Enrollment and Maintenance of Status

FAQs on Enrollment and Maintaining Visa Status


I am thinking of taking a leave of absence and not taking any classes. Can I stay in the United States?

If an F-1 or J-1 student takes a leave of absence from their studies, the student can not legally remain in the U. S. in student status. The only exception is for a documented medical condition. Information on this exception is available under the Reduced Course Load section of the Immigration Forms web page.


I am out of status. Someone in my department said that I am in the country illegally and I have to leave the United States. What should I do?

Being out of status does not mean that an F-1 or J-1 student is in the United States illegally and they have to leave the U.S. However, it does means that the student has failed to maintain their F-1 or J-1 visa status. In such situations, students must schedule an appointment for reinstatement with the IPS advisor, complete and bring the documentation listed on the checklist for reinstatement (PDF). The IPS advisor will assist the student to apply for reinstatement to F-1 or J-1 visa status. The student does not need to leave the United States while their reinstatement application is processed at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


I am not able to enroll for a full course of study this semester because I could not find good classes. Is it O.K?

NO. It is not O.K. F-1 and J-1 students are required to take a full course load during fall and spring. They must consult with their academic advisor to find appropriate courses. Inability to find a course or lack of interest in offered courses is not an acceptable reason to take less than a full-time course load. Full-time enrollment is required as a part of maintaining F-1 and J-1 student status and failure to do so will result in the loss of visa status and eligibility to work on-campus and off-campus.


Is it O. K. to be a part-time student in the fall if I took summer courses?

Studying during the summer is OPTIONAL. Full-time course load is required during the academic year (fall and spring semesters). The F-1 and J-1 regulations do not allow students to “average out” full-time studies by including the summer.


I want to take all web-based or on-line courses this fall. Can I do that?

SEVIS regulations are very specific about F-1 visa students’ enrollment in 100% on-line courses (no human or in-person contact courses). F-1 students are allowed to take only 3 credits of 100% on-line courses in a semester. IPS strongly advises all F-1 students to comply with this requirement.


I heard that if I am sick or injured, I don’t have to take any classes. Is it true?

A medical leave of absence is a benefit under the regulations that must be documented and presented to the IPS advisor who will determine whether the full or partial reduced course load is allowed. This documentation is required for each semester if the medical condition persists.