Please use this section to find information about studying in the U.S., RMU policies, federal regulations, and different opportunities available to RMU students on campus and in Pittsburgh.
Note: it is your responsibility to understand how to maintain your immigration status while at RMU and to stay up-to-date on the regulations. We’re here to help!
Maintaining My Status
For complete information about how to stay in status, please visit the Department of Homeland Security website.
Below are some key rules to keep in mind.They should be used only as general guidelines. Email Tabitha Slater at email@example.com if you have a question or are unsure about the requirements as they relate to your status.
- Enroll in a full course load every Fall and Spring semester (12 credits undergraduate, 9 credits graduate).
- Maintain progress toward your degree (follow your RMU degree checksheet, attend class, and complete coursework).
- Follow all U.S., Pennsylvania, and local laws.
- Follow RMU’s Code of Student Conduct and Student Life Policies.
- Update the CGE with any changes to your personal information, including your address and any new dependents. Keep your address up-to-date in your RMU student account, too.
- Notify the CGE of travel plans and keep your international student documents in a safe and accessible location.
Driver’s Licenses/State IDs
If you will be in the U.S. for more than one year and plan to drive while here, you must apply for a Pennsylvania (PA) driver’s license. See here for general rules about applying for a driver’s license while an international student.
- If you have a valid driver’s license from another U.S. state, follow these instructions.
- Search for a PA driver’s license center here.
- Click here for a list of documents to bring when you visit the driver’s license center.
Click here for more information about applying for your driver’s license.
If you will be in the U.S. for less than one year (i.e., the expiration date on your I-20 is less than one year away), you are not eligible for a driver’s license. However, you may drive for your first year in the U.S. with a valid, unexpired home country driver’s license and an international driving permit (IDP).
The U.S. does not issue non-residents IDPs, so please get one before you plan to travel to the U.S. Also, remember to renew your home country driver’s license if yours will expire during your first year in the U.S.
In addition to your driver's license, you also need to keep legal documents in your car. Click here to learn more.
I-20 (F-2) Requests for Spouse and Children
If you are a current student, you need to complete the Dependent I-20 Request Form in order for the CGE to issue an F-2 Dependent I-20.
In addition, you need to email the following documents to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "F2 Request" in the subject line.
- CLEAR copies of Passports (photo page) for each dependent
- Copy of your Marriage Certificate (translated into English) for a spouse
- Copy of Birth Certificates (translated into English) for any children
- Completed RMU International Student Financial Guarantee and Financial Proof (e.g., copies of official bank statements), that show the ability to pay the costs associated with attending RMU in addition to at least $5,000 more for each dependent.
If you are SACM sponsored, you do not need to do #4. Instead, send a copy of your most recent financial guarantee with the other required documents.
We cannot issue the I-20(s) until we have these documents and you have completed the form. Once we have a complete application, the standard processing time is 2 weeks.
If you are a prospective student, please see the instructions here for adding a dependent to your student record.
Medical Reduced Course Load
Students are eligible to request a Medical Reduced Course Load if they are unable to successfully complete a full course load (12 credits undergraduate, 9 credits graduate) due to a medical condition.
In order to request a Medical Reduced Course Load from the Center for Global Engagement, you must submit a doctor's note from a doctor* who is treating you that includes the following:
- the date of onset of illness/condition
- the dates the student was (or continues to be) under professional care
- the nature of the medical condition and why/how it prevents/ prevented completion of course work
- the last date the student was able to attend class
- the date of anticipated return to school
*A person is considered a doctor if they are a licensed medical doctor, a doctor of osteopathy, or a licensed clinical psychologist.
Once the Center for Global Engagement has received this information, your request will be considered.
- This process is to seek immigration permission to take less than a full course load. You are also responsible for requesting the course withdrawal from Academic Services and are subject to all RMU policies regarding student withdrawals.
- Receiving permission to take a Medical Reduced Course Load from the Center for Global Engagement does not in any way suggest that RMU will approve your withdrawal request.
- Please be aware that you will still be charged for the tuition for any class you withdraw from, unless otherwise noted here.
- Approval is good for one semester and then must be renewed.
- Students are eligible for a total of one year (12 months) of Medical Reduced Course Load per degree. Every semester counts as 4 months.
- Unless otherwise stated in the doctor's letter, a Medical Reduced Course Load request will reduce the required number of classes by one (1). For example, if an undergraduate student requests a reduced course load for a medical reason, they will be required to take 9 credits, rather than 12. A student may not request a reduced course load down to zero credits.
