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.
An Academic Reduced Course Load permits F-1 and J-1 students to reduce their course load below full-time (to a minimum of 6 credits) if they are experiencing academic difficulty. An Academic Reduced Course Load can be used only one time per degree level.
To be eligible for an Academic Reduced Course Load, a student must be experiencing academic difficult in one of the following areas:
The Reduced Course Load application must be signed by an Academic Advisor AND approved by ISS BEFORE a student is permitted to drop or resign below full-time or before someone is administratively withdrawn from a course(s). Therefore, J-1 students must apply as soon as they are facing academic difficulty and wish to reduce the number of credits they are taking.
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 an Academic Reduced Course Load, they may also apply. However, they must maintain full-time enrollment until ISS approves the 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.
If the Reduced Course Load is approved by ISS, it is the student's responsibility to drop or resign the appropriate courses by the university deadlines to drop or resign courses. Specific drop/resign dates can be found on the Office of the Registrar's website. It is also important to consider financial liability deadlines (i.e. fees charged when a course is resigned) when deciding if resigning a course is appropriate.
The Academic 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 Academic 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. Check our e-form processing page for current processing times.
Once approved by ISS, a Reduced Course Load cannot be canceled