Reduced Course Load

Federal regulations require that F-1 and J-1 international students who maintain the following minimum enrollment during the fall and spring semesters:

Student Type Minimum Enrollment Requirements
IELP Students Full-time as defined by IELP. Summer session is mandatory.
Undergraduate Students 12 credit hours in spring and fall semesters with a minimum of 9 credits in person.12 credit hours in the summer if summer is the student’s initial semester. Otherwise summer is optional for immigration purposes.
Graduate Students 9 credit hours with a minimum of 6 credits in person.6 credit hours in the summer if summer is the student’s initial semester. Otherwise summer is optional for immigration purposes.

DHS does recognize certain situations where student may be authorized for reduced course load.

Reasons for Reduced Course Load (RCL)

  • Medical condition or illness preventing class attendance
  • Certain academic difficulties
    • Improper course level placement
    • Initial difficulty with English language
    • Initial difficulty with reading requirement
    • Unfamiliarity with the American educational system
  • The student’s final semester if credits needed for graduation are less than the full-time credits listed above.

Reduced course load for medical reasons – Authorization for RCL must be requested on a semester-by-semester basis. In case of illness or other medical condition, total period of RCL may not exceed on year.

Reduced course load for final semester – If a student was previously approved for RCL for final semester and was not able to complete his or her program,  an RCL for final semester will not be granted a second time.

Once you have completed the Reduced Course Load (paper) form, you will upload it to the online request page here.

Submitting form does not guarantee approval

An advisor will review the request for RCL. If student meets eligibility for RCL, advisor will update student’s SEVIS record with authorization for RCL. F-1 students will receive an updated Form I-20. J-1 students will receive a notice in writing from an International Student Advisor stating that you are authorized for RCL. If you do not receive this authorization in writing from an International Student Advisor, you do you not have authorization for reduced course load.

Other Action Needed

Reduced course load approval for immigration status purposes does not constitute automatic approval of reduction in enrollment for Graduate School, Financial Aid, or assistantship/ scholarship/ fellowship purposes. Reduced course load approval does not withdraw student from class or waive or reduce any financial responsibility of a student. Please verify enrollment requirements with other offices prior to submitting this request.


If enrolling in less than full-time enrollment at the beginning of the semester, you must obtain RCL approval before the 11 th day of class. If dropping below full-time enrollment after the start of the semester, you must obtain RCL before withdrawing from class at a point later in the semester. Failure to receive RCL approval before the deadlines mentioned above will result in termination of an F-1 or J-1’s immigration record.