Exceptions to the Full-Time Requirement (F-1)

Reduced Course Load (RCL) for Specific Academic Reasons

You must contact an ISSS advisor to determine that one of the following reasons apply to you. Note that the first three reasons are primarily for new students beginning their studies, since the exception reasons refer to “initial” difficulty.

  • Initial difficulty with the English language
  • Initial difficulty with reading requirements
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
  • Improper course level placement

Your ISSS advisor will review your situation, evaluate whether or not a drop will be allowed, and if approved, will update your SEVIS record with an academic RCL authorization. An academic RCL is only allowed one quarter per degree level. You must request the RCL and receive approval from the ISSS advisor before the end of the quarter in which you need the approved RCL.

Reduced Course Load (RCL) for a Documented Medical Condition

You must submit a recommendation letter to ISSS from a "licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist." A reduced course load due to a medical reason may be authorized multiple times so long as the aggregate period does not exceed 12 months. Regardless of the date during the quarter you request the RCL, it will cover the entire quarter and will subtract three months from your 12-month allowance. You must request the RCL and receive approval from ISSS before the end of the quarter in which you need the approved RCL. ISSS will update your SEVIS record with a medical RCL authorization.

Annual Vacation Quarter

An annual vacation quarter is a quarter spent in the United States while not registered for full-time credits. You are eligible for vacation if you have completed one full-time academic year (3 consecutive quarters) prior to the vacation and intend to register for the following term. During your vacation quarter, you may either enroll part-time or not at all.

An annual vacation may be requested for any quarter. Summer is the default vacation, and it is not necessary to notify ISSS if you take summer as your vacation quarter. However, if you register full-time in summer and will take a different quarter as your annual vacation, notify your ISSS advisor. A student who arrives in the US for the first time and begins study winter or spring quarter may take the summer as a vacation quarter. You cannot take vacation in your final quarter.

Final Quarter

You may take as few credits as required to complete your degree as long as you register for at least one credit at WWU. An online class cannot be the only class on your final quarter schedule. Please notify your ISSS advisor of your graduating quarter/final quarter enrollment.

Thesis/Dissertation Credits

Graduate students registered for thesis or dissertation credits may register for fewer than 8 credits and be considered full-time for immigration purposes.

Concurrent Enrollment at WWU and Another College

You may "concurrently enroll," which means you take classes at WWU and another school in the same quarter, and ISSS combines the credits to count as full-time. To concurrently enroll, you must take the majority (at least 7 credits) of your required 12-credit minimum at WWU. Submit a copy of your registration/class schedule from the other school to ISSS at the beginning of the quarter, and email your ISSS advisor to confirm your concurrent enrollment. After you complete the quarter, to officially transfer the credit, contact Undergraduate Admissions for instructions.



Page Updated 03.18.2019