International students are required to maintain full-time enrollment every academic term for the duration of their program as reflected on the I-20 or DS-2019. While required credits may vary based on the policies of your academic program, full-time enrollment is generally defined as one of the following:
- 12 credits per semester
- 9 credits per quarter
- Equivalent registration, which may include an assistantship, fellowship, etc.
Annual Vacation Term: Most academic programs consider the summer term as a standard vacation period. For F-1 and J-1 students, full-time enrollment is not required during this time and you may remain in the US or travel abroad (see visa information). Part-time study, either at UR or another institution, is allowed if you want to take additional courses during a vacation term; some students may be eligible to apply for off-campus work permission. However, for students whose program of study is scheduled to complete during the summer term, this cannot be viewed as a vacation and enrollment reporting is required. Additionally, some students may choose to take a different term off as their vacation, and would need to coordinate with ISO in advance.
Online Courses & Distance Education: While international students are permitted to enroll in online courses during their program, they must still meet enrollment requirements each academic term. For F-1 students, only 1 course or 3 credits may be counted towards full-time registration each term. Students in J-1 status may not count online courses toward their full-time enrollment. Additional distance education classes may be taken once you have met the full-time enrollment requirement, or during a vacation term (see above). For hybrid courses, which involve both online learning and some physical attendance, you may need to consult with ISO about counting these toward your enrollment requirements depending on whether your presence is integral to completion of the class.
Study or Graduate Research Abroad: If you will continue UR enrollment during an academic term overseas in an authorized program of study or research abroad, the ISO may be able to maintain your current F-1 or J-1 record, even while you are gone. For details and procedures to update your documents, please see: Study and Graduate Research Abroad.
Exception: Reduced Course Load (RCL) Authorization
In certain situations, an F-1 or J-1 student may apply to take fewer than the required credit hours in a specific academic term. The approved reasons for requesting a reduced course load are determined by regulation and include academic difficulties, a documented medical condition, additional enrollment at another school, or fewer credits needed in the final term. Your RCL authorization must be in place prior to registering for fewer than the required credit hours. Please see our Reduced Course Load Authorization form to apply.
Registration reporting in SEVIS:
Each term, the ISO must report to SEVIS that every F-1 & J-1 student is 1) actively pursing their academic program, and 2) enrolled full-time or authorized for part-time study. At the start of classes, the ISO will submit a SEVIS Registration event for all international students who are registered for that term. After the allowed Add-Drop registration period, the ISO must verify full-time enrollment. Any student who is not registered for the required credits or its equivalent (and was not previously authorized for a Reduced Course Load) must then be reported to SEVIS as failing to enroll for sufficient credits. This would cause your SEVIS record to be terminated and put your immigration status in jeopardy. You may avoid this case by following the appropriate procedures for a Reduced Course Load (see above) or researching alternative options with your department and the ISO in advance.