Full Course Load of Study Requirement

Immigration regulations require that all F-1 students register for and complete a full course of study every term. At the University of Minnesota, Morris, 12 credit hours is a full course load for fall and spring semesters. Read below for general rules about registration. If you plan to enroll for less than a full course of study, you must have approval from the International Student Program before the semester begins.

  • Summer Session Enrollment: Continuing students are not required to enroll during summer session. Students admitted to begin a program in the summer MUST enroll full-time during the summer of admission.
  • Distance Learning or online courses are limited for F-1 students. Students with F-1 status may count a maximum of 1 course OR 3 credits of Distance Learning toward their full course requirement.
  • Audited courses do NOT count toward your full course requirement. The audit grade basis for courses means you do not earn credit for the course.
  • Enroll for all of your credits at the beginning of the term. If you plan to split your enrollment between the first and second half of the semester, you must enroll for ALL courses at the beginning of the term. You may not wait until mid-term to enroll for second half courses.
  • You are responsible for your enrollment.

Acceptable Reasons for a Reduced Course Load (F-1 Students)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes that circumstances exist that prohibit a student from enrolling full time. Consequently, the DHS has declared the following to be acceptable reasons for carrying less than a full course load.

Note: The reasons below are acceptable only if a student has obtained PRIOR approval from an International Student Program adviser for completing less than a full course of study. Students who may have an acceptable reason but fail to obtain prior approval from the International Student Program are in violation of legal status.

Academic Difficulties

An F-1 student may reduce his/her course load only once per program level due to academic difficulties. To maintain legal status, an F-1 student who is authorized to reduce his/her course load due to this reason must still be enrolled for at least 6 credits (at least one half the full-time credit load) and must enroll full time the next available semester. The International Student Program must approve the request to cancel/withdraw from a class before any changes to a student’s enrollment are made. Students may fill out the Reduced Course Load Form and make an appointment with the international student adviser.

The DHS accepts the following academic difficulties as reasons for a reduction of a student‘s course load:

  • Must cancel or withdraw due to improper course level placement (support from the academic adviser required).
  • Initial difficulty with the English language and/or with reading requirements (support from academic adviser required).
  • Unfamiliarity with United States (U.S.) teaching methods or reading requirements (support academic adviser required).

Medical reason

A letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist is required clearly states that the student is unable to maintain full-time enrollment.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations limit to 12 months per program level the period of time an F-1 student may enroll for less than a full course load due to a medical condition. An F-1 student whose medical condition does not permit full-time enrollment after a 12-month period must either leave the U.S. and recuperate in the home country or apply for a change of visa status to allow for continued medical treatment in the U.S.

  • The International Student Program advises students who are ill and unable to attend classes to see a doctor regarding their illness. If the illness is such that the doctor recommends that the student withdraw from classes or not enroll, the student may file a Reduced Course Load Form with a supporting letter from the physician. The supporting documentation must clearly state that request for a reduction in the student’s course load is based on medical considerations.
  • Illness of family members is not a reason recognized by the DHS for failure to enroll for a full course of study.

Final semester: A student must be completing a program of study by the end of the semester.

Participating in a Full-time REQUIRED Internship or Full-Time Co-Op: Prior approval of the Reduced Course Load Form for internship or co-op is required. ISSS will need evidence of the internship requirement or the approval to participate in a bona fide co-op program.

Reasons Not Acceptable for Reduced Course Load

  • Financial difficulties
  • Medical illness of family member
  • Study for the GMAT, GRE, CPA, or other similar exam(s)
  • Suspension from academic program
  • Working on incompletes from a previous quarter/semester

Reduced Course Load Form

The Reduced Course Load Form must be completed for each semester that a student fails to enroll full time. It is imperative that the Reduced Course Load Form be submitted to the International Student Program and approved prior to enrollment for less than a full course of study or prior to a cancel/withdrawal that results in less than a full course of study. Failure to obtain prior approval for a reduced course load will result in the loss of legal status. The international student adviser will make the final decision on the acceptability of the Reduced Course Load Form.




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