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Grades of Incomplete (I), Failure (F) or Unsatisfactory (U)  and Your Immigration Status 

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) would like to remind international students of a potential problem for those in F-1 or J-1 status who do not complete in a timely manner the required work for a course for which they have been issued an "Incomplete" or “I” grade.

For example, a student who receives a grade of "incomplete" in a graduate or undergraduate course for the Spring 2009 semester has until the end of the Fall 2009 semester to turn in the required work so that the professor can issue the appropriate final grade. However, if the Spring 2009 course work is not completed, or if the professor does not submit a grade change form, the Incomplete will change to "W" or withdrawn for graduate students, and to "F" or failure for undergraduate students following the Fall 2009 semester.

International students in F-1 and J-1 status who received one or more grades of Incomplete are urged to check their grades in BU brain;

A grade change to "W" is very detrimental to any F-1 or J-1 student, because if the course was being counted towards a full-time course load, the W grade means that the course was not completed successfully, dropping the student from full-time to part-time. Often, we find that the student has made arrangements with the faculty member to complete the work. In such cases, we strongly advise the student to check with the faculty member to see if the grade was submitted, or if necessary, extend the deadline for the incomplete and have the grade changed back to "I."

A grade that remains "W," if it drops the student below a full time course load, may mean that the F-1 or J-1 student is in violation of U.S. immigration requirements. Thus, some international students could suddenly find themselves in violation of their F-1 status based on a course taken as long as two semesters ago.

The ISSS is also frequently asked about grades of “Failure” (F) or “Unsatisfactory” (U).
While F grades can have a very unfortunate impact on a student’s grade point average, such grades will only affect a F-1 or J-1 student’s immigration status if their poor grades results in their academic program suspending, dismissing or severing the student for poor academic performance.

Students who find themselves in these situations should come to the ISSS Office during walk-in advising hours and meet with an International Student Adviser to discuss their options.

Last Updated: 6/6/16