During the academic year, international students in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status must either be enrolled full-time or receive permission from ISS for a reduced course load or a full-time exception (see below for details).
If you are not registered full-time by JU's add/drop date, your SEVIS record is at risk or terminating and you will lose your F-1/J-1 status. There is no grace period to remain in the U.S. following status termination.
For most students, the academic year is fall and spring terms, while the winter/summer is considered the vacation term. During the academic year, in general, the minimum full-time enrollment for international students is as follows:
|Undergraduate Students||12 credit hours|
|Graduate Students||6 credit hours|
Exceptions to Full-Time Enrollment Requirements
Completion of Course of Study
The student has met with your academic advisor who has confirmed that they are in the last term of their studies.
Reduced Course Load (RCL)
International students in F-1 and J-1 status are required to maintain full-time enrollment during the school year. If you cannot or will not meet this requirement, you must request a reduced course load. Federal immigration regulations severely limit a student's ability to be less than full time, but it may be allowed in some circumstances explained below.
If you drop below full time without authorization after the drop/add deadline, ISS is required to report this to SEVIS and you will lose your F-1 or J-1 status. According to 8 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) § 214.2(f)(6)(iii), the Designated School Official (DSO – the International Center Advisors have this designation) may allow an F-1 student to engage in less than a full course of study as provided below. A student who wishes to drop below full time must obtain the approval from a DSO in advance, regardless what the reason might be. A student who drops below a full course of study (after the drop-add period) without prior approval of a DSO will be considered out of status. The lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce course load according to immigration regulations.
NOTE: If approved for reduced course load, you are still eligible for on-campus employment benefits.
Medical Conditions RCL
A student must apply for RCL if, due to a temporary illness or medical condition, they are unable to be enrolled full time (or, if necessary, no course load).
- The student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist, to the DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition.
- The letter from the medical provider cannot be dated more than 30 days before the start of the term for which the RCL is requested.
- The letter from the medical provider must recommend either that the student be part time or not enrolled due to medical circumstances.
- A reduced course load for a medical condition can be granted for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.
- The student must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must authorize the drop below full time for each new term.
Source: [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(B)]