Importance of maintaining status

U.S. federal government regulations require all F-1 and J-1 international students to maintain valid status.  It is your responsibility to always maintain your compliance with the F-1 or J-1 requirements.  Failure to maintain full-time enrollment can result in severe consequences. 

You must maintain full-time enrollment each academic term (except during designated vacation periods) and make continuous progress towards the completion of your program of study.
Full-time enrollment is as follows: 

  • Undergraduate: minimum of 12 credit hours per term 
  • Graduate: minimum of 8 credit hours per term (9 credit hours per term in a 3-credit enrollment system) 
  • Graduate students who hold an assistantship: 6 credit hours per term 
  • International students enrolled in NU Immerse/American Classroom/Global Pathways must follow the requirements of their programs 

U.S. federal government does not look favorably on F-1 students participating in online courses and imposes limitations on online course enrollment.  In general, F-1 students may be eligible to take the equivalent of a one 3-credit online course (or one 4-credit online course in a 4-credit enrollment system) or up to three credits (for example: three 1-credit courses or a 2-credit course and 1-credit course or one 3-credit course online) per academic term to count towards full-time enrollment while maintaining on-ground presence throughout the entire term.  However, please note that there are exceptions based on college academic program requirements.  J-1 students are only permitted to take online courses if they have already met the minimum full-time on-ground requirements. 

It is important that students contact their academic advisor before enrolling in online courses or withdrawing from any courses so that they can make an informed decision about their enrollment. 

Additionally, students should not take a reduced course load or a non-medical leave of absence without discussing these options and obtaining authorization from the Office of Global Services before the start of the term or before dropping any course (please see sections on reduced course load and leaves of absence for more information on these topics).

Information for students in the College of Professional Studies

The same rules regarding maintaining full-time enrollment, as explained above, apply to F-1 students in the College of Professional Studies.  Courses in the College of Professional Studies span the entire academic term or may be offered in two sessions (A and B) but still count as one full academic term. College of Professional Studies students must ensure that they are enrolled in on-ground courses throughout the entire term.  For instance, F-1 students cannot enroll in courses that only occur in session A of the term and have no course enrollment in session B of the term.  F-1 students in the College of Professional Studies also cannot enroll in an online course without first speaking to an academic advisor to confirm their eligibility!  Please note, if F-1 students need to withdraw/drop from a course, they must withdraw/drop from the additional online course and not any of the on-ground core courses in order to maintain full-time enrollment.

Related Articles:

Final Term

In general, F-1 and J-1 students are required to maintain a full-time enrollment status even in their final academic term. Learn the exception.

Reduced Course Load

J-1 and F-1 students normally must enroll in and maintain a full-time course load as explained in the “Basic Enrollment Requirements” section; however, USA federal government regulations allow international students to reduce their course load in certain limited academic circumstances.