International Student Services

Division of Student Services

While at Reed

Once at Reed, students are required to continue following specific immigration regulations. This process, which we often refer to as maintaining status, is vital for the student's success at Reed and in the United States. It is very important that students understand and comply with the requirements governing their stay to ensure that they don’t jeopardize their immigration status. Also, we use this page to discuss other immigration related issues such as working in the U.S. and obtaining a driver's license.

Maintaining your Immigrant Status

Staying in status is extremely important for Reed international students and you should carefully study and understand the concepts of immigration status and the consequences of violating that status.

By violating the requirements that govern your immigration status, you may jeopardize your ability to remain in the United States as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor. Some examples of violations include:

  • Failure to arrive at Reed and enroll in classes by the program start date.

  • Unauthorized employment during your stay. For more details about employment, see Working at Reed.

  • Failure to leave the United States following completion of your program, exchange visitor program, or program-related employment. For more information, see the Leaving Reed page.

  • For academic students (visa category F-1): Failure to maintain a full course load (3.0 units) without prior authorization for a reduction from your designated school official. If you begin to struggle in classes, please contact Dana Lawson or make use of the other resources on campus so we can ensure that you remain in status.

  • Please note that this is not a complete listing of potential status violations.

For more information, click here.

F-1 Reduced Course Load (RLC)

To maintain F-1 status, international students must be enrolled in a full course of study, a minimum of 3.0 units, each fall and spring semester.  Students may drop below the minimum unit requirement in one of these three rare cases:

  1. Final Semester RCL: If a full course load is not needed to complete a degree.

  2. Medical Condition RCL: A temporary medical condition that hinders a student’s ability to maintain a full course load.

  3. Academic Difficulty RCL: Students who are struggling to adapt to the academic setting (i.e. difficulties with the English language).

In the case of a medical condition or academic difficulty, students must be approved by International Student Services prior to dropping the course(s) before the class withdrawal deadline.

If you wish to apply for a medical condition RCL, you must receive a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist.  This letter should state that a specific illness or medical condition compelled the student to reduce their full course of study.  An F-1 student may receive a Medical Condition RCL for a maximum aggregate of 12 months per degree level.  The letter can be emailed to Dana or dropped off at International Student Services.

For medical officials, your signed letter could include something similar to the following: “As a [licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist], I recommend [Student’s full name] reduce their course load due to a temporary illness or medical condition for the [Fall/Spring year] semester.”

An academic difficulty RCL is only applicable in the first semester of study.  Enrollment in 1.5 units is still required, and you must return to a full course of study in the following semester.  If you wish to pursue a RCL due to academic difficulty, set up an appointment to talk with Dana about your concerns and possible support services.  In order to move forward with the RCL, you must have documentation from your academic adviser that confirms you’ve experienced academic difficulties with one of the following:  

  • English Language

  • Reading Requirements

  • Unfamiliarity with U.S. Teaching Methods

  • Improper Course Level Placement

Once documentation from your academic adviser has been received by the ISS office, we will process your one-time reduced course load.

For more information about F-1 RCLs, please visit Department of Homeland Security's website.

Travel and Reentry to the U.S.

Every time you decide to travel abroad, you should be familiar with travel related immigration requirements and U.S. reentry requirements. These are some things to keep in mind for international travel:
  • If you will be traveling through a different country prior to arriving home, please make sure you have reviewed its visa regulations. Sometimes travelers may need a visa even if they are simply switching planes in a country. For example, if you will be flying from Portland to Vancouver, B.C. and then from Vancouver to Tokyo, you might need to obtain a Canadian transit visa, which you would need to obtain at the Canadian consulate in Seattle. Visa needs will be dependent on your passport country, so it will vary for each individual.

For reentry to the U.S., the following documents are required:

  • The I-20 Form, endorsed for travel and signed by Dana Lawson. Make sure you get a new I-20 signature every six months or before travelling abroad.

  • A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your reentry or, if you are from one of the countries listed here, a passport that is current through the date of reentry.