Questions? Please contact Tabitha Slater at email@example.com.
Last Semester at RMU
Please note that this information is specific to the last semester of study and should not be used in any other scenario.
Last Semester FAQs:
Do I have to apply for graduation?
Yes! The Office of the Registrar requires that you submit your application to graduate within 10 days of the start of your last semester. Failure to apply by the deadline may result in a significant delay in receiving your diploma. If you do not finish, you must re-apply the next semester or you will not receive your diploma.
Can I take a reduced course load in my last semester?
Yes, if the credits needed to graduate are less than a full course load, you may contact the CGE for permission to take fewer classes. Please note that when you request a reduced course load, your I-20 Program Length will be shortened to the end of the current semester. This means that if you do not pass your classes, you will have to apply for permission to extend your program.
Complete the form linked below and bring it to the Center for Global Engagement to request a reduced course load: Reduced Course Load Authorization Form
Can I take online classes AND a reduced course load?
Under no circumstances may a F-1 visa holder be enrolled in only online courses at any point during the semester.
What happens if I do not graduate?
Please inform the Center for Global Engagement as soon as you suspect you may not complete your degree and no later than your last day of class. You should also contact the Office of the Registrar as you will have to re-apply for graduation.
What happens if I take an "Incomplete" grade in one of my classes?
Taking an "Incomplete" means you are finishing work from a class you were previously registered. Unless you are registered for new class(es), your program cannot be extended. If you are not enrolled in any classes, you will have until the end of the 60 Day Grace Period to complete your work from the previous semester. You will have to leave the U.S. and will be considered out of status.
When is my Program End Date?
Your program end date is determined by the day grades are due for that term. You can find this in RMU’s Academic Calendar. Add three days to this date and that is the program end date. This date is used to determine application deadlines for OPT, and when your 60 day grace period starts.
When is my Program End Date if I finish in the middle of the semester?
It is the date that your grades are turned in. This means that students that finish in October or March may not be able to stay in the country for graduation. Please consider this when planning your last semester. You should speak with a CGE staff member to determine this date.
What is the 60 Day Grace Period?
You have 60 days after your Program End Date to (1) leave the United States, (2) apply for OPT, (3) transfer to a new school/program, or (4) change your visa status.
Please contact Tabitha Slater (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss these options in more detail. If you fail to complete one of these 4 options within 60 days of completing your program, you will be considered out of status.
Return to RMU
Welcome back, we're so glad that you've decided to return to RMU!
Please note that all of the following steps must be completed at least one month prior to the start of the semester in order to be eligible to attend.
To request your new I-20, please complete the following steps:
- Register for courses for the upcoming term if you are able. If not, indicate why you are not able when you send the required documents (described in #3)
- Request your I-20 by completing this form.
- Email all of the following documents to email@example.com with the subject line "Return Student I-20: Your Name" (for example: Return Student I-20: Mickey Mouse)
- Copy of Passport
- Copy of Visa
- I-94 (can be accessed here)
- Copy of financial documentation
- If you are SACM sponsored, a copy of your SACM guarantee
- All other students, send RMU’s completed International Student Financial Guarantee with copies of current bank statements or other proof of financial ability.
- If you have an RMU merit/academic and/or athletic scholarship, send a copy of that as well.
- If you have a spouse and/or child(ren) who need an F-2 Dependent I-20 to come with you to RMU, complete the requirements stated in the relevant section on this page.
The following is the process after you complete the above requirements:
- CGE reviews your I-20 Request
- CGE emails you a “Welcome Back” letter. Since you were previously accepted to RMU, Admissions will not issue a new acceptance letter. Instead, the “Welcome Back” letter issued by our office can be used for sponsors or for transfers.
- For transfer students, provide the Welcome Back Letter and the RMU International Transfer Form to the International Office at your current school.
- You complete Section A of the form, they will complete Section B. Make sure you pay attention to the release date requirements.
- Send the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Your I-20 will be issued after they transfer your record and after you finish classes there.
- CGE issues your I-20 and sends you an email that your I-20 is issued.
- Pay your SEVIS fee if you are a non-transfer student (more information will be provided in the email you receive).
- Email your complete mailing address and phone number so we can send your I-20 (or you can indicate if you want to pick-up the document).
- Apply for a visa (non-transfer students only).
- Attend SEVIS Registration at New International Student Orientation to activate your SEVIS record.
- Report to RMU for the start of classes.
Questions? Email email@example.com.