Course Registration Requirements

F-1 and J-1 international students must enroll full time and abide by all other DHS policies related to course registration maintain status and be eligible for certain benefits.  The below outlines what is permissible for course load/registration, online courses, and concurrent enrollment at another school.  

Registration Requirements for F-1/J-1 Students

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All F-1 and J-1 visa holders are required to enroll full-time every fall and spring semester. The University considers undergraduate students to be enrolled full-time when enrolled in 12 or more credits and graduate students to be enrolled full-time when enrolled in 9 or more credits.

Violating the full course of study requirement can jeopardize a student's immigration status and eligibility for benefits and could lead to the loss of F-1 immigration status. A student who loses her/his F-1 status may request to regain F-1 status through the process of reinstatement with the Department of Homeland Security. Reinstatement is costly, time consuming, and has no guarantee of a positive outcome.

F-1 and J-1 students may be eligible to request an authorized reduced course load to maintain immigration status when enrolled less than full-time for a specific semester if they meet one of the DHS approved reasons to maintain status while enrolled less than full-time and obtain approval from ISSS. Please review the eligible reasons for an authorized reduced course load for DHS/immigration purposes and contact ISSS if you have any questions about your eligibility. 

A student's academic department, Human Resources, or other campus offices may have additional requirements for full-time status.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is continuing the March 2020 pandemic related guidance pertaining to international student course registration at eligible campuses.

Therefore, similar to the 2021-22 academic year, UAlbany F-1 and J-1 international students who have been enrolled since March 2020 may register for any combination of in person, hybrid, and fully online courses during the 2022-2023 academic year. F-1 and J-1 international students beginning studies after March 2020 must maintain registration in at least one non-fully online course (i.e. an in person or hybrid course) during the 2022-23 academic year.

The below information pertains to when these COVID exceptions are no longer in effect and normal limitations resume:

Under normal circumstances, U.S. federal government regulations limit the number of online courses international students can count towards their full-time course load requirement.

Under normal circumstances no more than one online or distance education course (or 3 credits) may count toward the minimum number of credits needed for full-time enrollment during the semester for F-1 and J-1 students. If the student only needs one course to complete the program of study, that course cannot be fully online.

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students are required to remain enrolled in at least 12 credits every fall and spring semester. If you wish to enroll in an online course, no more than one online or distance education course (or 3 credits) may count towards your required credits to be full-time. The remaining 9 credits must be either in-person or hybrid classes.  Please see the chart below:

Total Number of Credits an F-1 Undergraduate Student is Enrolled In Less than 12 credits 12 credits 15 credits 18 credits
Number of Fully Online Credits an F-1 Undergraduate Student Can Enroll In Contact ISSS One course or 3 credits 6 credits 9 credits

If you registration does not fit into any of these categories (or if you are on an authorized reduced course load), please contact the ISSS office prior to enrolling in any fully online classes.

Graduate Students

Graduate students are required to remain enrolled for at least 9 credits every fall and spring semester. If you wish to enroll in an online course, no more than one online or distance education course (or 3 credits) may count towards your required credits to be full-time. The remaining 6 credits must be either in-person or hybrid classes. Please see the chart below:

Total Number of Credits a F-1 Graduate Student is Enrolled In Less than 9 credits 9 credits 12 credits 15 credits
Number of Fully Online Credits a F-1 Graduate Student Can Enroll In Contact ISSS One course or 3 credits 6 credits 9 credits

If you registration does not fit into any of these categories (or if you are on an authorized reduced course load), please contact the ISSS office prior to enrolling in any fully online classes.

F-1 and J-1 international students may be eligible for concurrent enrollment at another institution (i.e. enrolling for a course or courses at another school). However, at least 50% of a student's credits must be taken at the University at Albany and the courses taken at UAlbany cannot be fully online courses only.  If the student intends courses taken at another institution to count towards their full-time enrollment for a given semester the student must provide proof of enrollment to ISSS. Additionally, the student needs to consult her or his academic advisor about the transfer credit approval process for UAlbany. These requirements only apply to fall and spring semesters when full-time enrollment is required, not the summer vacation term period (unless a student intends to graduate over summer term; see below).

Wintersession and summer session are considered annual vacation terms if a F-1 or J-1 student will enroll full-time at the University at Albany the next available semester (if you plan to graduate, see the paragraph below).  In other words, summer session is considered to be a vacation term if a student is continuing study during the subsequent Fall semester and wintersession is considered to be a vacation term if the student is continuing study during the subsequent Spring semester.  During vacation terms students are not required to enroll in coursework, though they may choose to enroll in any combination of courses during those vacation periods (as long as their registration meets all other University requirements).

When a student plans to graduate at the end of wintersession or Summer session those terms are then considered a regular semester/term for DHS reporting and registration requirements (they are not longer considered to be an annual vacation/break term because it is the final term). To maintain F1 or J1 status and stay in the US (including eligibility to apply for post-completion OPT) a student must follow the same registration requirements they normally would during the fall and spring semesters. This includes full-time enrollment (with at least 50% or more of the coursework taken at UAlbany) and a limitation on the number of fully online classes.

Due to online course limitations, it is not generally possible for bachelor’s or master’s degree students to fulfill these registration requirements during wintersession. Therefore, any bachelor’s or master’s degree student who would like to complete their degree by taking their final courses during wintersession generally must do so from outside the U.S. Additionally, bachelor's and master's students who graduate after wintersession are not eligible for OPT. PhD students enrolled in 899 course registration during the preceding Fall term should contact ISSS for case-by-case assistance. 

If a student plans to graduate at the end of summer session the student must enroll full-time and not exceed the online course limitations.  Fifty percent (50%) or more of the coursework must be taken at the University at Albany.  PhD students enrolled in 899 course registration during the preceding Spring term should contact ISSS for case-by-case assistance.

Please contact the ISSS office if you have any questions regarding wintersession or summer session registration or graduation.

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this web site/form is provided as a service to international students, faculty and staff at the University at Albany. It does not constitute legal advice. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site or form. Neither the University at Albany nor ISSS is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel; students may wish to consult an immigration attorney on the specifics of their case as needed.