ZISU Advising


International Student Services

Advising International Students

All international students are subject to US laws, SEVIS regulations, and UW System policies regarding course enrollment, employment, medical coverage, and travel. International Student Services (ISS) staff functions as the immigration advising team for all international students at UWRF while all academic advising is done by faculty and staff within the colleges where the international students are majoring. There are two types of international students attending the University of Wisconsin River Falls (UWRF): degree-seeking and exchange.    

  • Degree-seeking international students are studying in the US on an F-1 student visa, also known as an I-20. Their program of study might be between 1 to 5 years, and these students intend on earning an undergraduate or graduate degree from UWRF.

  • Exchange international students are studying in the US on a J-1 student visa, also known as a DS-2019. Their program of study might be between 1 semester and 2 years. Exchange students typically will not earn a degree from UWRF, and they are studying here because of an agreement between the University and a partner institution or organization.

Note: If a student is a dual citizen, possessing both an American and foreign passport, then they are not considered an international student. Although students with dual citizenship might identify more with international students studying in the US and have similar struggles with English and American culture, dual citizens do possess a student visa and are not subject to the same rules and restrictions as true international students.

Course Enrollment

When advising degree-seeking (F-1) students, please keep the following in mind:

  • F-1 students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits during the fall and spring semester in order to be a full-time student and maintain their F-1 visa. If F-1 students are struggling during their first semester, they may request a one-time Reduced Course Load (RCL). In addition, if they are enrolled in their last semester before graduation, they can request an RCL and enroll as a part-time student. Enrollment during J-terms or summer semesters is optional for F-1 students.

  • 9 of the 12 credits that an F-1 student enrolls in each semester must be for courses that meet in person. Only 3 of an F-1 student's 12 credits can be for online or hybrid courses. During the J-term or summer semester, F-1 students are not restricted from taking online or hybrid courses.

When advising exchange (J-1) students, please keep the following in mind:

  • J-1 students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits during the fall and spring semester in order to be a full-time student and maintain their J-1 visa. Enrollment during J-terms or summer semesters is optional for J-1 students.

  • All 12 credits that a J-1 student enrolls in must be for courses that meet in person, not online.

When advising all international students, please keep the following in mind:

  • During an international student's first semester, it is not recommended that they take more than 4 courses (12-15 credit). Even students who have met the university's language proficiency requirement need time to adjust to the language demands of the American classroom.

    • Try to avoid an extremely intensive reading and writing course load.

    • International students can take ENGL 101 in place of ENGL 100 and ENGL 201 in place of ENGL 200.

  • International students might consider enrolling in an English Language Transition (ELT) Program course for additional language support. Students can choose from the ELT's 300 level courses.

    • Fall - ESL 301, ESL 311, ESL 321, ESL 341, ESL 351, ESL 361, or ESL 381

    • Spring - ESL 302, ESL 312, ESL 322, ESL 342, ESL 352, ESL 362, or ESL 382

  • If you have a student who says that they has transfer credits from their home university, but no credits are showing up on the Degree Audit Report, you should contact the International Admission Counselor, Bryan Holzer. This student may need to have their transcript professionally evaluated and may have missed this step in the application process.

  • During the semester, an automatic hold will be placed on all international students' eSIS accounts so that they cannot drop below 12 credits during the semester. If an international student needs to drop below 12 credits, they should contact the International Student Services Coordinator to determine if they can.


Both F-1 and J-1 students are only eligible for on-campus employment. If international students choose to work during their program of study, they must abide by the following restrictions:

  • International students must possess a Social Security card before they are able to begin an on-campus position.

  • During the fall and spring semester, international students may only work up to 20 hours/week.

  • During any break in the semester (Thanksgiving, winter, spring, or summer), international students may legally work up to 40 hours/week. However, UW System policy does not allow students to work my than 25 hours/week on-campus.

  • State and federal taxes will be taken out of international students' paychecks. They must file state and federal tax returns if they wish to recover their paycheck withholdings.

Note: F-1 students have the ability to work off-campus under specific circumstances. If an F-1 student's major or course requires them to work off-campus, then they may apply for Curricular Practical Training. In addition, upon earning a Bachelor's or Master's Degree, an F-1 student may apply for Optional Practical Training. For more information, please see Working at UWRF

Medical Coverage

All international students and their dependents are required to enroll in UWRF Health Insurance coverage. This is a federal law and a UW System policy. For specific questions about the UWRF insurance plan, international students should contact Student Health Services, either in person at Hagestad Hall 211 or by calling 715.425.3293.


International students need an international advisor to sign their I-20 or DS-2019 if they wish to leave and return to the US. An advisor's signature is only valid for six months. If an international student wishes to participate in a study abroad trip, they should meet with an advisor in the Office of International Education to determine if additional tourist visas are necessary to travel to particular countries. 

Contact Us

International Student Services
174 Rodli Hall

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