance

As a condition of enrollment, all international students are required to purchase and enroll in UNH's Student Health Benefits Plan (SHBP).

To view the brochure, visit UNH's Health Insurance Requirements.


Within the U.S.: You have the right to travel freely within the U.S. provided you maintain your legal F-1 status and have your passport and immigration documents in your possession.

Outside the U.S. with return planned to the same school: You must consult the OISS in advance regarding travel authorization and the necessary documentation required to facilitate your reentry to the U.S.

Outside the U.S. with return planned to a different school: You must consult the OISS in advance regarding your proposed travel and change of schools. If the change is permissible, you must obtain a new Form I-20 from your new school before you attempt to reenter the U.S.

Completion of Study

Upon completion of studies you may have the right to a) continue study at the same school or transfer to a different school for a higher academic degree, certificate or program of academic work; b) apply for Optional Practical Training; or c) take up to 60 days to depart the U.S. If you complete your studies before the expiration date listed on your I-20 you will have 60 days to prepare for departure. If you choose to remain in the U.S. for more than 60 days following the end of your program (without entering a new program or Optional Practical Training), you will be in violation of your immigration status, could be subject to deportation, and/or may be denied entry to the U.S. in the future.

Documents Related to Immigration