International students who are admitted to the United States in F-1 status are required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain the terms and conditions of their nonimmigrant status. Failure to do so can result in deportation. One of the requirements for maintaining F-1 status is to pursue a "full course of study" every semester, not including the summer break. A “full course of study” is considered full-time study, which at Texas State University is defined as 9 credit hours for graduate and non-degree graduate students and 12 credit hours for undergraduates. You can learn more about what the regulations say about a "Full-Course of Study" under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)
There are two situations when an F-1 student may be allowed to enroll in less than a Full-Time Course Load, or when he/she may be allowed to drop a course. These are categorized as Academic RCL or a Medical RCL. Learn more about the two types of RCLs and how to get them approved below.
The only applicable academic reasons that may allow you to drop a course for academic reasons are:
Authorization for a reduced course load based on an academic reason listed above may be used only once during your degree program. If you use an academic reason more than once, you will violate the terms of your F-1 status and must apply for reinstatement to DHS or leave the U.S. and reenter using a new I-20.
You may fill out an Academic RCL form indicating you are a graduate student who has completed all required coursework, and are completing a thesis or comprehensive exams. Please note: you must continue to maintain normal progress when completing your thesis or exams.
You may fill out an Academic RCL form indicating you are completing your final semester and need fewer courses to compete your course of study.
Besides the two primary types of circumstances mentioned above, there are a few other circumstances in which international students might be below hours yet still be considered full time and still maintain legal status.
You may concurrently enroll in the Texas State Intensive English Program for a combined total of hours that amounts to a full course of study.
You may concurrently enroll at another school (ACC, for example) for a combined total of credit hours that amounts to a full course of study. Evidence of completion of the coursework is required at the end of the semester.
For proper routing of your university mail such as grades and bills, all students must report address changes to the Registrar’s Office through CatsWeb. CatsWeb uses the terms “temporary address” and “permanent address.” We recommend you use your United States address in BOTH the temporary and permanent address fields in CatsWeb because your university mail is sent to your CatsWeb permanent address.
For more Information on the Reinstatement Process, please download the handout on Reinstatement
You must have the new Form I-20 showing that you are entering on a new SEVIS ID number.
You should be aware that the CBP inspecting officer will determine whether or not to admit you to the United States with the new Form I-20. If you did not comply with the terms of your status during a prior stay in the United States, the CBP officer may decide that you are not eligible to reenter.
Immediately after having an approval to change status from F-1 to something else, you should inform our office by scanning a copy of the I-94/I-797/greencard/or other immigration status approval document so that we can terminate your F-1 record and leave you with your new status.