Office of Global Engagement
International Students and Scholars

The F-1 visa/immigration status was created for the purpose of allowing students to pursue academic programs in the U.S., and because of this academic study is the primary responsibility of any student who has been admitted or approved to change status to the F-1 status. 

Undergraduate
3 credits/semester
Graduate
As defined by academic program -- full-time requirement can vary by semester for some Masters level program. Contact your academic department for further information.

Dropping below the full-time enrollment requirement at any point in the semester without prior authorization from OISSS is considered a violation of your F-1 immigration status.

Exceptions to full-time enrollment

Students are required to be full-time enrolled each academic semester of their academic program. However, there are a few exceptions to the full-time requirement and they are listed below. All exceptions need authorization from OISSS prior to the student dropping below the full-time requirement. If you are considering dropping below the full-time requirement, contact OISSS immediately. 

  • Illness or Medical Condition - If a student has an illness or medical conditions that prevents them from taking a full-time course of study, he/she may request an authorized reduced courseload that allows the student to remain in the U.S. to seek medical treatment while taking less than the full-time requirement or no courses.  
  • Academic Difficulties - If a student is having academic difficulties in their first academic term, the student can request a reduced course load authorization prior to dropping below the full-time requirement. A letter from the academic department supporting the request is required. Student cannot drop all courses. The types if academic difficulties considered for reduced courseload are:
    • Initial Difficulty with English Language
    • Initial Difficulty with Reading Requirement
    • Unfamiliarity with American Teaching Methods 
  • Improper Course Level Placement - If a student is improperly placed or advised to take a certain course that they do not have the pre-requisite knowledge to succeed in, the student can request a reduced course load authorization prior to dropping below the full-time requirement. A letter from the academic department supporting the request is required. Student cannot drop all courses. 
  • To Complete Academic Program in Current Term - If a student will complete all course requirements in the current term and there is less than the full-time requirement needed to complete their academic program, the student can request a reduced course load authorization prior to dropping below the full-time requirement. A letter from the academic department supporting the request is required. Student cannot drop all courses. 

Log in to your OISSS Gateway portal to begin the Reduced Course Load request.

Students who are not able to complete their current program by the expected end date because of valid academic or medical reasons, must apply for a program extension with the OISSS.
By taking a leave of absence a student is no longer full-time enrolled and this will affect their F-1 status.
When transferring from one school to another school within the United States, you must carefully follow certain procedures to maintain lawful F-1 status.