US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations require all international students in F-1 and J-1 status to register full-time every semester or receive permission from the Office of Global Services (OGS) for a reduced course load, which is anything less than full-time registration. DHS also requires newly admitted and transfer international students in F-1 and J-1 status to report their arrival to their schools. NYU international students officially report their arrival to NYU through the OGS arrival form. If a student does not report their arrival using this form, OGS places a hold on the student’s Albert record after the add/drop registration deadline.

In order for NYU to remain in compliance with US government regulations, OGS has established the following guidelines for NYU academic departments regarding registration.

Full-time Enrollment Definition

Undergraduate Students

Full-time enrollment for undergraduate international students is enrollment in 12 credits per semester.

Graduate Students

For graduate international students, enrollment in 9 credits meets the federal immigration requirement to enroll full-time every Spring and Fall semester. However, OGS realizes that for some NYU programs, taking just 9 credits per semester will result in students needing more than the advertised “length of program” to complete their degree. Also, students taking just 9 credits per semester might face course sequencing difficulties and thus be unable to enroll even for a full 9 credits every semester. If students in your academic program need to register for more than 9 credits each semester to finish the program by the department’s advertised time to complete and/or to prevent sequencing issues, please ensure you notify students in your academic department of this necessity. Please do not rely on OGS to remind international students of your academic enrollment requirements beyond 9 credits per semester.

Full-time Equivalency

Graduate students registered for fewer than 9 credits are in some cases considered to be doing the equivalent of full-time studies. This is called full-time equivalency and is something the academic department must evaluate and make a notation of in Albert. Once a student gets full-time equivalency from the academic department, the student does NOT need to get permission from OGS to register for a reduced course load.

Reduced Course Load

Students are eligible to apply for permission from OGS for a reduced course load if:

  • It is their last semester before they graduate and they have fewer than 12 credits (undergraduate students)/9 credits (graduate students) left to finish their degree program
  • It is their first semester in the US and their academic department recommends English-language courses in addition to their studies
  • They have a medical condition requiring them to register for a reduced course load including 0 credits.

Students must apply and be approved for a reduced course load by OGS in order to maintain their immigration status. OGS encourages any student who thinks they may need a reduced course load to discuss their situation with their academic department. If on a study away program, students must also ensure that the site abroad is also supportive of this.

Medical Reduced Course Load

The US government permits international students in F-1 or J-1 status who have received approval for a medical reduced course load to drop to zero credits due to a documented medical reason. Federal regulations allow for a maximum of 3 semesters of medical reduced course load per education level of study. Students can request a medical reduced course load for immigration purposes through OGS without the academic department’s approval, but OGS encourages any student considering a medical reduced course load to first discuss their situation with their academic department.

Withdrawal/Leave of Absence

Federal regulations require OGS to report any total or partial withdrawal (WDL) of international students in F-1 and J-1 status from classes within 21 days from the start date of the current academic term and from the date of occurrence (when this happens beyond 21 days from the start date). No retroactive withdrawals are permitted, therefore any retroactively processed total term withdrawal or withdrawal below the full-time registration requirement is considered a violation of F-1 or J-1 status for failing to maintain full-time status.

Federal regulations require schools to report any leave of absence within 30 days from the start date of the current academic term. Please refer students to OGS immediately so that we can update their immigration records accurately and advise them accordingly.

Online Enrollment

Federal regulations permits 1 class or 3 credits could count towards the full-time requirement for international students in F-1 status. For international students in J-1 status, federal regulations do NOT permit any online enrollment to count towards the full-time requirement. Any online enrollment must be in addition to the required full-time requirement for J-1 students.

For the final term prior to graduation, all international students must have at least one in-person class to maintain their immigration status.


For Further Assistance Regarding Academic Registration and Immigration/International Students

For further assistance regarding full-time registration guidelines and eligibility for a reduced course load, please contact the OGS liaison designated for your school.