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. 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. You can submit anytime after the semester registration period begins until the end of the add/drop period. 

    Required Documentation for Undergraduates Students

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


   Required Documentation for Graduate students 

  • Email, Letter or Memo from graduate program advisor

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

  • Email, Letter or Memo from your project/capstone/thesis advisor. This verification must indicate that you have made progress on your project/capstone/thesis and indicate the expected completion term.