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Succeed as an International F Student and Athlete

Learn how to maintain your status as an international student athlete.

If you are coming to the United States to study and play sports at your school, you must follow certain rules to maintain your nonimmigrant student status. Even though you might run for miles on the track and field team, shoot hoops on the basketball team or score goals on the hockey team, it is important to remember that your primary reason for coming to the United States is education. Here are some rules you must follow if you want to attend a U.S. school and join a sports team:

  • You can only study at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program certified school.
  • You can enter the United States no more than 30 days before the program start date on your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status.”
  • You must enroll in a full course of study each semester. If you are an F student, you can count up to three credits of online or distance learning towards your full course of study if that class has no physical presence requirement.
  • You must have authorization from your designated school official (DSO) or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be employed in the United States. Contact your DSO for details.
  • You must continue to make normal academic progress toward completing your program.
  • You must attend your classes and make adequate yearly progress (e.g., pass your classes). Talk to your DSO first if you need to drop a class.

There are many current F student athletes succeeding both at their sport and in the classroom in the United States, like the two brothers from Bolivia who play tennis at the University of Iowa or the three soccer players from Ireland who are members of the Northern Kentucky University men’s soccer team.

If you have questions about being an F student as well as an athlete, talk to your DSO.

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