International Student Services
The Viterbi Graduate and Professional Programs (GAPP) Office works closely with the Office of International Services (OIS) to assist our international students during their time at USC. Viterbi graduate students must obtain approval from GAPP advisors before submitting forms to OIS.
Please visit the links below for more information on policies and requirements for international students.
International students must be registered for a full course of study during fall and spring semesters. For Master’s students, a full course of study is 8 units in the Fall and Spring semesters. For PhD students, full-time enrollment is 6 units in the Fall and Spring semesters.
Registration is not required in Summer semesters, unless it is the student’s first or last semester. International students who plan to be enrolled for less than full-time must submit the Reduced Course Load form. There are only a few exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement for the Fall and Spring semesters as listed below. Each exception has its own criteria, which are outlined in detail on the OIS website.
- Academic Difficulty RCL (once per degree level)
- Medical RCL
- Final Semester RCL (once per degree program)
Warning!Do not drop any classes unless you have spoken with an academic advisor and your RCL has been approved.
Viterbi RCL Policies
- Academic Difficulty RCL: minimum 4 units (3 units for PhD students)
- Students cannot take a CPT and an Academic Difficulty RCL during the same semester
- Final semester RCL is not done automatically. If you are in your final semester of your degree program and are taking less than 8 units, you must complete and submit a RCL form.
OIS RCL Resources:
- Guidelines on Maintaining Your Student Status
- Exceptions to the Full-Time Enrollment
- OIS RCL information
** F-1/J-1 students should not drop below full-time enrollment until they have received authorization from OIS. Students who drop below full-time enrollment without the proper authorization from OIS will be considered out of status. **
The deadline for submitting the Reduced Course Load form is the last day to add/drop for that semester.
USC Viterbi’s Spring 2019 RCL Form will be open November 15th
Step-by-Step Instructions to Request a RCL:
- Register for courses in the Fall or Spring semester.
- Complete the RCL form.
- A GAPP advisor will review your RCL form within 5 business days and determine your eligibility for a RCL. You will receive an email notifying you when your RCL is approved or if additional information is required.
- Please allow 5 business days to receive notification before following up with the GAPP office.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is designed for students with F-1 visa status. It is designed to provide students with an opportunity to gain actual employment experiences in your chosen profession for a maximum of one year, before or after completing a degree program, to complement your academic work. OPT is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Office of Graduate & Professional Programs (GAPP) is responsible for completing the Graduation Verification section on the OPT I-20 Request form.
OIS OPT Instructions
F-1 international students interested in applying for OPT must review the OIS OPT Instructions. It includes important details about eligibility requirements, application timeline, reporting requirements, and other pertinent topics related to OPT.
OPT Resources & Forms:
Important Dates and Deadlines
The entire application process, from time of submission to OIS for your OPT I-20 to receipt of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) can take up to 3 months, so plan accordingly.
- Employment information (Job offer) is NOT required to apply OPT.
- Apply up to 3 months before graduation date.
- OIS must receive the OPT Application no later than 3 weeks BEFORE graduation.
Step-by-Step Instructions to get OPT Graduation Verification
- AFTER you register for your final semester: most MS students must complete an Application for Graduation and submit it to their academic departmental advisor. Students in the AME, CS, EE, and ISE department should submit their application to graduate online at MyViterbi.
- When your major department has processed your Application to Graduate and completed a degree check, your STARS report on OASIS will become available for review. Check your STARS report on OASIS to make sure all requirements for your degree have been met and contact your graduate advisor if there are any discrepancies.
- Review the OIS OPT Instructions.
- PhD students must also fill out a PhD Verification of Completion form and submit to the GAPP Office
- MS students: Complete application in the OIS OPT I-20 Request System. E-mail your OPT I-20 Request Form to email@example.com and a GAPP advisor will review and e-mail you back the signed form. PhD students: Meet with a GAPP advisor (OHE 106) to complete and sign the Academic Advisor Graduation Verification section on the OPT I-20 Request form.
