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Reduced Course-Load Authorization for F-1 Students


All international students must complete a certain minimum number of credits every semester to be considered “full-time” for immigration purposes:

  • Undergraduates must take 12 credits each semester.
  • Graduate students must take 12 credits each semester.

Current federal immigration regulations allow the International Student Advisor to make exceptions to the full-time requirement in five types of situations. If your current situation qualifies you to drop below than full-time enrollment based on one of the five following exceptions, please complete the Reduced Course-Load Authorization Form.


There are only five (5) types of exceptions to this rule. Please read the information below and prepare the required documentation from your doctor or academic advisor. Then, schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor.

1. Health Problems

Students must submit documentation from a licensed doctor or psychologist indicating that they cannot take a full course-load for physical or psychological health related issues.

Documents Needed:

2. English Language Difficulty and/or Unfamiliarity with U.S. Teaching Methods

This exception is only allowed during the very first semester in an academic program, not including "English as Second Language" Training.

Documents Needed:

3. Improper Level of Study

This applies to a student who was incorrectly placed in a course that is too difficult. College officials must be able to show that the student's previous coursework indicated placement in the course and that there are no other courses available to the student.

Documents Needed:

  • Reduced Course-Load Authorization Form completed by academic advisor
  • Letter from academic advisor stating the reasons why a course is at an improper level AND that there are no other courses available

4. Last Semester Before Graduation

Student expects to graduate at the end of the semester and needs less than a full course-load to complete his/her coursework. The academic advisor must confirm this by completing the form.

Documents Needed:

5. Part-Time Border Commuter Students

Canadian students who commute to each class, have no address in the United States, and wish to pursue their studies part-time are eligible for this exception. Their academic advisor must confirm that they are enrolled on a part-time basis and intend to complete their degree or program on a part-time basis.

Documents Needed:

Deadline to Submit Documents

Students MUST submit the required documents BEFORE dropping below a full-time course load. If students do not submit the required documents (listed above) for a Reduced Course-Load Authorization, they risk having their SEVIS Record or Form I-20 terminated automatically. The deadline to submit this documentation varies from one student to the next. In most cases it falls before the start of a given semester.

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