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F-1: Reduced Course Load

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires all international students on an F-1 visa status to be enrolled full-time. A full course load of study is defined as 12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 credit hours for graduate students. Listed below are the exceptions under which an F-1 student may be allowed to register part-time:

  • Academic Reasons
    • First semester in the United States and has English language deficiencies
    • In the first semester of academic studies in the United States and is unfamiliar with the education system.
    • Has initial difficulties with the reading requirement - For first semester or change of academic level
    • Improper course-level placement - Course pre-requisites limitations
  • Medical illness or medical condition
    • Must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed Psychologist.
  • Last Semester
    • This is when you have less than full-time requirements left in your final semester(s) to complete your degree requirements

How to apply for Reduced Course Load
If your case fits in one of these categories, please complete the following steps:
  1. Log into your ISSS portal & go to tab 4
  2. Click on the book icon that says Reduced Course Load Request Add underneath
  3. Fill in the Semester start & End dates
  4. Please select the reason that you are requesting Reduced Course Load
    • For example if it is your last semester and you only need 6 credits, please select "To Complete Degree Studys"
  5. Confirm you understand and attest to filling out the correct information
  6. If you are filing for Medical Reduced Course Load please upload medical letter. If not, please ignore and move to the next section.
  7. Add your academic Advisors name and email address
    • the will need to approve and confirm your credit load
  8. Hit submit

Please note that this process may take up to 7-10 business days to process. We appreciate your patience as you wait for an updated I-20.

Last Semester Reduced Course Loads
Please note that you cannot be approved for a Last Semester Reduced Course Load more than 3 weeks prior to the start of your final semester.  If you submit your request more than 3 weeks prior to the start of your last semester, your request will remain in Approver Review status until 3 weeks prior to the start of the final semester.  At that point, your Academic Advisor will sign off on your request and ISSS will begin processing it.