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Full- Time Enrollment Requirement

Immigration regulations require F-1 Students to register for and complete a full course of study each required semester of study as dictated by your academic program’s curriculum.

At the beginning of each semester, the Immigration Services Office is required to report to SEVIS that all International Students have enrolled in a full-time course load. Student enrollment continues to be monitored throughout the semester. Students who drop below full-time enrollment without prior authorization from the Immigration Services Office must be reported to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security via SEVIS. As a result, the student will lose lawful F-1 Status including employment eligibility and benefits.

International Students in a status other than F-1 do not have the same minimum registration requirements. Please consult with the Immigration Services Office to discuss any registration requirements or limitations based on your specific immigration classification.
 
For immigration purposes, full-time enrollment is defined as:

Undergraduate Students = 12.0 Credit Hours

Please note that additional credit requirements vary depending on the program to which you were admitted. In some cases, the required credit hours for your degree program may exceed the 12.0 credit hours required for immigration purposes.

Graduate Students = 9.0 Credit Hours*

*Graduate students who are assigned teaching or research responsibilities pursuant to the terms of a full teaching assistantship, teaching fellowship, or research assistantship requiring 15-20 hours of work per week must only register for 6.0 credits.

*Certain research, thesis, and dissertation registrations are defined as full-time. In these limited cases, registration in 1.0 or no credits is considered a full-time course load.

Non-Degree Pathway Program Students = 12.0 Credit Hours*

*While by regulation students need only enroll in 12.0 credit hours each semester, your Pathway Program may require a more robust course load. Please contact International Academic Services for more information.
Immigration regulations permit exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement in very limited circumstances. You must request and obtain a Reduced Course Load authorization from the Immigration Services Office prior to dropping below full-time enrollment. The Immigration Services Office cannot retroactively authorize a drop below full-time enrollment, so please contact our office before you drop or withdraw from classes.

Students may be considered for an exception for the following reasons:

Reduced Enrollment for Academic Reasons

Acceptable academic reasons for dropping below full-time enrollment include improper course level placement, initial difficulties with the English language and/or reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with American teaching methods.

You must provide a letter of assessment from your CASE Advisor (undergraduate and PharmD students) or Program Head (graduate students) that verifies the circumstances and recommends that you be allowed to take less than a full-time credit load for the semester.

This type of reduced course load authorization may only be authorized during the first semester of study.

Reduced Enrollment for Medical Reasons

Students may be authorized to drop below full-time enrollment due to physical or behavioral health reasons. Complete withdrawal from courses is also permitted, if deemed necessary by a physician.

Students must provide documentation from a Doctor or Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.), or a licensed Clinical Psychologist recommending a reduced course load due to illness or medical condition. The letter must also explicitly state the time period recommended for the reduced enrollment and whether it needs to be Part-Time or a complete withdrawal.

Authorization for reduced enrollment for medical reasons cannot exceed a cumulative period of 12 months during the student’s degree program. Medical reduced course loads can only be authorized one semester at a time, therefore continuing health issues may require more than one authorization.

Reduced Enrollment in Your Final Semester

Degree-seeking students in your F-1 Status may be authorized to drop below full-time enrollment in their final semester if they will complete all program requirements by the end of that semester and do not require 12.0 credits to complete their program requirements.
To request authorization for a reduced course load for any permitted circumstance, you will need to submit an online Request for Reduced Enrollment Authorization. You will need to upload all of the following documentation to the form:

- I-94 Admission Document
- Passport Bio Page(s)
- If requesting an Academic Reduced Course Load, a letter of assessment from your Academic Advisor (undergraduate students) or Department Head (graduate students) that outlines your academic difficulty and recommends that you be allowed to take less than a full-time credit load for the semester.
- If requesting a Medical Reduced Course Load, a letter of assessment from a qualified medical professional
- If requesting a Final Semester Reduced Course Load, the appropriate Confirmation of Expected Program Completion form based on your academic level - (Undergraduate or Graduate). This document must be filled out by your Academic Advisor.

You may be required to attend an appointment with an Immigration Services professional before you submit your application materials.

Upon approval, your SEVIS immigration record will be updated to reflect the reduced course load authorization and you will receive a new Form I-20 documenting the authorization.

This process is completed in SEVIS only and does not affect your University bill. If you need your tuition charges adjusted, you will need contact Student Financial Services to follow up.
Audited courses do not count toward the credit requirements for a full course of study.

Incomplete courses are permissible, so long as you are eligible to continue in your program and remain enrolled for a full course of study while you make up incomplete work. Makeup work cannot be counted toward full-time enrollment in subsequent semesters. To maintain lawful Immigration Status, you must complete all work and receive a final grade for any incomplete courses by the end of your final semester of study.
Summer enrollment may or may not be required—it depends on in which program you are studying. You are not required to register for classes during the summer unless:

- You will begin a new program of study or return to study after a Leave of Absence or suspension during the Summer Term.
- It is your final semester at MCPHS.
- You are enrolled in a Pathway Program.
- You are enrolled in an accelerated program which requires enrollment in summer courses to remain in proper academic sequence.