Reduced Course Loads

Frequently Asked Questions for Reduced Course Loads (RCL)

  1. What is considered full-time enrollment?
  2. Can I be enrolled less than full-time during the semester?
  3. I want to save money and take some of my general education (GE) classes at a community college, is this possible?
  4. How do I apply?
  5. I’m not finished with my degree, but my department is only offering one of the courses I need this semester, can I take a reduced course load?
  6. Are students allowed a reduced course load during their last semester?
  7. I have a medical condition; do I qualify for a reduced course load?
  8. How many times can I take a medical reduced course load?
  9. I am pregnant. Do I qualify for a medical reduced course load?
  10. My child or family member is ill; do I qualify for a reduced course load?
  11. I am having an academic difficulty that will affect my status. Do I qualify for a reduced course load?
  12. I am a graduate student and need to continue with my project, and my department says I don’t have to register for any units, is that OK?

 

  1. What is considered full-time enrollment?

Full-time enrollment is 9-units for graduate students and 12-units for undergraduate students. Please see our Maintaining F-1 Status web page for more information.

  1. Can I be enrolled less than full-time during the semester?

Please see an IPS advisor to discuss your situation. If approved, you will submit a Petition for Reduced Course Load application to the IPS office, along with the required supporting documentation and have it approved by the IPS Office by the semester deadline.

  1. I want to save money and take some of my general education (GE) classes at a community college, is this possible?

Yes, you may take classes outside of SJSU and count them towards your full-time enrollment. This is called Concurrent Enrollment and requires you to be enrolled in at least 6-units at SJSU in addition to the units you are enrolled in at another institution. Submit a Petition for Reduced Course Load/Concurrent Enrollment to the IPS office, along with the proof of enrollment, and have it approved by the IPS Office by the semester deadline.

  1. How do I apply?

The application and instructions are available here.

  1. I’m not finished with my degree, but my department is only offering one of the courses I need this semester, can I take a reduced course load?

No, unfortunately course availability and scheduling is not deemed as an acceptable reason by immigration to take a reduced course load. You will still be required to be enrolled full-time in order to maintain your F-1 status.

  1. Are students allowed a reduced course load during their last semester?

Yes, all students are allowed to take a reduced course load during their final semester at SJSU as long as the student is taking all the degree requirements they need to graduate. You must submit a Petition for Reduced Course Load Form to let us know that it is your last semester and by the SJSU add deadline. Graduate students must submit additional documentation, which is a letter from their advisor and a copy of their graduation checklist/plan of study, to verify that it is their last semester of study.

  1. I have a medical condition; do I qualify for a reduced course load?

If you have a medical condition, you may qualify for a reduced course load. It is required that you also submit a letter on letterhead from a licensed Clinical Psychologist, Medical Doctor (MD) or Osteopathic Physician recommending that you take less than a full-time course load with your Petition for Reduced Course Load Form. IPS may need more details and request further documentation. Please speak with an advisor about your situation so we can better assist you.

  1. How many times can I take a medical reduced course load?

USCIS allows a maximum of 12 months of medical reduced course load, and at SJSU this translates to 3 semesters.

  1. I am pregnant. Do I qualify for a medical reduced course load?

No, not unless there is a medical complication to your pregnancy. Some conditions may qualify, please see question #7 for information about required documentation and how to apply for a medical reduced course load.

  1. My child or family member is ill; do I qualify for a reduced course load?

You can only apply for a reduced course load on your own behalf. A family member’s illness does not qualify you for a reduced course load.

  1. I am having an academic difficulty that will affect my status. Do I qualify for a reduced course load?

In rare cases it is permissible. Please see an International Student Advisor.

  1. I am a graduate student and need to continue with my project, and my department says I don’t have to register for any units, is that OK?

Yes, if you were given an Incomplete (I) grade last semester for your project course, you are not required to register for additional units this semester to complete it. If you were given a Report in Progress (RP) grade, you need to register for University Studies 290 (UNVS 290). Remember that until your degree has been completed, each semester you still must turn in the Petition for Reduced Course Load Form with your program of study/graduation checklist and letter from your department advisor to IPS.