Full Course of Study for J-1 Students

Immigration regulations require that all J-1 students register for and complete a full course of study every term to maintain legal status. 

You must have prior approval from ISSS before the semester begins if you plan to enroll for less than a full course of study or before a cancel/withdraw that results in less than a full course load.

Remember: You Are Responsible for Your Enrollment

If your department will manage your enrollment for you, you must make sure that your enrollment occurs before the drop/add deadline of the term. SEVIS reporting occurs early in the semester, therefore retroactive enrollment is not acceptable. YOU will lose your legal status if your department does not enroll you before the deadline.

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What is the minimum number of credits I must take each semester?

All students must enroll in at least the following number of credits to meet the J-1 visa regulations.

  • Undergraduate students: 12 credits per semester
  • Graduate students: 6 credits per semester
  • Professional school students: 12 credits per semester
  • Non-degree students: 12 credits per semester

Note: Certain academic programs as well as exchange and scholarship program sponsors and other private educational funding agencies may use a different credit requirement for their students. If this credit requirement is higher than the requirement listed above, it takes precedence over the above requirement.

Can I take online classes?

For Fall 2023, new J-1 students may take only one online course. Continuing J-1 students must take a courseload that is predominantly (i.e. more than half) in-person classes.

Beginning Spring 2024, all J-1 students can take a maximum of one online course per semester. You are allowed to take in-person classes with virtual components. Hybrid classes that predominantly require in-person student attendance would be considered in-person courses.

Can I enroll in classes that are not a full-semester in length?

You should enroll for all of your credits at the beginning of the term. If you plan to split your enrollment between the first and second half of the semester, you must enroll for ALL courses at the beginning of the term. You may not wait until mid-term to enroll for second half courses.

Am I required to be a full-time student during the summer?

  • Continuing students are not required to enroll during summer session.
  • Students admitted to begin a program in the summer MUST enroll full-time during the summer of admission.

Can I audit a class?

Audited courses do NOT count toward your full course requirement. You will not earn credits for courses that you are auditing.

Are there additional rules for Graduate Students?

  • Thesis credits DO count toward your full course of study requirement. As long as the total number of credits meets your minimum requirement, you may take any combination of thesis and/or course credits.
  • FTE stands for Full Time Equivalent. This means that the FTE courses (8444 for PhD students and 8333 for master’s students) satisfy the full-course requirement for Graduate Students. If you are taking the FTE course, you do NOT need to submit a Reduced Course Load for J-1 Students form to ISSS.
  • Grad0999 enrollment does NOT satisfy the full course requirement. Grad0999 is a zero-credit registration. Students enrolling in Grad0999 must also submit a Reduced Course Load Form to ISSS to maintain their J-1 status.
Last updated: October 23, 2023