Completing the Reduced Credit Load Form (F-1 Student)

Instructions to complete the e-form

  1. Scroll down to the bold heading “Student Information.” Fill in all of the required fields, marked with an asterisk (*).
  2. Describe your situation or the reason for which you are requesting a reduced credit load in the box provided above the bold heading “Signature.”
  3. When you click “Submit,” your e-form request will be automatically emailed to your academic advisor for review. Your part of the process is complete, but you will need to wait to drop below full time until the e-form has been approved by both your academic advisor and ISSS.

Preview

If you are on campus or connected to the CSU network, you can click here to see a preview of the form.

Tips

Regulations

8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A)-(E)

International students must carry a full academic course load each semester in order to maintain F-1 immigration status.

  • Undergraduate Students: Must carry a minimum of 12 credits per semester (fall/spring) to be considered full time. Must take at least 9 credits of on-campus (RI) coursework toward the 12-credit minimum. For immigration purposes, courses offered through CSU Online or with a section number between 400 and 499 will not count toward the RI minimum.
  • Graduate Students: Must carry a minimum of 9 credits per semester (fall/spring) to be considered full time. Must take at least 6 credits of on-campus (RI) coursework toward the 9-credit minimum. For immigration purposes, courses offered through CSU Online or with a section number between 400 and 499 will not count toward the RI minimum.

There are very few exceptions for students to drop below full time, and not all options are available to all students. A student who feels they cannot maintain a full course of study may request a reduced course load (RCL) if the reason meets the criteria outlined in the Qualifying Exceptions below. A request for a reduced course load must be supported by the student’s academic advisor or licensed medical professional and authorized by International Student and Scholar Services BEFORE dropping any classes. Failure to do so will affect your immigration status.

Qualifying Exceptions

Academic Difficulty

  1. Initial Difficulty with English Language or Reading Requirements (1st year only)
  2. Unfamiliarity with U.S. Teaching Methods (1st year only)
  3. Improper Course Level Placement (requires explanation from your academic advisor)

Please Note:

  • An Academic Difficulty RCL can only be granted once per educational/degree level. If you have already been granted an RCL for academic difficulty (even at another school) at the current academic level, you cannot be approved for another academic difficulty RCL.
  • You must still be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credits for undergraduates or 5 credits for graduates.
  • Students who are granted an RCL for academic difficulty are expected to resume a full course of study in the next available semester (with the exception of the summer term).

Nearing Graduation

  1. Final semester of required coursework and taking all available courses to meet graduation requirements
  2. Completed required coursework and preparing for comprehensive examination (graduate students only)
  3. Completed required coursework and working on thesis/dissertation (graduate students only)

Please Note:

  • Students registered for Continuous Registration (CR), who are working on their thesis/dissertation, are considered to be carrying a full academic load and can be authorized for an RCL. Students who have been approved for an RCL for thesis/dissertation do not need to submit another form each semester. The approval will continue through the student’s graduation or until the end date of the student’s current I-20 (whichever comes first).
  • Students applying for a program extension who need the reduced credit load to continue will have to submit a new Reduced Credit Load form with their program extension request.

Medical Exception

  • Please fill out and submit the paper-based medical Reduced Credit Load form instead.
  • You may request a reduced credit load due to a temporary illness or medical condition. It is limited to a period of time not to exceed a total of 12 months, at each degree level. Requires a signature from a licensed medical doctor or clinical psychologist and recommendation of the number of credits the student should take. You must be re-authorized for the Medical RCL each semester that it applies.

Additional Information

  • Students may only count 3 credits (or 1 course) of online/distance learning per semester toward their full course of study requirement. If in the final semester, students cannot be exclusively enrolled in online courses.
  • Audited courses do not count toward the full course of study requirement.
  • Students who are sponsored, on exchange, or on scholarship may have additional expectations or requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to check in with their sponsor, home institution or scholarship provider to identify if they have minimum credit requirements to maintain their status in these programs.
  • You will be asked whether you have met with an immigration advisor and an academic advisor. You are not required to select “yes” to either of these questions and your answer will not have any impact on your e-form. However, if your situation is complex, ISSS recommends meeting with an immigration advisor and your academic advisor to make the process more efficient and prevent misunderstandings.
  • You will receive an email from ISSS once your Reduced Credit Load has been approved. Do not drop below full time until you have received final approval from ISSS.