International students on F-1 status are required to maintain full-time enrollment (12 units) during the school year. Some students may be eligible to request a “reduced course load” or RCL. Federal immigration regulations limit a student’s ability to be less than full-time, but it may be allowed in some circumstances outlined below. If you drop below full-time enrollment without authorization, the Office of International Programs is required to report this to SEVP as a violation of your F-1 status. A student who wishes to drop below full-time must obtain approval from a PDSO/Dean in advance, regardless of the reason.
RCL must be requested at the beginning of the semester, no later than the end of the second week of the semester. A student who drops below 12 units after the deadline without prior approval of a DSO will be considered out of status.
Definition of "full-time": An F-1 student must take a minimum of 12 units in Spring and Fall semester to be considered maintaining full-time status.
Note: if you are approved for RCL and decide to drop some courses that you were already registered for before the RCL approval, it is your responsibility as a student to drop the class(es) before the refund deadline.
Completion of Program (Last Semester) RCL
A student may apply for RCL in their final term if fewer courses (i.e. less than full-time) are needed and required to complete the course of study, such as a Certificate Program, Associate Degree Program, or Transfer Requirements. You must first see an counselor in MUB 39 or Conlan 205 to verify that the current term will be your final term. If it is indeed your final semester, please bring the updated ed plan from your counselor and the completed RCL Request Form to our office. The RCL Request Form requires a signature from your academic counselor.
Keep in mind, students completing their program who are eligible for a final semester RCL must enroll in a minimum of one in-person class. Internship classes for credit that are in-person do count towards this requirement. Your one class cannot be online.
If you have already completed all program requirements for your degree and/or certificate, you are ineligible for a final semester reduced course load as the government views your program as already completed. If you find yourself in this situation, please get in contact with a DSO immediately.
A student may apply for RCL if, due to a temporary illness or medical condition, they are unable to be enrolled full-time (or, if necessary as recommended by a medical professional, no course load at all).
- A reduced course load for a medical condition can be granted for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.
- The student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to the Office of International Programs to substantiate the illness or medical condition.
- The letter requirements are listed below. Please share these with your doctor:
- Written on official letter head
- Include the date the letter was written
- Include the name of the student/patient
- Provide a detailed description of the temporary illness and how it precludes the student from engaging in a full course load
- Explain whether it is recommended that the student take a reduced course load or no courses at all due to this condition
- Include the specific semester or start and end date for which the licensed medical professional recommends a reduced or no course load due to this condition
- If the student is pregnant and is experiencing a medical complication or condition outside of normal pregnancy or delivery, the medical professional should detail the medical condition and how it prevents the student from studying full-time.
- Have an original signature of the licensed medical professional
- Include the address and phone number of the practice/hospital/other medical center as well as license number of the medical professional.
When applying for a Medical RCL, please include supporting medical documentation (as listed above), as well as the completed RCL Request Form.
Academic Difficulty RCL
A student may apply for a reduced course load if, due to academic difficulties during the first semester at CCSF, they are unable to be enrolled full-time. Please note that this type of RCL can be used only once and during the first academic term only (no exceptions). To start the process of applying for RCL based on academic difficulty, please contact a DSO in the Office of International Programs, or email email@example.com
Immigration regulations specify four academic difficulty reasons for which a reduced course load may be approved:
- Initial difficulties with the English language
- Initial difficulties with reading requirements
- Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
- Improper course level placement
A reduced course load for academic difficulties must consist of at least 6 credit hours.