Immigration regulations require international students to be enrolled in a full course of study during every academic semester unless approved under a specific exception, in advance, by one of the Designated School Officials at ISSS. International students are not required to be registered during the summer. A full course of study for F-1 and J-1 students is a minimum of twelve (12) credit hours per semester for undergraduate students and 9 credit hours for graduate students.
Online Classes/Distance Education
Students may only apply one course or 3 credit hours of online or distance education coursework to the full-time enrollment requirement each semester.
Exceptions to Full-Time Study
The exceptions to the “full course of study” requirement are limited, but very important. If authorized in advance to take a reduced course load, F-1 students are considered to be maintaining status even if they are not registered for a full course of study, and they continue to be eligible for F-1 benefits if they are otherwise eligible.
Students who request to drop below full-time must be referred to ISSS before doing so.
A DSO (foreign student advisor at ISSS) must authorize and update the student’s SEVIS record before the student drops below a full course load. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the DSO will be considered out of status.
Graduate students who have completed their coursework are considered full-time if they register for a minimum of three (3) credit hours of 992 (master’s paper), 993 (master’s thesis) or 994 (doctoral dissertation). Enrollment in 992, 993, or 994 is required each fall and spring after completion of coursework in order to maintain immigration status. Summer enrollment in 992, 993 or 994 is only required if defending the dissertation during the summer session.
Academic advisers may approve undergraduate students in their last semester of study to take less than 12 credit hours. In order for the DSO at ISSS to authorize the reduced course load in SEVIS, the academic adviser ? must email ISSS to verify that this is the student’s last semester of study.
Other exceptions to the full course of study requirement can be found