Immigration regulations require that F-1 and J-1 students maintain a full course of study (minimum of 12 credits each semester for most students; 9 credits for Graduate Students with an Assistantship; 1 or more credits for Graduate Students approved by the Graduate School for Full-Time Certification). However, the regulations do permit a "Reduced Course Load" in very limited situations. If a student cannot enroll full-time, they must be approved by International Student Services for a Reduced Course Load before dropping below full-time.
A Final Semester Reduced Course Load permits F-1 and J-1 students to reduce their course load below full-time (i.e. at least one credit, but fewer than 12 credits) if it is the final semester of their degree program and they need fewer than 12 credits to graduate. A Final Semester Reduced Course Load can only be used one time per degree program.
If a student will complete all degree requirements during the summer semester, and will have a September 1 degree conferral date, they must enroll for a minimum of 6 credits during the summer. If they need fewer than 6 credits to complete their degree program, then an approved Final Semester Reduced Course Load is required to maintain status. If approved for a Final Semester Reduced Course Load for the summer semester, the student must enroll for at least 1 credit.
To be eligible, an Academic Advisor or Academic Department representative must confirm that fewer than 12 credits are needed to graduate. The student and Advisor must sign the Final Semester Reduced Course Load form BEFORE the semester begins or before the student drops or resigns below full-time.
Students who need a Reduced Course Load must submit a complete application to ISS before the end of the Add/Drop period.
If a student is enrolled full-time and realizes after the Add/Drop period that it is their final semester, they may also apply. However, students must maintain full-time enrollment until ISS approves the Final Semester Reduced Course Load.
Students who drop or resign below full-time without an ISS approved Reduced Course Load are considered out of status. This immigration violation could result in SEVIS termination and other serious consequences.
It is not necessary to apply for a Final Semester Reduced Course Load if already approved for Full-Time Certification with the Graduate School. For information on applying for full-time certification please contact your Academic Department representative.
The Final Semester Reduced Course Load application form requires an Academic Advisor's signature. Therefore, students should plan to discuss their situation with an Advisor. If an Academic Advisor is supportive of the application, please complete the Final Semester Reduced Course Load Form and follow the directions below:
REMEMBER: Do not drop or resign below full-time until ISS approves the Reduced Course Load request. ISS will make a decision on the request (approve or deny), and will notify the student of our decision via email within 7-10 business days of submission.
Once approved by ISS, a Reduced Course Load cannot be canceled