We hope you find this information helpful as you guide students in their academic choices and direct them towards appropriate resources. While this serves as a general international student resource, all international undergraduate students should be directed to Cranwell International Center for proper immigration counseling, as each student's case is different and carries heavy implications if incorrectly advised.
IMPORTANT: Violations of any of these rules and/or regulations may result in the termination of the student's SEVIS record!
Full Time Enrollment and Online Credit Hour Policy
F and J visa holders must be enrolled full-time each Fall and Spring semester and/or in their initial semester. For all undergraduate students, this means that they are required to enroll in at least 12 credit hours. Of those 12 credit hours, at least 9 must be residential (i.e. in the classroom/on-campus). Any credit hours in addition to 9 residential credit hours may be taken online.
In certain cases, students may be eligible to enroll below full-time if they qualify for a Reduced Course Load (RCL). In order to qualify for a RCL, a student must meet one of the following eligibility categories:
- Academic Difficulty - a student must fit one of the follow subcategories in their first year only and additional approval is required, as noted:
- Initial Difficulty with English Language (requires Professor approval)
- Initial Difficulty with Reading Requirements (requires Professor approval)
- Unfamiliarity with American Teaching Methods (requires Professor approval)
- Improper Course Level Placement (requires Academic Advisor approval)
- Medical - a student who is facing an illness or other medical condition may be allowed to reduce their course load. The medical condition must be substantiated by medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or a clinical psychologist. The student may already be working with a doctor on-campus through the Schiffert Health Center or Cook Counseling Center, or they might be working with someone off-campus - both are eligible to submit a letter on behalf of the student.
- Final Semester - a student who is in their final, graduating semester is eligible to reduce their course load below full-time. An Academic Advisor must confirm that the student does not require 12 credit hours to complete their degree.
To request a RCL, students may submit our Reduced Course Load e-form through the IntlHokies Portal. They will need to list the name and email address of their Academic Advisor or Professor, if applicable, and an automatic email will be sent for completion.
Students in their last semester of study are permitted to be enrolled less than full time, but must be enrolled in at least 1 course on campus. Students cannot solely be enrolled in an online or distance-learning course their final term. Students will need permission from Cranwell International Center before dropping below full-time.
Students are not required to be enrolled for summer unless it is their first semester, or they are returning from a break in their studies. Please check with Cranwell International Center for assistance.
All employment needs to be approved through the Cranwell International Center, including internships that are part of course work. Please contact our office if you have questions or would like clarity on employment regulations.
A withdrawal from classes will usually result in a termination of the student’s immigration record, and the student will be required to leave the US. Please have students meet with Cranwell International Center before finalizing a Resignation or Withdrawal from the current term.
Travel & Grace Periods
All international students are required to obtain a travel signature before departing the US for breaks.
After degree completion:
- F-1 Students have a 60-day grace period to stay in the US before needing to leave.
- J-1 Students have a 30-day grace period to stay in the US before needing to leave.