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Important: Special exceptions are being made to full-time enrollment requirements during COVID.  Refer to our COVID-19 Immigration-Related FAQs for more information.


In order to maintain your lawful F-1 status you must be a full-time, registered student each term you are present in the U.S. with the exception of recognized vacation terms. For some programs there are no recognized vacation terms. It is important that you are aware of the expected registration requirements for your specific program.  Please note that you may only count one online course towards your full-time requirements, and that courses being taken as audit are not counted towards full-time status.

Full-Time is defined as the following for each school/campus:






Register for and complete
at least 9 credit hours per semester
Register for and
complete at least
12 credit hours per semester
(Fall & Spring)
As defined by your academic program
PeabodyRegister for and 
complete at least 
12 credit hours per semester
(Fall & Spring)
As defined by your academic program
School of Education (SOE)N/ARegister for and complete at least 9 credit hours per semester
School of Medicine (SOM)N/AAs defined by the SOM Registrar's Office
School of Nursing (SON)N/AAs defined by your academic program
School of Public Health (SPH)N/AAs defined by your academic program
SAISN/AAs defined by your academic program
Concurrent Enrollment at Another JHU schools for SAIS Students Only:
SAIS students may, with approval from Academic Advising, take up to two courses at any of the divisions of Johns Hopkins University. OIS must be informed prior to enrolling at another institution.


*No audited courses count towards the full-time credit requirement.
*You may only count one online course towards your full-time requirements.

Reduced Course Load Reasons

There are certain circumstances in which dropping below full-time status is allowed with PRIOR approval from the OIS.

  • For Academic Reasons:  due to difficulty with the English language, improper course level placement or unfamiliarity with American teaching methods.  This authorization is only possible during the first academic term of your program and only one time per degree level.  Students approved for a reduced course load for an academic reason must enroll for at least a half-time course load.
  • For Medical Reasons: for any medical reason in which you can provide written documentation (see sample letter) from a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or licensed clinical psychologist recommending that you take a reduced or no course load for a particular term (maximum allowance of 12 months per degree level). 

    The letter must include the following: a recommendation for part-time or no enrollment, the number of credits/courses a student may take during the term (can be no coursework, if applicable), must be on the practitioner's letterhead, written in English and include their contact information.  Letters must be dated within 30 days of the date you submit the RCL eForm request in iHopkins.  
  • To Complete Course of Study in Current Term: to be used if you are in the final term of your academic program and need less than a full course load to complete degree requirements. Students must be enrolled in at least one required in-person class.  

Requesting a Reduced Course Load (RCL)

In order to request a reduced course load for a particular term, login to iHopkins and complete the ‘F-1 Reduced Course Load eForm’ under the ‘F-1 Student Services’ tab and submit it to the OIS PRIOR to the start of the term/semester you are requesting OIS approval for.  Your request will be routed to your academic advisor for their review.  Once your advisor reviews their portion of the request, it will be routed to OIS for review.  Your request is not considered approved until you receive an email from OIS stating that the RCL authorization has been completed in your F-1 SEVIS record.  Requests submitted to OIS before the term start date will be processed once the term begins.  

Failure to Maintain Full-Time Status

Dropping below full-time status without prior approval for a reduced course load from OIS is considered a violation of your F-1 status and will result in the termination of your F-1 SEVIS record.  Once your F-1 SEVIS record is terminated, you will no longer be lawfully present in the U.S.