- Upload the signed OPT form to the OIS OPT I-20 Request System. OIS will notify you via e-mail when your OPT I-20 is available for pick-up. You will pick up your OPT I-20 from the OIS office located at the Royal Street Structure, Suite 101.
Remote OPT Graduation Verification Requirements
Students who are in their final semester and working outside of the greater Los Angeles area may have the Graduation Verification section of the OPT form processed remotely by the Office of Graduate & Professional Programs (GAPP) if the following criteria are met:
- Student is participating in a CPT outside of the greater Los Angeles area.
- Student has no activity restrictions on their record.
- Student has submitted the Application to Graduate form to their major department.
- Student has an updated STARS report with no outstanding academic concerns (examples include MG, IN).
- Student has a GPA of 3.00 or better.
Follow these steps to request remote OPT Graduation Verification:
- Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (Master’s students), or to email@example.com (PhD students) with the following:
- your full name
- your 10-digit ID number
- scan and attach your completed OPT form in PDF format (Pictures of forms will not be accepted.)
- You will receive a reply on the next business day to let you know if the remote request is approved and the signed OPT form will be attached.
- It is your responsibility to submit the signed form to OIS. GAPP is not responsible for submitting your OPT forms to OIS.
Program Extension Resources & Forms
Important Dates and Deadlines
- A program extension must be filed at least 3 weeks BEFORE the I-20 expiration date.
- OIS processing time for program extension is 2 weeks.
- The expiration date of the I-20/DS-2019 has not yet passed.
- Continuously maintained the F-1/J-1 student status.
- The delay in completion of program must be due to one of the following reasons:
- Compelling academic reason (change of major, change in research topic, unexpected research problems, etc.)
- Compelling medical reason (documentation is required from Student Health Center or U.S. licensed medical physician)
- Must have sufficient funds to cover the additional time needed to complete program requirements, which includes tuition and living expenses of $1000 per month.
- Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for a program extension.
Step-by-Step Instructions to Request a Program Extension
- Meet with the graduate advisor in your major department to determine what remaining requirements need to be met and for in-depth academic advisement.
- Complete a Program Extension form from OIS.
- Meet with a GAPP advisor for approval and signature. Be prepared to thoroughly discuss your need for a Program Extension.
- Obtain proof of funding: Tuition plus $1000 per month for living expenses through a funding letter or bank statement.
- Submit the Program Extension form along with the proof of funding to OIS at least 3 weeks before the expiration date of the I-20.
Additional International Student Resources
- Jump Start Your Job Search with GoinGlobal February 15, 2019GoinGlobal’s exclusive H-1B Plus database provides millions of H-1B visa application records for American employers interested in hiring international talent. Utilizing U.S. Department of Labor records, GoinGlobal’s proprietary search engine allows users to identify positions, locations, and salary ranges based on company name, occupation, industry, and job title. The H-IB database can also be used to identify […]
- 11 Struggles for People with Unique Names February 13, 2019Former USC international student Hue La discusses the challenges of having a commonly mispronounced name. Story by: Hue La Some 98% of the people I’ve met in the States pronounced my name incorrectly on their first try. My name, Hue, is pronounced “hu-ay,” instead of like the word “hue.” Although my name is fairly simple […]
- Culture Shock Shakes Things Up for New Students February 10, 2019Are you riding the waves of culture shock since arriving in the U.S.? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Story by: Lydia Siriprakorn The sun is too bright today. The traffic didn’t seem so bad at first but is completely unbearable lately. Even the Los Angeles air smells funny now, not refreshing like it did just weeks […]
- Community Safety Advisory February 10, 2019SCAMS REPORTED OFFENSE: DPS has received numerous complaints from students, many of whom are international students, who had been tricked into giving money to imposters posing as agents of the IRS, U.S. Customs, or other public entities. During the 2018 fall semester, seventeen students were victims to these scams with an average loss of […]
- OIS Closed January 21–Martin Luther King, Jr. Day January 18, 2019OIS will be closed Monday, January 21, 2019 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will resume regular hours on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.