US flag   Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Study in the States

View Disclaimer

Want to be a Student Athlete? Make Sure to Play by the Rules!

January 28, 2015
Many high school and college campuses in the United States have sports teams that students and fans support throughout the year. As an international student, you may participate in amateur athletics at your school if you maintain your status. However, your primary reason for coming to the United States is to study at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school and complete an academic program. 
If you are interested in joining a sports team, it is important to remember a few rules for international student athletes:
  • You must maintain your student status.
  • You must enroll in a full course of study each semester. If you want to take an online or distance class, only one without the physical oversight of a school employee can count toward your full course of study. You can take more online or distance courses if they require physical presence/oversight. This includes taking an online or distance class while traveling for team events if your coaches monitor your work.
  • Playing a non-professional sport is not a form of employment, though student athletes sometimes receive stipends or scholarships. Prior to receiving stipends or scholarships, speak with your designated school official (DSO) to ensure you properly understand the implications and financial responsibilities associated with such a contract. 
  • If you are a student athlete, you must still make normal academic progress toward completing your program.
  • You must attend and pass your classes. If you decide to drop a class, you must first talk to your DSO.
There may be other athletic opportunities at schools, such as intramural or club sports. You can even participate by cheering for your school’s team during games. If you have questions about maintaining your status, speak with your DSO.
Back to Blog

Was This Helpful?

Additional Feedback
Additional Feedback