U.S. immigration regulations mandate that students in F-1 immigration status maintain a full course of study for the entirety of the academic program. A full course of study is defined as registration for a minimum of 12 credit hours for undergraduates and the normative full time credit load on file with the U.S. government and the Grudate School of record for graduate students. Graduate students registered for Thesis Research (or a combination of credit hours and Thesis Research) also meet the full-course-of-study requirement.
On a case by case basis, using guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, only an International Student Advisor (IS Advisor) may authorize an F-1 student to enroll in less than a full course of study. International students must obtain approval for a reduced course load before actually dropping below the minimum credit hour requirement.
Please contact your International Student Advisor to inquire about requesting part-time enrollment. A student who registers for less than full-time and does not seek prior written approval from his/her IS Advisor fails to maintain the terms of his/her status and may lose the benefits of his/her student immigration status.
When authorized by an IS advisor, the situations described below are examples of acceptable grounds for registering for less than the required course load. Please read this information carefully.
Initial Difficulties with the English Language, Reading Requirements, or Teaching Methods
Upon the recommendation of his/her academic advisor, a student may be authorized to enroll in less than a full course of study in his or her first term of study if s/he is experiencing difficulties with the English language, with reading requirements, or is unfamiliar with American teaching methods.
Improper Course Placement
Upon the recommendation of his/her academic advisor, a student may be authorized to withdraw from a course and drop below a full course of study if the withdrawal is due to improper course placement. Imminent failure is not a valid reason to drop below a full course of study.
Completing Program in the Current Term
In the final term of study, a student who needs fewer than 12 credits (undergraduate students) or fewer than the normative full time credit load (graduate students) to graduate, may be considered to be maintaining status. An academic dean or program advisor must send an email to the IS Advisor stating that s/he is registered for all coursework needed to complete the degree in the current term.
Comprehensive Examinations in Course of Program
Graduate students who have completed all formal coursework (or will complete all formal coursework in the current term) and are preparing for comprehensive examinations as a final requirement may meet the full course of study requirement. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis in consultation with the student's academic advisor.
Illness or Medical Condition
A student who is compelled by illness or other medical conditions to interrupt or reduce a full course of study may be considered to be maintaining status during the illness or other medical condition. The student, however, must receive authorization from his/her IS Advisor each term and may not be authorized to reduce below a full course of study for more than an aggregate of 12 months. Please submit a letter to the Academic Resource Center from your licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist outlining your medical condition and the recommended accommodation. Students may only reduce their courseload once the ARC issues a confirmation letter to OGS and the IS Advisor has issued a new I-20 form approving the courseload reduction.