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 Medical Reduced Course Load permits F-1 and J-1 students to reduce their course load below full-time (or, if necessary, not enroll in any courses) due to a student's temporary illness or medical condition. A maximum of 12 months of Medical Reduced Course Load is possible per degree level. Medical Reduced Course Loads are issued on a semester basis. If more than one semester of a Reduced Course Load due to medical condition is needed, the student must submit a new doctor’s letter for the additional semester(s). In order to authorize a Medical Reduced Course Load, the student must provide medical documentation from a U.S. based licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist.
To be eligible, the student must submit a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist practicing in the U.S. The letter must follow the template format provided.
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 they need a Medical Reduced Course Load, they may also apply. However, students must maintain full-time enrollment until ISS approves the Medical 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.
The Medical Reduced Course Load application requires a letter from a doctor in a specific format (see above). After receiving the letter from a doctor, follow the directions below to submit your application:
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.
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