  • A valid, current visa. If your visa has expired, you will need to obtain a new one before reentering the U.S. Please contact the ISS Office for details.

  • Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses.

Replacing Lost or Stolen Documents

Though we advise you to carefully store your documents in safe locations, loss or theft of documents can happen. Here is some information about what to do when you are missing an important immigration document:

Lost I-20: The I-20 can be reprinted by a school official. Please contact Dana Lawson to get your I-20 replaced. If the situation is urgent and Dana is not available, contact SEVP at In the email, give your name, your SEVIS ID number if you have it (N followed by 10 digits on your Form I-20), the name of your school, and your contact information (include your current address, telephone number, and email address if possible). Briefly describe your situation and what concerns or problems you have.

Lost Passport: First, you should file a police report. You should go to the local police station and report your documents as lost or stolen.  You should provide them a copy of the original documents. Hopefully you will have updated copies of your passport and/or visa. ISS keeps electronic copies of your passport and visa, so check with Dana if you do not have these and she can get you copies. When you go to the police station, you will be issued a police report detailing the incident. Come by ISS and let Dana make a copy of your police report so it is on file.

Second, report your lost/stolen passport to your embassy. You should figure out where your nearest embassy is and should look over this website to determine next steps for replacing your passport and contact them with any questions. In some cases, students may be required to go in person to the embassy.

Third, you should report your visa as lost/stolen to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad that issued your visa. Go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website to locate the emails address and contact information. Be sure to include your full name, date of birth, place of birth, address in the U.S., and an email address. Specifically state whether the visa was lost or stolen. Please email the copy of the passport and visa to them as well.

Lastly, you will need to apply for a replacement U.S. visa next time you go home. These cannot be replaced in the U.S. You must apply in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate broad. When applying for the replacement visa, you will need to provide a written account documenting the loss of your passport and visa, and include a copy of the police report. 

Working at Reed

Students on F-1 and J-1 visas are allowed to work on the Reed campus without obtaining any authorization from an ISS or IPO official. The job must not interfere with your academic work and therefore cannot exceed 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students are allowed to work up to 40 hours per week when school is not in session. OPT (Optional Practical Training) is available for students who are interested in working or having internship experiences off campus. Students can only work off-campus outside of OPT if they experience serious economic hardship and special approval is required. An exception to this rule is the Summer Experience Award, which allows students to spend a summer doing an unpaid internship and still cover their living expenses. For more information about employment at Reed, contact the ISS office

Attention: money, goods or any compensation (including housing or board) received for any off-campus employment outside of OPT at any time during an F-1 student's stay in the U.S. constitutes a serious immigration violation and might put you out of status.

Getting a Driver's License

Students on F-1 and J-1 visas are allowed to drive in the United States, but must obtain a driver's license. In order to get a driver's license, you must provide proof of your identification and residence status in Oregon. You should bring your passport with your visa in it, I-20 form, and a letter from Residence Life confirming your residence status (you can obtain a letter by asking at the Residence Life desk at 28 West or emailing Residence Life). You must also complete a Driver License/Permit/ID Card Application, which you can print out and complete before going to the DMV.

Finally, at the DMV, you must pay a fee for the driver’s license and take and pass a vision screening test, a written and practical (driving) exam. You must provide your own car for the driving exam. If you have a valid driver license issued by a U.S. state, U.S. territory, Germany, South Korea or Taiwan, your drive test may be waived.

If you do not already know how to drive, you may want to learn and apply for a Learner’s permit. Some students find that receiving lessons through a company (and taking the test through that company) is most helpful, especially if you do not have access to a car. This website provides a list of Oregon DMV’s approved driver’s education companies.

The fee to take a driving exam is $9, and you will be charged $60 for your license once you have passed all the requirements. The closest options to campus are the Portland Downtown (1502 SW Sixth Ave) and Portland Southeast (8710 SE Powell Blvd) locations. For other locations, visit the Oregon DMV website.

Contact International Student Services

Gray Campus Center 104
Skype: iss.reed

Dana Lawson
Assistant Dean of Students for International Student Services

Subscribe to our mailing list

Follow Us