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Int'l Student / Scholar Svcs
Fax: 202-885-3354
Butler Pavilion, Room 410

ISSS office walk-in advising hours: Mondays: 12:00 noon - 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Bakar, Senem S
Director, International Student & Scholar Services

Int'l Student / Scholar Svcs
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
410 Butler Pavilion
Washington, DC, USA 20016-8041

Study Abroad & Permit to Study

Approved AU Study Abroad or Permit to Study

•  Immigration Status: Taking on a study abroad program can enhance an international student’s educational experience while attending American University. Since international students on study abroad program are still enrolled at AU, there is no break in their immigration status, even though they are physically outside the US. Therefore, it is important that they are informed of immigration implications while pursuing their studies overseas. To learn about potential implications of study abroad on immigration status, F-1 and J-1 visa students must consult with the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office before finalizing their Study Abroad plans.

•  Full-time Enrollment: Students on study abroad or permit to study programs, like a regular AU student, must always maintain full-time course enrollment. Falling below full-time will result in the termination of one’s immigration record, thus maintaining a full course load is mandatory. Students should remember the following minimum credit hours requirement when selecting their courses:

Level of Study:                     Credit Hours per Semester:

Undergraduate                       12 credit hours
Graduate/Certificate                9 credit hours
M.B.A.                                    9 credit hours
LL.M.                                     8 credit hours
J.D.                                      12 credit hours
S.J.D.                                     8 credit hours

•  Immigration Check-in and Address Update: Students must complete immigration check-in every semester and update their address by going to the International Student and Scholar Profile on Since students are overseas, they can use/enter ISSS address as theirs in the following order:   

Suite 410
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016

•  Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT): Because immigration status is not interrupted by study abroad, students are eligible for OPT or CPT upon return if they were enrolled full-time for one academic year. Please note, for post-completion OPT students must be physically in the US to apply for OPT authorization from USCIS. Similarly, students on J-1 visa are eligible for academic training upon return provided that they maintained full-time enrollment while overseas.

•  Renewal of F-1/J-1 Visa: If a student’s visa expires while studying overseas, he/she needs to apply for a new visa before making travel plans to return to the US. If the visa application is denied, students must obtain a new visa from their home country to return to the US. Students can contact ISSS with any questions before scheduling visa appointments.


1.  Immigration Implications
SEVIS Status will stay active, for J-1 students with remarks that student is on study abroad program.

2.  SEVIS Registration
Student must complete immigration check-in every semester while abroad.

3.  Employment Implications
F-1 students will be eligible for CPT or OPT if students maintained fulltime study one academic year upon return from study abroad. Similarly, J-1 exchange visitors will also be eligible for academic training upon return if maintained full-time enrollment while studying abroad.

4.  Post-completion OPT
If study abroad program was completed during last semester and student wishes to apply for post-completion OPT, student must be physically in the US to apply for OPT authorization.

5.  Full-Time Enrollment
It’s mandatory to maintain full-time enrollment at all times during study abroad. If students fall below full time due to last semester, they must contact ISSS for reduced course load authorization.

6.  Travel Signature
If travel signature is over a year old or don’t have one, contact ISSS to obtain an ‘in-lieu of travel signature” letter.

7.  Visa Need
If visa expires while outside the U.S., student must apply for a new visa.