International Students & Scholars

A General Guide for VCU Advisors and Faculty working with International Students and Scholars

Faculty and advisers with questions about academic support resources for international students, immigration status, and community engagement support for international students, please email ISSP@vcu.edu.

Faculty wishing to host an international scholar should email ISSP@vcu.edu for information about immigration, housing, etc.  Faculty should obtain permission from their Dean before inviting an international scholar to campus.

A few things for faculty and advisors to keep in mind:

  • Students must maintain a full-time credit load: a minimum 12 credit hours for undergraduate students, nine credit hours for graduate students. If a student wishes to withdraw from a class, he/she should contact an ISSP adviser, to avoid making mistakes that might endanger his/her visa status.

  • Students may request a less-than-minimum course load for, and only for, a small number of documented reasons. ISSP advisors should be consulted before dropping or withdrawing from any course.

  • Students should immediately notify an Immigration Adviser about any changes to major, degree program/level, or program completion.

  • International students and scholars are subject to special rules about immunization and tuberculosis testing. If students/scholars do not meet these requirements, they may have a hold on their account. Questions should be directed to an ISSP adviser.

  • Similarly, international students and scholars may have holds placed on their accounts if international admissions or immigration documents are not complete. Again, questions should be directed to an ISSP advisor.

  • GEO provides international students and scholars with many opportunities to engage directly with the local community, allowing them to get to know American culture first hand. Engagement staff in ISSP assist students/scholars with everything from settling into life in Richmond and basic support services to service-learning opportunities and social activities. ISSP helps students/scholars find conversation partners and places to stay during university breaks, and pairs students with community families. GEO also sponsors social events and travel opportunities. Details may be found on the GEO website or by contacting any ISSP adviser.

  • Many international students and scholars face cultural and linguistic challenges in the American classroom. Faculty often question what, if any, accommodations are allowable in such situations. The answer is up to the faculty member’s and the department’s discretion, with respect to equity for all students. ISSP can share information about common practices at VCU and other universities upon request.
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