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Current Students

Full Course Load Requirements and Exceptions

Federal regulations require that students in F-1 and J-1 status be registered for a full-time course load each semester. Failure to be registered as a full-time student is a violation of your non-immigrant status, can result in the loss of F-1 or J-1 benefits (including employment eligibility both on and off-campus), and may require you to depart the United States.

Academic Level Minimum Full-time Course Load
• Exchange Students (Undergraduate) 12 credits per semester
• Exchange Students (Graduate) 9 credits per semester
• Undergraduate Students (Bachelor's Level) 12 credits per semester
• Graduate Master's Level 9 credits per semester
• Graduate PhD Students 9 credits per semester

There are some very limited exceptions to the full-time course requirement, including: initial difficulties with the English language or reading; unfamiliarity with American teaching methods; inappropriate course placement; and a documented medical condition that prevents full-time study.

All of these exceptions require documentation and must be approved in advance by International Students and Scholars (ISS) before you drop courses that reduce your schedule to less than full-time. This is so that ISS may first electronically inform the SEVIS of the change in the student's enrollment prior to the student dropping below full-time. If this is not done the student will be out of status.

An additional exception to the full-time course requirement rule applies to your final semester prior to graduation (e.g. the semester in which you complete your studies). Students who believe that they will graduate at the end of the current semester are cautioned that if they register for less than a full-time course load and then do not graduate, they will be in violation of U.S. immigration regulations governing F-1 and J-1 students.

Under new immigration regulations, students may take up to three hours per semester of distance education or online courses and have them count towards being a full-time student.

An F-1 student may be concurrently enrolled in two different schools at the same time as long as the enrollment in both schools amounts to a full-time course of study. In cases of dual enrollment the school from where the student will earn his/her degree is responsible for the student's I-20 and federal reporting requirements. As such, the majority of coursework must come from that school.

If you have any questions regarding these requirements, please feel free to contact International Students and Scholars. Remember you absolutely must contact ISS prior to dropping below full-time.

Additional Resources:

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Mandatory. All students who will participate in CPT must attend at least one CPT workshop offered by ISS during their time at UW before their first application will be reviewed.



Severe Economic Hardship is work authorization that allows for off-campus employment if jobs on-campus are either unavailable or insufficient, and a student is facing hardship that is caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. Authorization is granted by USCIS for periods of up to one year at a time, and may be renewed.

To apply for Economic Hardship you must schedule an appointment with the ISS office and our advisors will help you prepare a packet of material to mail to USCIS. Conditions for eligibility as well as the required documents can be found on the ISS Economic Hardship Employment PDF below.

Severe Economic Hardship: Worksop Slideshow

Economic Hardship Eligibility and Application Information

Form I-765 Application

Form G-1145 e-Notification of Application Acceptance

Form I-912 Request for Fee Waiver

It can be very exciting to think about having your spouse and/or children join you in the United States while you are studying at the University of Wyoming. Knowing that your family will be with you enables you to feel a sense of security and peace of mind. You may believe that you will be better able to concentrate on your studies if your family is here. Unfortunately, that is not always true. There are many things that must be considered before you make this important decision.

The following information is designed to help you and your family decide whether or not you should have your dependents join you in the United States. It describes some of the major obstacles which have been observed as contributing to the adjustment problems of international spouses. It is important that you and your spouse be aware of these concerns and address them appropriately in your family.

The information is provided to you by International Students and Scholars because it this office that will ultimately prepare the documents needed by any dependents to travel to the U.S. and because we have your well being and that of your family in mind.


Dependent Invitation Request Form


Prepare these documents before submitting the Dependent Invitation Request Form
  • Copy of passport for each family member
  • Financial support as described in the request form

Upon approval from ISS, you will recive a new I-20, as well as F2 I-20s for each of your dependents.


