Academic Information

Full-Time Status

All F-1 and J-1 visa holders are required to enroll for full-time registration every fall and spring semester.  Currently, the University considers 12 credits to be full-time for undergraduate students.  Effective Fall 2017, the University has updated its policy so that full-time enrollment for graduate students will be a minimum of 9 credits. This means that graduate students must register for 9 credits minimum to be considered a full-time student in accordance with regulations. Undergraduate students will continue to be required to register for 12 credits each semester.

For exceptions to the full-time registration requirement, please see the section on Reduced Course Load Authorizations.

Reduced Course Load Authorizations

For complete instructions, please use the most recent Reduced Course Load form, here.

Federal regulations allow for reduced course load authorizations (i.e. less than what would normally be considered full-time) for international students in very specific circumstances.  These circumstances may include: a documented medical illness or condition (limited to 1 calendar year of authorized reduced course loads); when the student is in his or her final semester of coursework; and when the student is experiencing initial difficulties due to English language, unfamiliarity with the American classroom, or reading requirements.  Graduate students on an assistantship, or who are at certain points in their academic program (i.e. 899, pre-candidacy, thesis, etc...) may also qualify.

For a student to be approved for an authorized reduced course load (RCL), the academic advisor must be in support of the course load and indicate the appropriate reason.  ISSS will only authorize a reduced course load with the appropriate approvals and/or documentation from the advisor.

Students must turn in a reduced course load form for every semester during which they are registered for less than the University full-time registration requirement.

Online Courses


No more than one fully online course (3 credits) or distance education course may be taken toward
the international student's full-time registration requirements each semester (taking into account authorized reduced course loads).   Students also cannot only take an online course. For purposes of immigration, this only includes fully online courses, 100% online as defined by the Registrar, not hybrid courses.   These requirements only apply to fall and spring semesters when full-time enrollment is required, not the summer term period.

Dropping Courses Mid Semester


A student who begins a semester with a full-time course load but is considering dropping below
the full-time requirement mid-semester must consult with his or her professor and
academic advisor to discuss solutions which do not require them to drop the course. If it is determined
that dropping a course is in the best academic interest of the student, and the professor and academic advisor are in support of this action, the student must seek permission from ISSS prior to dropping below full-time.  A student would also need to complete the Reduced Course Load form and obtain the academic advisor's approval.

Withdrawal and Readmission

Students departing the University must complete a departure form for ISSS, available here.

Student voluntarily choosing to withdraw from the University, or take a leave of absence, must follow the appropriate University procedures for doing so.  Undergraduate students should contact Undergraduate Education, and Graduate students should contact Graduate Education.

In addition, international students planning to withdraw and/or take a leave of absence must consult an ISSS advisor prior to withdrawing and/or taking a leave.  An international student needs approval from ISSS to be granted an authorized early withdrawal.  When an international student withdraws from the University, with prior authorized approval from ISSS, he or she will have 15 days to depart the United States. 

Students who plan to return to UAlbany in the future should consult Undergraduate Education and Graduate Education as appropriate.  If a student is readmitted, he or she must contact ISSS about obtaining new immigration documents for return.

International Students on Academic Probation

International students on Academic Probation, Terminal Academic Probation, and Continuing Terminal Academic Probation have unique considerations due to their immigration status.  ISSS has an advisor assigned to assist these students navigating these circumstances.  You may refer an international student who falls under these categories to ISSS for information on how their academic standing can impact their immigration status.

Courses at Other Institutions/Concurrent Enrollment

International students may be eligible for concurrent enrollment at another institution. However, at least 50% of a student's credits must be taken at the University at Albany. If any credits at the other institution are needed to meet the international student full-time requirement of 12 credits, the student must provide proof of enrollment to ISSS prior to matriculation at the other institution. Additionally, the student needs to consult her or his academic advisor regarding approval of transfer credits to UAlbany.  These requirements only apply to fall and spring semesters when full-time enrollment is required, not the summer term period.

Program Extensions

The F-1/J-1 extension request form is available here.

F-1 students have an I-20 form, and J-1 students have a DS-2019 immigration form.  These forms contain information related to the student's program, including a program end date.  If the student will require more time to complete the degree, beyond the time listed on his or her I-20 or DS-2019, the student will need to apply for an extension with ISSS.

Academic advisors and department chairs must approve the extension, and the extension can only be made for academic and/or medical reasons.  Extension are only given up to 1 year at a time, and the student must apply before his or her status expires.

Students must also show additional proof of funding as outlined on the request form (bank statement, departmental support letter, etc...) for the time requested.