Reduced Course Load

J-1 regulations require students to pursue a full course of study. During each Fall and Spring semester, full-time enrollment is defined as:

For undergraduate students:

  • 12 credit hours (including any AEC courses)

For graduate students:

  • 9 credit hours
  • 6 credit hours plus a GTA, GRA, or GA appointment (regardless of percentage of appointment)
  • Doctoral candidates who have already passed the Doctoral Oral Comprehensive exam, enrolled in any number of dissertation hours

A Reduced Course Load (RCL) is a permission from an ISS Advisor to be below the minimum enrollment requirements for a given semester.  Federal regulations provide limited circumstances when a J-1 student may be authorized for an RCL.  These include medical reasons, bona fide academic reasons, and completion of studies during the final term.  Each RCL request requires a review by an ISS advisor before it is approved; approval is granted on a semester basis.

The following information ONLY applies to J-1 students whose DS-2019 is issued by KU (check item 2 “Program Sponsor” on your DS-2019).  If your DS-2019 is not issued by KU, contact your program sponsor.

Eligibility for a Reduced Course Load


In some cases, a student will need an RCL due to a medical condition.  Students will need to submit a letter (on letterhead) signed by a physician requiring/recommending an interruption/reduction in studies for the specific semester.  


An RCL may also be granted for bona fide academic reasons.  Students will need to receive the academic dean or advisor’s recommendation to reduce his/her academic load to less than a full course of study due to an academic reason for the specific semester.  


Graduate students who are in a program with coursework only (non-thesis/dissertation/final project) and need less than a full course load to complete all program requirements in that semester may qualify for an RCL for Final Term.

Fall/Spring Approval Deadline

An RCL approval must be received:

  • before the 20th day of classes each semester, or
  • if after the 20th day of classes, before a student drops below full time. 
Request and Approval Process

Step 1

  • Make sure you are eligible for a reduced course load based on the above options. 
  • For a Medical RCL, you will need medical documentation to submit with your E-Form request. 
  • For an Academic/Final Term RCL, meet with your academic dean or advisor before submitting the E-Form.  You will need to provide the name and email address of the academic dean/advisor in your E-Form request. 

Step 2

  • Log into iHawk and complete the appropriate form (Medical or Academic/Final Term) under J-1 Student Services à  Reduced Course Load.
  • Wait until you receive an e-mail notification saying that you should come to ISS.

      Step 3

  • Meet with an ISS advisor during walk-in advising hours to have your RCL request reviewed and processed.
  • If necessary, drop the course(s).  This should be done only after getting permission from ISS.
Potential Concerns for Part-Time Enrollment

Students should consider potential issues of part-time enrollment, and may be disqualified from:

  • Working on campus
  • Living on campus
  • Receiving scholarships and/or
  • Receiving other student benefits in accordance with university policies (i.e. health insurance coverage). 

Important: If KU ISS (or your program sponsor) has not approved the RCL by the deadline or prior to dropping below full time, you will be considered in violation of your legal status.  

Immigration Advising Hours

Virtual Drop-In Advising

Monday, Wednesday, Friday 1:30pm to 4:00pm. These virtual drop-in sessions are only for questions that will take 15 minutes or less.

>>Virtual Drop-in Request

Walk-In (In-person) Advising

Tuesday, Thursday 1:30pm to 4:00pm.

Schedule an Appointment

Call 785-864-3617 to set up an appointment for all processes (except a reduced course load with approval on an electronic I-20).


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