Child Care and Schools

If you have children under the age of 5 you may have to pay for qualified day care or babysitting. Under no circumstances should young children be left alone at home unsupervised; it is against the law. If your children are of school age (5 or older), you will be required by law to enroll them in an appropriate public school. The school will be determined by your place of residence in Laramie; therefore, you are encouraged to secure your housing before having your children join you in the U.S. Schools are also limited in services that they can provide to students who do not speak English which is also a serious consideration. To learn more about schools in Laramie, please see the website for the Albany County School District at


Studying as a Dependent Spouse

Dependent F-2 spouses may enroll in classes at UW and pursue a degree, but cannot be classified as a full-time student (undergraduate F-2 spouses can take up to a maximum of 11 credits of coursework per semester, and graduate F-2 spouses can take a maximum of 8 credits). There is currently no prohibition on J-2 dependents engaging in post-secondary study full-time but a J-2 dependent would be wise to check with International Students and Scholars in advance of enrolling in courses.


Loneliness and Homesickness in the United States

Many spouses who come to the U.S. are not as fluent in English as the principal F-1 or J-1 visa holder. Therefore, he/she may face great frustration and difficulty communicating with others on a daily basis without your assistance. You will find that your study, research and library time are critical. Therefore, your spouse is likely to feel very lonely staying at home when you are busy at the University, in the lab, or, in the library. You may not be available to assist in simple tasks outside the home (such as shopping) where English fluency may be necessary. Remember, family members will want your time and attention, and you will need to balance those demands with your academic work.

In order to alleviate some of this loneliness, International Student and Scholars encourages students to bring their spouses/children to our weekly international coffee hours as well as other UW activities. We also have a weekly American Conversation Club that spouses are welcome to attend in order to help with their understanding of English. All of these activities provide an excellent opportunity to practice English, to learn about day-to-day living in the U.S., to become involved in community activities, to socialize with other spouses, to learn from each other's experiences.


Employment for Dependents

The high cost of living in the U.S. often requires both husband and wife to work. However, your spouse will likely not have employment as an available option. F-2 dependents are not eligible for any form of employment (even babysitting) under any circumstances and J-2 dependents may apply for work authorization only under specific immigration guidelines. This often causes frustration since your spouse may be well established in a profession in your home country.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the overall cost of living in the U.S. is very high, and when an emergency occurs it can be devastating. Therefore, you must consider whether you can afford the extra time commitment and financial expenses you will have to make so that your family's presence in the U.S. will be a comfort and not a burden.

Unfortunately, financial constraints and cultural pressures of this nature often affect the marital relationship of students. Differing cultural values and expectations can create emotional, physical, and legal problems, especially when an unforeseen crisis occurs.

It is our hope that you will discuss the information we have provided with your family and that it will assist you in making this very important decision in your life as a student studying at the University of Wyoming.

A Social Security Number (SSN) is needed for employment in the United States. Students and scholars are eligible to apply if they are employed in the U.S. or have been offered a job. If you are paid in the U.S., you must have a SSN to file a U.S. income tax return. Students who do not have a job will not be eligible to apply for a SSN. Please refer to the Social Security Administration for more information about International Students and Social Security Numbers.

Application Process

You must apply at the Social Security Administration Office in Cheyenne, WY. You may not apply until one month after the beginning of the semester for a student, or until one month after your arrival for a visiting scholar. You should receive your social security number in the mail within 4-6 weeks after you apply. 


Step 1: Collect and Complete Required Documents


Step 2: Submit Survey to Request ISS Letter

  • Must attach the Employer Letter and Page 5 of the Social Security Application


Step 3: Schedule appointment with Social Security Administration

After you recieve the ISS letter, call the Social Security Administration in Cheyenne to schedule an appointment for your Social Security Number. To schedule an appointment, call Phone (866) 336-7580.


Location and Hours

Social Security Administration

3001 E. Pershing Boulevard, Suite 140

Cheyenne, WY 82001

Phone (800) 772-1213

Contact Us

University of Wyoming International Students and Scholars

Department 3228

1000 E. University Avenue

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-5193


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