- Scroll down to the bold heading “Student Information.”
- Fill in all of the required fields, which are marked with an asterisk (*).
- Describe your situation or the reason for which you are requesting a Reduced Credit Load in the box provided above the bold heading “Signature.”
- When you click “Submit”
- Your eForm request will be automatically emailed to your academic advisor for review.
- Your part of the RCL request process is complete.
- You will receive an email from ISSS once your Reduced Credit Load has been approved/denied by us. You may drop below full-time upon receiving our approval email.
Q: The form is asking me if I’ve met with an immigration advisor / an academic advisor. Do I need to do that first?
A: No, you aren’t required to select “yes” to either of these questions, and your answer will not have any impact on the eForm.
However, if your situation is complex, ISSS recommends meeting with an immigration advisor during Remote Open Advising.
Meeting with your academic advisor can make the process more efficient and prevent misunderstandings.
Q: How can I make this process go faster?
A: Notify your academic advisor that they will receive an email from our office regarding your request. Students who notify their advisors typically receive a faster processing speed.
Academic Advisor Instructions for the eForm
- Scroll down to the bold heading “Academic Advisor Review.”
- Fill in all of the required fields, marked with an asterisk (*).
- Depending on which reason you select, additional required fields may appear.
- This is true for “Academic Difficulty” and “Final semester.”
- When you click “Submit,” your eForm request will be automatically emailed to ISSS for review.
- Your part of the process is complete, but the international student must wait to drop below full time until the eForm has been approved by ISSS.
- The international student will receive an email from ISSS once their RCL request has been processed, with either approval or denial.
Please read the ‘Important Information‘ section at the bottom of this page to understand full-time enrollment requirements for international students to protect their status in the U.S.
The eForm defaults to “Yes” for the first question, “I approve this student for a reduced credit load.”
- This does not mean you are required to choose yes or approve the Reduced Credit Load (RCL).
- If you do not approve it, please write an explanation.
The RCL request doesn’t go away if you ignore it.
- You will continue to receive automated reminder emails from ISSS until you approve or deny the eForm.
- This is because, in most cases, the RCL request is very time sensitive, and academic advisor input is required.
If you select “Academic Difficulty,” three subcategories will become available. Only 1 Academic Difficulty RCL can be used per degree level.
- Initial Difficulty with English Language or Reading Requirements (1st year only)
- Unfamiliarity with U.S. Teaching Methods (1st year only)
- Improper Course Level Placement
- This RCL situation requires an additional explanation, but does not necessarily reflect improper advising regarding course selection.
If you select “Student is in the final semester of required coursework and taking all available courses to meet graduation requirements,”
- you must indicate how many credits the student has left to complete.
- If the student is not able to register in all credits during the semester selected, an additional explanation will be required, and we may not be able to approve this type of RCL.
“Thesis/Dissertation” should only be selected when all required coursework has been completed.
- If the student still has required coursework left to complete, another reason such as “Improper Course Level Placement” or “Final semester” should be indicated, instead.
They should not drop below full time until they have received final approval from ISSS.
Please reach out to ISSS if you are unsure which reason to choose or whether or not to approve the Reduced Credit Load.
Background on the Full-time Enrollment Requirement
The federal regulations which establish a default expectation and requirement that international students must carry a full academic course load each semester in order to maintain their immigration status are 22 CFR 62.23(e) (J-1), 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A)-(E) and 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii) (F-1).
- Must carry a minimum of 12 credits per semester (Fall/Spring) to be considered full time.
- Of the 12-credit minimum, 9 credits must be on-campus (RI) coursework.
- For immigration purposes, courses offered through CSU Online or with a section number between 400 and 499 don’t count toward the RI minimum.
- Must carry a minimum of 9 credits per semester (Fall/Spring) to be considered full time.
- Of the 9-credit minimum, 6 credits must be on-campus (RI) coursework.
- For immigration purposes, courses offered through CSU Online or with a section number between 400 and 499 will not count toward the RI minimum.
- full-time enrollment required only if it’s the student’s first or last semester–departure from full-time in first or final semester is only authorized under RCL.
There are very few exceptions for students to drop below full time, and not all options are available to all students at all times. The qualifying exceptions to full-time enrollment are the 6 RCL situations described at the top of this page.
A student who feels they cannot maintain a full course of study may request a Reduced Credit Load (RCL) if the reason meets the criteria outlined in the qualifying exception situations described earlier on this page. Regulatory information on reduced credit loads are understood from 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A)-(E) and 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii).
An RCL request must be supported by the student’s academic advisor or licensed medical professional and authorized by International Student and Scholar Services BEFORE dropping any classes. Failure to do so will negatively impact the student’s immigration status.
If a student’s reason for wanting to drop below a full credit load is medical, including mental health, please read about the Medical Reduced Credit Load instead.