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F-1/J-1 students are required to enroll full time during fall and spring semesters. For undergraduate students full time means more than 12 credit hours; for graduate students it means 9 credit hours.
All of the courses that you take must apply toward the completion of your degree program in order to count as full-time enrollment.
Summer enrollment is optional as long as you are eligible and intend to register for the following fall semester. New students who have a program start date on their I-20/DS-2019 form that begins in a summer session must enroll full time for that summer session. For example, if your I-20/DS-2019 form states that you will start in June 2012, you must enroll in summer courses.
Full-time enrollment during the summer semester is 6 credit hours for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Only one online or distance course per semester can count toward the full-time requirement. If it is your last semester and you only need to take one course to complete your degree program, you may not take that course online. If you are in the Intensive English Program, no online or distance courses may be counted toward the full-time requirement.
Not enrolling in enough hours, dropping below full time, or taking too many online courses are all considered as violations of F-1/J-1 visa regulations, which will lead to the termination of your F-1/J-1 visa status.
An F-1 student can be enrolled in two different SEVIS-approved F-1 schools at the same time as long as the enrollment in both schools amounts to a full-time course of study and both schools are SEVIS certified. This is called Concurrent Enrollment.
If you are considering concurrent enrollment, you must meet all the requirements listed below.
- Total hours of enrollment for UTSA and concurrent school combined must be at least 12 credit hours during fall and spring semester for undergraduates and 9 credit hours for graduates.
- You must complete 50% or more of the semester hours at UTSA.
- You are not permitted to work on campus at the concurrent school. Unauthorized employment will lead to the termination of your F-1 visa status.
- You must take courses that apply to your degree plan at the concurrent school.
Concurrent Enrollment Process
There are certain steps you must follow to engage in concurrent enrollment:
- Verify with your academic advisor that the courses you are planning to take at the concurrent school meet degree requirements.
- Submit a Concurrent Enrollment Form to International Student Services before the start date of the semester during which you plan to engage in concurrent enrollment.
- Enroll and complete the concurrent courses.
- Submit the official transcript from the concurrent school to International Student Services within two weeks after the end of the semester of concurrent enrollment.
- Arrange for the credit transfer to UTSA by the first day of class of the following semester.
The exceptions to the full-time requirement are limited. F-1/J-1 students must obtain prior approval from the International Student Services before they reduce their course load to less than full-time credit hours.
An F-1/J-1 student who drops below full-time credit hours without prior approval from International Student Services will be considered out of legal status and their SEVIS records will be terminated.
In the situations described below, F-1/J-1 students are considered to be maintaining status even if they are not registered full time, ONLY IF they have obtained prior approval for reduced course load from International Student Services.
1. Final Semester
F-1/J-1 students who are completing their degree requirements may apply for reduced course load in their final semester if less than the required course load is needed to complete the degree programs. The F-1/J-1 regulations require that a student must register for at least 1 credit hour. Please be aware that the program end date on your I-20/DS-2019 will be shortened according to the anticipated graduation date listed on the letter from your academic advisor.
2. Thesis or Dissertation Only
F-1/J-1 graduate students who have completed their formal coursework and are engaged in thesis or dissertation may apply for reduced course load. The F-1/J-1 regulations require that a student must register for at least 1 credit hour.
Application Process for a Reduced Course Load
1. Before the beginning of the semester in which you are intending to register for less than full course load, you must submit the following documents to International Student Services:
- Request for Reduced Course Load (RCL) Form
- Degree plan signed by your academic advisor
- Letter from your academic advisor: The letter must be on the letterhead and should be addressed: “To Whom It May Concern.” It must state that the advisor recommends reduced enrollment hours and it must specify:
o The semester and year that student will enroll below full-time
o The number of hours the student has completed
o The academic program requirements remaining
o The expected graduation date in the “mm/dd/yyyy” format
o The reason the student is recommended for Reduced Course Load
o Thesis/Dissertation students only: Explanation of progress in thesis/dissertation toward completion
o Note: Be aware that students must make normal progress towards completing the degree program by completing their studies before the expiration of the program completion date on the Form I-20/DS-2019.
- Confirmation of Graduation Application, if your request for Reduced Course Load is due to the final semester: Print out the confirmation e-mail you receive from the Registrar's Office after applying for graduation. For more information about applying for graduation, please go to the Registrar's webpage to apply for graduation.
2. Once your request is approved, International Student Services will email you an approval notice. If your request is due to graduation, you will be issued an updated I-20/DS-2019.