Services for International Students and Scholars


U.S. federal government regulations require all international students to maintain their F-1 or J-1 student status. Maintaining full-time enrollment status is essential to maintaining your F-1 or J-1 student status.  It is your responsibility to be aware of the factors that impact your legal status and make sure you remain compliant. Non-compliance is a serious matter and can result in severe consequences. While the responsibility for maintaining compliance is yours, the Office of Global Services (OGS) is here to help you navigate the complexities of U.S. government regulations and procedures.

You must maintain full-time enrollment each academic term (except during designated vacation periods) and make continuous progress toward the completion of your program of study. Full-time enrollment is as follows:

  • Undergraduate: minimum of 12 credit hours per term.
  • Graduate: minimum of 8 credit hours per term.
  • Graduate students who hold an assistantship: 6 credit hours per term.
  • International students enrolled in American Classroom/Global Pathways must follow the requirements of their programs.

Also, U.S. federal government regulations impose limitations on online course enrollment.  International students are limited to the equivalent of one three- or four-credit online course or up to three credits per academic term to count towards full-time enrollment while maintaining on-ground presence for the entire term. Additionally, students should not take a reduced course load or a non-medical leave of absence without discussing the decision and obtaining authorization from the OGS before the start of the term (please see sections on reduced course load and leaves of absence for more information on these topics).

International students must normally enroll in and maintain a full-time course load as explained in the “Basic Enrollment Requirements” section ; however, U.S. federal government regulations allow international students to reduce their course load in certain limited academic circumstances.

  1. Students who are in their last academic term of their program of study may not need a full-time course load to complete the requirements for their degree.  No authorization from the Office of Global Services is needed in this situation.  Please see the following section on Final Term for details.
  2. Students who are experiencing certain types of academic difficulties, as allowed by U.S. federal government regulations, may apply for a reduced course load.
    • The reasons allowed appear on the OGS Form Recommendation for Reduced Course Load (RCL).
    • Students must apply to the Office of Global Services for a RCL before dropping below full-time status or at the beginning of the academic term if they plan to register for a reduced number of courses.
    • Students must still be enrolled in at least 50% of a full-time course load even with a RCL authorization.
    • A RCL for academic difficulties may be taken only once per academic degree level.

To request authorization for a RCL, please complete the OGS Form Recommendation for Reduced Course Load, have your academic advisor (SEVIS contact for Graduate School and College of Professional Studies students), and submit to the Office of Global Services through the OGS online form.

Some students may find that they do not have a full-time course load left to take in their last academic term if they have already taken most of the courses for their program.  Students in this situation will be considered as maintaining their F-1 or J-1 status if they meet the following criteria:

  • Enroll in the remaining courses needed to complete the academic program
  • Do not enroll in only online courses
  • Adhere to the limitation of online courses which permits up to one three- or four-credit course or up to three credits online to count towards the remaining course requirements
  • Maintain on ground enrollment throughout the academic term if courses are split into first part of the term and second part of the term courses.
Additional Information for College of Professional Studies Students

The same rules regarding maintaining full-time enrollment status, as explained above, apply to students in the College of Professional Studies (CPS). Courses in the CPS either span the entire academic term, or are offered in the first part of the academic term or the second part of the academic term. CPS students must ensure that they are enrolled in courses throughout the entire term. For instance, a student cannot enroll in courses that only occur in the first part of the term and have no course enrollment in the second part of the term. Additionally, students cannot be enrolled in only online courses for any portion of the academic term.

Before enrolling in classes, please remember to check whether your course is designated as an on-ground, on-line, blended or hybrid course to ensure that you are maintaining your status. Currently, the university considers hybrid and blended courses to be on-ground courses.

Basic Enrollment Requirements

How many courses can I take online each term?

Please carefully read the section that discusses federal government regulations on how many online courses you can take each term.  If you still have questions, please ask an OGS staff member to clarify it further for you.  Remember that if you do not have enough on-ground courses, you will fall out of status.

I don’t have enough requirements to take in this term, may I apply for a reduced course load (RCL)?

No.  You are still required to fulfill the full-time requirements by taking additional classes.

I am having trouble finding enough on-ground courses to take for this academic term. Is it okay if I take mostly online courses?

No.  You must maintain full-time enrollment status as described in this section.  You should see your academic advisor for assistance in finding sufficient on-ground courses.

Reduced Course Load

I want to take only online classes in this term, am I eligible for a RCL?

No. International students are not allowed to have online only term including the final term.

I received a RCL in my first term. Can I still be less than full-time in my final term?

Yes, if you don’t need full-time course load to complete your program, you can still be less than full-time in your final term even if you received a RCL prior to your final term.

Final Term

I am in my last academic term. Can I take all online courses?

No, you must follow the instructions in this section for maintaining status in your last term.  If your program offers enough online courses for you to complete your degree program online, you could leave the U.S. and take your remaining courses from abroad.  If you choose to do this, you should let the OGS know so that we can terminate your SEVIS record.   Please note that if you do this, you will not be eligible for OPT after this degree and if you wish to attend your graduation ceremony, you would need to return on a tourist visa.

If my final term is the summer can I take my last course online?

No – even if your last course is taking place during a summer vacation period you must still maintain an on-ground presence.

Do I have to tell OGS that I'm dropping below full-time in my final semester?

No – OGS does not have to be told if you are dropping below full-time. Just make sure that you are also maintaining on-ground presence.