Center for International Education


Holloway Hall
Salisbury University - Center for International Education

F-1 Visa Status

General Information

Guidelines to a full course of study

On January 1, 2003 new regulations impacting international students in F-1 visa status took effect. Among the changes are new rules that define a full course of study and outline exceptions. It is important that all students in F-1 status read and understand these rules. The international student advisor (Designated School Official, or DSO) must comply fully with these and other federal regulations.

 To be considered full-time, during fall and spring semesters you must be enrolled for:

-          12 credit hours (undergraduate students)

-          9 credit hours (graduate students)

-          6 credit hours (graduate students with graduate assistantship

-          enrollment during fall and spring semester is not mandatory.

On-line and distance education courses: You may count only one on-line or distance education course (3 credits) toward your full-time registration in any given term.

Minimum enrollment requirements: Students with DSO's approval to reduce their course load must still carry at least 6 hours unless the approval was based on his or hers final term of study or health problems – these also must by preapproved by a DSO.  The DSO must approve the following reduced enrollments (RCL) before any changes are made in GullNet.

Exceptions to the full course load requirement which require prior DSO approval:

Academic reasons: You may reduce your course load for only one semester total during your program of study for academic reasons. A reduced course load will be acceptable under the following circumstances: new students enrolled for the first time and having difficulty with spoken English; difficulty with reading requirements; or difficulty with unfamiliar teaching methods. A student who has insufficient background for the class level in which he/she was placed may also seek approval for a reduction in course load at any time. In all cases, students must receive approval from a designated school official before dropping below a full course of study.

NOTE: Students who are granted an RCL authorization on one of the academic difficulty             bases must resume a full course of study in the next available term, session, or semester,             excluding a non-required summer session, in order to maintain status

Medical reasons: If you have a valid medical reason for reducing your course load, you must provide the DSO with a medical certificate from a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist. You may only reduce your course load for medical reasons for a maximum of 12 months, and you must receive DSO’s approval for the reduced course load prior to each semester during that period.

NOTE: The DSO must reauthorize the reduced course load every semester and update SEVIS to reflect the authorization. The regulations require the student to present current medical documentation to support each RCL authorization.

Final term of study: During your final term of study, and with the prior approval of the DSO, you need only enroll for the required number of units needed to complete your degree. However, if in your final term you take less than a full course of study as defined above, you must receive DSO approval prior to registering.

If you would like to apply for a Reduced Course Load authorization, please submit the following form to the DSO: