F-1 visa classification is for full-time students. The "D/S" ("duration of status") notation on your I-94 card indicates that you can remain in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status as a full-time student. To maintain F-1 status, international students must be enrolled in a full course of study (minimum of 12 credits) each fall and spring semester.
Summer enrollment is not required by the U.S. federal government regulations for F-1 visa holders if you were full-time in spring and plan to be full-time in the fall. If you do take summer classes, you can be less than full-time, and you do not need to bring an academic advisor's letter to the International Student Admissions Office.
If you take a semester off, you will need to:
- Change to another visa classification if you stay in the United States, or
- Apply for reinstatement and be readmitted to a program of study, or
- Leave the U.S. and re-enter with a new I-20.
USCIS will consider you to be "out of status" if you become less than full-time for a reason other than those allowed below.
Reduced Course Load
For any semester in which you intend to reduce your course load, please request and fill out the reduced course load form from the International Student Admissions Office. Your academic advisor or a medical professional must sign it.
Do not enroll for less than a full load or drop below a full load without prior permission from the ISAO. Permission to reduce is valid only for the semester indicated on the application.
Reasons for reducing course load include:
- You are having difficulties with the English language, reading requirements, or American teaching methods
- You are having difficulties because of improper course level placement.
- All course requirements (including major, minor, and residency) have been completed for the degree program.
- You are expected to graduate during the current semester.
- You have a medical problem and your doctor recommends, in writing, a reduced course load or interruption of your coursework.
Follow these steps to reduce course load if one of the above situations applies:
- Your academic adviser should complete and sign the I-20 Reduced Course Load Request.
- Bring the form to the ISAO and wait for approval before you drop a course or register for the semester.
If you have a medical problem, you may reduce your course load or interrupt your program. Please bring to the ISAO a letter from your doctor specifically recommending that you reduce your course load or withdraw from school. Your doctor should indicate that he/she anticipates that you will be able to resume a full course of study the following semester.