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Less than Full Time

In order to maintain lawful F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status, international students must either be enrolled full-time or receive permission from the ISSS office to enroll LTFT or have been approved for an International Vacation term.

For full-time enrollment, undergraduate students should be registered for at least 12 credit hours and graduate students should be registered for at least 9 credit hours. Students should pay attention to the followings:

  • Courses that are audited do not count towards meeting the minimum full-time enrollment requirement.
  • Only 3 credit hours of online/distance learning courses can be counted towards meeting the minimum full-time enrollment requirement per quarter/semester.
  • PhD students/candidates with RA, TA, GA FT positions will be approved for 6 credits enrollment as they will be enrolled for extra 3 credits (non-billable) by the Office of Graduate Studies.

In some instances international students may be authorized to reduce their course load. All LTFT requests must be submitted to ISSS with a proper approval and signature from the student's academic advisor (and faculty member if needed) by the add/drop deadline or at the latest before withdrawal deadline of every term (Friday of week 7 of each term.) Students who fail to enroll in a full course of study and do not obtain LTFT authorization from the ISSS office are considered to be out of status.

Students may be authorized to go LTFT in the following cases:

1. Academic: A reduced course load can be approved on the basis of academic difficulty only once while pursuing a course of study at a particular program level; however, use of an academic difficulty does not affect eligibility for other LTFT requests.

  • Initial difficulty with English language or reading requirements: is limited to first academic year only and minimum enrollment of 6 credit hours or half the clock hours is required for a full course of study.
  • Initial unfamiliarity with American teaching methods: is limited to first academic year only and minimum enrollment of 6 credit hours or half the clock hours is required for a full course of study.
  • Improper course level placement: Minimum enrollment of 6 credit hours or half the clock hours is required for a full course of study.

2. Completion of Studies: Students in their final term of degree program who are enrolled for the credit hours needed to complete their program of study can be LTFT.

Note: “For F-1 students enrolled for classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted towards the full course of study requirement if the class is taken on-line or through distance education and does not require the student’s physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class. An on-line or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave or satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing. F-1 students may be eligible to take more than one online class to maintain their status as long as the class is physically proctored or monitored by a school employee.” (8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G))

3. Medical Reason(s): International students may be authorized to drop or withdraw from classes in the case of experiencing unforeseen illness or a medical condition. A reduction in courses due to medical reasons must be authorized for each term in question and not to exceed 12 months. To prove illness or medical reason(s), student must attach a detailed letter to the LTFT form regarding the medical condition(s) from a doctor or clinical psychologist licensed to practice in the U.S. 

Note: ISSS is not responsible for reaching out to the medical provider in order to obtain the required medical documents. Students must submit all required medical documents to ISSS in order to be eligible for further review and authorization of LTFT.

Note: According to the U.S. Federal Regulations, lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce course load.

Please click here to download the LTFT form.