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Under very limited circumstances dropping below full-time status is allowed with PRIOR approval from OIS. Students will be considered for reduced course load based on the reasons listed below. Students must submit the Reduced Course Load Request form through iHopkins and receive approval from OIS before dropping below full-time enrollment. Dropping below full-time enrollment without prior approval from OIS is a violation of your F-1 status. 

Reduced Course Load (RCL) Reasons

  • 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 should be issued by the medical professional currently treating you in the U.S.

    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 credentials and contact information. Letters must be dated within 30 days of the date you submit the RCL eForm request in iHopkins.

    Students who will be outside the U.S. while on a medical leave of absence are not required to request an RCL. Instead, OIS can end your F-1 record and then you can contact us prior to your return to the U.S. to discuss your F-1 options. If you are taking a medical LOA and will not request an RCL, you must notify OIS of your plans so we can update your F-1 record accordingly.
  • 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 authorized for an RCL for their final term can only take a maximum of one online course.  If only one course in total is needed to complete the degree program, that course must be in-person.  Reduced course load requests for this reason must be submitted to OIS PRIOR to the start of the term/semester you are requesting OIS approval for.

To Request a Reduced Course Load Authorization

 Upon submitting your part of the RCL request, it will be routed to your academic advisor for their review. Once your advisor reviews their portion of the request and approves, it will be routed to OIS for final review and approval. Your request is not considered approved until you receive an email from OIS stating that the RCL authorization has been completed in your SEVIS record. Requests submitted to OIS before the term start will be processed once the term begins.

Submit the “F-1 Reduced Course Load” eFrom in iHopkins. To submit your request:

  • Go to 
  • Click “Login” under “Active JHED Login.
  • Login with your JHED ID and password.
  • Once logged in, click on “F-1 Student Services” in the menu on the left, then click on “F-1 Reduced Course Load” eForm.
  • Enter all required information and upload all required documentation, if applicable. This eForm will then be routed to your Academic Advisor for approval.
  • Once OIS approves your eForm request, you will receive an email notification along with an updated I-20, if requested.

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 have a valid visa status in the U.S.