Reduced Course Load

U.S. government immigration regulations require that F-1 and J-1 international students study full time each Fall and Spring semester, and Summer session (if that is your last term). Full Time enrollment is 12 credit units for undergraduates, or 8 credit units for graduates.  There are limited scenarios in which an exception can be granted. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allows CIE to authorize a reduced course load exclusively for the reasons listed below. Please note that DHS does not consider financial difficulties or the unavailability of certain courses as valid reasons for enrolling in less than a full course of study.

Approval from a CIE Advisor must be granted PRIOR to engaging in a reduced course load. A student who drops below full time enrollment without PRIOR approval from a CIE Advisor will be considered to be in violation of their immigration status.

Course Types 

  • In-person: You are required to meet regularly with a faculty member to complete the course requirements and attend lectures or other in-person interactive activities. 
  • Hybrid: You are required to meet both in-person and online. The majority of course work may take place online, but students may be required to complete specific projects, tests, or orientations on the physical campus.This includes courses that require only a one-time meeting with your faculty member. Hybrid courses can be counted towards your F-1 full-time enrollment requirement as in-person courses.
  • On-line: You are required to complete ALL course requirements, lectures, or other activities online. There are no required in-person meetings. A maximum of 3 online units per semester can be counted towards your F-1 full-time enrollment requirement out of a full-time schedule. However, this does not account for extra units, or more than 12 units for undergraduates and 9 units for graduates.  

Request a Reduced Course Load

To obtain approval, students must submit a signed and completed Reduced Course Load (RCL) form to CIE and request documentation to be sent to CIE from your academic department. You can submit the RCL Form and requested documentation anytime after the semester registration period begins until the end of the add/drop period. It is in your best interest to submit these requirements as early as possible.

Last Semeter RCL

    Undergraduate Students- Required Documentation from your Academic Advisors

  • Email, Letter or Memo from your major advisor. Please contact your major department


   Graduate Students- Required Documentation from your Academic Advisor(s)

  • Email, Letter or Memo from graduate program advisor verifying your remaining course requirements and your expected completion term.

If you are continuing your project, capstone or thesis, you will be required to submit additional verification

  • You and your capstone project or thesis advisor must complete and sign the Capstone Project/Thesis Verification Form. This form must be submitted along with verification (email or memo) from your major advisor. 


Medical RCL

You can request permission to register part time or take the semester off for a documented medical reason. You are allowed up to 12 months of medical reduced course load. You are required to meet with a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist and obtain a letter.

The letter must be on letterhead, be signed, and include the following information:

  • Recommendation that the student reduces his/her course load due to medical reasons or conditions
  • The student’s full name 
  • Date and specific term/semester the RCL is being recommended 
  • Signature from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist; with contact info and State License Number.

Renewing- you must submit a new updated letter along with the RCL form for the next semster you are requesting the Medical RCL.